Cleaning The Bathroom: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

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If guests are coming over the bathroom is the first room I head to with cleaning supplies. It definitely helps to give it some attention weekly, and once I met a woman that wiped hers down daily so she never had heavy cleaning in the bathroom. Whatever your choice is – or if it’s a bit more of a random thing like my bathroom – these articles have lots of good bathroom cleaning advice for you. Click on the title to read the complete post.

Bathroom Cleaning 101

Thursdays mean clean bathrooms here on Home-Ec 101. Don’t be ashamed, we all start somewhere and not everyone’s parental units taught them basic life skills like cleaning toilets.

Hard Water Spots in the Shower

I’ve always hated cleaning shower walls – they just seem so impossible to clean. And now we have a shower stall with clear doors that shows sports from our hard water in DAYS (even with squeegee-ing after every shower).

Hard Water Deposits in the Toilet Bowl

After we moved in, to our horror, two of our toilets were gross! I have been able to remove what I can see after repeatedly cleaning. But there is still a smell. Second toilet, the bowl is black.

How To Choose Absorbent Towels

Is there any way to tell when you buy a bath towel (or any towel for that matter) if it will be absorbent? I’ve purchased many 100% cotton towels over the years.

How To Clean A Grimy Bathtub and Surround

I have a 25 year white tub surround that has accumulated a darkened tint due to left over scum even after cleaning it often enough for this very busy mom and full time art teacher.

How to Clean Up After a Toilet Overflow

So I have all the towels to mop up the water and um mess, from the toilet overflow itself. Then I have to wash the towels, floor, and toilet. And then I feel the need to run a bleach cycle in the washing machine, just in case…

How to Clean the Bathtub

The phenomenon of which you speak is the dreaded bathtub ring. Every time someone takes a bath, all of the dead skin cells, grease, and oils wash off their body and float in a layer on top of the water. Add soap to the mix and theses lovely little particles are trapped in a sticky residue that clings to the side of the tub.

How to Clean a Very Dirty Bathtub

My bathtub is so funky, it makes James Brown look stodgy. Especially since he’s dead. But I digress. The yuck in my tub is so nasty, I’m afraid to take a shower, and my co-workers are starting to complain. Help me, Luke Skywalker Home-Ec 101, you’re my only hope!

How to Clean Tile

We just moved into a home with white mosaic tile in the bathroom.  The grout is sealed.  How do I clean it and what was I thinking?

How to Clean a Toilet

…how a toilet cleaning is done. Besides the obvious-  Outside first: top, sides, bottom then  Inside: scrub.  I have read you can use toilet bowl cleaner, diluted to clean the whole toilet. One must wear gloves of course. Please advise.

Toilet Cleaning Tips

Cleaning toilets is one of those adulthood sucks kind of things. It’s not fun and there’s no big reward for having a clean toilet.  Most of you know that I rarely recommend convenience products. This is one of those rare exceptions.

How to Clean the Bathroom

Getting your house back in shape absolutely requires that you clean the bathroom. Let me tell you, you could have mounds of laundry piled everywhere and a spotless bathroom and I totally wouldn’t think you’re gross. But make me use a dirty bathroom and I’ll take pictures and post them here on Home Ec 101 with the Home Ec 101 Seal of Disapproval. Just kidding.

How to Clean Cultured Marble

First, we have a relatively new shower whose walls are cultured marble. What is the best way to give them the occasional clean to remove soap scum, etc? Second, in the same shower, we have sliding glass doors. While doing a deep clean yesterday, I discovered that there is a fairly well established colony of mold under the railing…..

How to Clean a Jetted Tub

Help! I’ve got funky stuff coming out of my jetted tub. I turned it on the other night and bits of black sludge ruined my bath. How do I clean out the jets?

How to Get Rid of Hairspray Residue

How do you get stuck on hairspray off walls and a cheap linoleum bathroom floor?

How to Get Rid of Pink Shower Mold

We keep getting these pale pinkish stains on the shower curtains and at the base of the tub… Could it be mold?

How to Clean Moldy Shower Tile

What is the best way to clean that black yuk that tends to grow in the corners of the shower? I have a ceramic tile shower and I have used every mixture I can think of to rid the shower of the black stuff from straight Clorox to the gimmicks from “As Seen On TV” and nothing seems to work. Help!

How To Remove Hard Water Spots From Glass

…the previous owner clearly had never heard of cleaning the shower. I tried using “Kaboom” on the tiles and glass doors, but it seemed to have no effect. The scum on the doors is truly gross.

