All the places you're probably forgetting to clean in your bathroom — banish bacteria from these 12 overlooked spots

Plus, pro tips on cleaning your bathroom's "dirty dozen" hot spots

Clean, pink bathroom with bath, sink and light entering from window - for article on all the places you're probably forgetting to clean in your bathroom
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Knowing all the places you're probably forgetting to clean in your bathroom is key to keeping it fresh and bacteria-free.

Our team of cleaning experts will guide you through the 12 most commonly forgotten about bathroom dirt hot spots, as well as revealing the best techniques, industry tips, and products to give these areas a proper spruce.

Learning how to clean your bathroom well begins with being mindful of these less obvious bathroom areas in need of extra TLC, and adding them into your cleaning routine.

The 12 places you're forgetting to clean in your bathroom

Armed with the best cleaning supplies, your bathroom and all its hidden dirty spots will be gleaming in no time.

Where our professional cleaners have suggested products, we've curated matching picks. 

All prices were correct at the time of publication.

1. Behind the toilet

Lady holding bucket of cleaning supplies in front of a toilet

(Image credit: Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images)

It's not a place many dare venture and therefore a perfect spot for dust and grime to build undisturbed: behind your bathroom toilet.

Shaun Veran, Chief Operating Officer of OURA, says, "This area often gets overlooked because it's not directly visible and can be hard to reach. However, it can accumulate dust, lint, and bathroom moisture, creating a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

"To tackle it, use a slim, flexible duster to get behind the bowl and tank. Spray a disinfectant around and behind the toilet area. This kills a range of bacteria and viruses and is effective against mold and mildew too."

Shaun recommends the Lysol Trigger Power Bathroom Cleaner from Target.

He adds, "Use a brush or an old toothbrush to reach behind the toilet base and scrub thoroughly. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth to ensure all residues are removed."

Learn how to wash microfiber without ruining its absorbency.

Profile photo of Shaun Veran, COO of OURA
Shaun Veran

Shaun Veran is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of OURA, which harnesses cutting-edge scientific advancements to design products that enhance cleanliness and safety for tens of thousands of customers. With a decade of experience in biotechnology and microbial research, Shaun has become a leading expert in microbial growth and innovative strategies to inhibit them. 

2. Toothbrush holder

Person taking toothbrush out of a toothbrush holder

(Image credit: Darya Komarova/Getty Images)

The last place you'd want bacteria is where you keep your toothbrush, but that innocent looking holder is an often-overlooked dirt-trap. 

Shaun says, "Toothbrush holders can collect toothpaste residue, water, and bacteria, making them a hidden hotspot for germs. At some stage, you'll likely have spotted biofilms — caked on layers of bacteria that are stubborn to remove."

Cleaning your toothbrush holder begins with a rinse under hot water to dislodge any visible debris. 

Shaun says, "Next, fill the holder with a mixture of equal parts hot water and white vinegar, allowing it to soak for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. Scrub the inside of the holder with a small brush (an old toothbrush works well) to remove any remaining residue."

Rinse thoroughly with hot water and dry completely before replacing the toothbrushes.

Shaun adds, "For regular disinfection, use a spray such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray from Amazon, which can quickly sanitize and dry without additional wiping."

Many toothbrush holders can go in your dishwasher too, but first read the manufacturer's guidelines to see if your particular item is hand-wash only.

3. Shower curtain

Stripy blue and white shower curtain

(Image credit: nikitabuida/Getty Images)

While great for privacy, your shower curtain can easily become a secret breeding ground for soap scum and mildew. 

Shaun says, "These are in constant contact with moisture and are prone to mold and mildew buildup, yet often get neglected during routine bathroom cleaning. Begin by removing the curtains or liners and soaking them in a 1:1 ratio solution of water and distilled white vinegar to break down mold and soap scum."

We recommend Good & Gather Distilled White Vinegar from Target. With so many household jobs you can do using vinegar, you'll be sure to get your money's worth!

Shaun says, "After soaking for an hour, run them through the washing machine on a gentle setting with regular detergent and a few towels or rags. The towels' rougher textures act as scrubbing agents to dislodge dirt."

Once you have washed your plastic shower curtain, hang it up to dry fully in an open, ventilated area.

Shaun adds, "For that extra impact, you can also add Clorox Disinfecting Bleach from Walmart to the wash cycle to further eliminate lingering mold or mildew."

4. Exhaust fan

Person about to clean a very dirty and dusty bathroom exhaust fan

(Image credit: Elena Gurova/Getty Images)

Quietly whirring away, your bathroom exhaust fan gets on with its vital job maintaining air quality, reducing humidity and preventing mold growth. However, without periodic cleaning, it can become a hotspot for dirt and dust. 

Vanessa Bossart, founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, says, "Vital for preventing mold and mildew, the exhaust fan often goes unnoticed — but it needs its own TLC."

