Designing a bathroom that is easy to clean and maintain should be a top priority for any homeowner. A clean, hygienic bathroom is essential for health and wellbeing. Additionally, putting some thought into the design can save you time and effort with cleaning in the long run. This comprehensive guide will provide tips and ideas to consider when designing an easy-to-clean bathroom.
Choose Appropriate Surfaces
The surfaces and materials used in a bathroom can make a big difference in terms of easy maintenance. Consider the following tips when selecting surfaces:
Tile is an ideal flooring material for bathrooms as it is waterproof and easy to clean. Choose larger grout lines as smaller grout lines stain and discolor over time requiring more scrubbing. Dark grout also hides soap scum and dirt better. Make sure the tiles are textured – glossy tiles become slippery when wet.
Natural Stone Tiles
Marble, travertine, slate, and granite tiles add luxurious elegance but require sealing to prevent stains and need gentle cleaning. Avoid porous limestone and sandstone as they stain easily. Use stone sealant periodically.
Waterproof vinyl floors are affordable, durable, and easy to clean. Choose sheet vinyl with minimum grout lines. Luxury vinyl planks and tiles also work well. Avoid vinyl with an underlay as moisture gets trapped.
Quartz or Solid Surface Countertops
Quartz countertops are an excellent choice as they resist stains, scratches, and moisture. The non-porous surface hampers mold/mildew growth. Pre-fabricated solid surfaces like Corian are also durable and waterproof. Avoid natural stone, which is prone to etching and stains.
Glass Shower Doors
Frameless glass doors provide a sleek look and are very easy to clean. Use squeegees after showering to prevent water spots and mineral build up. Avoid plastic shower curtains, which tend to become moldy over time.
Glossy Wall Tiles
Glossy tiles installed whole up to the ceiling are impervious to water and easy to wipe down after a shower. Avoid wallpaper or painted drywall, which will peel over time from moisture.
Choose Plumbing Fixtures Strategically
The location and design of plumbing fixtures can impact the ease of cleaning the bathroom:
Install undermount sinks as they have no lip or crevice where gunk can collect. The smooth transition from countertop to sink prevents buildup and is easy to wipe down. Avoid pedestal sinks or sinks with overflow drainage holes.
Faucets mounted on the wall don’t interfere with cleaning the counters and sinks. Water spills can be easily wiped off the wall as well. Avoid widespread faucets that sit on the counter.
A single-lever faucet allows you to control water temperature and flow with one hand, leaving your other hand free for showering or bathing. Skip ornate two-handle faucets that are tougher to keep clean.
Being able to grab a handheld showerhead makes it easy to spray down the shower walls and doors after use. Include a slide bar and wall mount to make reaching all areas effortless.
An overhead rainfall showerhead adds a luxurious spa-like feel to the bathroom. Fewer minerals are deposited since the water flows straight down rather than on an angle. Keep it descaled and clean.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters provide hot water instantly without needing to store any water. They last longer than tank heaters and remove chances of bacterial growth in stored water.
Wall mounted toilets have no base and can be installed higher up for easier cleaning around and underneath them. Make sure you have the right plumbing and framing support.
Touchless faucets activated by motion sensors or touch eliminate handling dirty faucet handles. This helps reduce the spread of germs in the bathroom.
The more storage space available, the less clutter and cleaning required. Include as much of the following storage options as possible:
- Vanity cabinets to hide toiletries and supplies
- Drawers under the sink or in vanities for organizing toiletries
- Medicine cabinets with mirrors on the wall for storage as well as safety
- Open shelving or bathroom cabinets for folded towels
- Freestanding shelves or storage cabinet/cart
- Shower niche for shampoo, soap, and other shower supplies
- Shower caddy for adjustable storage of shower products
- Under-sink storage cabinets on rollers/casters for easy access
- Hamper for storing laundry concealed within cabinetry
Use Minimal Grout Lines
Grout lines inevitably collect grime, soap scum, and dirt. Minimize grout lines wherever possible:
- Choose larger tile and stone sizes to reduce grout
- Opt for smaller mosaic sheets instead of individual tiles
- Use rectangular subway tiles vertically to reduce grout
- Install tiles in a brick pattern for fewer grout line intersections
- For walls, install whole tiles from floor to ceiling to eliminate upper grout lines
Also, use sanded grout for floors and unsanded grout for walls. Grout color similar to the tiles makes lines less visible.
Select Low-Maintenance Finishes and Colors
The finishes and tones chosen for the bathroom should also facilitate easy cleaning:
Matte and satin finishes help hide water spots and fingerprints especially on metal fixtures and hardware. Glossy surfaces show water spots, dirt, and smears instantly.
Stick to light and neutral shades of white, off-white, beige, gray for walls, cabinets, and fixtures. Dark or bright colors show dirt, smudges, and stains much more readily.
Brushed Nickel or Chrome
Brushed nickel and chrome finishes are less prone to water spots than oil-rubbed bronze or antique finishes. The dark tones also hide grime better.
