Your bathroom will be cleaner than ever

When it’s time to clean the bathroom, many of us automatically pick up a number of products. We are constantly offered new products which supposedly mean that we no longer have to scrub, will make the house smell clean, kill more germs, etc. Advertisers never tire of telling us how wonderful they are.

However, most of these products have secondary effects; they contain toxic substances (artificial fragrances, bleach, colouring, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, caustic soda, etc.) which are harmful for our health and pollute the water running down into our drains.

There are also ecological cleaning products which contain no toxic substances or very few, but this is not the alternative we want to look at in this article. Because these products, toxic or not, are totally unnecessary! We can clean extremely well using four simple items we all have at home: water, vinegar, bicarbonate and soap.

Try it! When you see the results, you’ll want to tell everyone about it!

Don’t let things dirty

These simple habits help a lot.

  • Wipe the taps after you have a shower or wash your hands. This will stop limescale build-up. It is useful to keep a cloth nearby for this purpose.
  • Rinse the sink after you use it to remove any dirt.
  • To keep mould from forming (it is dirty and may cause respiratory problems): dry the bathroom, air it and let the sun get to it. If there is no window, it may be possible to install a skylight (there are tubular models for rooms that are not on the top floor).
  • Do not put anything that could cause a blockage down the toilet.
  • Remove hair from areas round plug holes so that it does not block drains.

What you need to know

Four basic ideas

  1. Alkaline and basic substances (limescale, soap, bicarbonate) combine with acid substances (such as vinegar) but not with each other. This is why soap will not remove limescale.
  2. The only item you need to disinfect from time to time is the toilet, as we can be infected by the microbes from our bodies (in urine, faeces, blood or vomit) if our defences are low (for example in the case of children, sick people and the elderly).
  3. Leaving something to soak overnight is more effective (and easier) than rubbing hard for several minutes. Dirt that has accumulated over a long period may not disappear the first time you clean but you may be successful the second or third time.
  4. Leaving dirt for a long time makes it more difficult to remove and may damage surfaces, which shortens their life. (The next tenant will probably want to replace all the fittings in the bathroom, for example.)

Four heroes

  • Clean water, the hotter the better. If it is boiling it will act as a disinfectant.
  • White vinegar Yes, the kind you have in the kitchen! As it is acid, it removes limescale and dissolves films of soap. It rinses off easily, keeps mould from forming and removes organic matter. It’s a powerful deodorant and air freshener. And it doesn’t leave a smell of vinegar.
  • Bicarbonate of soda Yes, another item people usually have in the kitchen! It’s a wonderful cleaner for grease and it’s also a deodorant. As it’s abrasive, don’t rub too hard with it; otherwise you may scratch surfaces.
  • Liquid soap is only necessary when you have to remove grease and disinfect surfaces. Use just a little so that it can be rinsed off easily.

How to do it

Marble and ceramic surfaces (sink, bath, bidet) Wipe them with an old cotton cloth soaked in vinegar. If there is greasy dirt you can wet the surface, sprinkle bicarbonate over it and wipe it clean after some time with a cloth or soft sponge. You can also use soap to clean it. If the surface is very dirty, leave a cloth soaked in vinegar on it overnight.

Taps Rub them with vinegar.

Mirrors, windows and tiles Wipe them with a duster soaked in equal parts of vinegar and water; if you add a little salt the windows will be more transparent. Dry them with newspaper or a microfibre cloth. If they are very dirty, prepare the following mixture: a litre of water, half a glass of alcohol and a few drops of detergent (you can add a little salt if you like).

Toilet The same as all other ceramic surfaces. Use soap to disinfect it when necessary.

Edges, shower curtains and other places which often remain damp, leading to the appearance of mould. Rub with a mixture of vinegar and salt.

Surfaces with a build-up of limescale Wipe them with boiling water containing equal parts of bicarbonate and vinegar. If it proves difficult to remove, leave the surface to soak overnight and rub clean the following day.

Unblocking drains First see whether you can remove the cause of the blockage (e.g. an accumulation of hair). Pour half a cup of bicarbonate and a cup of vinegar down the drain. Cover the drain and allow the mixture to act for a time (until it stops fizzing). Rinse with boiling water.

Floor Water. Add a little vinegar if you want it to be extra clean.

Tips

Corners (edges, drain covers, etc.) You can use an old toothbrush to get into awkward corners.

Smell Commercial products have led us to associate a ‘clean smell’ with artificial fragrances. These are often produced by toxic substances and are often not especially pleasant. Good ventilation is enough to get rid of smells. If you want the bathroom to have a special smell after you clean it, you can add a few drops of natural essential oil (lavender, pine, rosemary, lemon, etc.) to the water in the toilet bowl or the water you use to wash the floor.

Is it very difficult?

  • You may need to adopt some new habits if you don’t want to let things get dirty, and this is something people often find difficult.
  • Cleaning with vinegar is easier than washing with soap and then rinsing.
  • A litre of vinegar costs about €0.60 and a kilo of bicarbonate just over a euro (in a hardware store), while the cheapest bathroom and toilet cleaners cost a euro per litre.
  • You will be amazed to see how well these simple solutions work.

What do you gain?

  • You free up space in the cupboard where you keep cleaning products.
  • You aren’t exposed to toxic products anymore and you stop polluting wastewater.
  • You help to eliminate some of the problems associated with the chemical industry.
  • You may find that your bathroom is cleaner than ever before!