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Most people aren't going to rank cleaning the bathroom high on their list of favorite household chores, but having the right tools for the job will help you get through it quickly and efficiently.
To make life easier, try to do a little work in the bathroom each day, whether that means giving your bath tiles a quick wipe while in the shower or extending your bedroom vacuuming session into the bathroom. To prevent mold and mildew, you want to keep your bathroom as dry as possible, says Christine McNerney, Senior Director of Merchandising, Non-Food at Thrive Market.
"Turn on the fan and wipe down where you can with an absorbent reusable cleaning cloth," says McNerney.
During cold and flu season, you'll also want to look for disinfecting products that specifically kill viruses (use this handy search tool from the EPA to check if your favorite products are on the list).
Whatever the task, here are our favorite cleaning workhorses to help you get it done.
Best Tub Cleaner: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Scrubber
If you're a parent of young, energetic kiddos, you know that the original Magic Eraser can work, well, magic on stubborn wall stains like crayon, grimy fingerprints, and shoe scuff marks. The folks at Mr. Clean have created a new and improved product that will leave you similarly impressed.
Sold in a choice of scents, these Magic Eraser bathroom cleaning pads comes pre-filled with cleaner for easy use. To use, simply moisten the pad, wring it out a few times, and get to work. These pads are safe to use on bathtubs, ceramic tile, shower doors, and sinks, but you'll want to avoid using them on sleeker finishes like stainless steel and high-gloss stone.
Best Shower Cleaner: Microban 24 Hour Bathroom Cleaner and Sanitizing Spray
As the name implies, this fresh-smelling cleaner claims to keep non-porous surfaces sanitized for up to a day after use. When used directly, it also helps prevent mold and mildew from growing for a week—ideal for bathrooms with limited ventilation.
You'll love that it works with minimal scrubbing, and also keeps gunk from forming in tricky areas like shower corners and tile grout. Unlike many other products on this list, this spray is safe on high-gloss finishes (including sealed marble, glazed ceramic, and glazed porcelain), though you'll still want to avoid using it on non-porous surfaces.
Best Grout Cleaner: Grout Eez Professional Strength Tile & Grout Cleaner
If the borders around your floor or shower tiles have seen better days, give them a once-over with Grout-eez's Professional Strength Tile & Grout Cleaner. Designed specifically for grout, this spray works in two different ways: cleaning off surface grime that builds up on a daily basis, while also penetrating directly into the porous grout lines to remove set-in stains.
To use, apply it directly to the grout and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Then, attack it with a stiff brush to get it clean, and rinse the whole area with warm water. The results? Squeaky clean grout that's restored to its original hue.
Best Mold Remover: Kaboom Mold & Mildew Stain Remover with Bleach No Drip Foam
The beauty of this bleach-based product is its foamy consistency. Rather than immediately dripping down, the thick formula stays put—which means more thorough cleaning for your bathroom, and less scrubbing for you.
Safe to use in a variety of different areas, including grout, tile, tubs, shower doors, and countertops (although as with any new product, you should spot test it on a small area first). Note that if you're using it on metal or porcelain, you should spray, wipe, and rinse immediately to avoid discoloration, but on other surfaces, it may help to let it sit and penetrate for a few minutes.
Best Soap Scum Remover: Bio Clean Hard Water Stain Remover
If you live in a place with hard water, you know what a bummer it can be to see gunky white build-up on your fixtures and other surfaces.
This enzyme-based cleaner works well for removing both mineral-scale build-up and soap scum from bathroom tiles, shower doors, and more. You can also use it to spiff up neglected grout and on a variety of other surfaces outside of the bathroom. You may even have luck using it on pots, pans, and barbecue grates!
"You won’t need the Bio Clean Hard Water Stain Remover for daily or even average cleaning tasks. When you need to handle tough stains and hard water residue, though, it’s definitely powerful enough to be your go-to product."—Stacey L. Nash, Product Tester
Best Tile Floor Cleaner: Bona Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner Spray
This easy-to-use, affordable floor-cleaning spray is safe for many different kinds of surfaces, including linoleum, vinyl, sealed porous marble, and ceramic and Mexican Saltillo tiles. The learning curve couldn't be lower: After sweeping or vacuuming, you simply spray it on and wipe it off.
