Short on bathroom cleaning supplies? Maybe not!: All the tools you need for a good tile-to-tub scrub can actually be found in your garage, laundry basket, kitchen cupboards and medicine cabinets. Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean, has done the dirty work to come up with this list of effective — and ingenious — cleaning concoctions.
CLEANING PORCELAIN TUBS
To clean and polish a porcelain tub and remove stains, make a paste of powdered alum (available in drugstores) and water. Rub well, as if using cleanser. For stains, make a paste of powdered alum and lemon juice; apply and let dry, then moisten with more lemon juice and rub well. Rinse thoroughly.
Borax and water is also a great cleaner for porcelain. Make a paste and rub well, then rinse.
CLEANING FIBERGLAS™ SHOWERS AND TUBS
Heat white vinegar until it is hot, but not too hot to pour into a spray bottle and work with. Spray it on the shower and tub heavily. Wait 10–15 minutes and then moisten a scrubbing-type sponge with more of the vinegar and scrub down the shower, using additional heated vinegar as necessary. Rinse well and dry.
REMOVING HARD-WATER MARKS
Many plastic-type tubs have a dimpled, slip-proof bottom that defies cleaning. I have found that using a good gel cleaner or a mild cleanser, and a piece of fine drywall sandpaper (looks like window screen) works the best. Cut the sandpaper into a workable size, apply the cleaner, and rub. Use this only on dimples in plastic and Fiberglas™ tub and shower bottoms.
STUBBORN SPOT REMOVER FOR SHOWERS
For stubborn shower spots and scum buildup, use a dry, soap-filled steel-wool pad on a dry shower. Do not allow water to become involved in this process, as it will cause the steel-wool pad to scratch. Follow up with the previously described vinegar process.
KEEPING PLASTIC SHOWERS CLEAN
To make shower upkeep simple, apply a coat of car wax. Do not use this on the floor of the tub or shower. After showering, use a squeegee to wipe down the shower door and walls, and your shower will stay clean and you’ll have fewer problems with mildew.
KEEPING TILE AND GROUT CLEAN
You can keep ahead of grout cleaning if you use a dry typewriter eraser on dry grout to remove mildew and stains as they appear. For bigger problems, make a paste of baking soda and chlorine bleach and apply to the grout. Let dry and then rinse. Do this in a well-ventilated area, using care near carpet or fabric. Even the fumes of chlorine bleach can remove color from towels left hanging in the tub area.
TILE AND GROUT CLEANER
Combine 2 parts baking soda, 1 part borax, and 1 part hot water, adding additional water as necessary to form a thick paste. Apply to the tile and grout, and scrub with a soft brush. Rinse well.
This is a handy spray-on grout cleaner for frequent use, good for removing soap scum and cleaning tile counters:
1/2 cup of baking soda
1⁄3 cup of ammonia
1/4 cup of white vinegar
7 cups of water
Combine all the ingredients in a labeled spray bottle and shake well to mix. Do not use this in conjunction with chlorine bleach or where chlorine bleach has been used. Simply spray it on and then wipe with a damp sponge or cloth. No rinsing required.
REMOVING SOAP SCUM FROM GLASS SHOWER DOORS
Removing soap and scum buildup on glass shower doors is always tedious. Lemon oil or even plain old mineral oil will remove it quickly and easily, and will help to keep it from coming back. Apply the oil to a rough cloth, such as an old washcloth, and rub it across the dirty shower door surface. Next buff with a soft cloth or paper towels to provide a haze-free shine. The oil provides a protective coating that keeps the water beading and the soap scum from adhering. Never put oil or allow it to drip on the floor of the shower; this will prevent good traction in the shower and may cause someone to fall.
CLEANING SOAP SCUM AND MILDEW OFF PLASTIC SHOWER CURTAINS
Put the shower curtain in the washing machine with 1 cup of white vinegar, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup of your favorite liquid laundry detergent, and several old, light-colored towels. Fill the washer with warm water and run through complete wash and rinse cycle. Remove from the washer and hang on the shower rod immediately.
