Bathroom Cleaning Tips

21 February 2024

Eww! You glance at the shower floor and see this pink around the drain. This is serratia marcescens, an airborn bacteria, often called pink mold. Unless you have a compromised immune system, this won’t be dangerous but it is certainly unsightly and should be removed. It likes warm, humid areas and needs fats and minerals, which come from soap residue, hard water, and traces of biologicals like skin cells.

When you get ready to clean, be sure to wear gloves, a face mask, old clothes, and protective eyewear, just in case some of the bacteria or cleaning solutions might find some part of your person enticing.

Remove the shower curtain, liner, bath mat, etc. Wash and dry items as indicated on the care labels. Plastic curtains or liners should be thrown out rather than trying to clean them. In the long run, they are inexpensive and in the short run they are difficult to thoroughly scrub.

A good cleaning solution is ½ cup baking soda mixed with 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Using a nylon-bristle brush, start at the highest point and work your way downward. Rinse thoroughly with a hand held shower sprayer, or by rinsing with an old towel. Be sure to clean the brush afterward so that it will be sanitized and not spread the exact stuff you are trying to remove.

Then mix a 50/50 solution of warm water and chlorine bleach and treat the area so that you are sure the bacteria is dead. Allow this solution to remain on the surface for about 10 or 15 minutes. Then with a clean scrub brush, go over all the surfaces once again. Rinse very well and use old towels or a squeegee to remove any excess moisture. Again, be sure to clean the scrub brush.

Prevention is always the best policy. Since this bacteria thrives on moisture, dry the surfaces after taking a shower or bath. If you use a shower curtain, straighten it so that it can dry quicker and more thoroughly. Give the curtains and liners a trip through the washer at least once a month, or clean as per the manufacturer’s directions.

Soap scum and body oil are food for this little annoyance, so wipe up spills of shampoo, conditioner, bits of soap bars, etc. after each use. Turn on the exhaust fan to dispel excess moisture or use a dehumidifier.

As for keeping the rest of the bathroom tidy, here are some rules of thumb.

  • Take a look at your showerhead. This is a perfect place for minerals to accumulate. If that happens, the holes get clogged and the spray will become irregular and lighter. If you remove the showerhead and soak it in a mixutre of 50/50 vinegar and water, you can remove a great deal if not all the deposits. Allow the head to soak for at least 20 minutes and then use a soft-bristled brush (like an old toothbrush) to remove any residue. Rinse well and re-affix the head to the plumbing.
  • Grout is easy to overlook until it becomes discolored. If you use a product specifically for grout and brush on a regular basis, it becomes easier to clean.
  • When was the last time you looked at the exhaust fan in the bathroom? The blades attract dirt and especially small bits of toilet paper. They are easy to overlook since they are usually on the ceiling. When you are vacuuming the bedroom, hallway, or anything adjacent to the bath, haul out the hose attachment and with an appropriate attachment, vacuum the vent cover.
  • Because it is so difficult to reach, the area behind the toilet is often ignored or overlooked. At least occasionally dust the pipes and shut off valve and as much as you can reach behind the tank. It is recommended that the wall and floor around the commode using a disinfectant cleaner or at least a vinegar mixture regularly. While you are finishing the bowl and seat, give the tank a cleaning and at least dust off the top of the tank. About once a month, you should check the inside of the tank to be sure there are no signs of bacteria (pink) or mold (black).

Okay, the bathroom is probably not a favorite place to clean, but, let’s face it, it does get an awful lot of use in a day or week. Keeping it in good shape on a regular basis means less cleaning when you are expecting company.

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