This product is also a Safer Choice Certified Product, which means that it meets the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s standards for ingredients that are safer for humans and the environment. (You can search for Bona using the EPA's Safer Choice Search Tool.)
Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Better Life Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Better Life's products are made from plant-based ingredients, and without using dyes or artificial fragrances. This toilet-bowl cleaner is made with ultra-fresh ingredients such as tea tree and peppermint oils, as well as soapbark extract, which has antibacterial properties. Not only does it clean your toilet, but it will leave you with a scent that's clean and spa-like.
Best Wipes: Scrubbing Bubbles Flushable Wipes
Stash these handy, citrus-scented cleaning wipes somewhere in your bathroom and use them to quickly wipe down surfaces (perfect if you have an unexpected guest drop by, or just want to give everything a wipe down at the end of the day). Safe to use on non-porous surfaces such as sinks, glazed tiles, countertops, and toilets, these wipes are a quick and easy way to keep your bathroom clean.
While they are labeled as biodegradable and flushable, studies have shown that all wipes, even those labeled flushable, should not be flushed, and instead thrown away to avoid clogging sewer systems. The wipes also come in a resealable pouch, which works well for travel—so plan to stash some in your road-trip arsenal.
What to Look for in Bathroom Cleaners
Cleaner vs. Disinfectant
When you're cleaning the bathroom, remember: cleaning and disinfecting are two different things, so they require different products. Cleaning generally means making a space or surface look good, while disinfecting is a process that kills germs. When you're choosing a bathroom cleaner, think about the job that needs to be done. All-purpose cleaners are great for removing debris from surfaces, while dedicated disinfectants will stave off germs from toilets, sinks, and other areas. Always follow the instructions on a product's label, no matter what job you're doing.
All-Purpose vs. Dedicated Products
Along the same lines, you may also need products that are made to accomplish a specific task. While an all-purpose cleaner or disinfectant might be versatile on a number of surfaces, certain areas, like your mirror, bathtub, and the inside of your toilet, will look better if you use dedicated products. And if you have countertops or other surfaces made of more delicate materials, such as stone or wood, then aim for a cleaner that's safe to use on those. The product instructions should make that clear if the label doesn't.
While some people don't mind using stronger chemical-based cleaners in their homes, others prefer less harsh cleaners that contain natural or plant-based ingredients. Always check out the ingredient list before you bring a product home to make sure it won't irritate you (or a child or pet who lives with you).
How long should you let bathroom cleaners soak?
Some bathroom cleaners can be wiped away right after you apply them, like all-purpose sprays or glass cleaner. Disinfecting products or dedicated toilet or bath cleaners sometimes require "dwell time," which means you need to leave the product on the surface for the cleaner to work. Every product is different, so always follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use.
What bathroom cleaners should not be used at the same time?
When it comes to cleaning, safety should always be a priority—and there are some cleaning products that are unsafe to use together. As a general rule, never mix bleach with anything except the water you're diluting it in—especially avoid mixing it with ammonia. It's also a good idea to avoid mixing hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. When in doubt, always thoroughly read labels and do your research before using products you're not sure about.
How long should I wait to use different bathroom cleaners?
When you're trying to avoid mixing cleaners, don't use them at the same time. Once you wipe away one cleaner and you're sure there's no residue, you can use the other cleaner. If you're not sure, wash the surface with soap and water first.
Why Trust The Spruce?
For additional background on bathroom cleaners, we spoke to Christine McNerney, Senior Director of Merchandising, Non-Food at Thrive Market who spoke about ingredients to look for and how to prevent mold and mildew. Additional reporting was done by Ashley Abramson, a writer who has worked as editor for local print and online publications. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Allure, InStyle, MyDomaine, and more.