I have a love-hate relationship with cleaning my bathroom.
When it’s that day of the week, you’ll find me running out the door on a day-long chore-arathon that will likely include the pet store (we have no pets) and the dentist (I hate dentists). But mention a deep clean, and I’m all ears and legs—dashing to the kitchen to grab my bucket of arsenal from under the sink. For me, there’s just something about the 'deep' that puts the fun back into 'clean'—it’s the regular cleaning that I’m not best friends with.
My bathroom deep clean has a recurring spot on my calendar each month and includes a checklist of the usual suspects (hello, grout) but also, and more rewarding to me, everything else that typically sits—and stays—in our blindspots. The other day, for the express purpose of researching this article—it's what I told them—I asked a few friends of mine: How many of you clean the area behind the toilet regularly? At least half of them had no idea such an area exists. One friend said she got in there once for exactly two seconds before she ran away screaming…never to revisit it.
I don’t blame her—its appeal is limited, not to mention its access. But like any cleaning task, it only gets grosser the longer you put it off. Here then are five spots in the bathroom that I can confirm definitely exist, and that you may be forgetting to clean.
When it comes to cleaning, or eating a pre-plated meal, my strategy is to always tackle the least favorite thing first. To begin, I take my dustbuster into the awkward space behind the toilet and suck up the dust bunnies that have made it their home. I then grab a disinfecting spray and liberally spritz the entire base of the toilet, and especially the harder-to-reach back of the base, and also spray the tiled walls and floor behind and beside the toilet. I let the cleaner sit for a minute or two before wiping the whole area down. One down, four to go.
You’d be surprised at how many layers of dust can stubbornly hang on these things. But cleaning a curtain rod is easier than you think: Fill a small bucket or bowl with warm, soapy water, dip a cloth into this water, wring, and run across and down the length of the shower rod. Rinse out the rag and wipe the rod again to remove any remaining soap. You can also pour some white vinegar onto a clean, dry rag and wipe down the curtain rod for extra flourish.
What if I told you you could get up to 30 percent more light in your bathroom if you did this one? Make sure your bulb is cold i.e. has been off for a while before you do anything with it. Take the bulb carefully off its fixture and wipe it with a dry, soft microfiber cloth or a (very, very well-wrung) damp one. What you definitely don't want to do is wipe a lightbulb with a damp cloth while it's still warm or turned on. This will run you the risk of a terrifying glass shatter.
Put aside till totally dry before screwing it back on—while it dries, you can use a feather duster to clean the lighting fixture itself. Also, read this for an extra step that will make your bathroom smell like a spa.
Assistant Editor Caroline Mullen swears by this extra-mile cleaning routine: “I tend to rinse off my toothbrush holder whenever I wipe down other surfaces in the bathroom. This usually happens when I see little flecks of toothpaste—ew—accumulating on the faucet," she says. If she’s doing a deep clean—usually once a month—she might even run her holder through the dishwasher.
Of all the items to clean in your bathroom, the exhaust vent cover isn't always top-of-mind. But neglecting it is a terrible idea, as I discovered via the near-dangerous buildup I spotted a couple months ago. Ok, I fib: I spotted it way before that but chose to ignore it.
Before you start, remember to flip the circuit breaker. Then, getting on a stool or small ladder, carefully unclip the vent cover. Soak it in a bucket of hot soapy water, using a damp microfiber cloth, or soft brush, to scrub away caked-on dust and grime. And remember to air-dry the vent cover completely before reassembly. However, this, as is turns out, is just the beginning: there’s also the fan blades and the motor, both of which I plan to get to this weekend. I’ll tell you how it goes.
Finally, don’t forget to give your gloved hands a good scrubbing with soap and hot water before you take them off. A pat on the back doesn’t hurt, either.
What is the one spot in your bathroom that needs your attention? Tell us in the comments below!