CLEANING MINERAL DEPOSITS FROM THE SHOWERHEAD
Fill a plastic sandwich bag with undiluted white vinegar. Tie this around the showerhead and leave overnight. In the morning, remove the bag, scrub the head with a brush, and it’s ready to use.
Put 1/2 cup of baking soda down the bathroom drain and follow with the vinegar from the plastic bag — great drain opener! Wait 30 minutes, then flush with water.
CLEANING CHROME FAUCETS
Use white vinegar on a cloth or sponge to remove water spots and soap scum. Dry and buff with a soft cloth. Rubbing alcohol is also a great spot remover. Apply, then dry and buff.
To shine chrome or any metal fixture in a hurry, use a used dryer fabric-softener sheet on a dry fixture.
Apply some lemon juice to chrome fixtures and buff with a soft cloth to a brilliant shine.
REMOVING HAIR SPRAY RESIDUE
You can use this formula to remove hair spray residue from any hard surface — vanities, tile, floors, walls, etc. Mix a solution of 1⁄3 liquid fabric softener and 2⁄3 water in a spray bottle. Spray on the surface to be cleaned and wipe. Not only does it remove hair spray, it also acts as a dust repellent and shines vanities beautifully!
Mix 50 percent rubbing alcohol and 50 percent water in a spray bottle and use it to remove styling product residue.
REMOVING BATHTUB DECALS
Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the decals and heat with a blow-dryer on high. Work up the edge of the decal with a dull straightedge (credit cards work great) and keep applying the heat as you pull. If the decal is stubborn, lay down the foil as necessary and heat well and peel again. To remove the residue, try petroleum jelly, denatured alcohol, or nail polish remover. Test these products in a small area first before applying.
HAIR TODAY: Dilute your shampoo and conditioner with water to save, save, save. No need to watch all that money go down the drain!
CLEANING SHOWER DOOR TRACKS
Plug the drain holes in the door track with a little bit of paper towel made into a ball. Pour in undiluted white vinegar. Let this soak for 30 minutes, unplug the holes, rinse the track with a spray bottle of water, and run a rag down it. This will flush the accumulated buildup out of the track.
If you have indoor plumbing, then you have to clean the toilet once in a while, whether you like it or not. Follow these tips and it will be a breeze:
To keep your toilet clean and your dog happy, put several tablespoons of Tang® Breakfast Drink in the toilet before you leave for work or at bedtime. Let it soak, use your toilet brush to swish around under the rim, and flush. The great thing about this is you don’t have to worry if the kids get into the toilet bowl cleaner.
Removing Hard-Water Rings
Shut off the water at the toilet tank and flush. Spray undiluted white vinegar around the inside of the toilet, then sprinkle borax onto the vinegar. Let soak about 30 minutes and then scrub with a piece of fine drywall sandpaper (looks like window screen — available at hardware stores and home centers). If you have an old hard-water ring, you may need to repeat this several times.
Drop a couple of denture-cleaning tablets into the toilet and let sit overnight. Brush under the rim with your bowl brush and flush.
To clean stubborn stains from a toilet bowl, first shut off the water at the tank and flush the toilet to remove as much water as possible. Combine in a bucket:
1 tablespoon ammonia
1 cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (drugstorevariety)
1 1/2 quarts water
Pour the solution in the toilet bowl and use a brush to apply it to the sides of the bowl. Let stand at least 30 minutes, then scrub the inside of the bowl with a scrub brush. Allow to remain in the toilet for up to several hours, reapplying the solution to the sides of the bowl frequently as needed. Do not use this with chlorine bleach or products that contain chlorine bleach. This solution cleans and disinfects.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean (Copyright © 1998 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona — then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- 15 Ways to Save Energy — and Other Tips for Green Living
- 24 No-Fuss, All-Natural Gardening Tips
- End Closet Clutter and Get Organized in 3 Steps
- How to Remove Stains Using Common Household Products
- Make Your Own Laundry Spot and Stain Removers
- Read Chapter 3, Cleaning Products You Should Never Be Without, from Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean
- See the book’s Table of Contents
- Browse more books by the author