by Julia Woodbury
(last updated March 18, 2009)
The first words of advice: Go beyond the bowl! It is true that the toilet bowl seems to get the dirtiest, but that doesn't mean that you should neglect the rest of the toilet where the dirt and germs can be just as heavy. Here are some pointers to help you clean your whole toilet keep it that way.
Before cleaning prepare yourself with gloves, rags or paper towels, surface cleaner, a long handled toilet scrub brush, a small hand mirror, an old toothbrush, and cleaning powder. If your toilet has bad stains or mineral build-up you will also want to get a pumice stone and vinegar. When you go in to clean, be sure to turn on the bathroom fan and leave the door open so that you have proper ventilation.
Begin on the bowl. Pour some of the cleaning powder into the water and agitate it with the toilet brush. Scrub the sides of the bowl and under the rim with the brush and then, leaving the brush in the bowl, close the lid and flush. This will clean the brush as well as rinse the bowl. Add more cleaning powder, agitate it and scrub, and then close the bowl and let it sit while you work on the rest of the toilet.
Beginning from the top, spray and wipe the outside of the toilet with the surface cleaner. This includes the tank, the flusher, the toilet lid and both sides of the seat, the outside of the bowl, and the base. If you can, use a cleaner that can disinfect as well as clean and deodorize.
While you are cleaning pay special attention to the flusher, the bolts connecting the seat to the toilet, and the bolts connecting the toilet to the floor. If there are caps over these bolts, lift them up and clean under and around them with the toothbrush. You may want to use the cleaning powder for this if there is a lot of grime. You will also want to pay attention to the crack between the toilet and the floor which is often neglected. If you're feeling especially zealous you can even attack this part with a toothpick. Once you've cleaned the toilet exterior, clean the floor around the toilet as well.
Now that you've let the toilet bowl soak for a while scrub it again, paying special attention again to the lip under the rim. Use the mirror to check under the lip and make sure that you've cleaned it completely. Flush the toilet a few times until the water is clear. If there is mineral build-up or stains that the cleanser can't take care of, pour a few cups of vinegar into the bowl and let it sit over night. This will loosen mineral deposits and eat away at stains. In the morning scrub the mineral deposits with a wet pumice stone until they are gone.
Once you have deep-cleaned your toilet you should work to maintain it by giving it a light cleaning once a week. Usually a little cleanser, a quick scrub, and a disinfectant wipe down will be enough.
Something that has not yet been mentioned is the tank. Don't worry, its not as scary as you think. Often some of the deposits and stains that show up in your toilet bowl have their source in the tank, which hardly ever gets cleaned. Once in a while pry that cover off and face your fear of what might be lurking in the toilet tank. Usually it's just the run-of-the-mill flusher, drain, plug, and other gadgets that make all that fascinating noise whenever you flush. Taking time to scrub the inside of the tank will improve the cleanliness of your whole toilet, keeping it cleaner longer.
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