It's the busiest room in your home and the most daunting to clean. It doesn't help that the bathroom is frequently in use. Choose a day when your family members or housemates are out, so you can clean without interruptions. The bathroom is the most important room to spruce up before guests come over because it's the one place they're sure to go, alone, with plenty of opportunity to notice any grime. It's also the room where dirt is the most obvious - especially if you have a white suite.
Drop a denture tablet down the toilet and leave it to fizz. The sodium bicarbonate will tackle mineral deposits (particularly useful if you live in a hard-water area) and help to loosen dirt. Leave it to work while you do the rest of the room. If your shower head is clogged with limescale, unscrew it and put it in a bucket of hot water and add a cup of white vinegar. Leave it to soak.
Sort the laundry
Load bath mats and your shower curtain into the washing machine - the bath mats will provide friction to help get rid of any soap scum and mildew on the curtain's edge.
Vacuum and dust
Using the brush attachment, vacuum the floor thoroughly, paying special attention to the corners of the room where dust, fluff and hair can gather. Next, pull on a pair of rubber gloves and use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe all surfaces such as window sills, shelves and the toilet tank to remove dust. Make sure you rinse the cloth regularly so you don't end up just spreading fluff around the room.
Don't ignore the details
Pay special attention to your extractor fan casing, where dirt gathers on the plastic or metal grill. If you have a venetian blind, consider buying a gadget such as the Microfibre Venetian Blind Duster from Lakeland. It has three prongs covered with a microfibre sheath that you can dampen to make cleaning slats a cinch.
Scrub the bath, basin and bidet
Move any toiletries and accessories that are around your basin and bath onto the floor out of the way, then spray your whole suite with a bathroom cleaner. If you're not keen on breathing in strong chemicals, reduce fumes by using a non-toxic but powerful cleaner such as Method Tub and Tile eucalyptus bathroom spray, $5.49 from Amazon.com. Wearing your gloves still, use a sponge to scrub your basin, bidet, bath and tiles, removing all traces of limescale and scum. There are no short cuts here - elbow grease is the only way to get real sparkle! Finally, rinse the whole suite down with cool water - use the shower attachment if you can, or a wet sponge. Use your hand towel to wipe away water residue afterwards to avoid leaving marks and smears, then put the hand towel in your laundry bin and replace it with a fresh one.
Get grout gleaming
If necessary, use an old toothbrush and some bleach cleaner to scrub away any mildew or muck that's built up between tiles on grouting. This is a slow task but well worth the effort for the difference it will make to the overall appearance of your bathroom.
Buff the taps
Fill a spray bottle with a half-water half-white vinegar solution, then soak a wad of paper kitchen towel or a clean, dry, microfibre cloth with it and rub your taps, plugs and plug hole surrounds until they shine.
Polish all mirrors
Toothpaste spatters and fingerprint smears are unsightly on a mirror and very noticeable. Use your half-water, half-white vinegar solution again for this. Spray it on to the mirror, then polish using a dry microfibre cloth or paper kitchen towel wad, as you did for the taps. Use circular motions to avoid leaving streaks and start at the top of the mirror, working downwards.
Tackle the toilet
By now, the denture tablet should have worked its magic, so flush the toilet then squirt a bleach cleaner around the pan, making sure you reach up underneath the rim where bacteria gather. Scrub the pan well with a brush, then flush. Finally, spray an antibacterial cleaner around the edges of the toilet pan, all over the seat, on both sides of the lid and on the flush handle. Starting with the flush handle, wipe a damp J-cloth across all of these areas, then throw the cloth in the bin. By now, your washing machine should have finished, so rehang the shower curtain to drip-dry and put the bath mats in the tumble drier. Rinse and reattach your shower head.
Wash the floor
Your last task is to mop the floor. Work from the far side of the room towards the door, to avoid treading on the wet area you've just cleaned. For tiles, laminate or wood floors, a mild detergent solution works best, and a microfibre mop head will pick up any remaining fluff or dust that escaped the vacuum cleaner. When the floor's completely dry, replace your bath mats.
… the finishing touches