How to Repair Stained Grout

Yes, you can make permanently stained grout look white again! I want to warn you the solution is a little labor intensive -especially in a large room like a kitchen, but the payoff is high.

Micro Fiber Miracle Cloth: Review

It comes with 4 cloths, one big one, 2 medium ones, and one small one for optical stuff. The box claims you will “breeze through everyday cleaning chores without chemicals.”

The Great Debate: Where To Store The Towels

Help me solve my great marital debate. Ever since we moved to a house with a linen closet, we’ve been having this debate a few times a year.

Why Do Hard Water Spots Come Back?

No matter what I do, the hard water spots on my shower and tub keep coming back?  What am I doing wrong?

Have a questions about cleaning your bathroom that hasn’t been answered? Send your questions to

guide to chemical cleaners

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how to clean appliances

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Cleaning Bedrooms And Closets: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

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bedroom and closet cleaning

The designers and decorators often tell us that bedrooms are to be an oasis. A calm place where we can go to relax and sleep. I don’t know about yours, but mine tends to be where things get stashed during the dash that happens when someone is arriving in 10 minutes. I don’t mind that my bedroom doesn’t like show floor ready; I’m happy when it is clean and neat. Our hope is that these tips will help you conquer any mess in your bedrooms and closets.


Mattress Cleaning and Other Indoor Sports

What is the best way to clean a mattress? Dec 2008 I splurged and upgraded from a queen bed to a fabulously huge king size bedset. I’ve heard of putting it outside and letting it “air out” but that’s not feasible where I live. Just curious as to what other people do.

Where Can Mildew Hide in a Bedroom

There is a musty / mildew smell in my home, but I’m having issues locating the source of the smell. As far as I can tell, it’s restricted to one bedroom. I’ve examined all of my clothing, removed the air conditioner, checked all of the furniture, and even the air ducts. Any ideas?

How to Store Blankets Without Inviting Mildew

I have a serious problem with the old lady, musty laundry smell. I keep my sleeping bag, electric blanket and my baby blanket in a chest at the foot of my bed. Is there a secret to keeping this stuff smelling fresh?

How to Remove Cat Urine from a Mattress

I didn’t realize it until it was too late that he was not going downstairs to use one of the two litter boxes. One day I went upstairs to go to bed and realized that sometime in the past two days, he had relived his bladder all over the bed!

How to Clean a Down Comforter

I received a duck down comforter as a gift last Christmas. The tag says to have it taken to the dry cleaners, but not only would it be a pain, it wouldn’t be easy on the wallet. I’m so terrified to wash it on my own that it hasn’t been washed in a year and a half. I know. I am ashamed. And I need help.

How to Clean and Care for Pillows

I have two boys and a husband, and their pillows usually only last a year. I get the heebie-jeebies when I start noticing stains. When the pillows get nasty I just throw them out and buy new ones. It seems so wasteful! Is this what I’m supposed to do, or is there some secret method for washing pillows?

Spare Sheet Storage

I needed to clean my linen closet out so I could start storing towels in there. Previously I had been storing blankets, tablecloths, and sheet sets in there; but with the overabundance of towels I have unearthed since the Great Laundry Rescue of 2007, I need to make space for them in the linen closet.

Spring Cleaning List For Bedrooms

Lets talk about spring cleaning your bedrooms. Here we go, wheee!


Get Clothing Clutter Under Control

I find my bedroom becoming cluttered very quickly with clothes that are “too clean to wash” yet “not clean enough to put away”. I didn’t want to spend more time on laundry than I had to. What do other people do with their clothes? Do they wash every item, every time they wear it? Do they wear the same thing until it needs to be washed? Do they hang up or fold and put away slacks and jeans and tops that have been worn but aren’t dirty?

How to Eliminate Shoe Odor in Small Closets

I just did some awesome cleaning in my closet and swapped out my winter for summer stuff. I noticed my closet has a funky shoe odor. I googled it and saw a lot of ideas for getting rid of the shoe smell, but I trust Home-Ec 101 ideas more.

The Fastest And Easiest Way To Declutter Your Closet

Every once in awhile you come up with an idea that is so simple, you wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

How To Have A Linen Closet And Linens That Smell Great

I want to know how to get that “not great smell” out of my linens. I wash them and put them away and they smell great, when I get them out to use them there is no smell or an “old” smell to them. Should I wash down the walls & shelves of the linen closet?

