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Spring Cleaning Day 14: Time to Deep Clean Your Bathroom Fixtures

Water running from a sparkling clean bathroom faucet into a polished white sink.
Gyorgy Barna/Shutterstock

The fixtures in your bathroom, especially the sink, get a lot of use and abuse. Let’s give them some deep cleaning love today.

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Bathroom fixtures are magnets for water spots, soap smears, and—in the case of the hardworking sink faucet—toothpaste spatters. But with a little elbow grease we can get them shiny and new again.

What You Need to Detail-Clean Your Bathroom Fixtures

Our cleaning list for the bathroom fixtures is not entirely unlike our cleaning list for the kitchen sink—which should come as little surprise given that kitchen sinks and bathroom sinks typically have similar hardware.

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One substitution you might notice is we swapped out olive oil for mineral oil (which we’ll use in an optional polishing step at the end). The faint smell of olive oil might seem totally natural in the kitchen, but it’s out of place in the bathroom.

How to Detail-Clean Your Bathroom Fixtures

When it comes to cleaning your bathroom fixtures, we’ll strongly encourage you to use a less-is-more approach to both cleaners, the amount of force you use, and the harshness of the cleaners. While the tub and shower door in the bathroom might be pretty built-up with soap scum, the fixtures generally don’t get hit as hard (and are often more prone to scratching). With that in mind, let’s start gently.

Warning: If any of your bathroom fixtures are oil-rubbed or have a “living” finish meant to build a patina over time, use only warm water and a microfiber cloth to clean them unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer. Using anything stronger than water or more aggressive than microfiber can damage the finish.
  1. Fill your bowl or small bucket with warm water, a cup of vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Start by dampening your microfiber cloth and wiping down the sink faucet and handles, as well as the bath/shower faucet and handles.
  3. For tricky curved parts, it’s useful to hold to corners of the microfiber cloth and “buff” the curve with the loop of cloth between your two hands—instead of trying to dig into the area with your fingertip and the cloth.
  4. If the water solution and microfiber are insufficient to cut through the grime, switch to using your sponge and detail cleaning brush to lightly brush over the buildup. Be sure to test both on the underside of the faucet or an inconspicuous spot to ensure they don’t scratch the finish.
  5. Now is a great time to wipe out the sink with your sponge and give your drain a quick cleaning. Biofilm and soap buildup is a big source of foul smells in bathrooms, so you definitely want to use your detail brush to scrub any gunk off the drain stopper and, if need be, give your drain a cleaning using these tips.
  6. For serious mineral buildup, wrap the area with one of the microfiber cloths and soak it with undiluted vinegar for a few minutes—though be forewarned that in the case of severe mineral buildup when the buildup is removed you may find the finish is permanently discolored or pitted.
  7. Wipe off any remaining water with a clean and dry microfiber cloth.
  8. For stainless steel or chrome fixtures, wrap a clean microfiber cloth over your finger, dampen the fingertip with mineral oil, and lightly buff and wipe down all fixtures to give them a nice water spot repelling shine.

You can also clean your showerhead in the same fashion, but if there is significant mineral buildup you’ll likely want to fully remove it and soak it overnight.

That’s it! We’re powering through the bathroom and we’re a mere day away from wrapping it up. As always, you can follow along on our Spring Clean Challenge landing page or get the lessons, along with all our other great content, delivered right to your inbox!

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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