Dear Home Ec 101,
I have a 9 month old baby girl and as she is becoming more mobile, it is becoming a lot more important to me to keep things really clean. She loves crawling into the bathroom and playing with those little plastic screw covers at the base of the toilet and as much as I try to wipe down that area it is never really free of grime and hair.
I am trying to train my husband to keep the bathroom door closed, but that may be a lost cause and I, of course, pick her up and take her out of there when she does find her way in there, but I would like to get that area cleaner anyway and then I wouldn’t feel like I have to disinfect her whole body if she escapes me and spends some quality time with her new favorite toy!!
Do you have any suggestions for getting the base of the toilet clean and keeping it that way? Thank you so much for any suggestions you may have!
Playing in the Potty
First of all congratulations, you’re about to enter the most harrowing phase of parenting, the toddler years. Once they hit three years, you can probably take a deep breath and maybe, just maybe a short nap. From now until that point your child is on a mission to road test your child proofing.
Before you worry about how clean the base of the toilet is, please get a toilet lid lock. Yes it’s a pain. Yes, it’s one more thing to have to clean. The household toilet is actually a drowning hazard, especially so during the cruising months where infants and toddlers don’t have strong necks. Barring that, get a GOOD child resistant lock for the door or if you can’t find one of those, a hook and eye up where only adults can reach can keep your kiddo out of the bathroom and two small drill holes are easy peasy to patch in a couple years.
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.
Each morning, sweep the bathroom. Due to the temperature of your cold water, toilets often sweat. The hair and other bathroom gook likes to stick to the damp surface. If you are diligent in getting the hair and random fuzz balls out of the bathroom there is less stuff to stick to the base of the toilet, in general.
Put the lid down when you flush. Every time you flush the toilet some of the funk in the toilet is splashed, in very tiny particles, into the air where it hangs out until it finds place to land, usually onto the toilet itself, but some can drift a few feet away. Keep your toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet, folks.
When men pee¹ they splash. The splashed liquid is a combination of urine and water which wipes up easily, if taken care of immediately, but if allowed to evaporate the ammonium salts left behind leave a nice little treat referred to as urine scale. Nice.
The best way to keep this from building up and becoming a nice, sticky germ ridden place is a regular wipe down.
You could keep a spray bottle of diluted vinegar and a collection of rags to wipe down the toilet each morning. You don’t have to do a super thorough cleaning, just a wipe down of the lid, underside of the lid, seat, under side of the seat, rim, and base. Since you’ve swept, there shouldn’t be a coating of hair to make this any more than a quick wipe.
Since you have a soon-to-be busy toddler to protect from herself, I highly suggest the disposable wipes. I recently picked up some Clorox Green Works Compostable² wipes from Target just to see how well they worked -do you appreciate my level of commitment to you guys- and I was impressed. They work well and there’s a lower level of guilt with these than other disposable wipes.
Seventh Generation also has a similar product², but I haven’t tried it and I’m not sure if the Seventh Generation Wipes are compostable or not additionally the chemical in these wipes is a potential irritant (this isn’t a big deal, but if you have sensitive skin, you may be better off with the alternative).
I’m sorry there’s no magic way to keep your toilet sparkling clean. Regular maintenance is your best bet. Sweep, wipe, go.
I promise, your child won’t be fascinated with toilet forever. As soon as they are potty trained the porcelain throne loses much of its appeal.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
¹Urinate really didn’t sound any better and all I can think of is the Little Johnny Joke – Urinate. Teacher, you’re an eight, but if you . . .