Bathrooms are gross. Cleaning shouldn't be worse.
August 21, 2014 1:39 PM   Subscribe

How do you clean your grody tiled bathroom floors -- without causing more mess to clean up now or later?

We always put off cleaning our nasty floors, in part because it's such an annoying task to do right. And when I've done it right, the stink in front of the toilet (from, ahem, the male in residence) comes back within a week. I have used Scrubbing Bubbles on the porcelain and vinegar on the splatters, like Jolie Kerr says, but what about the bulk of the floor?

I suppose this also goes for the (linoleum/vinyl) kitchen, where things get dropped on the floor and then stuck there. So this needs more than a wet Swiffer, because of the scrubbing that must take place here and there.

Here's what I DON'T want: a mop. Gross stuff growing and smelling in a reusable mop after I use it. I don't want to spend more time cleaning up the mop and bucket than I spent cleaning the floor. Also, I don't want to scrub on hands and knees if I can help it.

Do those Shark cleaners (or something else steam-based) work?

Failing that, just tell me what you do. Assume that I do it closer to once a month than every week (and, you know, probably less than that -- I have a kid now. Yeah, that's the reason...). I've seen this question and know all about Magic Erasers, but that's not the area I need.
posted by Madamina to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I have a Eureka steam cleaner, works great! Washable pads that you just toss in the washing machine. Quick to heat up, use it, and then no cleanup really. I use a little vinegar, or ammonis if there is a tough, goopy spot, and then run over with the steam mop after that. Downside? You need to thoroughly vacuum first. Otherwise, it leaves blocks of dust.
posted by kellyblah at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2014

Do those Shark cleaners (or something else steam-based) work?

Not in my experience. I had a different brand of steam cleaner and it didn't seem to make the floor any cleaner than using a Wet Swiffer or a Scooba, plus it was slow and annoying. Sorry.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:50 PM on August 21, 2014

Sponge mop, and a bucket of water w your fave liquid bath cleaner. Sponge part is replaceable.
posted by artdrectr at 1:51 PM on August 21, 2014

Around the toilet, I recommend a bathmat type thing that can simply be thrown into the wash on a regular basis (i.e. throw it in whenever you're doing a "hot water" load. For the rest of the floor...if your bathroom isn't too large, I honestly just use the Clorox wipes with the "scrubby" texture on one side. Yes, it is sort of hands and knees (and thus I think would not work so great for the kitchen), but my bathroom is small enough that it's less than 5 minutes on hands and knees to feel like I've got things reasonably wiped up and sanitized. The scrubby texture on the wipes makes quick work of it. If you have a huge bathroom, obviously this isn't a good solution.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:51 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

You want (I think) the Swiffer Bissell Steamboost. Easy to use like a Swiffer, effective like a mop, but not gross like a mop. Since it's a steam mop and uses disposable pads, I don't think you'll have to worry about the "stuff growing and smelling" problem regular cloth mops have.

But I've never had to clean up someone's pee from the floor in front of the toilet (!!!), so YMMV.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2014

I think you're making this way too complicated. Fill a bucket with soapy water, get down on the floor, and scrub it with a sponge. I know there are all sorts of special futuristic products you can buy these days but that's the way I've always done it and it works great.
posted by something something at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I just cleaned my mother's bathroom today with a Hoover Floormate (it's an older model; I think she bought it off of QVC). It has a special attachment for cleaning grout. I think it works great, and it is not too much trouble to clean up the machine after. Dump the dirty water, rinse it out, let it dry, and put it away. I use white vinegar + hot water + a few drops of dish detergeant + a few drops of tea tree oil instead of buying the Hoover specific detergeant.

Of course, it would depend on the size of your bathroom. It is about the size of a vacuum cleaner, so it would not be great in narrow spaces.
posted by slipthought at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2014

I use a swiffer wet mop every other day. On weekends I vacuum the floors and wash my bathmat. I don't typically need a deep clean of the floors but when I do I use a LOT of hot water on my hands and knees. It's messy but I seriously only have to do it like twice annually because of my usual keep-up routine.

I also clean my toilet every day, wipe up around the sink and do the doorknobs, lightswitches, etc. with a Clorox wipe every other day, and wipe down my tub with a Clorox wipe about twice a week. Everyone I've told my routine to says I am crazy, but my bathroom never ever gets gross.