To clean yours, Vanessa advises turning off the power at the circuit breaker before you begin. She says, "Then remove the fan cover, which may snap off or be secured with screws. Use a vacuum with a brush attachment to gently remove dust from the fan blades and motor."

Fill a sink or bowl with soapy water, and wash the removable cover, using a brush to scrub away any remaining gunk.

Vanessa adds, "After removing from the water, clean the fan components with a damp cloth or a cotton swab for tight spots, then reassemble and test the fan once everything is fully dry."

Vanessa Bossart, founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, profile photo
Vanessa Bossart

Vanessa Bossart is founder of GreenTerra Cleaning, which has made more than 28,000 American homes sparkle and aims to redefine cleanliness as the cornerstone of healthy, sustainable living. With 18 years’ experience in the cleaning industry, Vanessa is passionate about promoting eco-friendly cleaning practices that improve the health of her clients and the planet.

5. Medicine cabinet

Cluttered, colourful bathroom medicine cabinet with doors open

(Image credit: TEK IMAGE/SPL/Getty Images)

Your medicine cabinet harbors more than just aspirin and bandages — it also gathers dust and clutter over time. 

First, check the top of the cabinet and remove dust. The OXO Good Grips Microfiber Extendable Duster from Amazon does a great job. Then give the front a clean with an equal mix of warm water and vinegar.

Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning, says, "Next, remove all items from the medicine cabinet and wipe down the shelves with a disinfectant cleaner. Check expiration dates on medications and discard any that are expired."

Perhaps the best part of this task is the opportunity to reorganize your medicine cabinet and declutter the bathroom.

Karina adds, "Use shelf liners (the EasyLiner Fern Startburst Self-Adhesive Contact Paper from Walmart is practical and cute) to make future cleanings quicker, and store medications in airtight containers. Shelf liners protect surfaces from spills and stains, while airtight containers shield medications from moisture and even light degradation!"

Profile photo of Karina Toner, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning
Karina Toner

Karina is an Operations Manager at Spekless Cleaning, a prominent cleaning company based in Arlington, VA. With over a decade of hands-on experience in the cleaning industry, she's honed her expertise in providing top-notch cleaning solutions tailored to meet the unique needs of clients effectively, and sustainably.

6. Showerheads

Photo of shiny clean shower area with white marble tiles from floor to ceiling, empty cubbies stacked vertically and silver hardware

(Image credit: Dan Reynolds Photography/Getty Images)

A clogged showerhead can diminish water pressure and compromise your showering experience. It's also prone to bacteria build up, so learning how to get rid of pink mold and remove limescale from your shower head is a worthy pursuit.

Karina says, "Simply fill a plastic bag with vinegar and secure it over the showerhead. Leave it overnight to remove mineral deposits, before scrubbing with an old toothbrush. The combination of vinegar's acidity and the scrubbing action helps dislodge mineral deposits and bacteria, restoring your shower head's flow."

Rinse the showerhead thoroughly with water before attaching it back to the pipe.

7. Grout lines

Person with brush and yellow glove cleaning grout on a shower wall

(Image credit: Animaflora/Getty Images)

Grout lines — the narrow, usually white spaces between tiles — are magnets for dirt, mold, and mildew. But with the right products, cleaning grout between tiles is straightforward.

Start by creating a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the grout lines. Allow the paste to sit for a few minutes, then scrub vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush like the Scotch-Brite Grout Brush from Target.

Karina says, "Wear gloves and a mask for protection, ventilating the area well. To protect the grout from future stains, use a grout sealer (such as Black Diamond Stoneworks Ultimate Grout Sealer from Amazon)."

Walmart's Reusable Household Gloves offer good, affordable protection for your hands. 

8. Light fixtures

Bathroom with lights

(Image credit: John Keeble/Getty Images)

Brighten up your bathroom — literally — by giving your light fixtures some attention. 

Karina says, "Regular cleaning helps keep your light shining bright as can be. Also, why not take the opportunity to swap out old bulbs for LEDs? This will save you energy and money in the long run."

Try this pack of SYLVANIA ECO LED 60W-Equivalent Light Bulbs from Amazon.

To clean your light fixtures, start by turning off the power supply to avoid any electrical accidents. Remove the light covers and wash them in warm, soapy water. Use a microfiber cloth or a duster to remove dust and debris from the bulbs and fixtures. 

Wipe down the entire fixture with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner, then dry thoroughly before reattaching the covers.

9. Door handles

Silver bathroom door handle, with door a little open so we can see blurry bathroom in background

(Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

Door handles are touched countless times a day, making them prime high-traffic targets for germs and bacteria. 

Karina says, "It's important to clean door knobs and handles regularly, especially during cold and flu season. Wipe with a disinfectant wipe or a cloth dampened with a disinfectant cleaner. Use an old toothbrush to really get into the nooks and crannies, like around the edge of the handle or lock." 

