Spring Cleaning

There’s One Part of Every Bathroom That Needs an Inside-Out Deep Clean

published Mar 23, 2021
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Credit: Liz Calka

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Your bathroom doesn’t stop at the surfaces you see. So if your cleaning routine doesn’t include a few tasks to keep your pipes clean, too, you could be looking at clogged drains and stopped-up faucets.

But it’s important to get the outside of your fixtures clean, too, of course. So today as part of our spring cleaning mission, we’ll tackle an inside-out clean on our hardworking bathroom fixtures.

Here’s what to do…

Credit: Photo: Sarah Crowley; Location: Publishing House, Chicago

Day 9: Descale and polish your bathroom fixtures.

The “descale” part is about what’s going on inside your fixtures and drains — hard water minerals and chemical residue from your grooming products can leave deposits. The good news is that hot water and vinegar can take care of a lot of this for you. Here are a few things to try:

  • For shower heads and faucets: Fill a small bag with white vinegar and place the bag around your fixture so the head is fully submerged in the vinegar. Tie it up with a zip tie and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before coming back to scrub the head with a detail brush.
  • An alternative to the bag trick for faucets and shower heads: Soak a towel in a half-and-half mixture of white vinegar and water, then wrap and secure that towel around your fixture for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • For drains: Mix equal parts water and white vinegar and heat it up in a saucepan on the stove until it’s very hot, but not boiling. (The amount you’ll mix depends on how big your drain is, but 2 cups water and 2 cups vinegar is what I do for my sink.) Carefully carry the hot mixture to your bathroom and pour it quickly down the sink or tub drain — you want it to flood the pipe.

When you’re done with the descaling, move on to an outside clean.

The “polish” part is about making the your fixtures shine — things like the shower head and faucet you just descaled, but also handles (don’t forget the toilet handle!), towel bars, and any other metal fixture in your bathroom. You can clean the outside of your fixtures up with an all-purpose cleaner and a cloth and call it a day. Or try something like a metal polish that’s suitable for your material to get everything sparkling clean.

Taryn's Tips

If you encounter rust or rust stains in the bathroom, the one cleaner you want to avoid is anything that contains bleach, which can make rust stains worse. Opt for a special rust-fighting product instead.

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