Cleaning the bathroom will be time-consuming the first time, since you’ll want to do a hands-and-knees, every-nook-and-cranny clean, and you’ll probably also want to get on the stepladder and clean ceilings, vent fans, and light fixtures. Worktop to bottom, so any dust from the ceiling fixtures can later be swept up. Once you’ve finished cleaning, open any windows, turn on the fans, and let the room air out for a few hours if you can.
Organizing the bathroom requires plenty of small organizers. I like to keep a usable amount of each item in my go-to place (such as the medicine cabinet), and store the rest of bulk packages in a less conspicuous place, such as in a basket on a shelf or in a cupboard. Glass and enamel containers create my personal favorite natural look in a bathroom, and are easy to clean and sanitize as opposed to fabric or woven bins. If you have kids, though, softer goods or painted and sealed wood make sense.
Votive candle holders are the perfect size to fit on the small shelves of a medicine cabinet to hold toothpicks, tweezers, cotton swabs, cotton balls, and more. Powder-coated metal bins are a good choice for items that will remain a bit wet, such as sponges, bottles, and bath toys. Fold a colorful towel in the bottom to soak up moisture, and change it out regularly.
This is another area of the house where grouping like with like makes sense. Put each family member’s essentials in one bin or area for easy access. Place all dental care items together, all first-aid items together, and all nail care items together. Give every item a place to avoid the bathroom junk drawer that so easily accumulates homeless items.
A SHOWER FOR YOUR SHOWER CURTAINS AND LINERS
Well, technically a bath. Most shower curtains and liners can be thrown in the washing machine every so often to get them nice and fresh. But a bath specifically made for them, with antimildew properties, will do an even better job. Give them a nice soak in the bathtub and let air dry if possible. A strong mixture of hydrogen peroxide and naturally antibacterial tea tree oil will cut through soap scum and mildew like a champ, and keep your shower curtain liner fresh in between washes.
• 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
• ½ cup baking soda
• ½ cup salt (any kind will do)
• 10–12 drops tea tree oil
To keep your shower curtain and liner in tip-top shape, give them a refreshing bath now and again. Fill the bathtub with a few inches of lukewarm water, then add all of the above ingredients. Agitate well for a few minutes, then leave to soak for half an hour. Rinse thoroughly. Air dry or throw in the dryer (bonus points if you use a linen spray or wool dryer ball to add scent).
RUST ARREST: SPOTS ON SHOWER CURTAIN AROUND METAL RINGS
Metal shower curtain rings look modern and sleek and come in many different finishes and styles. But they have a dirty secret: when exposed to the moisture of the shower over a long period of time, they begin to rust. And that rust transfers to the beautiful shower curtain they are holding up. Getting rust out of fabric isn’t the easiest task, but if you keep on top of it, you’ll be able to stop those rusty rings in their tracks.
• Lemon essential oil
RUST RELEASERS: GETTING RUST AND HARD WATER DEPOSITS OFF CHROME IN THE BATHROOM
Chrome is a popular choice for bathroom fixtures, particularly for shower-heads, medicine cabinets, and shower bars. But rust, calcium, and hard water will build up and create nasty rust that can be hard to release.
Shower Bars and Fixtures:
• Warm water
• Aluminum foil, cut into 3-inch x 3-inch squares
• Gloves (I like to use gloves when cleaning chrome just because I don’t like the feeling of aluminum foil in my hands and don’t like the idea of getting rust into a cut or scrape.)
Simply dip the aluminum foil in water and use it to rub the rust spots away. The chemical reaction between the two metals removes the rust. Don’t worry, the aluminum foil shouldn’t scratch your nice chrome fixtures because it is softer than the chrome finish. For any particularly pitted or rusted areas, crunch the aluminum foil into a ball. The extra-rough surfaces of the foil will help smooth out the pitted chrome. Then rinse completely. Use a dry cloth with a slight texture to buff the chrome using pressure and a circular motion to restore shine.
• ¼ cup citrus vinegar
• 4 drops clove essential oil
Mix the two ingredients together in a plastic bag. Place over the shower-head and tie in place with a rubber band or hairband. Let sit for 20–30 minutes (but no longer). Remove the bag and solution. Use a clean toothbrush to scrub the area well and get all of the buildups out.
SHOWER CURTAIN LINER ANTIMILDEW SPRAY
This spray works for plastic shower curtains liners only. If you have a washable cotton liner with a water-resistant weave, be sure to wash it frequently to prevent mold and mildew spores from building up in the fabric. The soak above is perfect for those cloth liners, too. But if you still prefer to use plastic, this spray cuts down drastically on the number of times you’ll need to actually take the curtain down and give it a soak and scrub.
