toilet cleaning in 5 easy steps

If your family is flush with reasons not to deal with the weekly toilet tune-up, tell them to have a seat and relax. Today's disinfecting cleaners make this once tedious task a breeze.

These 5 toilet cleaning steps even work on a toilet that's been neglected for a while. 

Toilet cleaning is a job for the teens and adults in your home, as the cleaners are strong, and when used incorrectly, they can damage surfaces - and kids.

1. Clean and Sanitize the Bowl

Wearing rubber or latex gloves to protect your hands, spray a disinfecting toilet-bowl cleaner around the inside of the bowl and under the rim.

Or, you can clean with chlorine bleach alone by pouring one-quarter cup of bleach into the bowl; it both whitens and disinfects.

To avoid creating hazardous fumes, don't combine bleach with any bowl cleaner or any other cleaning product.

And, of course, store your bleach out of the reach of little hands. If you have pets, make sure the lid is down to avoid accidents. 

Be sure to teach your teens this critical safety rule.

2.  Toilet Seat Patrol

Allow either toilet cleaner to sit for 10 full minutes to thoroughly annihilate germs, bacteria, and viruses.

While the disinfectant is doing its job in the bowl, you can begin cleaning the seat and lid (both sides) and the rest of the toilet surface, including around the hinges and the base.

This is especially necessary if you have little boys learning to aim.

Spray on a nonabrasive disinfectant (a separate product from the toilet bowl cleaner). Allow this cleaner to chill and kill germs for 10 minutes, too.

3. Bowl Scrub Patrol

Moving back to the bowl, swish the cleaner around the bowl, underneath the rim, and as far into the trap as possible, using a long-handled toilet brush. Then flush the toilet to rinse. 

4.  Clean the Outside of the Bowl

Turning your attention back to the seat area, wipe the seat and the outside of the bowl clean and dry with paper towels. They're the simplest: no rinsing needed, and no chance of spreading germs if you toss them. Don't forget to dry the hinge areas and bumpers.

5. Daily, Weekly and Monthly Toilet Cleaning

Each week, pour 1 cup of baking soda into the bowl to keep it fresh. And finally, once a month, pour a half-gallon of white vinegar into the bowl to keep it ring-free. Let it soak overnight before flushing.

To keep your bowl clean, pour a half-cup or so of bleach into the potty each morning or evening and let it sit. This will help keep harmful germs in check. 

Each day, also wipe the toilet seat and rim with a disposable disinfecting wipe or spray disinfectant cleaner.

(I keep bleach-containing wipes near the kids' potty for quick spot cleaning uring the potty-training process. These wipes are a godsend when a child gets the stomach flu, and things get messy there.)

Teach your kids to flush. Period. This is one rule you'll want your kids to follow, especially when they're visiting at friends' homes. This rule can be broken only during seven-year droughts.

A well-mannered boy always puts the seat down after using the toilet. And a clean-minded child, regardless of gender, always puts down the toilet lid before flushing.

Besides being much more pleasant to look at, a closed potty when flushed doesn't send stirred-up, ahem, unpleasantries spiraling into the air where they can land on your sink, counter, or toothbrush. Ugh.

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