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4 bathroom cleaning jobs - and how to tackle them without the harsh chemicals

From the toilet bowl to the shower screen, here’s Laura de Barra’s all-natural guide.

Image: Shutterstock/FabrikaSimf

Laura de Barra regularly brings her lifestyle and home maintenance masterclasses to the Glenveagh Home Magazine on TheJournal.ie. This week: four bathroom cleaning jobs and how to blitz them without the bleach. See Laura’s natural cleaning guide to kitchens from last week here.

The bathroom is one area of the home where people tend to shy away from natural cleaners, and overuse harsh products like bleach.

Here are my top tips for keeping on top of your bathroom cleaning in a more natural way. It goes without saying that, given the current pandemic, an everyday antibacterial cleaner should already be part of your routine. Below I’ll be focusing on deep cleaning tasks that fall outside of your everyday clean…

1. Removing limescale from taps

Have you found that no matter how much you wipe down and clean your taps, water marks reappear? These are hard water marks which are the most common stains in a bathroom and can be the hardest to tackle. Taps tend to show water marks quite quickly as water gathers around their base and leaves behind mineral deposits that grow every time they get wet. It can be hard to get any cleaner to sit on the surface of taps long enough to break these deposits down… so I have a trick for you. You will need:

  • Cloth x 2
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Vinegar is super acidic so ideal to help break down the mineral deposits enough that they can be wiped away and don’t reappear once dry. Soak your cloth in a mix of 50/50 vinegar/ water. Then wrap the cloth around the parts of the tap that have water stains and leave for at least an hour (overnight works best). When you come back, remove the cloth and use it to wipe the entire tap down. Buff with a dry cloth and your taps will be as good as new.

To keep these from coming back, wipe taps down weekly with this 50/50 mix. It will take away the deposits at the early stages and stop them growing into white marks.

2. Unclogging showerheads

If your shower head is clogged and water is either not coming out through all of the spray holes or coming out at the wrong angle, it has most likely become blocked with limescale. Many people will think that the only solution is to buy a new shower head, but I have a ‘no scrub’ hack for you that can be done while you sleep. Really!

For shower heads that can be removed from their mount you’ll need:

  • Bowl or basin big enough to fit the shower head
  • Vinegar
  • Water

Fill the bowl with 50/50 water vinegar enough that it won’t spill once the shower head is placed inside. Making sure the face of the head is facing down, and the hose is not in a position where the vinegar will run back down it, leave the head submerged in the mix overnight. In the morning, remove the head and run hot water for a couple of minutes. This will flush out any of the vinegar in the spray holes along with the loosened mineral deposits and leave your shower head like new.

If your shower head cannot be removed from its mount, do the same as above but fill a sandwich bag with 50/50 water/vinegar instead of a bowl. Tape the bag over the shower head so that the face is submerged in the mix and again, leave overnight, then flush out the mix.

3. Removing water marks from shower screens

Shower screens that are cloudy or water marked are usually also the victims of hard water. After you shower, the water left on the screen will leave behind deposits after it dries. Over time these can build up and cause these white chalky stains that can feel impossible to remove. You may have found that when you wipe the screen down, the marks will either only fade slightly or disappear but come back again later. This is usually because you have not used a cleaner that can dissolve the deposits properly. To remove them, you will need:

  • Half a lemon or lime
  • Cloth or sponge to wash
  • Dry microfibre cloth to buff

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Rub the flesh of the fruit over the entire screen, I like to work in small circular motions to really work in to the build-up. The juice will be acidic enough to break down the deposits instantly. If you have a pretty heavily stained screen, you may need to go over it a second time. As there are no harsh chemicals and the smell is glorious, you’ll be grand! Next wipe the juice off using a wet cloth or sponge. You will see the difference right away, finish with a dry microfibre cloth to buff. Et voila, a sparkling screen.
To keep these marks from reappearing, squeegee or dry down your screen with a cloth after each shower.

4. Removing stains from bottom of toilet

Brown staining at the end of a toilet bowl is pretty common, especially in areas of hard water. These usually start off like the white chalky stains you see around taps so are barely noticeable at the start but over time will start to change in colour, first to a greenish hue and then to that dreaded browl. Regular cleaning with a brush will help lift the hard water mineral deposits in the early stages before the discolouring starts to kick in, but what can you do if it’s too late for that?

I know you’ll be tempted to reach for the bleach but hear me out. This will mostly just remove the colour and not the deposits, so the marks will start to become visible again. For a longer-term solution, we need something that will remove the deposits themselves and not just the colour. Enter vinegar (such a versatile gal). You’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Toilet Brush

If the staining is at the very bottom, you’ll be able to pour the neat vinegar in and leave it to work its magic. For light staining, a quarter of a litre (around half a bottle) will do. I find half a litre works well for heavier staining. For the worst offenders that look like a layer of clay, you can repeat that over a few days. The minimum amount of time you need here is 4 hours or overnight. When you come back in the morning you will find that most of it has lifted and you’ll just have to give a light scrub with a toilet brush and flush away.

If the marks are in a ring around the top of the sitting water, pop some near vinegar in a spray bottle and spray before bed. After a couple of nights of spraying, it should lift with a light scrub.

Want more tips and hacks? Laura de Barra’s debut book, Gaff Goddess: Simple Tips And Tricks To Help You Run Your Home is on shelves now, published by Transworld Ireland. Buy it here or in all good bookshops, and follow Laura on Instagram for even more cleaning and lifestyle tips. 

More: 4 tricky kitchen cleaning jobs – and how to tackle them without the harsh chemicals>

About the author:

Laura de Barra

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