A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way.
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Credit: Ryan Liebe

The bathroom is an area where upkeep can easily fall victim to neglect. Figuring out how to clean the bathroom, and where to start, is half the battle. Cleaning the room isn't usually a person's favorite job, which is why many of us tend to address this room only after it becomes obvious that it needs attention. A better strategy is prevention; mount short and frequent campaigns against dirt and soap buildup, and the task will never be insurmountable.

Stock Up on the Tools You'll Need

According to Lauren Bowen, director of franchise operations at Two Maids & A Mop, it's best to keep a stocked caddie in the bathroom, full of disinfectant wipes, glass cleaner, and a spray bottle ($19.98 for two, amazon.com) of all-purpose cleaner. "This way, you have the tools you need to spot clean quickly," she says. You'll also require microfiber cloths ($11.99 for 12, amazon.com), a stiff brush, and gloves. "Also, consider making a shower squeegee your new best friend," she says. "You can buy one of these amazing tools just about anywhere cleaning supplies are sold. Hang it up and use it at the end of every shower. This is one of the best ways to keep hard-water deposits from building up on shower doors."

Use Non-Abrasive Cleaners for the Sink and Bathtub

It's a good idea to avoid using abrasive cleaners on the sink or bathtub. Keep soap residue and mineral deposits from forming by wiping down the sink and tub after you've used them. A quick vinegar and water rinse daily (or every other day) can help keep the area clear, Bowen says. If a buildup does occur, tackle the problem with warm water and a mild detergent, and rinse thoroughly. "Dishwashing detergent is a great non-abrasive alternative that will break down grease and grime," says Bowen. "Liquid cleaners are the best option to avoid any abrasions to the sink and tub surface, as chemical powdered cleaning substances can scratch away at the polish."

Wash Away Water Stains

Water stains respond well to a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water. Combine equal parts of each in a spray bottle and shake it thoroughly to dilute the vinegar. "Spritz the solution evenly over the entire surface that is stained. The acid in the vinegar is strong enough to break down the minerals deposited by the hard water, but still gentle enough to prevent damage," Bowen says. "Let it sit for about 20 minutes so that it can fully sink into the surface and begin breaking down the stain. Then, use a stiff brush or toothbrush to scrub the surface." Continue to spray and scrub as necessary until the stains are completely gone, she adds. "If the stain is stubborn, pour some of the solution into a separate bowl and add some baking soda to make a paste. Scrub with the paste and you should be able to break the stain down for good."

Don't Forget Metal Fittings

First, check to see what material your metal fixtures are made of, Bowen says. "If they are stainless steel or chrome, you can use white vinegar for a natural and effective clean. Fill a plastic bag with white vinegar and then secure it around the showerhead, faucet, or other metal fixture you need to clean," she says. After letting it sit and soak for an hour, remove the bag and then polish it gently, making sure to dry it completely.

Brass and bronze are more difficult to clean because they are delicate and prone to damage, she says. "With this in mind, you should start with gently rubbing them with a cloth soaked in warm water. Next, mix equal parts lemon juice and baking soda for a cheap and gentle solution," she explains. "Scrub it on lightly with a microfiber cloth or toothbrush, and then let it dry." Then, once it's dry, gently wipe it off with a clean sponge and your fixtures will sparkle. It's also good to remember that if you live in an area near saltwater, use only chrome fixtures to prevent corrosion.

Mop Porous Floors and Walls

For porous floors, first, sweep up any hair or other debris that may be lingering, says Bowen. "Then, mix one gallon of warm water with two tablespoons of a mild household detergent and stir thoroughly to dissolve the detergent." Next, pick up your microfiber cloth (or mop), dip it in the solution, wring out excess, and then mop in circular motions to pick up dirt and grime. "The warm water will break down any grit that has hardened in the porous surface of the tiles," she explains. "Be sure to frequently rinse the microfiber cloth or mop in warm clean water to avoid transferring any of the wiped-off grime back onto the floor." Finish by wiping the tiles dry with a clean cloth.

Wipe Down Non-Porous Surfaces

For nonporous floors, simply wipe down the glazed tiles using a microfiber cloth and warm water mixed with any mild household cleaner.

Scrub Grout Clean

Of course, both porous and non-porous floors will have grout, and it's important to tackle this area, too. "You should invest in a cleaner that is specifically made for grout, to avoid using the wrong product and damaging your floors," she says. "Use a spare toothbrush to scrub the grout cleaner along the tiles and in the grout lines, following with some warm water, and finally, drying with a cloth."

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