To do this, build it right into your morning routine. All my supplies live right in my bathroom. I usually do everything in the morning before I shower. It takes less than 5 minutes and the reward of an always-spotless bathroom is hard to pass up.
posted by sockermom at 1:53 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Is the male in residence not wiping up the drips from the floor when they happen? Because he should be. That should not be a thing that builds up.

We do dry Swiffer on our bathroom and kitchen floors every couple of days followed by a Bissell steam cleaner once a week or so. If we cook something particularly... splatter-y (hello, duck breast!) we do a once-over of the kitchen floor with a wet Swiffer. The Swiffer cloths and the cloths for the steamer are all disposable. Pretty easy, and our floors never get gross.
posted by bedhead at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

This is the horrible awful truth: if you do it every week - or do half the job twice a week - it takes maybe 7 minutes, and the smell doesn't come back, and it's never that much work.

We vacuum the bathrooms and kitchen as part of the vacuum process, using the hose just to suck up all our sheds and dust, and that happens on vacuuming day and takes 30 seconds as you pass by.

I have a tiny counter and try to keep things put away, but once a week I specifically put away anything sitting there, wipe it and the sink down, and then I use one or two bleach wipes (I get mine at Costco and keep a pack in each bathroom and kitchen) to clean the toilet seat and under the seat.

The floor gets done most of the time with regular Swiffer hardware with a wet Swiffer pad (dollar store knockoffs) on it.

When I need more oomph, I use the same swiffer head but with a microfiber towel like these - just tuck them into the little gripper holes on the Swiffer. I just use spray cleaner on the floor and mop up with the towel, the towel goes in the wash. This is also how I clean my kitchen floor. Cloth diapers - the mediocre kind - work almost as well as the microfiber cloths, if you happen to have those.

If you were better than me you could use the cloths all the time.

If you'll clean the tub/shower every other time you use it with a no-scrub cleaner, and once a week squirt toilet cleaner in and let it sit for an hour and then do a couple of rounds with the brush, that's essentially it. Wipe the mirror twice a week while you're brushing your teeth.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:00 PM on August 21, 2014

the stink in front of the toilet (from, ahem, the male in residence) comes back within a week

Container of clorox wipes next to the toilet; male in residence wipes floor in front of toilet after each use.

Look into having a cleaning lady come once every two weeks (or month) -- it's often very affordable, especially if you have her do limited tasks like mopping, vacuuming, and dusting of limited rooms.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:01 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use a swiffer bissell steamboost on my kitchen and bathroom floors. It does work, not quite as well as the more expensive steam mop but it works. I do it about every other week though not once per month and anything that is bigger gets cleaned more quickly than just leaving for the bathroom cleaning day.

But if I had the issue you have I would be having a serious conversation with the male in my house about cleaning up after himself immediately. That is pretty unacceptable for an adult.
posted by magnetsphere at 2:01 PM on August 21, 2014

This is a hands-and-knees job, but I do:

1. Get floor damp/wet with big car-washing sponge.
2. Sprinkle Comet onto the floor.
3. (Lightly) scrub with (damp) scrub brush so Comet is kind of foam-y. Honestly, shouldn't take much/any elbow grease.
4. Wipe up Comet with the same big car-washing sponge.
5. Wipe down floor with wet Swiffer (mostly to make sure you've gotten all the Comet up).
6. Let dry.

The whole process should take about 5-15 mins. The trick is to start the wetting/sprinkling/scrubbing/wiping-off/Swiffering in the back of the kitchen and make your way to the door. Otherwise you'll be tracking Comet everywhere and it's a mess.

I hate cleaning up cleaning materials, because it just seems like such a cruel joke that cleaning created MORE mess. So I usually just throw the sponge and/or scrub brush in the sink with the water running over it until I have to use it again or until I'm done cleaning. Then I throw it into a cleaning bucket I use specifically for that purpose and push the bucket back underneath the kitchen sink again.

By the way, I clean the bathroom floor, bathtub and sink the same way.

Oh, and if after you finish wiping/rinsing off the floor, there's anything left stuck to the linoleum (wet cat food that's dried onto the floor is the only thing that sometimes sticks, in my experience. That stuff can be like glue), spray the stuck-on spots with Fantastic or some other kitchen/bathroom cleaner. Let it sit for a while (five or ten minutes, maybe), then take it up with a paper towel. If you're worried about the baby, a spot of Dawn or something usually works well, too, it's just slightly more of a hassle to wipe up.

