Weekend Wanderer: How Not to Clean Your Bathroom

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I still feel dirty.

I cleaned the bathrooms yesterday. Stem to stern. Head to toe. Every nook and cranny. Pick your idiom, because I did it.

Well, maybe we don’t use “nook and cranny.” I love English muffins so I’m gagging quite a bit here thinking about mildew and butter getting the same descriptor.

It’s OK to have a crippling disgust for germs, mold, and mildew. National Geographic says so. Well, sort of. Nat Geo says there’s a degree of biological protection in avoiding germs. It only becomes a problem when you’re still perseverating about mildew, oh, I don’t know, say 24 hours and two showers after cleaning your bathroom.

Ugh. I hate even writing about this. What, exactly, is the worst part of cleaning bathrooms? The mold and mildew in the shower? The toilet, which is just gross no matter what? The wet hair clinging to everything?

I mean, I was scrubbing mildew yesterday. It’s probably under my nails now, growing and morphing into a new lifeform. At first, it will mysteriously kill me. But then it will evolve into some kind of Blob or Godzilla-like lifeform that annihilates the entire planet.

Probably the worst thing I’ve ever had to clean is my daughter’s bathroom. It’s one of those old pink bathrooms – the kind with square floor tiles in alternating shades of pink, and a pink sink molded into the wall.  The bathroom doesn’t have a fan, so gunky black mildew furs the corners of the shower ten minutes after I clean it.

I, personally, have never used that bathroom. I don’t shower in it. I don’t use the toilet. No good will come of my doing anything in that bathroom other than cleaning it.

Which begs the obvious question. Why aren’t my children cleaning the bathrooms? They use them too, right?

Well, they do clean them. But this has become a point of contention in my house. I am of the firm belief that once you have handled a toilet brush, scrubbed a sludged bathroom corner, or pulled hair from a shower drain, you are in need of a shower. I’m right about this. Washing your hands isn’t enough.

My husband told me I couldn’t say that to our kids. It would tip my hand, clue them in to what he calls my obsessiveness but I call my normal people-ness.

Well, those kids have been here a few years now. They call my normal people-ness my obsessiveness, too. Consider that hand tipped.

Anyway, my husband maintains simply washing your hands is enough. That it’s perfectly acceptable to, say, wipe the toilet seat, wash your hands, then stick those same hands into a bag of potato chips.

But he carries the toilet plunger over his shoulder. That, obviously, is deranged. He has severed his parental rights when it comes to teaching our children how to clean a bathroom.

I’ll never win this one, though. Many teens, sadly, are like mine – eschewing showers unless a parent directs them toward a regular bath. Once a day is a struggle. Getting them to shower after they’ve cleaned a bathroom is a big ask.

Now, The New York Times’ “Wirecutter” issued a toilet-cleaning tutorial in May. They recommend putting your toilet brush in the shower.

Not you. Not your teens. Your toilet brush.

The tutorial explains post-scrubbing, your toilet brush itself needs to be cleaned. One way to do this is to run it under the shower, then wipe down your shower.

The people at “Wirecutter” probably carry their toilet plunger over their shoulder, too.

I would never be able to use my shower again if I cleaned my toilet brush according to that recommendation.

Consider this: a few years ago, as I helped my parents move, I realized I would have to transport their toilet brushes to their new home.

In my car. I would have to put toilet brushes in my car. Can you imagine me trying to cope with that? I’m willing to concede this IS my obsessiveness – that normal people would be able to move a toilet brush in their car and never blink.

Not me.

I told my parents I couldn’t do it. If they loved me, I told them, they’d let me throw away the toilet brushes. I would buy them new ones. I’d already picked them out – a pretty brushed nickel, as appealing as a toilet brush could be.

My mom asked my dad how, exactly, they had messed me up this terribly.

Fair question.

But at least they never had to beg me to shower.

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