7 Genius Cleaning Tips from A College Dorm Bathroom Cleaner

published Sep 23, 2019
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Kyle Walker knows more than a little bit about how grungy college dorm bathrooms can get. As the owner of Real World Services, a commercial cleaning company tasked with cleaning the bathrooms at Ohio University, Ohio State University and Hocking College, Walker knows that you never know what you’re going to walk into when you’re in dorm bathroom cleaning mode.

“You could walk into one that’s absolutely clean when the students left, or you could walk into some that have incredible mold and scum build-up,” he says.

So what’s the best way to clean a bathroom from someone who’s really gotten their hands dirty in the bathroom? Read on for Walker’s floor-to-ceiling game plan for cleaning germs and grime out of the most unseemly places:

Grab disinfecting spray and tooth brushes to attack light switches and door handles

Whatever germs and other nastiness is on your hands usually gets transferred directly to high-touch areas like switches and handles, which is why it’s extra important to get those as clean as possible—even if you’re not living in a dorm, where communicable illnesses run rampant. “Typically what we do is use our microfiber cleaning cloths and disinfectant spray to wipe the switch down,” Walker says. “We’ll also use a toothbrush to get in nooks and crannies to get it clean.”

Use wet steel wool to clean stubborn marks off mirrors

In a dorm bathroom, any number of mysterious substances might get flung onto a mirror. Walker knows that when tough stuff like paint gets on there, it takes more than just a towel to get the job done. “If paint is stuck on the mirror, we will use wet steel wool on it. Remember to always use wet steel wool to avoid scratching the mirror.” If you want to try this at home, the super fine, oil-free type (grade 0000) is likely safe for any of your mirrored surfaces, but spot test it in an inconspicuous spot to make sure you’re avoiding scratches.

Give trash cans a bath—and don’t shy away from essential oils

Liquor, vomit, weeks-old leftovers from the dining hall… chances are, dorm bathroom trash cans have literally seen it all. If your trash can has also seen cleaner, better-smelling days (no judgment), Walker recommends giving it a full rinse. “When a plastic trash bin gets grungy, we typically throw it in the tub, rinse it with cleaner, and then dry it.” Another pro tip: If you want it to have a nice smell, drop some essential oils on a cotton ball in and leave it at the bottom of the bin.

Try an acid-based toilet bowl cleaner for stubborn water buildup issues

Chances are, your home toilet isn’t flushed as often as a dorm toilet (thankfully). Even so, you may still have the kind of water buildup issues that dorm toilets face—and if that’s the case, Walker suggests using an acid-based toilet bowl cleaner and putting it into the bowl and letting it soak for five to 10 minutes. “We then focus on wiping the outside of the bowl and the lid with disinfectant spray,” he says. “After that 10 minutes of soaking, we will use a pumice stone to scrub the inside of the toilet, especially if there are hard built-up water stains. We follow that by cleaning the inside with a toilet brush to make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned.”

And give Bar Keepers Friend a whirl for hard water stains in and around sinks

If a disinfectant spray is good enough to keep grimy dorm sinks sparkling clean, then it’s definitely good enough for your home. If you also have hard water stains, a common problem in high-use bathrooms like those in dorms, “use Bar Keepers Friend, a scouring powder, a Magic Eraser or an abrasive sponge to clean it.” He also says that Bar Keepers Friend is good for cleaning sink handles. “We also will use a toothbrush to remove stubborn stains near the drains and handles,” Walker says.

Rely on neutral floor cleaners to avoid scratches

Just because a dorm is likely built for wear and tear doesn’t mean that cleaning it should be rough on surfaces like floors. The same goes for your home! “We use wet microfiber mop pads on the floors and I always recommend using something like Pine-Sol to avoid scratching the floors,” Walker says. Another tip? Always check the labels of your products before using any product to avoid staining or scratching.

And don’t forget to bring a Ziploc bag when cleaning your shower

Anyone who’s used a dorm shower mostly likely had a set of shower shoes—that’s how notoriously nasty the stalls usually are. But with Walker’s cleaning routine, any shower can be the spotless haven it’s meant to be. He says to start from the top and work your way down, beginning with the shower head. “If there is hard water build up, we will put a Ziploc baggie filled with a mixture of white vinegar and Dawn dish soap and put a rubber band around it to soak it for five minutes before rinsing it down,” he says. “If the shower has tile and grout, we spray that with disinfectant and soap scum remover. A tile brush and Magic Eraser works great here, too. Finally, we use Bar Keepers Friend to scour the tub and use steel wool or an abrasive sponge to get rid of all the stains.”