It must be one of the least favourite household chores out there. Nobody really likes cleaning the lavatory. (My mum used to use it as the go-to consequence for bad behaviour when I was younger.) However, it’s a job that has to be done if you want a healthy, happy home that doesn’t reek.
For a lot of us, the idea of scrubbing out the loo is just plain disgusting. We all know what goes on in the lavatory and what goes down there… so you know what those funny stains and streaks in the toilet bowl are caused by. It’s a basic human instinct to be somewhat revolted and disgusted by the idea of getting up close with poop. We’re even prissier these days than we used to be: in the past, minute amounts of poo were added to perfume to add a richer note to it, and buckets of human excreta were added to vegetable gardens to improve soil fertility (and there are some people today who still believe in the powers of “recycled cider” in the garden, especially for lemon trees).
But unless you hire professional cleaning company to do the job for you, there’s no getting away from it. Even if you do get in a cleaning lady to scrub your loo for you, you might find that you have to do it yourself from time to time, such as when a child misses. You may feel a little bit sorry for that cleaner who does the job for you, but you don’t need to be. The pro knows a few secrets that make this task a lot less disgusting and repulsive.
It’s Cleaner Than You Think
Toilet seats are not the hotbed of infection that you think they might be. For one thing, think about how you actually use the toilet. It’s only very, very occasionally that the toilet seat actually touches excreta (at least if the gentlemen lift the seat every time like they ought to). Mostly, it’s your buttocks that touch the seat, and your bum is no germier than other parts of your body. In fact, it might even be cleaner, as it’s not as sweaty as your feet and doesn’t come in contact with things that other people have touched like your hands do. In fact, your mouth has way more bacteria than your bottom cheeks, and your toothbrush contains far more bacteria than your toilet seat as a result.
Even the toilet bowl isn’t as bad as it could be. This is because it has fresh water going through it with every flush. If you are one of the many who adds one of those “cleans with every flush” devices to your loo (either something that hangs in the bowl itself or that sits in the tank), then every flush helps keep things clean down there.
In fact, the really germ-laden part of your toilet is the flush button. This is because you touch this after you’ve wiped your bottom. You get the picture!
This is not to say that the toilet is perfectly hygienic. Of course it isn’t. This is where the first two tips from the pros come in:
- Have a special set of tools kept for cleaning the loo that don’t get used for anything else (except, maybe, for cleaning up pet “accidents” and similar filthy jobs).
- Wear rubber gloves and tie long hair back while working.
The Basics of Toilet Cleaning
Right, now that you’ve donned your rubber gloves, let’s get started and actually clean the loo. Here’s how to do it like a pro:
- Spray everything with a good disinfectant. Leave it time to work so it kills the germs. All disinfectants take time and don’t kill germs instantly on contact.
- Wipe down everything with a rag or paper towel, starting at the top and working your way down. Don’t forget the underside of the seat or the outside of the bowl.
- Squirt one of those toilet cleaning products that come with a duck-head nozzle around the bowl, making sure you get under the rim. Leave it to work for a bit then scrub like crazy around the bowl with a loo brush. Look at what you’re doing to make sure that you’re getting every bit of muck. Wash the loo brush and stand it in a tub of dilute disinfectant when you’re done.
- Check around the floor, spraying and wiping with disinfectant if needed.
- Check the hinge of the toilet seat and scrub, using a small, stiff brush (an old toothbrush is ideal). If this is really mucky, then unscrew the lid and clean it separately. In extreme cases, it may need soaking and a lot of elbow grease.
- Using clean plain water and a fresh rag, rinse the seat. Having loads of disinfectant on there is pretty tough on the skin of your buttocks.
- Flush the loo, remove old used toilet rolls and top up the supply of spare rolls.
Green Cleaning For Your Toilet
We have a tendency to throw around the chemicals in the toilet, even though it’s a small room. This is also the place where we’re most likely to use artificial air fresheners, which are some of the worst offenders for indoor air quality. Is there any way to use less toxic and more natural cleaners for your toilet?
A lot of people shy away from using natural green cleaning products for the toilet, in a belief that something as dirty as the toilet needs “stronger” artificial chemicals to deal with all the germs. However, some natural cleaners are just as powerful as artificial ones, if not more powerful. What’s more, you don’t need to have your toilet 100% germ-free. You’re not going to eat in there, after all, and you are going to wash your hands afterwards… aren’t you?
A few simple ways that you can be a bit more sustainable in the small room are the following:
- Use a spray made from white vinegar, plain water and 20+ drops of lavender, lemon or tea tree essential oil. This works as a disinfectant and as an air freshener.
- Use rags recycled from old towels and the like for cleaning the loo rather than disposable paper towels. Just wash them thoroughly afterwards!
- Baking soda absorbs smells and is great for getting stains off the inside and the outside of the bowl.
- Strong alcohol (anything from vodka to methylated spirits) is another potent natural disinfectant. Spray it neat around the place.
Big Toilet Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid
As with any task, there are some real no-nos to steer clear of. No matter how concerned you are about cleaning or about comfort, always avoid the following:
- Mixing cleaners. This especially applies to mixing things based on chlorine and things based on ammonia. Doing this in a small space like a lavatory can be fatal – they combine to form one of the nastier gases used in the trenches of WWI.
- Carpet or cloth mats around the base of the toilet or any other fabric toilet accessories. They may look cute and/or stop you from getting freezing feet on winter mornings but they collect unspeakable muck very easily and very quickly.
- Using the loo as a rubbish disposal system. Toilets are for excreta (urine, poo, blood and vomit) only. They are not for sanitary products, dead goldfish, old toilet rolls, shredded documents, cotton buds or nappies. If you flush any of these things down the loo, expect (a) to have your toilet flood on you at the worst possible moment and (b) to be on first-name terms with your local plumber very quickly.