There is something satisfying about deep cleaning your bathroom to the point where every surface sparkles without a water spot in sight. Unfortunately, bathrooms don’t tend to stay clean for very long, which can leave you lamenting necessary maintenance like wiping down the counter or attacking shower doors with a squeegee. In fact, a 2018 survey identified cleaning the toilet as the #1 hated chore in America.
The good news is that a remodel offers the perfect opportunity to choose elements that are designed with less cleaning and maintenance in mind. While you can’t (read: shouldn’t) avoid cleaning your bathroom entirely, there are definitely components and configurations that will drastically reduce the time spent on these chores.
Here are some of the best bathroom design elements to keep in mind when you want to keep things easy to clean.
Both traditional and modern design styles favor cabinets on legs, and initially, you might think that this is great, since it will give you the option to clean under the cabinets. Just wait until you’re on your hands and knees in a small bathroom space, contorting yourself to get a vacuum hose or duster all the way to the dust bunnies crammed against the back wall...you might change your mind!
A great solution for this problem is to install floating vanities, shelves, or even fixtures like toilets that never touch the floor. With plenty of clearance underneath, you can maneuver an upright vacuum, broom, or mop around the entire floor surface with ease, significantly cutting cleaning time (and saving your knees in the process).
Surface-mounted sinks are certainly pretty, as are vessel sinks that are situated to look like bowls sitting on the counter surface. However, these options are more difficult to clean, especially when you have to reach around raised sink bowls to clean the counter behind them.
This is easily addressed by installing an undermount sink, which is designed to leave the lip of the counter overhanging the sink. Just imagine swiping water, makeup dust, and tiny hair trimmings directly into the sink to wash them away, instead of having to wipe them off of the counter edge, into your hands, so that you can dump them in the sink. You’ll save yourself a step or two with an undermount sink.
No matter how hard you try to avoid getting water spots on hardware, eventually you’re going to give up on trying to turn the knobs with your elbows and simply accept that drips all over the faucet are a fact of life. That is, of course, unless you opt to install a motion-sensor activated faucet that turns on and off without being touched. As a bonus, these eco-friendly faucets help to minimize water waste when you wash your hands, brush your teeth, or otherwise use your sink!
Whether you choose natural stone tile, ceramic tiles, or geometric patterns in your backsplash, if you go with regular-sized tile you’re going to find that cleaning grout quickly becomes tedious. The good news is that there are simple solutions.
Single slabs of natural stone or quartz are extremely durable and easily cleaned with a single swipe of the sponge.
Back-painted glass delivers a groutless shower or tub surround, complete with a high-shine surface that adds personality to your décor. Will you have to squeegee to prevent water spots? Yes...but it takes a lot less time than scrubbing grout!
If you must go with tile, choose a large format with narrow grout lines. More on that below.
If you’ve got your heart set on stone or other types of tile for flooring and tub or shower surrounds, the best way to minimize time spent maintaining your grout is to choose large tile sizes. Whereas 1” x 1”, 4” x 4”, or 3” x 6” tiles will require a ton of grout lines, 12” x 12” or even 24” x 24” tiles will cover the same space with far fewer seams for grout. They even make enormous 24” x 48” formats if that goes with your style.
You might even consider using natural stone veneers, which come in large sheets and give you the look of stone that you love (because they are real stone) with very few grout lines. One tip: If you’re going to choose larger tiles for a shower floor, consider installing a linear drain that will offer a single slope for better drainage.
NOTE: If you are using large format tile for your shower floor, make sure it has a texture that is not slippery when wet. One advantage of small tiles on the shower floor is that all of those grout lines provide a lot more traction when wet.
While frosted glass showers definitely help to hide water spots, they also act like a solid wall, making your bathroom look smaller. However, frosted glass is a great option for the windows in your bathroom for a couple of reasons.
First, this option will save you the trouble of cleaning blinds, roman shades, or other window treatments, while also eliminating problems like mold and mildew that window treatments are notorious for in steamy bathroom environments. Frosted windows also offer the privacy you need at any height, while still allowing natural light to filter in.
If taking a squeegee to your glass post-shower is too much daily effort, you might want to consider installing a wet room that has minimal or no glass partitions. In these rooms, every surface is designed to be waterproof and to handle splash damage. Of course, you’ll still have to clean tile or other surfaces that get wet, but you can eliminate at least one wall that requires frequent cleaning.
You might think that the main reason to install a vent fan in the bathroom is to eliminate unwanted odors, but this practical feature does a lot more. A powerful vent fan pulls excess moisture (such as shower steam) from the space, minimizing the humidity that creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
If they are left to flourish, these microorganisms will not only damage drywall, wood vanities, and paint, but they can also prove harmful to your health- especially if you suffer from asthma, allergies, respiratory disorders, or other health conditions. You’ll want to find a model that’s not only powerful enough to manage the moisture in your space, but also quiet enough to run virtually unnoticed.
Most people don’t spend excessive time cleaning their walls, but with water flying around and moisture which causes dust, dander, and hair to stick to wall surfaces, you’ll definitely want to address the walls in your bathroom more frequently than other rooms in the home. Semi-gloss paint is typically easy to clean, but you might be surprised to learn that you can also find matte or satin options specially formulated for bathrooms that are designed to resist moisture, mold, and mildew. Vinyl wallpaper is another great option that’s easy to clean.
There’s no getting around the fact that bathrooms require more frequent and intensive cleaning than other areas of the home, but with the right design elements, you can create the spa-like bathroom that you crave that’s easy to keep looking and feeling fresh.