As I cleaned my tubs today, I thought it might be time to humble myself and share my three-day process for cleaning my bathrooms. I’ll leave it to my sisters to decide who I am talking about when I speak of my cleanie-sister. I’m sure it will boggle her mind to know that it takes me three days to clean my bathroom. What can I say? It works for me.
I actually won a bridal shower prize once by describing the horribleness of cleaning the bathroom—all the different jobs and cleaners and tools that are needed to do one small, distasteful room. Maybe my revolutionary system came by Fly Lady’s trick of pecking away at our tasks by setting a timer for 15 minutes and putting heart and soul into the job for that short time; maybe it came by an interruption that caused me to stop my odious chore mid-way. Whatever it was, cleaning bathrooms has not been nearly as daunting as it was in my earlier housekeeping days.
My three-day system does two things for me. It helps me begin and it helps me end. When I know that I only have to do my tubs today, I am much more willing to get started. After that, having already begun, and having gotten the very physical job of scrubbing the tubs behind me, I know that I am nearer to a clean bathroom than I was yesterday, and with a little more effort the next couple of days, I’ll have a pretty clean, sparkly bathroom soon.
I have found it works for me to keep all of my bathroom cleaning supplies in a caddie under the sink of my main bathroom. If we had bathrooms on several floors, I’d keep a set of supplies for each floor in a bathroom there. In this way, supplies are near the task for day-to-day maintenance (see below). I do all the bathroom tubs in the house on Day 1, all vanities/toilets Day 2, etc. carrying only the necessary cleaning items for that day from room to room.
Below, are my routines for thoroughly covering the bathroom. This is just one way that bathrooms can be done, it is not a law. Really, whatever works for you…works.
So without further adieu, here is the main frame:
Day 1: Tubs
Day 2: Vanities and Toilets
Day 3: Floors
_____ _____ _____
DAY 1: TUBS
Mildly abrasive cleaner (ex: Softscrub);
Clean sponge with a scratch-free abrasive side;
Soapscum Remover and/or Mold & Mildew Remover (ex: Tilex)
You need to get in there with bare feet. Wet the walls down. Put Softscrub onto sponge and work all surfaces except the two-foot, front of the tub. Work top to bottom, doing a panel-at-a-time, working around the surround. Rinse all surfaces, making sure the Softscrub gets rinsed off. Step out of the tub and on hands and knees, scrub that two-foot tub-front and the floor of the tub. Rinse.
I don’t do my chrome yet as I’m not using that product today, but I will take my sponge and wipe the tops of picture frames and quickly wipe down my door panels. I also check to see if the shower curtain or doors need a spray down with either of the Tilex sprays.
Change out bath towels and shower wash cloths.
DAY 2: VANITIES AND TOILETS
Mildly abrasive cleanser (ex:Softscrub);
Sponge (same as above);
Windex and drying cloth;
Anti-bacterial wipes (ex: Clorox wipes);
Toilet bowl brush
Anti-bacterial spray (ex: Lysol Bathroom) with baby wipes can replace Clorox wipes;
My favorite cleaning cloths are simply white washcloths that come in a package of, maybe, 12/$2.50 at WalMart or the like. I wash them in hot water with Biz bleach and our socks.
Vanities—Softscrub the porcelain and put a bit on the toothbrush to clean around fixtures and the caulking; rinse and wipe clean. Quickly run sponge around baseboard tops to remove dust; rinse out sponge. Wipe down vanity top and doors (NOTE: Softscrub will leave a film that is hard to clean off the flat surface, so use sparingly; a counter spritz of Lysol Bathroom cleaner first may be desired). Windex the mirror, light fixtures, and chrome fixtures on sink and in tub. (NOTE: Sometimes I’ll run out into the adjoining master bedroom to do the mirrors there or wipe the picture frames in the hall outside the main bathroom, etc., since I already have a damp cloth ready to be used.)
Toilets—Use Clorox wipes on tank cover items, then, put on gloves and wipe all porcelain surfaces (tank, lids/lips, and body). I use about 4/toilet. These wipes must be thrown, not flushed. Even though the floor will be cleaned tomorrow, use wipes on the floor around the toilet, because as Jeff Campbell says in his book Speed Cleaning, it is preferable to be “on our hands and knees, eyeball to eyeball with the toilet, only once.” Wet toilet bowl brush and drizzle Softscrub around it; scrub inside of bowl. Flush to rinse out brush. (NOTE: I leave brush lid cocked and I drain the holder several times to aid drying before storing for good.)
Change out hand towels and wash cloths near sink.
DAY 3: FLOORS
Vacuum cleaner with attachments;
Floor cleaner (ex: Mr. Clean);
Floor cleaning sponge (NOT the sponge used Days 1 and 2);
Put rugs outside to be shaken; clear floor of all items. Vacuum floor, using attachments to get into corners and small spaces. Put some Mr. Clean in bottom of bucket and fill with hottest water possible. With gloves and floor sponge, get down on hands and knees and starting at the farthest point away work towards the door. While floor is drying, empty garbage and replace with clean bag; shake rugs outside if possible, and/or vacuum rugs inside (then vacuum floor underneath when rugs are lifted). Replace all floor items.
Fly Lady suggests a Swish and Swipe each day in our bathrooms. When using a bathroom, take inventory of its state. If needed, do a quick wipe of the sink or the mirrors; empty the garbage; sponge flat surfaces in the tub; brush the toilet bowl; do a quick vacuum (perhaps when vacuuming adjacent rooms in the house); etc—whatever needs attention. Mostly, just be aware of your space and deal with small jobs before they get larger.
I know my three-day system forfeits that one glorious day of an all-clean bathroom, but I gain a cleaner bathroom in the long haul as I am more willing to get started and do so more often. Also, instead of just that one day, I get three days of clean smells in there. I have found that my work really doesn’t devolve very much during the three days, so I get a pretty good looking bathroom in the end and am left with time and energy to accomplish other things in and around this otherwise tedious chore.