The bathroom is an area where upkeep can easily fall victim to neglect. Cleaning it isn't usually a person's favorite job, and many of us tend to do it only after it becomes obvious that the bathroom needs attention. But a better strategy is prevention; mount short and frequent campaigns against dirt and soap buildup, and the task will never be insurmountable.
The most basic tools you'll need are assorted sponges, which should be color-coded: One color for the sink and bathtub, another for the toilet. Make sure that sponges meant for the bathroom aren't used in any other room in the house.
It's a good idea to avoid using abrasive cleaners on the sink or bathtub. Keep soap residue and mineral deposits from forming by keeping some inexpensive terry cloths around and wiping down the sink and tub after you've used them. If buildup does occur, tackle the problem with warm water and a mild detergent, and rinse thoroughly. Water stains respond well to a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water, while mildew and more difficult stains may call for a mix of two parts water to one part bleach. To clean metal fittings, wipe with a damp cloth, and dry right away, or use a mild detergent if necessary. If fittings and faucets need intensive work, a product such as 7 Metal Cleaner will do the job without stripping the finish, and the fittings can be treated with a product such as FaucetBrite, which leaves a protective coating over the metal. Harder-to-reach areas of the fittings can be cleaned with a toothbrush. It's also good to remember that if you live in an area near salt water, use only chrome fixtures to prevent corrosion.
Flooring, wall, and shower tiles need to be wiped down frequently or mopped with a mild vinegar-and-water or bleach-and-water solution. For heavier cleaning, only use cleaners that are appropriate for the type of tiles you have: porous or nonporous. Porous tiles will need a stone soap; check the manufacturer's instructions for suggested products. For nonporous tiles, try a bleach and water or vinegar and water solution, while using a product such as Tilex on the grout and a solution such as Top Job or Mr. Clean on nonporous floors.
Finally, accessories such as a soap dish can be soaked in hot water in the sink -- before cleaning the sink itself -- or carefully wiped down if your soap dish is mounted. Toothbrush cup holders can be properly cleaned in the dishwasher.
We used an enamelware bucket, Mira Clean #1 all-purpose cleaner, and Mira soap from Miracle Sealants Company; phone: 800-350-1901 ext. 3012.