Surprising exactly no one, I really do not like cleaning. I dread those weekly marathon sessions of turning over every curio, wiping each surface, scrubbing all the dark and cobwebby crannies. I hate the odor of vinegar and bleach and window cleaner that permeates my apartment for hours and gives me a headache. I can't stand the pruny fingers I develop after spending the better part of the day with my fists clenched around a smelly wet rag.
But even though I abhor these things with a fiery passion, with equal passion I love the payoff. The feeling of finally being at rest in a spotless space after a long day of tidying is simply unparalleled. Cooking in a kitchen that's just been scrubbed opens a new world of dinnertime possibilities. Watching TV in a freshly dusted living room makes me feel more relaxed than the TV show could by itself.
But the ultimate clincher? Taking a shower in a tub with a squeaky clean shower curtain. I make sure to tackle this every time I clean my bathroom. In fact, my house doesn't feel truly clean until my shower curtain totally sparkles.
Listen, I know it sounds a little fussy, nutty, obsessive...you get the idea. But it makes a big difference, and doesn't require nearly as much time or effort as you'd expect (just about 10 minutes of active work!). Don't believe me? Check out my tried and true method below—one I've perfected thanks to a clear plastic (read: very detectably dirty) shower curtain and a lot of practice.
Yes, I know, this takes forever and is terrible and I'm terrible, but please do this. Seriously—every last hook or ring or clip off the rod, the curtain and its liner (if applicable) completely freed. No need to remove the hooks from the curtain itself, though. This is the only way you can cover every inch of surface area when you...
Once you've removed your curtain, put it in your bathtub or a bucket big enough to comfortably fit it (plus a good amount of water on top). Fill the bathtub/bucket with hot water on top of the curtain, and add in a generous splash of white vinegar (you can use bleach instead of vinegar if the curtain's made of plastic, like mine is, and especially if it looks really gnarly, like mine sometimes does. Just be sure not to mix the two!). Stir it around with your hand or a big scrubby brush and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes while you scrub the toilet, clean the sink, wipe down the mirror, etc.
After your curtain's soaked and the hot water and vinegar/bleach solution has dislodged some of the soap scum and stains, you'll want to take to it with a brush or scrubby sponge of any size, ideally scrubbing in or above the shower or tub. I spring for a toothbrush to get inside the bottom pockets, where grime and grit can collect. Not gonna lie, it's very gross but very satisfying when clearing out the dirt here.
And wash or wipe them down as needed. I only bother with this every three or four cleanings—they can collect a good bit of dust, but a rinse or quick soak in the vinegar solution is an easy fix.
This one takes a bit of imagination based on your bathroom setup. I find that a detachable shower head makes for the quickest and easiest work of this task, but running it under a tap in the tub is fine, too (that’s what I do in my current bathroom). You just want to hit the entire surface area of the curtain with high-pressure water to get off all cleaning solution and any lingering residue that you might have scrubbed off during the brush-wielding phase.
I usually do this by loosely hanging the curtain over its curtain rod (without reattaching the hooks, clips, or rings) and letting it air dry. Would it be overkill, you ask, to dry the curtain entirely with a hair dryer and eliminate as many water spots as possible? Not at all, I say, from considerable personal experience.
You've earned it.
Of course, you could always do this in the washing machine: Just remove the curtain (and its liner, if applicable) from the rod; take off the hooks or clips and set them aside; and throw the curtain in the machine with a couple bath towels on the gentle cycle, in cold or warm water, but not hot. You can add about half a cup of baking soda or white vinegar to the mix if you like, in addition to the detergent. Then hang to dry as above.
However, I myself tend to skip this method because I live in Brooklyn and the laundromat is my personal hell.