The Clorox Bleach-Free Disinfecting Wipes from Target are a safe and easy way to blitz bacteria from bathroom door handles, cabinet pulls and shower grabs.

10. Floor

Gleaming white, tiled bathroom floor with yellow rubber duck sitting in the middle, in focus

(Image credit: Adam Gault/Getty Images)

Your bathroom floor is a good example of somewhere that gets both literally and metaphorically overlooked. But the steps to cleaning a bathroom floor needn't be complicated. 

First sweep the floor with a broom or brush, before vacuuming any loose debris, paying special attention to the edges and corners. Then, it's time to grab a mop and your cleaning solution.

You can make a homemade mix of vinegar and water, which is suitable for cleaning most floor types, effectively cutting through dirt and leaving a sparkling finish.

Karina says, "For tile or linoleum floors, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of hot water and mop well. Hardwood floors require extra care, so go with a quarter cup vinegar per gallon of water. 

"Dampen a microfiber mop with the solution and mop the floor, working in the direction of the wood grain. Be careful to avoid soaking the floor as oversaturation can cause warping or discoloration."

Our experts recommend the Rubbermaid Microfiber Reveal Mop Cleaning Kit from Amazon and we have more suggestions in our round-up of tried and tested best mops.

Karina adds, "Test the solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't damage the floor finish. This might seem like a small detail, but it's a crucial step in preserving the integrity of your flooring."

11. Sink and shower drains

Man pouring cleaning liquid from a black bottle down a shower drain with its steel grate removed

(Image credit: BanksPhotos/Getty Images)

Sink and shower drains can become clogged with hair, soap scum, and other debris, leading to unpleasant bathroom odors and slow drainage. 

To begin cleaning, first lift and removable parts before extracting any hairs. For most homes this will not be possible in the sink, but should be in the shower. A broken hanger does the trick nicely — and you'll be surprised how much it'll lift out!

Wells Ye, founder of Fresh Tech Maid, says, "Next, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a generous glug of white vinegar. This dynamic duo dissolves blockages and devours odors. 

"Give the mixture a few minutes to bubble and pass through the drain, before washing any remaining particles from the channel with boiling water."

Cleaning vinegar's 6% acidity works well for cleaning a sink and particularly the drain. Try Amazon's Harris Cleaning Vinegar, which also leaves a pleasant lemon scent. 

For baking soda, we recommend Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda from Walmart, whilst our guide on the best drain cleaners wraps up commercial products that will come in handy for this task.

Though an effective cleaning duo, never mix vinegar and baking soda in a closed container as this will lead to a dangerous chemical reaction.

Karina adds, "As an extra tip for ongoing shower drain maintenance, use a strainer to prevent debris from clogging your drain. Empty it regularly to keep it draining smoothly — otherwise standing water will build, which can lead to mineral deposits and scum build-up."

Profile photo of Fresh Tech Maids founder Wells Ye
Wells Ye

Wells Ye is the brains behind Fresh Tech Maid — a respected, Chicago-based home cleaning service that boasts more than 10,000 happy clients thanks to more than 50,000 successful cleans. 

12. Toilet bowl

Toilet with bucket of cleaning supplies beside it

(Image credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

Last but certainly not least, let's address the "throne" itself — the toilet bowl. It needs regular attention to keep it fully sanitized, both inside and out.

Will Cotter, owner of FreshSpace Cleaning, says, "Start by applying a reliable toilet bowl cleaner, like the Clorox Tough Stain Toilet Bowl Cleaner from Target, and letting it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. For maximum impact, use an electric scrubber — and don't forget under the rim!

"After you're done, flush the toilet to rinse away any loosened bits. If there's any residue left, you can use a sponge or a brush to wipe it away." 

Clean the outside of the bowl, down to the floor with antibacterial spray, wipes, or your chosen home mix. 

Once you're finished drop a toilet bowl tablet — such as the Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Tablets from Amazon — or add a cup of vinegar to the bowl and let it sit overnight before scrubbing and flushing for extra freshness.

Will Cotter, COO of HappyCleans, standing in sunshine in front of San Francisco Bridge.
Will Cotter

Will Cotter is the owner of FreshSpace Cleaning — which serves homes in multiple locations across the south and beyond — as well as other cleaning companies in Indianapolis, Oklahoma, Milwaukee, and Louisville.

With these dozen often-forgotten places to clean in the bathroom tackled, yours will be gleaming. Keep your spring clean going by tackling the places you're forgetting to clean in a bedroom.

Andy van Terheyden
Freelance Writer

I'm a senior writer with an English degree and NCJ qualification, plus years of experience writing news, lifestyle and consumer articles for the national and international press. I'm also a copywriter, working on a breadth of consumer and corporate projects, and a private education consultant. I live in the quiet of the countryside and spend my weekends mooching around homeware shops, completing DIY tasks to breathe life into my small, newly-built home.