Also, if you're vacuuming anywhere near the kitchen or bathroom, try to vacuum the kitchen or bathroom floor really fast, too. It's the random crumbs and crud that floor clean-up a pain in those rooms, I find. Sweeping is also underrated, for that reason. I also keep a place mat under the cat dish and a little rag rug where I stand at the sink, because it only takes a second every day to wipe off the placemat as I get out my cat's new dish in the morning and shake out the rag rug every few days or week (I do the same with the bathroom rugs) -- both of those things keep the floor reasonably clean, too.

For other stuff in the bathroom or kitchen that ends up being exceptionally grimy (like the trash can), once a month I put it in the bathtub, wet it, pour some Lysol into it, scrub the Lysol all over it, let it sit like that for about half an hour, and then put on the showerhead to rinse the Lysol off. Then the trash can (and litter pan, etc), can just sit outside in the sun if possible or in the bathroom with the fan on or window open if not -- everything tends to dry pretty fast, within the day usually and overnight for sure.

And you are a saint for cleaning up your SO's piss. I mean WUT.
posted by rue72 at 2:06 PM on August 21, 2014

Assume that I do it closer to once a month than every week (and, you know, probably less than that -- I have a kid now.

Honestly, no matter which solution you try, doing it once every four or five weeks isn't going to matter; that's a lot of time for gunk to build up.

I get that may be all the time or energy you have and in that case I'd think about re-prioritizing cleaning tasks or just give in and accept you won't have perfect floors for the next couple of years.

What's worked for me is setting a nightly reminder to sweep up the kitchen floor. It takes about three minutes and rarely requires a tough cleaning unless I get lazy and stop for a week. You might try that along with whatever idea you try, just to develop the habit.

As far as the bathroom, if you're an adult, toilet bowl fallout like urine needs to be dealt with right away, even if it's a swipe with a few squares of TP.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:08 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

It seems that the person peeing on the floor should be the one to have to clean them.

But, if you get the urine issue resolved, I think a quick pre-spray with cleaner on the dirty spots followed by a wet swiffer mop-up would take care of it if you did it once a week.
posted by quince at 2:09 PM on August 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

We do not have splatter problems, but seriously get 2 of those U-shaped rugs and throw one in the wash every week. There is no point in fighting that problem if you don't have to.

Just don't get white ones. Not only does the obvious show, you find out quickly how dirty your feet/shoes are.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:11 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of this cleaning-focused blogger's most popular posts is Getting Rid of that 'Boy Bathroom Smell.' This takes time and work,\ but might be a good reset for you, which you can then follow up with a much less rigorous (but consistent) cleaning routine.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:13 PM on August 21, 2014

The problem with toilets is that they are ceramic filth-attractors (hair, piss, dust) and if they're in a little space (as most are) impossible to really clean all around them without getting way too close to a really gross space. Not to mention all the little divots and nooks of the toilet stand itself that can never get clean. Tackling those takes and iron will and probably a hazmat suit. Whoever designed them should be smacked with a brick. But I digress.

My solution: make your husband do it. Stop doing it yourself, it is not your piss. Especially if it's going to require hands and knees stuff. It's basic fairness; he doesn't clean up your body fluids, I assume. Don't clean up his. And complain constantly about the stink until he agrees to do it.

This is what I did, and it took a while, but now husband and kid (also a boy) clean up the bathroom once a week. Not quite to my standards, but it beats me doing it. And my son did not learn that "cleaning toilets is women's work" which was a huge driving factor for me.
posted by emjaybee at 2:16 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, to be fair the SO's olfactory contribution isn't always noticeable until it just is. Wouldn't a mat soak that stuff up and smell worse?

(He cleans absolutely everything else in the house and does the laundry.)
posted by Madamina at 2:18 PM on August 21, 2014

What if you keep a box of wet wipes by the toilet and every time you sit down to do your business you wipe the floor area? That way you know at at least the pee smell issue will be mitigated.

In the long run, though, consider stretching your budget to hire a cleaner to come twice a month. It's SO worth it. I gave up my coffee shop habit to make it happen and I don't regret it one bit.
posted by joan_holloway at 2:29 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wouldn't a mat soak that stuff up and smell worse?

