Thought cleaning a bathroom was just a case of whizzing round with a sponge and a dash of bathroom cleaner once a week? Well... you can probably get away with that if you're a neat freak with fastidious habits, but if your bathroom has to suffer the washing habits of the average family, it'll need a little more attention. So, we've come up with some clever bathroom cleaning hacks, designed to not just help you clean your bathroom better, but to do it faster, and in places you might not have considered. Plus, while we've got tons of bathroom cleaning products we'll be recommending that our team has tried out, we'll also be bringing you alternatives to chemicals where possible.
1. Clean and de-mist mirrors with shaving foam
Yup, you heard us. Using shaving foam to clean your mirrors will stop them fogging up when the bathroom becomes steamy. Simply spray it on, use kitchen roll to polish it off and you'll have a gleaming, steam-free mirror for around two to three weeks (or until it gets splashed again).
Find some great bathroom mirrors in our buyer's guide.
2. Make the shower screen gleam with tea or oil
Of course you can use Windolene to get a great shine on your mirror, but if you love a natural alternative, simply dip a lint-free cloth into some black tea, rub on the mirror and use a clean cloth to dry and buff. Or, you can spray on some cooking oil, allow it to sit for 10 minutes and rinse with soapy water before buffing to a shine. Both are great at cutting through grime and limescale build-up.
Our advice? Buy a squeegee and use it on the screen after every single shower – it takes about 10 seconds but it'll mean that grime and limescale never gets the chance to build up in the first place.
Find more ways to clean a shower in our dedicated guide.
3. Give windows a speedy shine with vinegar
Simply mix one part of white vinegar with half a part of rubbing alcohol (you need to look for a 70 per cent concentration) and two parts of water in a spray bottle – and you've got the perfect bathroom window, shower screen and mirror cleaner in one.
For best effect on windows, use it only on cool days when no direct sunlight is hitting the glass, and use a microfibre cloth to buff; that way, you'll get a streak-free finish. We'd recommending doing this well in advance of having that luxury spa bath since no one likes to chill out with the scent of vinegar in the air – open windows too, to help the smell evaporate faster.
4. Banish mildew on a shower curtain with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar
Allowing your shower curtain to dry out fully after every shower will stop mould and mildew taking hold, but if your bathroom suffers from condensation anyway, it can be tough to achieve this. Next best thing is to wash yours once a week with your towels and to let it dry out properly then.
If the mildew has really taken hold, let us save you the cost of a new one. Just add half a cup of bicarbonate of soda to your washing powder and put it on a 30ºC wash; just before the rinse cycle, add half a cup of white vinegar. Allow it dry to dry thoroughly.
Best mould sprays
Find the best mould sprays to keep mildew at bay in your bathroom.
5. Clean the toilet with bicarb and vinegar, too
Toilets can quickly look grotty but if, like us, you're always on the look-out for an alternative to a chemical toilet cleaner try this: make a mixture of equal parts of bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, pour it into and around the toilet, using a toilet brush to push it into the space beneath the rim. Leave for at least 15 minutes, give it a good scrub then flush. Repeat regularly for a sparkling toilet.
If you have young boys in the house (and maybe older ones, too), having a pack of wipes handy to quickly clean the loo after every messy use will cut down on smells, too. For a thorough clean, use a wipe wrapped around a screwdriver to get into the gap beneath the body of the toilet and the tank. Just ensure the wipes aren't flushed – even if they say 'flushable', since they've been shown to contribute towards blocked drains.
6. Make the sink like new
Porcelain sinks pretty much look after themselves, provided they're given a bit of a scrub every few days, but if yours has become stained over time, you can't beat Barkeeper’s Friend.
Find more ways to clean bathroom sinks to a shine with our guide.
7. Unblock a slow drain with indigestion tablets
Sink draining slowly? It's likely that it's become blocked with hair over time and sometimes the best way to unblock it is to use a drain snake. However if you suspect it's toothpaste/razor gunk and soap that's blocking it up, you could do worse than dropping four effervescent indigestion tablets down the drain, followed by a cup of distilled vinegar. Leave it for 10 minutes, then follow up with a kettle full of boiling water. Should do the trick.
Find more spring cleaning hacks that don't use chemicals.
8. Make shower heads sparkle
Shower heads can quickly become blocked and dulled by limescale, especially in hard water areas (a clue might be that water doesn't come out of every jet, comes out in odd directions or, if the shower hasn't been used for a prolonged period, doesn't come out at all, then explodes off the fitting (true story, as experienced by a member of the Realhomes.com team.
Quick, effective fix? Remove the shower head and put it into a plastic bag (sandwich bags are good) or bowl and cover with distilled vinegar. Shower head really encrusted? Add a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda, too. You can secure the top of the bag with an elastic bag (use this trick if the shower head is fixed or you can't get it off); this also disguises the smell somewhat. Leave it for an hour, remove and turn the shower on. The flow should be restored and the shower head will sparkle.
Find more ways to clean your shower in our dedicated guide.
9. Shine your taps to a sparkle with lemon
If your taps have been dulled by water spots, rub them with the cut half of a lemon then rinse and buff. You can also dampen an old toothbrush with water and sprinkle bicarbonate of soda directly onto the bristles, scrubbing the problem areas; leave for 10 minutes then rinse and buff. Simple as that. These tricks will work on all your chrome so don't limit them to taps – or the kitchen.
10. Clean the bath... with grapefruit
We've all heard of an exfoliator for our faces or bodies at bath time, but what about one for our fittings? This is one to use if your bath has really got grimy: simply half a grapefruit (other citrus fruit will do but the size of a grapefruit makes it a good choice), sprinkle the cut half of the fruit and the bottom of the bath with salt, wet the bath then scrub with the grapefruit. Rinse for a shine – and a lovely-smelling bathroom.
11. Keep tile grout white with a toothbrush
So many ways to clean grout. One is to spray your shower area with a half water, half white vinegar mix as you get of the shower. Another is to use a bleach pen. Another option is to take bicarbonate of soda to it on a toothbrush – or you can swap bicarb for bleach if you have that to hand. Leave it to soak in for a while before rinsing.
12. Clean the toilet brush (really)
So, you've been cleaning your toilet as instructed, but what about the toilet brush? There are a couple of very easy ways to do so. First, when you've finished cleaning the loo, flush clean water over the brush to rinse it clean. Then, close the toilet seat and lid over the handle of the brush so that it can drip dry into the toilet bowl – that's nasty toilet water in the brush holder averted. Finally, put some bleach or white vinegar into the brush holder to keep the brush fresh for next time.
13. Make sure you have mould-free bath toys
Bath toys can become mouldy on the inside. Washing them regularly will help, but the best option is prevention, so squeeze each toy until the water is out after every bath time and allow to dry. If you do spot black mould coming out when you squeeze them, replace them.
Find more cleaning hacks for kids' rooms and toys in our guide.
14. Keep the bathroom bin smelling fresh with bicarb
Bathroom bins can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria (read our guide to getting rid of household germs – it's enlightening), so they need regularly cleaning. If yours gets a bit niffy that's because bacteria's breeding. But you can keep it fresh between cleans by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda into it after every emptying.
15. Clean the extractor fan
Yup, these get dusty and dirty, too, which means they don't work efficiently, leading to increased levels of condensation and mould/mildew. If your vacuum's extension nozzle can reach that high, use it. Otherwise, a can of air spray (like you'd use to clean a keyboard) can clear the fan's ducts quickly. All you'll need is a steady ladder.