Smaller Tile Grout Lines
If you do opt for some small mosaic tile accents, choose a matching colored or slightly darker grout that won’t get as obviously dirty.
Wall mounted cabinets can be installed higher up keeping the floor and lower wall areas easier to clean. Avoid cabinets that go all the way down to the floors.
Make Smart Lighting Choices
Proper bathroom lighting serves both functional and aesthetic purposes but it also impacts cleaning ease:
Install Overhead Ceiling Lights
Include overhead ceiling fixtures with diffusers or shades to provide overall ambient light. This allows you to see all areas clearly for cleaning.
Incorporate Task Lighting
Install sconces, vanity strip lighting or pendants to focus light directly on the sink and grooming areas. Lit surfaces are easier to clean.
Use Waterproof Ceiling Fans
Waterproof ceiling fans keep the air circulating to reduce humidity and prevent mold/mildew growth. They are safe to use while showering.
Plug-in nightlights provide a soft glow for middle of the night bathroom trips without needing to turn on the harsh overhead lights. Lookup for easy cleaning.
Place Mirrors Strategically
Well-placed mirrors reflect light making tasks like shaving or applying makeup easier. Avoid putting mirrors where they may get frequently splashed and need constant cleaning.
Include a Skylight
A skylight or window provides natural light from above that reaches all corners, leaving no dark areas when cleaning. Use frosted glass for privacy. Openable skylights allow ventilation.
Choose Easy-Clean Fixtures
The design and finish of bathroom fixtures also impacts cleanability:
Seamless Sinks and Tubs
Choose single molded sinks and tubs without hard to reach crevices or seams where gunk can accumulate. Undermount sinks also work.
Slip-Resistant Bottom Tubs/Showers
Textured or slip-resistant bottom surfaces allow you to stand securely in the shower while cleaning it. Avoid glossy surfaces.
Glass Shower Doors
Frameless glass shower doors eliminate shower curtains and allow unobstructed access for cleaning the entire enclosure. Use squeegees after showering.
Corner mounted glass, metal, or stone shelves situated away from direct water splashing stay cleaner than inset wall shelves that can accumulate mildew.
Freestanding bathtubs not surrounded by wall surfaces are easy to clean 360 degrees. Skirt the piping underneath for a clean look.
Being able to grab a handheld showerhead makes it easy to spray down the shower walls, doors, tub, and floor after use.
An overhead rainfall showerhead allows water to flow straight down keeping walls and fixtures cleaner than standard angled heads.
Touchless faucets activated by motion sensors or touch eliminate handling dirty faucet handles aiding cleanliness.
Air Flow and Ventilation
Proper airflow and ventilation prevents the buildup of mold, mildew, and moisture:
Install Exhaust Fans
Include exhaust fans and ducting that vent directly outdoors. Run them during and after showering to remove hot humid air.
Operable windows allow great ventilation if local codes permit them. Install a frosted glass window if needed for privacy along with tightly woven blinds.
Passive roof vents provide continuous airflow without needing powered ducting. Heat and moisture escape through these.
A dehumidifier keeps the ambient humidity low hampering mold growth. A hygrometer helps monitor the humidity.
Waterproof ceiling fans circulate air and provide good airflow. Let them run for a while after showering.
Radiant heated flooring dries out quickly after use, preventing surfaces from remaining damp and prone to mold.
Use Anti-Mold Paints and Grout
Special mold-resistant paints, grouts, and caulks prevent mold growth and simplify cleaning:
- Use mold resistant bathroom paint on walls and ceilings
- Choose epoxy or urethane grout which inhibits mold and mildew
- Apply silicone or urethane caulk at all joints and gaps
- Look for bathroom products advertised as mold-proof or mildew-proof
- Install mold resistant drywall or cement board substrates
- Tile backer boards prevent moisture absorption behind tiles
Plan for Easy Accessibility
Design the bathroom for easy access to all areas for people with mobility issues:
- Include ample clearance around toilets and fixtures for wheelchairs
- Make the shower stall spacious for seated showering
- Install support grab bars properly and strategically
- Use adjustable/handheld showerheads and elevated toilets
- Keep floor surfaces smooth yet slip-resistant
- Ensure door widths accommodate wheelchairs/walkers
- Mount sinks and vanities at the right height and depth
Use Self-Cleaning Technology
Consider incorporating self-cleaning technology for hands-free convenience:
High-end toilets available today include integrated self-cleaning, deodorizing, and air drying functions. These make cleaning effortless.
Self-Cleaning Shower Glass
Shower glass can be coated with a transparent photocatalytic coating that prevents soap scum and mineral deposits using sunlight.
Steam shower equipment allows creating a steam bath that cleans and sanitizes all shower surfaces without chemicals.
Ozone generators actively disinfect the bathroom preventing buildup of bacteria and mold and reducing cleaning requirements.