• 8 ounces hydrogen peroxide
• 15 drops tea tree oil
Fill a glass spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and add 15 drops of tea tree oil. Shake well before using.
To Use: Spray shower curtain liberally and frequently, whether dry or wet.
Extra Tip: Keep the shower curtain pulled fully taut/closed when not in use. This helps prevent water from getting trapped in the folds of the curtain, a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
POLISHED PORCELAIN POWDER FOR BATHTUBS AND SINKS
If you’re lucky enough to have a porcelain bathtub or sink, you’ll want to take good care of it to avoid pitting and staining. Once the porcelain is compromised, which happens both through daily use and toxic chemical abuse, it gets stained much more quickly and it is harder to keep clean. Take good care of the parts that are still well-glazed, and reglaze if the staining and pitting become too heavy. And most of all, avoid bleach and toxic chemicals or anything heavily abrasive. Yes, pouring bleach onto the stained parts will help momentarily. But it only lasts for a little while and causes more damage. Vinegar and baking soda, along with some essential oils and a little scrubbing, will get even stained spots brighter. The addition of geranium and sweet orange creates one of my favorite bathroom scents, but feel free to choose your own blend.
• Baking soda
• Warm water
• Geranium essential oil
• Sweet orange essential oil
Mix together 2 cups baking soda and ½ cup salt. Wipe the sink or bathtub completely clean with a sponge and warm water. Spray the entire basin well with warm water so the baking soda will adhere. Sprinkle liberally with baking soda and salt mixture. Give it a nice thick layer. If your bathtub is extra-large or deep you may need to mix up more baking soda and salt.
In a small spray bottle, mix together half vinegar and half warm water, with a few drops of each essential oil. Spray the baking soda mix well with vinegar to get it thoroughly soaked. Let sit for at least 20 minutes, if not longer. You should see the baking soda start to take on a brownish tint from absorbing grime. Spray more vinegar if necessary, but it’s ok if the paste dries out a little. Then, use a stiff brush (do not use stainless steel bristles or pads) to scour the baking soda/salt mixture well and really get some muscle behind it to get that porcelain gleaming. Rinse thoroughly. If there are still any trouble spots, repeat the process. Then give it one last shine with the vinegar and essential oil spray. It should be shiny and glowing.
SHINY TILE FLOORS SOLUTION
Ceramic tile floors get just as much dirt and grime buildup and usually have at least a slight texture to them from the natural variations in stone and glazes. This spray cuts through stuck-on grime and the rubbing alcohol helps it dry spot-free on darker-colored tiles. Cypress and lime essential oils feel very grounding for this spray, but you can use another blend if you prefer. You can also use this mixture in a steam mop if you have one for even better results.
• 2 cups white vinegar
• 2 cups hot water
• ¼ cup rubbing alcohol
• 20 drops cypress essential oil
• 10 drops lime essential oil
Mix well in a bucket. Use a lamb’s wool mop (or any other mop you have on hand) and mop the floor well. If any trouble spots remain, dip a textured washcloth in the cleaning solution and rub gently.
Extra Tip: If the idea of mopping makes you want to run and hide, you can also add this solution to a spray bottle and clean the floors with a textured washcloth. A reusable mophead with great natural cleaning power (like lamb’s wool) is my favorite, but you can also cut a thin cloth to the size of a standard stick cleaning mop (like Swiffer), saturate it in the cleaning solution, and sweep-mop away.
It’s easy enough to wipe down tiles, but when it comes to grout … well, it’s porous, which makes it a bit more challenging. Bleach is a common ingredient in store-bought grout cleaners because white grout tends to be a breeding ground for mold and bleach instantly whitens grout. But bleach is harsh, actually weakens the grout, and the fumes are toxic and suffocating when you’re working in a small space like a shower stall. Oxygen bleach, however, is something totally different (see pg. 18) and is safe and environmentally-friendly. It will do the job well here. If you don’t keep oxygen bleach powder on hand, our trusty friend baking soda makes an admirable stand-in.
If Using Oxygen Bleach Powder:
• Oxygen bleach powder, made into paste according to package directions
• Warm water
Make sure your tiles are completely dry. I mean, completely. Dry. Don’t use the shower for at least 48 hours before attempting this or place a fan directly at the tiles for 12 hours, to be sure the grout is dry. Because grout is porous, it’s like a sponge, and if it is full of shower water, it can’t absorb the cleaning mixture. When it’s dry, the cleaning mixture will absorb nicely into all of the grout “pores.” When the grout is thoroughly dry, mix up an oxygen