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 company arrives.

Racing Against the Clock

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how to clean a bathroom racing clock

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.

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00:00 Gather Supplies

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Bathroom Cleaners

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. Stock it with rubber gloves, at least five microfiber cleaning cloths, a scrub brush, an old toothbrush, and your favorite brands of glass cleaner, bathtub cleaning spray, and toilet cleaner. If your bathroom has granite or marble surfaces, be sure to stock a special cleaner for those. You’ll also need a broom, dustpan, and a mop or floor rag.


Related: 9 Handy Under-Sink Organizers to Buy or DIY

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01:00 Clear the Way

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how to clean a bathroom clear the way

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.


Related: Boring Bathroom? 7 Fixes for an Old Medicine Cabinet

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04:00 Spritz Surfaces

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Cleaning Countertops

Don your rubber gloves and get ready to spray! Apply a good coating of cleaner to counter, backsplash, and the outer surfaces of the toilet, paying special attention to corners where grotty stuff likes to hang out. Squirt toilet cleaner into the bowl, aiming it all around, including under the rim. Let everything sit.


Related: Make Your Own Vanity—12 Inventive Bathroom Rehabs

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06:00 Soak the Shower and Tub

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How to Clean Bathtub

Spray cleaner into shower. 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 it all to soak.


Related: 10 Quick Fixes for a More Relaxing Shower

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07:00 Tackle the Toilet

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How to Clean a Toilet

With the toilet brush that you (we hope!) keep tucked in a holder nearby, scrub the inside of the toilet bowl, cleaning both the rim and seat areas. Use a wet rag 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: The Toilets of Tomorrow

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10:00 Clean the Shower and Tub

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Cleaning Tile Grout

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, do a quick wipe with cleaner and cloth.


Related: 8 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Bathroom Ever

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13:00 Hit the Floor

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how to clean a bathroom sweep floor

Sweep the bathroom floor with the broom and dustpan (or a vacuum cleaner, if one is handy) to give it a quick clean. Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water and cleaner, then dunk and wring out a 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. Don't forget to drain the water from the sink.

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17:00 Wipe It All Down

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Best Way to Clean the Bathroom

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 sink interior.


Related: 9 Ways to Make Your Old Bathroom New Again

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17:30 Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces

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how to clean a bathroom high touch surfaces

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 spots on walls or doors, tackle them with a second wipe.

Related: 9 Ways to Make Your Old Bathroom New Again

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18:00 Do the Mirror

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How to Clean a Mirror

Apply a generous coating of glass cleaner to the mirror, then wipe it with cloth. (Microfiber is brilliant for this job, as it leaves no 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. 


Related: 3 Fixes for a Streaky Mirror

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19:00 The One-Minute Finish

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Clean Bathroom

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


Related: 7 Mistakes Not to Make in Your Bathroom Remodel

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If You Have a Few Seconds to Spare…

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how to clean a bathroom finishing touches

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.

Related: 7 Mistakes Not to Make in Your Bathroom Remodel

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