Written by Grove Collaborative

Ultimate cleaning: A step-by-step guide to cleaning the bathroom.

Last Updated: March 19, 2021

If you’ve let your bathroom get a little over-ripe, it deserves top billing on your spring cleaning checklist. Here’s how to do it right.

Your bathroom is where all the personal hygiene action happens — showering, toothcare, skincare, catching up on your insta feed on the throne. It’s a room that’s bound to get pretty grimy awfully fast, and a weekly cleaning isn’t always in the cards.

If you consider cleaning the bathroom a dirty, arduous task that purportedly requires an arsenal of the most powerful, toxic cleaning products you can legally acquire, think again. The truth is, cleaning the bathroom is fairly quick ‘n’ easy if you follow this step-by-step guide — and you can get it just as clean and sanitary with natural cleaning products as you can with the conventional bathroom cleaners that aren’t all that great for your health or the environment. This spring, make the switch to natural cleaners. They work just like the stuff on TV, but they don’t want to hurt you — and they smell divine.

Bathroom cleaning essentials

Step 1: Take dirty linens to the laundry

Take the dirty towels, rugs, shower curtain, and liner to the laundry room to get them out of your way. If your rugs are washable, toss them in on a cold setting with your usual detergent. Bath rugs often contain droplets of urine and other bacteria, so wash them separately from your towels and shower curtain.

Wash your bath towels every two to three uses. Launder them in warm water with regular detergent, but take care not to stuff the washer too full — an overloaded washer won’t get your towels very clean if they’re packed in like terrycloth sardines.

The shower curtain is a breeding ground for bacteria. Wash it regularly as part of your bathroom deep-cleaning routine. Read our guide on how to clean a shower curtain for more information on getting your shower curtain fresh as a daisy.

Step 2: Declutter, and take out the trash

Spring cleaning means decluttering, so recycle all those empty shampoo bottles, gather up your expired medications to drop off at your local pharmacy, and tackle your drawers and medicine cabinet. Toss out what can’t be recycled or repurposed.

Taking out the bathroom trash every couple of days minimizes bacteria by keeping used tissues and bits of floss from overflowing onto the floor. If you aren’t doing so already, line your wastebasket with a small trash can liner or a plastic grocery bag so you won’t have to scrape little nasties like clumps of hair and wax-covered cotton swabs off the bottom of the trash can — which may or may not be your last task under this step.

Step 3: Dust from top to bottom

Always start dusting at the highest point, and work your way down so that you don’t get exhaust fan dust on the countertop you just cleaned. Use a dry microfiber or electrostatic duster, preferably one with an extension wand. You may need to follow the dry dusting with damp microfiber wipe-down if it’s been a hot minute.

Up high: Dust the ceiling where it meets the wall, and run the duster down all of the corners, from floor to ceiling. Dust the exhaust fan, light fixtures, and the tops of the windows.

In the middle: Dust the window frames and sills, the countertops, and any shelves or cabinets you have. If you have artwork in the bathroom, dust that, too.

Down low: Dust the baseboards and behind the toilet. Sweep the floor to remove all the dust it’s collected so you don’t track it around as you continue cleaning.

Step 4: Scrub the sink, tub, and toilet

The sink gets pretty gross around the drain and around the base of the faucet. Give your bathroom sink some serious love with our guide on how to clean a porcelain sink.

Cleaning the tub is simple with a few nifty tricks up your sleeve. Follow the step-by-step instructions in our how to clean a bathtub guide for tips on removing soap scum, stains, and limescale buildup using natural cleaning products. If you have a jetted tub, take extra care to remove any mold or bacteria that may have accumulated since its last deep-clean.

Soap scum is that slimy, insidious layer of hard-water minerals mixed with soap residue that likes to attach itself to surfaces all over your bathroom. Tackle the grime naturally with our how to clean soap scum guide.

Let’s be real, nobody wants to clean the toilet. We can’t do the dirty work for you, but our how to clean your toilet guide will help you get this dirty deed done quickly and with ease.


Don’t forget the drains!

Drains get gross fast, so each time you give your bathroom a deep-clean, treat your sink and tub drains to some odor-busting, clog-preventing TLC. When you’re all done needing the water on for a while, pour a half-cup of baking soda into each drain, followed by a half-cup of vinegar. Let it sit for an hour, then pour a pot of boiling water down each drain.

Step 5: Descale and shine the showerhead and faucets

Shower heads don’t get as much attention as they should. If you’ve noticed that your water isn’t coming out as easily as it used to, or there’s a wayward stream of water aimed right at your eye, you’ve probably got limescale, or hard-water minerals, all up in the holes, blocking water or sending it in an unfortunate direction. Descale and shine that baby up with a plastic bag full of vinegar, a process our detailed shower head cleaning guide lays out in detail. While you’re at it, treat the bathtub faucet and the bathroom and kitchen sink faucets as well.

Step 6: Clean all of the tile and grout

Cleaning your tile grout probably isn’t high on your cleaning to-do list, which makes it a prime candidate for spring cleaning. Keeping your bathroom grout grime-, mold-, and mildew-free makes your whole bathroom look cleaner and brighter. It’s not a hard job, and it can be quite fun to watch your discolored grout turn pure white again. All you really need to clean your grout is an old toothbrush and some baking soda and vinegar.

Start with the shower walls, moving from top to bottom. Then, move on to the floor. Thoroughly vacuum first, getting in all of the nooks and crannies, along the baseboards, and behind the toilet. Mop the floor with a microfiber mop and some vinegar and water, then attack the floor grout just like you did the wall grout, working in sections.

Step 7: Clean the glass

Your beautiful visage has been hidden behind toothpaste splatters for far too long. Grab the glass cleaner, or use vinegar and water, and spray the glass. Wipe it from top to bottom with a microfiber cloth, which will help reduce streaking. Don’t forget the bathroom window, your glass shower door, and the glass light fixtures — they need some TLC, too.

Step 8: Replace the linens and restock the necessities

Is there anything more spectacularly satisfying than outfitting your sparkling clean bathroom in fresh linens? We think not. Grab the clean rugs, towels, and shower curtain from the laundry room, and put them back in your bathroom. Restock any toiletries you’re low on, including hand soap, shower necessities, shaving supplies, and toilet paper. Make a list of what needs replenishing — you’ll find most of it here at Grove.

And you’re done cleaning the bathroom! Take a few moments to bask in the gleaming results of your diligent scrubbing, then hop into your freshly scrubbed shower — after all that hard work, you probably need one!


Keep the shower cleaner, longer

To keep your shower walls and floor clean and free from water spots, mildew, and soap scum, spray them down after each use with a half-vinegar, half-water solution. The acidic vinegar will prevent mold growth and break up soap scum before it can take hold and make your shower gross and your life miserable.

Shop bathroom cleaning supplies

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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