Call it what you will: the necessary, the powder room, the loo, the lavatory, the thunderbox, the jakes, the euphemism or other terms that aren’t quite so printable, the toilet is one part of every house that is unpleasant to clean. It’s unpleasant to clean even if you’ve got reasonably tidy household members. If you have children who have a tendency to be a little too late a little too often, or small boys who have what is known in our household as Fireman Syndrome (spraying all over the place), cleaning the toilet is even more unpleasant.
Cleaning the toilet is a job that tends to be left for the “default house cleaner” of that house, usually either Mum or a professional cleaner. But if you’ve got your own house – where you are the default cleaner or you are expected to take a turn – and you can’t afford a professional to do it, then this unpleasant job will need to be tackled. Tie long hair back, put on your rubber gloves, and prepare to dive in.
You will need a good old-fashioned toilet brush – the sort with bristles all around is better than one with bristles just on one side. You will also need a cleaning product, preferably one that has a nozzle that fits inside the rim. Cleaning rags or paper towels (or the toilet paper that is probably conveniently to hand) and some disinfectant are also necessary. If the toilet in question is particularly awful, then you may also need a scrubbing brush and/or a mop and bucket. An old toothbrush is also handy for tricky places – professional cleaners use these for cleaning toilets.
The old adage in 1950s cleaning textbooks was “flush, brush, flush” for cleaning the inside of the toilet bowl. However, in the interests of saving water, this first flush can be omitted unless doing so is obviously necessary. Begin by squirting the cleaner around the rim of the bowl, allowing some to trickle down the sides. You don’t need much – the sides don’t need to be covered top to bottom. As long as you have 80% of the rim circumference covered, you will have enough. Leave this to start working for a minute or so, then get to work with the brush. Begin under the rim and work systematically around the bowl then down the pipe. The place where the water comes up to is particularly prone to getting unpleasantness, as is the very bottom of the bowl. Scrub hard, using an up and down motion or a round and round motion. If you use a nicely scented product, you’ll get lots of satisfying bubbles and a decent smell.
After scrubbing the bowl, replace the brush in a container of disinfectant. You will need to change the disinfectant solution every three or four uses of the brush or so. Then get a solution of disinfectant and use the rags to wipe the top of the rim (the bit that gets sat on accidentally if someone leaves the toilet seat up). Clean the seat itself top and bottom. The hinge part is particularly tricky – an old toothbrush can help you if it’s particularly grubby. Change cleaning rags/paper towels fairly frequently.
If you have tidy household members, you will have just about finished, apart from making sure that the top of tank is dusted, topping up the supplies of toilet paper and removing any old rolls. If you use a garbage bin for waste (e.g. feminine sanitary products), then empty this.
However, if you have messier household members, you will have to keep going. The outside of the bowl and the outside of the downpipe will probably need a good scrub down, especially if you have a small boy with Fireman Syndrome. Fireman Syndrome may also require walls to be scrubbed down – use the scrubbing brush to check for this. The floor will need to be mopped with disinfectant, and possibly scrubbed as well. Once you’ve done all this, you will have finished and can wash your hands and take a well-earned cup of tea.
If you are sensitive to chemicals, then you can use baking soda as a cleaner instead of disinfectant and proprietary clean.