Bathroom Plumbing Fixtures: How to Keep Them Clean
We are very fortunate to live in a country where almost everyone has indoor plumbing with potable water. Instead of coping with cracked chamberpots or splintery outhouses, we care for our hygiene in a comfortable room which can be tailored to our personal decorating tastes. Part of the ambience rests with the plumbing fixtures therein. Of course, cleanliness is next to healthiness. To stay healthy, we must keep the bathroom equipment and fixtures sanitary. Also, it is aesthetically pleasing to view sparkling faucets and handles. But after using the bathroom facilities to remove dirt, how can one keep the fixtures clean?
Following are methods for keeping those bathroom fixtures sanitary and shiny, listed in order of low to high risk to the environment.
Faucet Before Cleaning
One: Wipe, wipe, wipe
Every bathroom user takes a clean, soft, cloth to wipe every faucet or handle used after every use. Envision a pile of soft flannel baby burp cloths or a sort of fabric wipes dispenser on the bathroom counter. Honestly, I don’t think this idea will fly in most households. Furthermore, I don’t think I’d want to live with a group of people so obsessive about shiny faucets that they actually would DO this!
Two: Protective layer
After cleaning the tub spout and sink faucet, wipe an imperceptible thin coating of vegetable oil on them. This actually forms a waterproof barrier so that the water droplets don’t reach the finish of the fixture. It is easier to wipe the dirt particles away when they sit on a layer of slippery grease. The oil layer is somewhat analogous to a cook’s apron blocking all the food splashes from staining his/her clothing.
Three: White vinegar
All the green guides recommend using diluted white vinegar as a cleaning solution which is safer for the human cleaner and the earth. I regret to report that I have not had the kind of success I’d like with this. I still use vinegar at times, but it only works on light dirt. My past tree-hugger save-the-earth daydream was that I’d use the safe and wonderful vinegar and suddenly everything magically gleamed, rainbows erupted into the skies, unicorns danced in the bathroom, and I saved a lot of money. It doesn’t quite work that way.
Four: Store-bought cleaners
One can turn to commercial cleaning products. Seventh Generation™ and other green manufacturers are first choice recommendations. If they cannot blast the fixtures clean, try non-earth-friendly glass and window cleaning sprays.
Faucet After Cleaning
Water with high mineral content causes major cleaning challenges. Calcium deposits multiply as fast as baby bunnies. A chisel or the equivalent may be needed to remove these deposits. I use a slot-head screwdriver and hammer. While we are discussing mechanical dirt removal, one can use a knife to purge dirt deposited around the edge of a sink overlapping the counter. Is there a risk of scratching something? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Yes, it is to me. Cleanliness of the home trumps a few cosmetic hairline marks.
Six: Toxic dangerous chemicals
The last resort is a dangerous Rust-Lime-Calcium removing commercial product. Use protective gloves and turn on the exhaust fans and open the windows. It really works on those spots that defy all other cleaning methods.
Remember, never mix chemicals! Vinegar is a chemical --- everything is made of chemicals. Always do many rinses with water between different cleaning products.
We have the luxury of resources and knowledge to maintain bathrooms which are functional and soothing. A major factor in the usefulness of the bathroom is its cleanliness. With these ideas, hopefully your fixtures will stay relatively clean between their occasional super cleanings. Enjoy them!
Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan