Bathrooms are constantly being wiped down and disinfected these days, especially the surfaces that we touch. Things like faucets, handles, and sink tops are hot spots for contamination, so they are getting even more attention right now. Don’t ignore the other areas that aren’t right at your fingertips, however, as the whole bathroom needs regular inspection. Here are some bathroom tasks you should be doing more often than you think.
Wipe Down Shower and Tub Surround
Sure, it’s mostly water that gets on shower walls and around the tub, but tiny soap particles mix in and create water spots and soap scum all over your shower and tub area. This can be especially noticeable in places with hard water.
To protect the surfaces from build-up, make sure you are wiping the walls, glass doors, and tub with either a bathroom cleaner made specifically for this job or with a natural, homemade solution. Baking soda is a miracle cleaner when it comes to caked-on stains and grime, so try mixing a few tablespoons in a ½ cup of ammonia and two cups of water: wipe, rinse, and your bathing area will sparkle.
Launder Shower Curtain
You probably don’t notice the grime that collects at the bottom of your shower curtain until it’s too late. Damp, humid areas in between the folds will breed mold quickly unless you are on top of it. Daily habits should include shaking off excess water, clearing off any leftover soap suds, and hanging the curtain off the showerhead or over the pole, so that it can drip and air dry.
Even still, the curtain will collect residue at the bottom. Look for ones you can easily throw in the washing machine, or spray a solution of one-part borax and vinegar in four-parts water, then scrub, and rinse. Mildew-free curtains are available but will only postpone the inevitable build-up.
Clean or Fix Grout
While regular wiping of tiles will help keep the grout lines clean, they may break down or even break off after time. Any kind of hole in your shower surround will allow water to penetrate the backing wall, creating a haven for mold buildup. Once this happens, it’s difficult to keep at bay, so best not to use the shower until the grout is fixed.
Match the color as best as possible at the hardware store, or hopefully, you kept the bag you used. Mix up a tiny amount and fill in the space. You can probably do this with a gloved finger if there are only tiny areas. Completely fill any gaps, then wipe the line after ten minutes with a sponge. Let it sit for another ten, and then do a final smooth to blend in with the rest of the grout.
Clean or Replace Caulking
The same applies to any loose or broken caulking that lines your tub and shower creases. This important water-proof bead protects the corners and spaces where surfaces meet from water entering in. If there is a breakage, water penetrates quickly and causes mold. If you only see tiny holes, then thinly applying a small amount of the same color of bathroom silicone caulking (not the latex kind) over-top can do the trick. However, any moldy, discolored, or loose caulking should be completely cut away before adding a fresh, new bead.
Wash the Floors
Floor cleaners or vinegar solutions will kill bacteria and take care of bathroom odors that can stick to bathrooms floor tiles, but you may also want to use bleach from time to time. Water spots will cause minor damage if left too long, so make sure you are giving the floors a good wipe down, or mopping every couple of weeks, at least. Fungus thrives on wet floors, so even if you can’t disinfect daily, run the fan until humidity clears, wipe up any standing water, and always hang up towels and bath mats to air dry.
Scrub the Toilet
Even though this hard-working fixture washes away your disposables every day, leftover bacteria and waste slowly collect on the insides, underneath the bowl lip, and the area where it meets the pipe. Weekly scrubbing with a toilet brush is recommended, along with a proper toilet bowl cleaner. You can make your own like the solutions listed already or use store-bought products. Just make sure you are using something that will kill germs and bacteria but not scratch or “etch” the porcelain.
Clean the Fan
This is definitely one of the places that most people forget about in a bathroom, but since moisture gathers throughout the air during showers and baths, the ceiling can develop “wet spots” and tiny, little “grime-drops” that you should wipe away on a weekly basis. At the same time, vacuum or wipe the dust from the ceiling fan to keep it clear and running well. If you don’t have a ceiling fan – get one.
Fix Leaks Right Away
You should deal with a leaking shower head, sink faucet, or tub faucet right away. Not only are you losing money with every wasted drop that goes down the pipe, consistent drips and leaks can also cause unsightly water stains. Most leaks are fixed by replacing the whole fixture, which may be the best choice if it’s old and past its prime. If not, get out your DIY plumbing kit: a new washer, gasket, or O-ring can bring a leaky fixture to a stop.
Fix Toilet Problems
If you hear or see water continually running in your toilet after it’s filled up, don’t delay fixing this. Running water will jack up your water bill quickly, and the best thing to do is to shut off the water to the toilet when not in use. Inspect inside the tank as this is usually a problem with the fill valve.
Some tweaking can sometimes solve the issue, but a replacement (usually around $20 and 20 minutes) is an easy fix. Replacing the flush valve is only slightly more complicated. If the toilet is leaking near the floor, don’t try to seal it with caulk or something else - lifting the toilet out and replacing the gasket, flange, or wax ring is a relatively easy, DIY-friendly job.
Cleaning and inspecting go hand and hand when it comes to bathroom maintenance. If done on a regular basis, you can get into the habit of noticing if anything is wrong. Fixing leaks and holes promptly is important, as is disinfecting and ridding surfaces of germs and bacteria.
When replacing old fixtures, look for water-saving brands and ways to check toilet water consumption. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it - and that someone is the DIY-er.