The Worst Cleaning Jobs Made Easy
Time it takes: 10 to 15 minutes.
Why it matters: If they’re ignored for too long, mold and mildew can seep into the grout, and there may be no way to remove them. A buildup of soap scum can discolor ceramic and stone tile.
Step 1: Spray the walls with an all-purpose cleaner, then go at them with a stiff-bristle scrub brush (Bar Brush, $6, kitchenandcompany.com). For heavy soap scum, mold, and mildew, use a stronger cleaner, like Marblelife Maxout Tile and Grout (from $10, marblelife.com). When it comes to grout lines, Leigh Gansberg, director of housekeeping at the Carlyle hotel, in New York City, swears by the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponge ($6, walgreens.com). Just dampen it and rub it over the grout—the cleaner is inside the sponge. If you prefer an eco-friendly version, try the Stain Eraser ($17, goclean.com).
Step 2 (for those with shower doors): Use glass cleaner or, if you’re dealing with serious soap scum or hard-water spots, undiluted white vinegar that has been heated to boiling (just be careful). A scrub brush can scratch glass, so use a microfiber cloth or, for gentle abrasion, a nonscratch scrubbing sponge. A trick for shower-door tracks: Pour a little vinegar into the track, let sit for a few minutes, then rub with the scrub brush and towel-dry. No need to rinse. After a shower or two, the vinegar smell will be gone.
Try to do this: Every other week for light cleaning (using the all-purpose cleaner); once a month for the shower-door tracks.