Banish germs and bacteria by refreshing these everyday bathroom items.

It's obvious you should be wiping down your toilet, tub, and sink, but there are plenty of bathroom areas and items that your scrub brush is probably neglecting. (Be honest: When's the last time you looked up to clean your exhaust fan?) Plus, consider those items you should be replacing altogether, like razor blades and expired medication. Our list of most-forgotten bathroom cleaning tasks will have your space sparkling from top to bottom.

inside of bathroom cabinet door with adhesive hooks and shelf
Credit: Ann VanderWiel Wilde

1. Hairbrushes and Combs

Your hairbrush harbors a lot more than just hair. It also holds onto dust, dirt, oils, hair products, and even dust mites—not the kinds of buildup you want on your clean hair every day. Pull out excess hair from your brushes daily, and shampoo your hairbrush at least once a month.

To clean your hairbrush, add a few drops of shampoo to warm water and swirl the mixture until suds form. Submerge the head of your hairbrush into the water. Use a clean toothbrush to scrub near the base of the bristles. Rinse with fresh water, and leave your hairbrush out to dry, bristle-side down, on a clean towel overnight. You can use the same method for cleaning combs.

light yellow bathroom with white trim
Credit: Greg Scheidemann

2. Bath Mats

Bath mats have serious mildew potential thanks to their humid environments, so be sure to wash them regularly. Check your bath mat's care label, first. Some bath mats, especially those with rubber backing or plastic bath mats, may require a gentle cycle or hand-washing. If machine-washable, toss your bath mat in the laundry with some bath towels and follow the manufacturer's instructions for washing. If your bath rug no longer has its tag, follow our guide to cleaning every type of bath mat.

shower supplies on rack
Credit: Miki Duisterhof

3. Loofahs

Whether made of natural or manmade materials, loofahs are a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and yeast, and a host to all the dead skin cells you've scrubbed off in prior washes. Most experts recommend you remove loofahs from your bathroom routine permanently, but replacing them once every three to four weeks for natural sponges and every two months for the plastic variety is a good alternative. To keep them (and yourself) as clean and bacteria-free as possible, dry them between uses, don't use them right after you shave, and clean them weekly by soaking them in a diluted bleach solution for 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

cleaning supplies under sink
Credit: Michael Partenio

4. Toilet Brushes

Toilet brushes have one of the dirtiest jobs of all, and they often go uncleaned. Remove bacteria, grime, and fecal matter by soaking your toilet brush in a bucket filled with hot water and a few capfuls of bleach. After an hour, remove and rinse with hot water. Once it's dry, you can return it to its holder, but we recommend you clean that, too. Putting a clean toilet brush into a grimy holder will defeat your hard work.

blue gold ostrich wallpaper bathroom
Credit: Jay Wilde

5. Toilet Handle

Most of us clean the toilet bowl regularly, but the actual flusher—which everyone touches before they stop at the sink—often gets skipped in the process. To prevent the spread of germs, give your toilet handle a good wipe-down every time you clean the bowl. If you're cleaning your toilet with a diluted bleach solution, you can use the same solution for the handle. Alternatively, you can use a disinfecting wipe to easily clean toilet handles and seats.

makeup brushes in cup
Credit: Marty Baldwin

6. Makeup Brushes

That occasional blemish might have less to do with stress or hormones and more to do with dirty makeup brushes. About every two weeks, or when your brush bristles are no longer soft and your coverage starts to look cakey or streaky, wash makeup brushes with unscented bar soap, baby soap, or a dedicated brush cleanser. Once dry, store your makeup brushes away from splashes in a cabinet or drawer to keep them clean as long as possible.

cleaning bathroom fan with sponge
Credit: Getty Images

7. Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Surfaces are an obvious choice for daily or weekly bathroom cleaning, but what about your ceiling? Bathroom exhaust fans remove moisture from the air, making them a prime target for mold and mildew growth as well as dust buildup. To spot-clean, an all-purpose cleaner sprayed onto a microfiber cloth can help remove visible grime on the fan's cover. For a deeper clean—once or twice yearly, depending on use—you'll need to remove the cover to vacuum the exhaust fan blades and vent.

bathroom vanity with 4 drawers in light wood
Credit: David A Land

8. Soap Dispenser

You use it every day to keep your hands clean, but when's the last time you gave your soap dispenser a good scrub? If you decant your hand soap into a pump dispenser, include the container in your weekly bathroom cleaning routine. First, remove the lid. If there is still soap in the container, temporarily pour contents into another container. Mix warm water and a few drops of dish soap to wash a glass or plastic soap dispenser. For built-up residue, use a clean toothbrush to scrub away residue. If your soap dispenser is glass, you can also place the empty container in the top rack of your dishwasher to sanitize. Hand-wash the pump with warm, soapy water, using a toothpick to remove clogs if necessary. For quick wipe-downs of your soap dispenser between deep cleans, simply grab a disinfecting wipe.

medicine cabinet filled with items
Credit: Marty Baldwin

9. Expired Medication

The ibuprofen that's been sitting in the back of your medicine cabinet for five years needs to go. It typically has a shelf life of 24 to 36 months. After that, it starts losing potency, so there's no reason for you to hold onto it. Check the expiration dates on all of your medications yearly and get rid of them if you see they have gone bad. Be sure to read the label to find out the safest method of disposal.

shaving supplies on shelf
Credit: Michael Partenio

10. Razor Blades

If you're using your disposable razor until obvious signs of rust and wear, it's time to throw it out. To keep a new razor clean, be sure you rinse it thoroughly after use to get rid of any hair or shaving cream that might be lingering between the blades. Wipe it down with a cotton ball covered in isopropyl alcohol, and make sure it's stored somewhere dry between shaves.


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