When it comes to banishing grime, soap scum and mildew, it’s all about working smarter, not harder. Sarah McAllister, the viral Instagram sensation behind Calgary-based cleaning business Go Clean Co., and Shaneka Shaw Taylor, Patience Omokhodion and Alecia Burgess, the founders of professional housekeeping and concierge company reFRESH in Toronto, share their best bathroom cleaning tips to get every surface sparkling. This area should be deep-cleaned at least every two weeks, so turn on some tunes and get to scrub-a-dub-dubbing.
1. Shower head
Mix one part white vinegar to one part hot water and immerse shower head for at least three hours. If you can’t remove the fixture, put the liquid in a plastic bag and secure it over shower head with a twist-tie or an elastic. Let soak, and run the shower to rinse.
2. Shower curtain
“To get rid of mildew, throw the plastic liner in the washing machine with bleach and detergent, and then hang to dry,” says McAllister. Most fabric shower curtains can also be laundered, but skip the bleach to keep colours from running.
3. Shower walls
To clean soap scum and mildew from shower tile, McAllister and her team use a mix of dish soap and vinegar. Use a brush to scrub, then rinse.
4. Shower drain
The reFRESH team recommends investing in a drain cover to catch hair, debris and product buildup. Pull the gunk out and rinse in warm water once a week.
“Keep a Magic Eraser near the tub and scrub stains as they appear—you won’t have to worry about a big job on deep-clean days,” say the reFRESH co-founders.
To make old towels fresh and fluffy again, McAllister swears by laundry stripping, a technique that lifts oils, mineral buildup and residue left behind by softener and detergent. Fill your bathtub with piping hot water and mix in 2 cups powdered Tide detergent, 1/4 cup borax, 1/4 cup washing soda (like Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda) and 1/4 cup Calgon Liquid Water Softener (optional). Stir every hour for four hours, and then transfer towels to the washing machine and run a full cycle without detergent to rinse. Strip lights and darks separately; repeat every six months.
The reFRESH team uses a recipe of 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda and one tablespoon water or dish soap to make a paste. Apply to grout, let sit for 10 minutes and use a soft bristle brush to scrub. Rinse well.
Pro tip: Vacuum before you spray
“When you spray down hair, dust or lint with cleaner, it turns into mud and becomes much harder to wipe away,” explains McAllister. Solution: Vacuum the entire room first (including the tub and the outside of the toilet) using a horsehair brush attachment. (To clean the vacuum brush, dunk it in a mix of hot water and bleach, and let dry completely.)
To keep mirrors fog-free, apply shaving cream to the surface and wipe clean with paper towels.
“Coat your faucet with a mix of vinegar and dish soap and let it sit for about 20 minutes,” says McAllister. Wipe off with a soft cloth and rinse. For extra shine, polish with a glass cleaner. To clean crevices around the faucet, use an old toothbrush and a cleaning solution of your choice. “The soft bristles won’t damage the caulking,” note the reFRESH co-founders.
10. Toothpaste globs
Hot water does the trick. For additional reinforcement, McAllister uses Bar Keepers Friend, an acidic cleaner that works on anything from rust stains to soap scum.
11. Hard-water deposits
“If your toilet bowl is stained, liberally squirt with liquid Bar Keepers Friend, scrub with a toilet brush and let sit overnight so it has time to work,” suggests McAllister.
12. Toilet brush
After cleaning, spray the toilet brush and holder with disinfectant or diluted bleach. The reFRESH co-founders recommend sandwiching your toilet brush between the toilet seat and the bowl to let it drain, placing it back in the holder when completely dry.