Keep Essential Cleaning Tools Handy
Store cleaning gear discreetly within the bathroom for quick tidy-ups:
- Multi-purpose bathroom cleaner
- Disinfecting wipes and sprays
- Grout brushes, scrub pads, and toothbrushes
- Rubber gloves, goggles, and mask if using strong chemicals
- Squeegee for shower doors
- Soft towel reserved for drying and wiping fixtures
- Renewable dehumidifier canisters
Develop a Bathroom Cleaning Routine
Certain cleaning tasks should be done daily, weekly, monthly, and annually:
- Wipe down sink, faucets, counters
- Sweep, mop floors
- Scrub toilet bowl
- Squeegee shower doors and glass after use
- Wipe down walls around toilet/showers
- Remove trash
- Run exhaust fan during and after showering
- Thoroughly scrub shower walls, tub, tiles
- Clean all mirror surfaces
- Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures
- Clean and disinfect all surfaces, fixtures
- Spot clean any stains on grout lines
- Clean chrome, metal fixtures as needed
- Check for any mildew or moisture buildup
- Disinfect all surfaces with bleach solution
- Clean showerheads, faucet aerators
- Check for leaks, dripping faucets, proper drainage
- Damp mop floors
- Regrout tiles if existing grout is stained/moldy
- Reseal natural stone surfaces
- Caulk and reseal joints if needed
- Repair/reseal any leaky plumbing fixtures
- Consider professional deep cleaning services
Ideas for Easy-Clean Materials and Finishes
Here are some specific easy-to-clean materials to consider for various bathroom surfaces:
- Porcelain, ceramic, glass, or stone tiles
- Slip-resistant texture
- Larger grout lines
- Neutral grout color
- Ceramic, porcelain or glass tile
- Stainless steel sheets
- Solid surface panels
- Stone slabs
- Acrylic or fiberglass surrounds
- Granite, quartz, or solid surface
- Stainless steel
- Stone slabs
- Ceramic, glass, or porcelain tile
- Concrete (sealed)
- Polymer veneer
- Maple or oak wood (avoid porous woods)
- Painted MDF
- Granite composite
- Solid surface
- Stainless steel
- Solid surface
- Stone resin composite
Design an Easy-Clean Bathroom in 8 Steps
Follow these steps when designing a new bathroom or renovating an existing one:
1. Select Low-Maintenance Surfaces
Choose waterproof, stain-resistant surfaces that require minimum frequent scrubbing to look clean. Avoid very small tile patterns, dark grout, and high-maintenance materials.
2. Focus on Ample Storage
Built-in storage keeps clutter at bay so there are fewer things to move around when cleaning. Medicine cabinets, vanity cabinets, open shelving, freestanding cabinets all help.
3. Install High-Quality Fixtures
Invest in durable, water-efficient plumbing fixtures that don’t leak, drip, or promote mildew growth. Touchless faucets and waterproof showerheads make cleaning easier.
4. Ensure Proper Ventilation
Include exhaust fans, windows, skylights, and dehumidifiers. Let fans run during and after showering. Proper ventilation inhibits mold and mildew.
5. Choose Easy-Clean Finishes
Matte or satin metals finishes hide water spots. Lighter wall colors hide grime. Smaller grout lines stay cleaner. Glass shower doors allow access to the entire enclosure.
6. Include Convenient Cleaning Features
Handheld showerheads, built-in corner shelves, rainfall showerheads, and adequate lighting make cleaning tasks much easier.
7. Plan for Accessibility
Allow ample clearances for maneuvering wheelchairs or walkers. Install support grab bars properly. Select adjustable/handheld showerheads and elevated toilets.
8. Keep Essentials Handy
Have cleaning supplies easily available under the sink or in drawers. Maintain a cleaning routine using the right techniques and tools.
Bathroom Cleaning Tips and Tricks
Follow these tips to keep your bathroom sparkling clean:
- Squeegee shower doors and walls after each use to prevent mineral deposits and soap scum buildup.
- Pour some baking soda down drains weekly followed by vinegar – the foaming reaction cleans drain pipes.
- Clean chrome fixtures with a towel dabbed in rubbing alcohol for maximum shine. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Use a mild bleach solution to disinfect and sanitize surfaces. 1 tbsp bleach to 1 gallon water works well.
- For tough soap scum, apply a paste of baking soda and water. Let sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
- For smelly drains, flush with very hot water, grind a bit of lemon rind in the drain, and follow up with baking soda.
- Dry wet surfaces with a soft squeegee to prevent water spots and mineral deposits on glass doors and mirrors.
- Dehumidifiers prevent damp conditions that lead to mold growth. Keep humidity levels ideally between 30% and 50%.
- Clean floor grout with an old toothbrush and baking soda paste. Let it bubble for 10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.
- Open windows whenever possible to let fresh air circulate in. Replace exhaust fans if old ones are ineffective or noisy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about designing an easy-to-clean bathroom: