How to Give Your Bathroom a Deep Clean (It Could Probably Use One)

An expert guide to cleaning even the grimiest bathrooms.

March  6, 2023
Photo by Rocky Luten

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Bathrooms are often one of the dirtiest spaces in your home, which is why it’s so important to clean this room on a regular basis. Light cleaning is often sufficient from week to week, but if you’ve noticed a toilet bowl ring, dust build-up on the exhaust fan, or stubborn stains in the shower, it’s probably time for a deep clean—here's how, according to cleaning experts.

How Often Should You Deep Clean Your Bathroom?

Most people give the bathroom a quick once-over weekly—scrubbing the toilet, wiping down the sink, and doing light surface cleaning—but our experts recommend deep-cleaning your bathroom on a regular basis, as well. How often, you ask? It depends on how dirty your bathroom gets.

“It’s generally recommended to deep clean your bathrooms at least once a month, but the frequency will depend on factors such as the size of your household, the frequency of bathroom use, and the level of traffic your bathroom receives,” explains Alicia Sokolowski, president and co-CEO of AspenClean. “If you notice buildup or grime accumulating in your bathroom, it may be time for a deep clean—regardless of how much time has passed since the last one.”

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Cleanest Bathroom Ever

The prospect of deep-cleaning your bathroom can be intimidating, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide that will help you tackle even the grimiest spaces.

1. Clear Everything Out

The first step when deep-cleaning your bathroom is to remove all the accessories and items that might be in your way while cleaning. This includes towels, bath mats, shower curtains, and things like the bathroom scale and trash bin. If you have shelving in your bathroom, you may want to clear them off to make it easier to dust—this also gives you a chance to reorganize the space when you put everything back.

“You can use this time to wash your bath mats, if they can go into the washer, and your shower curtain,” says Sokolowski. “Check if you can put it in the washer, and for the liner, just use a sponge and white vinegar.”

2. Dust and Vacuum

The next step is dusting. Be sure to dust shelves, window sills, baseboards, light fixtures, and hard-to-reach areas like the toilet trap. Then, vacuum the floors and other flat surfaces to pick up all the dust and allergens.

“Use a HEPA vacuum in the room,” recommends Michael Rubino, mold and air quality expert and founder of HomeCleanse. “The filtration portion of the machine is what sets HEPA vacuums apart. While other machines will filter out the majority of smaller particles, they don’t have the capability to stop some of those ultra-fine and microscopic particles like mold spores.”

3. Apply Bathroom Cleaners

Now, it’s time for the main event. Start by applying your preferred bathroom cleaners to the toilet, sink, and shower or tub. Sokolowski recommends using natural cleaners, which are safer around kids and pets, but if you do opt for strong chemical cleaners, be sure to wear protective gear and ensure appropriate ventilation in the room. “Even if you will be using natural products, it’s always safer to wear gloves while cleaning your bathroom,” she says.

This is the time to get into all the nooks and crannies that get neglected during quick cleans. Our experts say that some of these frequently forgotten areas include the toilet handle, toilet base, curtain rod, light fixtures, and toothbrush holder.

While it’s tempting to jump in and start scrubbing, don’t start wiping off the cleaning solution just yet: “Allow the bathroom cleaner and the solution in your toilet bowl to sit for several minutes to dissolve any dirt or grime,” says Sokolowski. While you wait, use the opportunity to clean your shower liner or other accessories that you removed from the bathroom.

4. Start Scrubbing

After 10 minutes or so, grab your scrub brush and start cleaning. “Use a scrub sponge to clean surfaces thoroughly, paying extra attention to areas with built-up grime or stains,” recommends Sokolowski.

If you have a lot of area to cover, an electric scrub brush may be a worthwhile investment. These battery-powered tools typically have a spinning head and multiple attachments that makes scrubbing bathroom surfaces less labor-intensive, and many even have long handles that save you from having to bend over.

Once you’ve finished scrubbing off dirt and grime, rinse the surfaces with water and wipe everything down with a sponge or microfiber cloth to remove any residue.

