Interior Bathrooms

How to Get Your Bathroom Guest-Ready in 20 Minutes or Less

Friends are on their way over for an impromptu get-together, but your bathroom is in serious need of a deep cleaning. Here’s a plan for getting it in shape before your guests arrive.
White door opening into clean bathroom.


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Your bathroom may be the smallest room in your house, but it’s probably also the grimiest. To keep this essential space sparkling and tidy with minimal drudgery, set a timer for 20 minutes then launch into this fast (and maybe even fun?) deep-clean regime.

00:00 Grab Your Supplies

Woman holding caddy with cleaning supplies.

To make this step happen in no time flat, keep a cleaning caddy in the under-sink cabinet or in a closet near the bathroom. Keep it stocked with the following items:

If your bathroom has granite or marble surfaces, be sure to stock a special cleaner for those.

01:00 Put Away Clothes and Essentials

Laundry basket filled with clothes next to tub.

Return toiletries, makeup, and grooming tools to their designated homes in the medicine cabinet or drawers. (If these items don’t have a place to live, make a note to yourself to hang some shelves for storage bins or to find a slim wheeled cart.) Throw dirty towels and bath mats into the washing machine, then open a window or turn on the bathroom fan to keep the cleaning fumes to a minimum.

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04:00 Spritz Tile and Porcelain Surfaces

Person with gloves spraying bathroom sink.

Don your rubber gloves and get ready to spray: Apply a liberal amount of spray cleaner to the counter, backsplash, and the outer surfaces of the toilet, paying special attention to nooks and crannies. Squirt toilet cleaner around the underside of the rim, all around the inside of the toilet. Let everything sit.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Tile Cleaners We Tested This Year

06:00 Soak the Shower and Tub

Running water in tub.

Spray cleaner into the tub or shower area. If you have a bathtub, fill it with a few inches of hot water. Use the scrub brush to do a quick tour around the tub to dislodge any clingy dirt or soap scum, then leave the cleaner-and-water solution to soak.

RELATED: How to Clean a Bathtub in 7 Simple Steps

07:00 Tackle the Toilet

Cleaning toilet.

With the toilet brush that you keep tucked in a holder nearby, scrub the inside of the toilet bowl, cleaning both the rim and seat areas. Use a wet rag or disinfecting wipe to wipe down the toilet’s exterior surfaces, dry it with a wad of toilet paper, then toss the used paper in the bowl and flush away. Rinse the toilet brush with one more flush, then spray it with cleaner before returning it to its holder.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners We Tested This Year

10:00 Clean the Shower and Tub

Woman cleaning tub.

Drain the tub. Wipe all the surfaces and scrub away any remaining spots or scum, hitting grout lines or corners with the toothbrush if needed. Rinse all surfaces well with a clean, wet rag (or use the shower head, if yours has a flexible handheld attachment). If you have a glass door, give it a quick wipe down with the glass with cleaner and cloth.

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13:00 Hit the Floor

Broom and dustpan.

Using the broom and dustpan (or a vacuum cleaner, if one is handy), sweep the bathroom floor to give it a quick clean. Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water and all-purpose cleaner, then dunk and wring out a clean mop or floor rag and run it over your vinyl or tile flooring. Leave the floor to air-dry (your feet might get a little wet!), or dry it off with a cloth. Drain the water from the sink.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Mops for Tile Floors We Tested This Year

17:00 Wipe It All Down

Person wiping bathroom sink.

Saturate a clean cloth with warm water, wring it out, then wipe down the countertops and backsplash you sprayed earlier. If necessary, use the old toothbrush and a little elbow grease to remove stubborn soil from the grout or around the faucet base or handles, then wipe again with a wet cloth. Finally, spray and wipe down the interior of the sink, making sure to remove any stray hairs or blobs of toothpaste.

17:30 Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces

Person disinfecting door knob.

With a disinfecting spray or disinfectant wipe, give high-touch surfaces—the door knob, light switches, toothbrush holder, flush handle, faucet handles, and soap dispenser or soap dish—a quick rub. If you notice any fingerprints or smudges on walls or doors, tackle them with a second wipe.

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18:00 Wipe the Mirror

Person cleaning window.

To clean the mirror, apply a generous spritz of glass cleaner, then wipe it off with a cloth. (Microfiber is brilliant for this job, because it doesn’t leave streaks.) For extra sparkle elsewhere in the space, use the still-damp cloth to shine up your toilet handle, and your sink and tub faucets.

19:00 The One-Minute Finish

Woman stocking towels in bathroom.

Stock the bathroom with clean towels and a fresh bath mat. Stow your cleaning supplies, toss the dirty cloths into the washing machine, and give yourself a pat on the back.

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If You Have a Few Seconds to Spare…

Wooden stick perfume diffuser.

Take care of the finishing touches: Put out a new roll of toilet paper, spritz a fancy air freshener to get rid of unpleasant smells (and leave the spritz out for your guests to use), and lay a fresh bath rug underfoot before the doorbell rings.