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Tips to keep your bathroom squeaky clean!

Soap Scum and Acrylic Bathtubs

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Dear Home-Ec 101,

How do I remove built up soap scum from my acrylic tub?

Scummed in Scuddy

Heather says:

Soap scum is a generic term for that funky film that is created by soap and hard water creating a loving bond with your tub or shower.

It’s ugly and a pain in the rear to remove without scratching the surface you’re trying to clean. Once you scratch your tub or its surround, you create all kinds of new nicks and crevices for the next layer of soap scum to adhere to, which lets soap scum build up even faster.

Bar Keepers FriendSince I started writing Home-Ec 101 back in 2007, I have often recommended Barkeeper’s Friend and once again it is my go-to recommendation.

Why? It’s cheap and effective. Barkeeper’s friend relies on oxalyic acid to clean. This is a mild acid that you can find in foods like spinach and tea.

We’ve covered Bar Keepers Friend and acrylic in the past, if you want to read. The quick and dirty version is, follow the directions* and don’t forget to rinse to prevent chemical etching.

*Do not apply with steel wool or a honey badger, even if he don’t care.

As a consumer you may find the liquid version of Bar Keepers Friend easier to apply to vertical surfaces like the side of your acrylic tub or the shower doors. But if you only have the can lying around, just make a paste and gently apply.

Do not use Bar Keepers Friend or any acidic cleanser on natural stone, it’s a bad idea. Try not to get acidic cleansers on your grout or it will need to be resealed more often -use the water bead test to check.

Yes, you still need to use common sense when you use Bar Keepers Friend and not rub it in your eyes -ever squirt a lemon in your eye? It’s not pleasant, is it? And you probably should wear gloves if you’re going to be in contact with Bar Keepers Friend more than incidentally. Why? Acids aren’t great for your skin. You’ll get raw hands if you spend a lot of time, cutting up fruit, too.

And finally, don’t let your kids or pets eat your cleaning products.

Got it? Good.

If you want to prevent soap scum, use a squeegee on your tub after use.

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PS Thank you all for sending in these great questions. You’re helping me get back into the habit of writing consistently and often which is good for both Home Ec 101 and me. It is deeply appreciated. <3

How to Clean a Bath Mat After a Toilet Overflow

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Dear Home Ec 101,

I found your article on How to Clean Up After a Toilet Overflow useful, but I was wondering if you could tell me how to clean my daughter’s colorful bath mat?

My Cup Overflows With Gratitude

Heather says

Isn’t adulthood fun?

The good news is that your bath mat is not a table cloth.

If you have a clothes washer, between it, 2 TBSP of household bleach, the dryer, and some sunlight, your bath mat will be more than clean enough to avoid spreading things like e. Coli to the entire house.

First take the bath mat outside and shake it out as much as thoroughly possible. If you can still see some -ahem- organic matter, grab the hose and rinse the bath mat until all visible particles are gone. Wring the bath mat out as thoroughly as possible, while you’re still outside.

Wash the bath mat on the largest load in warm water with regular detergent and then follow that up by adding 2TBSP of household bleach to the rinse cycle. 

The University of Kentucky’s County Cooperative Extension says:


Brightly colored fabrics that may fade when chlorine bleach is used at higher levels, generally can be successfully sanitized with 2 tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach per washer load without significant color loss

Dry your bathmat thoroughly in the dryer, on tumble or low. The rubber backing of the mat will disintegrate if you dry it at higher temperatures. Once the bath mat is thoroughly dry allow it to sit in the sunlight for several hours.

At this point, it’s okay to stop worrying. Bath mats are intended for feet and really, when your child plops down on the bath mat with their bare bottom, they are probably adding more germs to the mat than they could possibly pick up.

Remember your home isn’t an operating room and a sterile environment isn’t necessary to maintain good health. Using proper hand washing techniques, getting adequate sleep, and a good diet will do far more for a family’s overall health than spending too much time and energy on trying to rid your home of all potential germs.

Have fun?

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Related Posts:

The differences: Organize, Clean, Sanitary, and Sterile

Cleaning Up After a Toilet Overflow

Bathroom Cleaning 101

Hard Water Deposits in a Toilet Bowl

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Dear Home-Ec 101,
During the walk-through when we purchased our current home, we flushed our toilets, but did not raise the lids. After we moved in, to our horror, two of our toilets were gross!

