Housekeeping Tips Part 2: Cleaning the Bathroom

by Judith C. Bettinger


In the last article I wrote, I outlined my general strategy for keeping my housework under control. Now I'll go into a bit more detail about some specific areas. By far the ickiest job in the house, at least in my opinion, is that of keeping the bathrooms clean. Don Aslett, in "Is There Life After Housework?" suggested some techniques that I've adapted to my own use.

In the bathroom, even more than other areas of the house, frequent cleaning is your friend. If you clean really regularly, the amount of time you'll spend is a fraction of what it'll be if you wait even as long as a week. I spritz down my bathrooms on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then, I clean the floors on Sunday when I do my other housecleaning. Out of curiosity, I once timed myself to see how long it takes to do this. For our 3/4 bath, about 3 minutes, and for the full bath upstairs, about 4. And we have a toddler who sometimes leaves things in a real mess!

Here's what I bought to use:

  • at Target, a shower squeegee. Used faithfully, this will eliminate hard water spots on the shower walls and prevent mildew in the tile grout. We squeegee after each shower, and then take a washcloth and wipe off the fixtures.

  • at Target, a large package of white, 100% cotton terry cleaning cloths. I found them in the automotive section, labeled as "carwash cloths". These are MUCH more effective than paper towels or sponges. And more frugal!

  • at a janitorial supply, a gallon of a sanitizing cleaner called "Quat 22". This was based on the recommendation of the Don Aslett book. The cleaner was a bit pricey at something like $8.99/gallon, but I only need a tablespoon of it in a spray bottle of water, so a gallon is going to last a LONG time. You could probably also use a general purpose cleaner like Pine Sol, but I prefer something that kills germs, as it seems to have reduced the number of illnesses that our family shares.

  • a plastic refillable spray bottle, one per bathroom

  • a toilet brush in a holder that sits beside the toilet, one per bathroom

  • some scouring powder to use in the toilet bowl. This is optional, but I find that it does a better job than the brush by itself.

And here's all I do:

  1. Pick up and put away anything that's out of place. In our case, that's definitely the biggest part of the job.

  2. Spritz the sink, toilet, and tub or shower with the diluted sanitizer. Be sure that you're thorough, especially on the toilet, where you should spray the seat, lid, handle, and all the areas underneath the seat.

  3. Let the cleaner sit for a couple of minutes.

  4. Using one of your cleaning cloths, wipe the solution off. Wipe the sink first, then the tub/shower, and finally the toilet, working from top to bottom. It helps if you fold your cloth over a couple of times, and then refold it as you go, so that you're always using a dry surface to wipe with.

  5. If the toilet bowl needs it, sprinkle a little cleanser in the bowl and brush it down. I end up only doing this step about once a week.

You should find that soap scum comes right off the tub because if you do this frequently, there's never alot of scum buildup. If that's not the case, try adding a little baking soda to your bath water to reduce the amount of scum that forms. Failing that, you can scour the tub occasionally - I haven't found it necessary. Don't worry about mirrors and light fixtures when you do these spritz cleans - that'll get picked up in the weekly cleaning.

I've found that our bathrooms really stay looking nice this way, with much less effort than I used to spend. And, since the bathroom cleaning is no longer part of the weekly cleaning effort, that goes much faster, too.


Judy has provided a series of housecleaning tips. She features a 'common-sense' approach to getting the job done.

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