It’s a spot with a split personality: You quickly wash up or luxuriate in the bath. Either way, you want it sparkling clean.

March 19, 2014
Annie Schlechter

Clean 101


Pour 1/2 cup white vinegar or 1/4 cup chlorine bleach (never mix the two) into the bowl; let sit for several minutes. Brush the entire interior with a toilet brush, then flush. If the toilet has a hard-water ring, let the vinegar or bleach sit for an hour before brushing clean.


Bathtub Interior

  • Clean it with a sponge or cloth and a mild abrasive, such as Bon Ami. (Never use a brush inside the tub; it can damage the surface.)

Soap Scum

  • An acidic cleaner –– like white vinegar or Lime-a-Way –– will cut through soap scum. Wear gloves when cleaning with acid, and be sure to rinse well, since the residue can etch surfaces if left on too long.

Glass Shower Door

  • Clean the track with an old toothbrush and mild dishwashing liquid. Wipe the door with a cloth dampened in white vinegar, then rinse and wipe dry with a clean cloth.

Shower Liner

  • A vinyl, nylon, cotton, or hemp shower liner can be machine-washed in hot water and mild detergent, like Ivory Snow. Rehang the liner to dry.


  • Scrub it with a soft-bristled brush and a mild abrasive, such as Bon Ami, or a mixture of mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Mix 10 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach to treat mildew build­up. Use a soft-bristled brush; wear gloves.


  • Remove old, cracked caulk as needed with a utility knife, then run steel wool along the joint to get rid of any residue; wipe clean with a damp cloth. When recaulking around a bathtub, fill it first, since the weight of the water widens the gap. Squeeze caulk from a tube to fill the gap, then shape it with the back of a plastic spoon. Once it's dry, trim with a razor.


  • Wipe faucets, handles, and other hardware with a soft cloth and white vinegar.

TIP: Fingerprints show easily on chrome fittings. To remove, wipe them with a mixture of white vinegar and warm water, or with nonammoniated glass cleaner.

Bryan Gardner

TIP: Treat a stubborn mildew spot by placing a bleach-soaked cotton ball over it for several hours.

Bryan Gardner

Don't forget the...


Fill a gallon-size plastic bag with white vinegar, submerge the head in it, and secure it to the showerhead with rubber bands; let sit overnight. Rinse and wipe dry. If it's still clogged, remove the head and soak it in warm white vinegar for several hours. Then scrub it with an old toothbrush. Rinse completely.

Bryan Gardner


Remove the cover; vacuum the unit with the crevice tool. Soak the cover in warm soapy water; scrub it with a soft brush.


Natural oils in your fingertips can smudge switch plates. Wipe them with a cloth dampened in a mixture of warm water and mild dishwashing liquid. (Never spray cleaner directly on a switch.)

The Speedy Three

When you're in a rush, try these steps.

1. Run an electrostatic duster along the perimeter of the bathroom and around the base of the toilet.

TIP: Vacuum baseboards with the dust-brush attachment, then wipe them with warm soapy water. Gently scrub gloss- or semigloss-painted surfaces with a light-duty nylon pad or sponge.

2. Clean the mirror, and wipe down the sink and the surrounding counter.

TIP: Clean mirrors with a cloth dampened in a mixture of white vinegar and hot water. Wipe dry.

3. Refresh, straighten, or fold the towels.

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Bryan Gardner

I love my...


"I use this rechargeable vac at least once a day to pick up scattered cat litter and stray hair from blow-drying. I leave off the wand extension, so it stows in a cabinet." -Rory Evans, editor-at-large

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Created by Rory Evans, Jenn McManus, and Ayesha Patel.


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