DIY Tips and Tricks for Cleaning Bathroom Tile

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Of all the places in a home that prove difficult to keep clean—from under the bed to behind the couch to the living room carpet—one of the most notorious is undoubtedly the bathroom tile. Between soap scum, mold and mildew, cleaning the bathroom often seems less like a household chore and more like an expedition into an unknown and hostile land. However, by using just a few handy tips and tricks, you can have sparkling tile and grout with a minimum of time or effort.

Green Solutions

Vinegar, when mixed in a 1:1 ratio with water, makes an excellent cleaning solution that removes soap scum, mildew, and grime from tile and grout. Simply spray it on, wait a few minutes and then scrub and rinse. Don’t be shy—really work those bristles to remove soap scum from tile and work the vinegar down into the texture of the grout. For tougher jobs, you can create a paste of baking soda and water and apply to troublesome, stained areas with your brush of choice (though a toothbrush is a good one for this). Then spray your vinegar solution for a fizzing, effervescent clean that will loosen up whatever’s hiding in your grout and make it more extractable by scrubbing and rinsing. Hydrogen peroxide can also help you get that deep-down clean. Spray it on stains, let it sit, then scrub and rinse. If this doesn’t get the job done, you can make a baking soda-hydrogen peroxide paste that can take your green clean to a whole new level.

The Non-scrub Solution

If you’re interested in a nontoxic clean but aren’t able to scrub to the extent that the methods listed above may require, don’t worry—there’s a solution for you, too. And if you’d rather watch Netflix than scrub the shower tiles (which is a perfectly natural preference, by the way), this will work just as well for you, too. All you need is a cup of white vinegar, a cup of water, a cup of salt, and 2 tbsp. of dish washing liquid. Mix these together thoroughly, then apply to tile and grout with either a sponge or a spray bottle. After letting it sit for ten minutes, wipe the solution away and rinse.

The Hard Stuff

If you’re looking for a quick way to remove mold and mildew, bleach is more or less your instant solution. Combine water and bleach in a 3:1 ratio, spray it on, and then simply rinse it away. Note that bleach can have the same effect on your skin as it does on the stuff growing in your grout. Always wear gloves when using bleach and make sure that it is completely rinsed away; in the case of showers, make sure all of it is out of the tub and down the drain. If you’re not in as much of a rush and want to avoid the hazards of bleach, you can also use ammonia. In addition to taking care of mold and mildew, ammonia also cuts through soap scum. Dilute it in water at a 2:1 ratio, apply to problem areas with a spray bottle or a sponge, and let it sit for about an hour before scrubbing your tile and grout clean.

Before you Spray

Cleaning a bathroom is a risky proposition fraught with peril. In particular, when using ammonia, bleach or any other chemical cleanser, you should keep the room well ventilated by turning on the fan or opening a window. In either case, you may want to wear a face mask or goggles to ensure that caustic fumes or substances don’t harm your eyes or respiratory system. Additionally, you should never mix chemicals. When bleach and ammonia are combined they create mustard gas, which is highly toxic. Even bleach and vinegar can create hazardous fumes if mixed. Don’t combine cleaning agents in containers, and always make sure that one is thoroughly rinsed away before using another on bathroom surfaces.

Keeping your Bathroom Clean

Getting your bathroom clean is easier if you don’t allow offending substances build up to begin with. To this end, you should cut down on the presence of moisture in your bathroom. You can do this by turning on the fan or cracking the window or door when you are showering or bathing; this prevents moisture from building up and from lingering, creating the conditions ideal for the growth of mold and mildew. Additionally, you can apply Rain-X to your tile and grout, which will repel water and send it down the drain, where it belongs, instead of clinging to your walls. You can also can spritz tile with your vinegar-water solution two to three times per week, after you shower or bathe, to inhibit the growth of mold or mildew. By utilizing these easy, safe, and inexpensive substances and effort-saving tricks, your bathroom will look like it’s received a professional cleaning, and you’ll still have time for more important matters—like vacuuming those dust bunnies out from under the couch.