10 Common Bathroom Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

May 2, 2024

10 Common Bathroom Cleaning Mistakes to Avoid

You put a lot of elbow grease into making your bathroom sparkle, from scrubbing the tub to keeping tile clean. Compared to other areas of the house, bathrooms harbor a substantial amount of germs and are highly susceptible to mold and mildew—so it’s crucial to make sure you’re not only cleaning it regularly, but also effectively.

Maximize your cleaning efforts by scrubbing your bathroom correctly and avoiding the following cleaning faux pas. Ahead of your next bathroom cleaning spree, scan this list of common cleaning mistakes and learn what to do instead.

1. Cleaning Around Clutter
You should always decluttering before attempting to clean any space in your home. Because bathrooms are relatively small, they tend to accumulate clutter much faster. Busy mornings mean messy vanity counters, which creates an obstacle when it comes to cleaning. Rather than trying to wipe around stuff stored on the counter, in the shower, or even on the floors, tidy up first so you can thoroughly clean surfaces. Better yet, aim to pare down or store less in the bathroom overall. For the items that need to be kept here, use trays, caddies, and baskets to corral them (think toiletries, towels, and dirty clothes) so they’re easy to move out of the way when it’s time to clean.

2. Cleaning Out of Order
A general housecleaning rule of thumb is to work from top to bottom. This prevents dirt and dust on mirrors and countertops from descending onto freshly washed floors. Take this guideline a step further in the bathroom and save the dirtiest surfaces for last so you can avoid cross-contamination of germs. Save the shower, bathtub, and toilet bowl for last.

3. Wiping Surfaces with the Same Cloth
Another way to prevent spreading bacteria around the bathroom is by using multiple cleaning cloths. Wiping down the sink, shower, and toilet with the same one can create a dirtier environment than if you didn’t clean at all. Have a handful of microfiber cloths, plus scrub brushes or sponges, on hand to tackle individual surfaces and fixtures. Also, be sure to toss the cloths into the laundry and wash any brushes or sponges after each bathroom scrubbing session so they’re clean and ready to use again.

4. Disinfecting Before Dusting
Due to excess moisture, shedding hair and skin cells, and product residue, bathrooms are highly susceptible to dust. Attempting to clean dusty surfaces with any liquid cleaner, antibacterial or not, won’t be nearly as effective as it should be and may even scratch the material. Always dry dust baseboards and fixtures, like the top of the toilet tank, and vacuum floors before going in with a disinfectant.

5. Storing the Toilet Brush Incorrectly
It may be tempting to pop the toilet brush back into its holder as soon as you’re done scrubbing. But being that it’s probably the dirtiest object in the bathroom, it’s best to follow this protocol: After cleaning the toilet bowl, sterilize the brush in a solution of bleach and water or, if you only have a few minutes, at the very least rinse the brush under hot water. Always let it dry by placing the handle between the bowl and the seat before returning it to its home. Speaking of which, it’s equally important to sanitize the inside of the holder on a regular basis to avoid an accumulation of odor and germs.

6. Mixing Cleaning Chemicals
Using a product like bleach to clean the bathroom can help keep bacteria and mold at bay. But it can also be hazardous for your health in the short term if it’s used in conjunction with other chemicals. Bleach should never be mixed with ammonia, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol, as it releases a toxic gas that is highly dangerous to breathe.

7. Letting Mold Linger
So long as you’re using it safely, bleach is a straightforward way to kill mold and mildew. Alternatively, you can combat it with a commercial cleaner that specifically targets mold. Whichever method you prefer, make sure to stay on top of it, as it’s extremely easy for fungus to grow in a high-humidity environment. From black mold spores growing on damp ceilings or walls to slimy pink mold popping up in the shower, letting it linger not only looks and smells unpleasant but also poses a serious health risk.

8. Cleaning Without Ventilation
A simple way to improve the air quality of your bathroom is to ensure it’s properly ventilated. Many of us are in the habit of turning on the bathroom fan when taking a hot shower. But, not all of us think to do so during and after a deep clean. While the vent keeps moisture from hanging around, it can also help to dissipate the strong scent of cleaning chemicals. If you want to circulate even more air, and your bathroom has one, open a window while cleaning as well.

9. Ignoring Invisible Germs
When cleaning the bathroom, your mental checklist most likely focuses on the mirrors, sinks, counters, toilet, tub or shower, and floors. These all need to be cleaned routinely, but a slew of other bathroom surfaces, fixtures, and accessories are also begging to be disinfected. These include:

Bath mats and rugs: These can easily retain moisture and reek of mildew, so be sure to wash them weekly or, at least, biweekly.

Shower curtain and liner: Likewise, these materials can also be a source of mold and mildew and should be washed every few months (or replaced) to prevent growth. 

High-touch surfaces: Light switches, door knobs, faucets, and toilet handles should be disinfected frequently, even if you don’t have time to do a whole bathroom clean, to avoid the spread of germs.

Grime collectors: Tile grout, the showerhead, and shower, tub, or sink drains are prone to gunk buildup, so don’t forget to deep clean them monthly.

Bathroom accessories: They might look aesthetically pleasing, but that matching accessory set you picked out gets equally as gross as everything else in the bathroom. Remember to occasionally wipe down soap dishes, dispensers, tissue box covers, toothbrush holders, and, most notably, the trash can.

10. Following an Inconsistent Cleaning Schedule
If you aren't already doing them, many of these methods may add extra steps to your cleaning workload. But the good news is that by cleaning your bathroom more thoroughly and productively, the effects may last longer than if you made a half-hearted effort. Still, it’s wise to scrub your bathroom on average once per week to maintain a healthy level of cleanliness. Frequently used surfaces, such as sinks, can benefit from being wiped down every other day or so, while items like bath accessories are acceptable to go longer between cleanings.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens, Mary Cornetta

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