First problem, I am told that it is hard water deposits, so when toilet waste is flushed down, stuff catches on the way down. I have been able to remove what I can see after repeatedly cleaning. But there is still a smell. Second toilet, the bowl is black. Have tried a few cleaners, but with little results. Help!!
Down and Dirty in Delaware

how to clean hard water deposits out of toilet

Heather says:

I do not envy your grungy toilet problem. Nope, not even a little bit.

GlovesGet yourself some rubber gloves. You know, the heavy duty, no-nonsense, I’m about to use cleaners that mean business kind of gloves.

Now don’t worry, I’m not suggesting anything toxic, but acids, even those from non-toxic sources are not good for your skin. Ever cut a ton of citrus fruit and had your hands feel raw for a couple of days? It’s like that.

So get your gloves and either Bar Keepers Friend or your other favorite acidic cleanser.

Why acidic cleanser?

You’re going to be cleaning up some foul funk known as lime scale and urine scale. You know where the lime scale comes from -hard water- but urine scale is a special treat all on its own. It forms from the ammonium salts left behind when urine splashes and evaporates.


I kid. Well, about the yum part, the urine scale is a fact of life, disgusting but we all have to deal.

Your also going to want some kind of scrubber – a generic scrub brush or even one of those nylon kitchen jobbers, but know that you WILL BE THROWING THAT OUT AFTERWARD, right? You can of course, wash and reuse the scrub brush, but please delegate it to the floors or bathroom use only.

Now turn off the water to the tank. (Righty tighty, lefty loosey)

Flush the toilet so there is no water in the bowl.

Put on your gloves, apply the cleanser to the bowl and give the inside a good scrub, as far down as you can reach and spend a lot of time up under the rim. (Many people forget to clean this area and all kinds of heinous funk can hide up here.) Don’t spend a lot of time with this scrubbing, you’re mostly just trying to make sure that the cleaner has gotten into every nook and cranny in the toilet bowl.

Now stand up, put the lid down on the toilet, take off your gloves, wash your hands, and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Go entertain yourself. Welcome back.

Remember when we’ve talked about how cleaning takes a few kinds of energy:

Thermal -not applicable or safe in this case – never, never, never pour hot water into your toilet, the thermal change can crack your bowl and that’s not fun for anyone. I don’t care what you read where on the interwebz. No. No. No. Got it?

Chemical – your cleanser -and with chemical energy comes the need for time for those chemical reactions to take place, that’s why you left the room for a little while.

Physical – yup, here’s where you and the scrub brush come in.

Now, put your gloves back on, wet your scrubber and go scrub the ever-living-snot out of that toilet bowl.

When you’re sure you’ve gotten as much as will come off this round, turn the water back on to the tank, and flush the toilet.

Flush it one more time and give it a little scrub with a standard toilet brush.

Flush again.

Now, leave the room for five minutes or so and come back and give the area a smell.

If it still smells funky, it’s not the bowl.

Turn the water back off. Empty the tank, and carefully remove it. (You’re going to have to disconnect the water line and undo a couple of bolts to do so).

Give the area that you couldn’t reach with the tank attached a thorough cleaning. Rinse, dry, give the area a little while to air out and come back. Do you still smell the funk?

If so, it may be either urine or other filth between the flooring and toilet or the wax ring may need to be replaced. Be prepared for this job to turn into more, if there is water damage to the flooring and / or sub flooring.

If you are a dude, this could be a one person job. I’m not a wuss, but ladies, moving a ceramic toilet bowl is more than I can handle on my own -those suckers are HEAVY- so you may have to call in a friend or significant other for physical help with this job. Do not hurt yourself trying to move more than you can do so safely.

Loosen the bolts that attach the toilet to the floor. Move the toilet out of the area and clean the area up to the drain as thoroughly as possible. Use a cleaner safe for your flooring.

Inspect the wax donut -or since you already have the toilet moved, replace it, while you have it out of the way and save yourself a project 3 years from now.

bathroom cleaning

Tips to keep your bathroom squeaky clean!

Look for water damage that may indicate the seal was compromised. If there is damage, that may be the real source of your odor,  but the repair is out of the scope of Home-Ec 101. That’s more of a 300 level course. Hire out if you must. You can, of course, put the toilet back together until you can afford the repair, just be glad you know the source and make sure this repair is high on your list of MUST-Dos, as water damage can get ugly in a hurry.

Put everything back together and enjoy your funk-free bathroom.

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