You may think no one cares if your bathroom is clean; after all, it's not like your living room or kitchen, where company is often entertained. And yes, the bathroom is one of the most personal places in the house, but it doesn't have to look so unwelcoming to your guests. It's easy to clean the scum in the shower or the rings in the toilet bowl. Once you do, you can display your bathroom as proudly as any other room in the house.
Don't reach for those harsh chemicals yet. We've got some easy tips that get the job done without harmful cleaners. After all, the bathroom is your personal place, and you want to keep it as you-friendly as possible. You shouldn't have to use toxins that make your eyes burn every time you enter the room just for the sake of unclogging a sink.
So strap on your cleaning gloves, because it's time to give your bathroom a nice rub down. First, we'll tackle that soap scum in your shower.
Battle Soap Scum with Baby Oil
You can soften up the soap scum that collects on the sides of your bathtub with baby oil -- a generic variety will do just fine. Mix 1 part baby oil in 4 parts water. Next, use a funnel to pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle and spray the sides of the tub (but try not to spray directly on the bottom of the tub). Give the solution a few minutes to loosen the soap scum and then wipe it away, using a clean, damp cloth or sponge.
To remove any oil that may have gotten on the bottom of the tub and made it slippery, wipe it down with a sponge soaked in white vinegar. And, as always, be sure to use caution when you are entering and exiting the tub.
Sweep Away Soap Stains with Stockings
To remove stubbornly stuck-on soap residue and calcium stains from the bathtub, sink and surrounding tiles, use a paste made from cream of tartar and 3-percent hydrogen peroxide. In a small container, mix just enough hydrogen peroxide into the cream of tartar to form a thick paste. Apply the paste directly to the scummy surface and use a firm-bristled brush to scrub the surface with the paste. Then rinse clean and wipe dry.
If you don't have a firm-bristled brush, improvise with an old pair of nylon stockings. Rolled into a ball or slipped over an old (but clean) cotton sock that's been rolled into a ball, those nylons become excellent non-scratch scrubbers for cleaning the sink and tub.
Clean the Toilet Bowl with Cola
Just empty a can of cola into the bowl, let it work for about an hour, then scrub and flush. Use a sponge or cloth moistened with white vinegar to wipe off any sticky drops of cola that may have splattered onto the rim or other nearby surfaces. Be sure to get all of the splatters if you don't want a bug problem in your bathroom! The vinegar will also clean and disinfect these surfaces.
Banish Toilet Bowl Rings Without Harsh Chemicals
You can say goodnight to a dirty toilet bowl by sprinkling some borax around the inside surface and into the bowl water itself before you go to bed. In the morning, you'll be able to whisk away the stains easily with a swish of your toilet brush.
White vinegar can also be used as a toilet-bowl cleaner. Pour the vinegar down and around the inside of the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. In the meantime, use a vinegar-dampened cloth to wipe down the top edge of the bowl and the top and bottom of the seat and lid. Finally, take a toilet brush, sprinkle some baking soda on it, scrub any remaining stains on the inside of the bowl, and flush.
Unclog a Drain with Foam and Fizz
There are endless reasons bathroom drains slow down or clog up, from hairballs to goopy cosmetics. But a working drain is essential if you want to use a bathroom for some of its main purposes, such as washing your hair, your face or your hands.
Help speed up a slow drain by first pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down it. Follow this with 3/4 cup white vinegar. Don't bend over to watch this drain cleaner in action, though. These two substances, when combined, tend to foam and fizz, and even though this mixture is nontoxic, you certainly don't want it in your eyes. After about 20 minutes, flush the drain with very hot water.
Adapted from "101 Old-Time Country Household Hints," © 2008 Publications International, Ltd.