5. Mop the Floors

The final step in the deep-cleaning process is to mop the floors with your favorite floor cleaner. If you don’t have a traditional mop, a microfiber spray mop is quick and convenient to use, and you can simply toss the mop pad in the washing machine when you’re finished. Rubino recommends using a laundry additive like EC3 to ensure mold spores and bacteria are removed from the fabric.

6. Replace Everything & Enjoy Your Clean Space

Once the floors have dried, it’s time to bring everything back into the bathroom. Hang up your freshly cleaned shower curtain and put out new towels, then enjoy having a sparkling-clean space.

Expert Tips for Tricky Bathroom Fixtures

It’s easy enough to clean your bathroom toilet and sink, but what about tricky fixtures like the shower head and exhaust fan? Here are some expert-approved tips for cleaning these bathroom staples.

Shower Heads

If you’ve noticed the water pressure in your shower isn’t as strong as it used to be, a dirty shower head might be to blame. When this happens, you’ll want to use a wrench to remove the shower head, then rinse it out. “​​Use a small safety pin or a toothpick to scrape off any small mineral pieces you see,” recommends Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. “Soak the shower head in vinegar throughout the night. The vinegar is strong enough to dissolve anything left in the shower head.” Once all the mineral deposits are removed, wrap a new layer of plumbers tape around the shower arm entrance then reattach the head.

Grout Lines

If your bathroom has tile floors or walls, it’s important to clean the grout on a regular basis—otherwise, it will become grimy and discolored. “For grout lines, you can create a paste with baking soda and water, apply it on them, and use an old toothbrush to scrub everything,” says Sokolowski.

Hydrogen peroxide is another expert-recommended cleaning option for grout: “Use a cleaning product like hydrogen peroxide on semi-porous surfaces like grout and caulk. This is much less toxic than bleach and more effective at pulling particles to the surface so that they can be removed,” explains Rubino. He recommends scrubbing with a stiff brush, then wiping away residue with a microfiber cloth.

Hard Water Stains

Sometimes scrubbing with a toilet brush isn’t enough to remove the ring around your toilet bowl, but there’s an easy way to get rid of it. “If there are hard water rings or stains, use a pumice stone to remove them,” says James.

Hard water can also make a mess of glass shower doors—something I struggle with every time I clean my bathroom—and one of the best products I’ve found to remove the build-up is the Rain-X X-Treme Clean Shower Door Cleaner.

Exhaust Fans

You should dust the exterior of your bathroom’s exhaust fan every time you clean, but you’ll occasionally want to remove it for a more thorough cleaning—especially if it has a light that collects dead bugs. To be safe, turn off power to the fan at your circuit breaker before taking it apart.

Most exhaust fan covers are easy to remove—if you don’t see any screws, try pulling down gently on the grate or light cover. Most are held in place by clips or spring-loaded wires, so it should come off fairly easily. From here, you can vacuum and wash the grate and/or light, as well as dust the fan assembly. A can of compressed air can also come in handy for hard-to-reach nooks. Let everything dry before reassembling the light and restoring power to the area.

Toilet Tank

Our experts recommend cleaning the inside of your toilet tank at least once or twice a year. You’ll need to turn off the water valve behind your toilet, then flush until the tank is empty. Use a disinfectant cleaner to scrub the walls and floor of the tank, and wipe down the inner components, such as the ball float and flapper, with a sponge and cleaner. Once you’re done, turn the water back on, allow the tank to fill, and flush a few times to get rid of any residue.

What are your tips for deep-cleaning the bathroom? Tell us in the comments!
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1 Comment

janet V. March 19, 2023
The recommended procedures were reasonable in my opinion. As a professional cleaner I feel that the most important thing in cleaning a bathroom is understanding that each surface has its unique finishes and challenges: Porcelain, chrome, quartz, stone, glass, mildew, soap scum, hard water, hair and dust, to name a few. Knowing your surfaces and how to properly clean them is a must. Then, doing so regularly, as stated, will help things not get out of control. Products can range from the very expensive and specific to the simplest. Most people don't realize that you can clean your whole house with vinegar, bleach and baking soda, JUST NOT MIXED ALL TOGETHER!