Unless this is a problem worse than a few errant drops, not really, not if you toss it in the laundry weekly (and he does the laundry, so this works out well). If the problem is more than a few errant drops, you're talking "time to have a lecture about sitting/standing with him" territory. When I happen to be keeping a bathroom clean for people who are not my SOs, I'll often just run a piece of toilet paper around the bowl rim and the front of the toilet as I'm on my way out. When I am cleaning the toilet for my SO I say "Here is a sponge, please get the pee off of the floor" But yeah frequent wiping and then tossing wipes is easier for sure. Also if you have trash, make sure it's not inadvertently lending itself to the pee smell. I lived with hippies once who tossed out their toilet paper instead of flushing it and you could NOT get the funk out of that bathroom.
posted by jessamyn at 2:30 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maybe you could swap? Take something he's doing, ask him to do this?

Mats can help (not the rubber-backed kind) because you just throw them in the wash, and there's less floor scrubbing. But you have to do it every other day or so.

As for methods, the husband and kid scrub the bowl with one of those wand + disposable doohickey cleaners, spray the outside/under the lid/around the hinges with an all purpose cleaner (409 or equivalent) and clean it with paper towels. Then they sweep the floor. Then they Swiffer it.

Sometimes they remember to clean the countertop/mirror, sometimes not; but still better than me doing it.
posted by emjaybee at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2014

My mom swears by her steam jet thingy. She bys cheapo microfibre cloths from the £1 shop (think dollar store) uses elastic bands to hold them on then has at whatever is dirty. She uses it weekly or more often, and everything is disinfected nicely. I don't know how it would hand dried on pee, though.

A u-shaped mat helps in this house, but it does get thrown in the wash at least twice a week. And the me of the house have learned to be careful not to pee on the floor.
posted by Solomon at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2014

I find it less work to just wipe down the area infront of the seat every day or two with a wet sponge than to clean mats. Sure, water alone is not super hygenic, but it does help against the worst build up until proper cleaning time. And water alone (from the sink next to the toilet) isn't such an effort for me.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:36 PM on August 21, 2014

Also, buy the best-quality rubber gloves you can find, even if they have a furry lining. Then you don't have to actually touch any of that nasty stuff.
posted by vickyverky at 3:08 PM on August 21, 2014

I can't personally vouch for this (also, ???) but there is a product called "Urinal Fly" that may help mitigate the problem at its source.

Q: How does it work?
A: Our slogan says it all – Give them something to aim for. By locating the fly correctly in the urinal, splashback is significantly reduced.

posted by cotton dress sock at 3:47 PM on August 21, 2014

Is this male in residence 10 years old or younger? If so, you need a pedestal mat to catch the splashes - have several, because you need to wash them frequently because they are covered in piss. Wash them in hot water every couple of days and try not to stand on them in bare feet because, ew. Wash them with bleach or napisan, and endeavour to teach this child how to wee without getting it everywhere. He can sit down, or aim properly, or clean up after himself - you may need to teach him how.

If this is an adult, all of the above applies but it is not your responsibility. If a grown man can't use a toilet without pissing all over the floor then it is up to him to learn, not up to you to clean it up. Jesus.
posted by goo at 6:51 PM on August 21, 2014

You can get robotic cleaners that are like a roomba but for mopping/steaming instead. I think this might be your way out.
posted by lollusc at 8:14 PM on August 21, 2014

Get a mop with detachable or remove able head/pad/cover thing. Use weekly, let cover thing dry (nothing festers without moisture) and put in wash at next opportunity. If you want to wait to do a full hot load of these things get several covers.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:52 AM on August 22, 2014

How to make any cleaning tool stop smelling: Put a dilute bleach & water solution in bucket, insert tools. Leave several hours. Rinse and you're done. I do this outside, including letting the tools dry for several hours because I don't like the smell of bleach. It doesn't take much bleach, maybe a half a cap full or so per gallon. But look that up, it's been ages since I measured - or needed a gallon sized container.

I hate cleaning the bathroom. This is how I made it tolerable. There are 2 keys: Pine Sol and cleaning once a week. That frequency means no scrubbing, just wiping. It goes fast.
- A bucket with Pine Sol, diluted as per the instructions
- A scrubbing pad that shaped like a steam iron, with the same sort of handle.
- Rubber gloves.
- Beach sandals that can be rinsed off.
- Wet the floor with a mop or swiffer, wipe / scrub with the hand scrubber, rinse with mop or swiffer.
posted by Homer42 at 5:49 AM on August 25, 2014

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