New York

“I Kill You, Scum”: Clean the Bathroom

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My bedroom currently has clothes strewn on a chair, on the floor, a stack of magazines perched precariously on the bedside table and a series of glasses which grows each day since my boyfriend simply must have a glass of water next to the bed at night but cannot seem to remember to bring the previous night’s glasses into the kitchen.  My point is, I can deal with a little clutter and mess but what I cannot abide is dirt, and what I absolutely cannot abide is any kind of dirtiness in the bathroom.

Unless you’re moving into one of those fancypants new buildings developers are throwing up all over town that look like dormitories, you probably inherited a less than perfect NYC bathroom. Some are really nice with white tiles and clean tubs, others have the shower stall with a rubber bottom that looks like an awful motel and still others have scary exposed pipes and a grimy window. When I was in high school I knew a dude who lived in the west 30’s and his shower was in the kitchen.

There’s something horrible and caveman-like about trying to clean yourself in a room that’s really dirty and gross.  I find the sub-par conditions of certain rental bathrooms to be one of the greatest indignities of Broke-Ass-itude.  Years of coming to terms with my poverty while simultaneously yearning for a bathroom like this :

have taught me some important lessons about cleaning.  Luckily the best way to clean your bathroom isn’t with some expensive, disgusting, awful chemicals, it’s with stuff you probably already have around the house.

1. Water and Yellow Mr. Clean and some Rags

Water, duh, I know.  But a lot of people attack their bathroom with harsh chemicals when you really just need a wet rag and some water.  The best thing to do is mix the yellow Mr. Clean with water in a spray bottle and spray it into an old washcloth or rag.  Rags are the best thing to clean with (a career house cleaner told me this at a bar once) because unlike sponges they don’t “breathe” i.e. deposit old bacteria on your surfaces right after you cleaned them.

Rags can be as simple as old washcloths or ripped up T shirts.  The more you wash them, the better they get.  Spray the Mr. Clean solution on rags and go to town on baseboards, walls, and countertops.

2. Comet

This is the only friend you need for your tub and sink, and you should use a sponge in this situation. it gets all the soap scum off as long as you remember to rinse the shit out of it.

3. Vinegar

I know it sounds nuts but white vinegar is not only a cleanser and disinfectant, it actually prohibits the future growth of soap scum and mildew! I know, right? Crazy!  After you finish Cometing the tub and cleaning everthing else, fill a spray bottle with this shit and spray all over the bathtub, sink and any tiles that get mildewy.  It’ll smell a little salad-y for an hour or so but make sure the space is well ventilated and it’ll be gone in no time.

4. Barkeepers Friend

There is a product called Barkeeper’s Friend that gets rid of any kind of stain on clothes and surfaces. It gets rid of rust, yellow stains on tile, everything.  It is well worth its $4 pricetag.

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BAS Writers

BAS Writers

BAS Writers is mostly a collection of articles written by people for the early days of this site. Back then nobody knew that snarky articles they were writing could come back and haunt them when job searching a decade later.


  1. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    September 28, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Also you should invest in one of those “Magic Eraser” type sponges — I found out that those things work like a dream at removing hard to get out stains (like that of hair dye). I found a generic version of the Mr. Clean ones in a dollar store not to long ago, so you don’t even have to drop more than $5 to get enough to last you for a whole year.

    Good tips!

  2. Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)
    September 29, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Here, here.
    -Diluted Windex works well on vinyl floors.
    -Throw your shower curtain in the washer with a wee bit of detergent. Just don’t put it in the dryer. It’s obvious I know, but some folks…