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Article posted: 7/28/2013 12:01 AM

Six design choices for an easy-to-clean bathroom

Streamline your bathroom to keep it low-maintenance and squeaky clean

Wall-mounted sinks and gray grout, pictured, are design choices that make it much easier to clean a bathroom.

Wall-mounted sinks and gray grout, pictured, are design choices that make it much easier to clean a bathroom.

 

Taunton Press/Eric Roth

Wall-mounted sinks, pictured, and gray grout are design choices that make it much easier to clean a bathroom.

Wall-mounted sinks, pictured, and gray grout are design choices that make it much easier to clean a bathroom.

 

Taunton Press/Eric Roth

 

Taunton Press/Sandra Soria/Eric Roth

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By Rachel Graf

When designing a bathroom, people rarely take functional aspects like ease of cleaning into consideration, says Sandra Soria, author of "Bathroom Idea Book" (The Taunton Press, 2013).

"I think we approach our home aesthetically, and we maybe tend to get caught up in things we love and not think about problems down the line," Soria says.

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Although the frequency of bathroom cleaning is ultimately a personal choice, a thorough cleaning of everything from the walls to the pipes should be conducted every month or two, home experts say.

You can ease the headache of a thorough, monthly cleaning by taking a few minutes to maintain cleanliness every time you use the bathroom. Wipe down the shower after every use with a handy squeegee or rag, Soria says. She recommends storing some vinegar and bleach in the bathroom as well to encourage yourself to wipe down surfaces often.

Because bathrooms are dirty rooms by nature, recognizing the importance of cleaning is essential. Some features are simply easier to maintain than others.

"When people are thinking about the design of a bathroom, they may not be thinking about how this is easiest to clean," says Jeff Sherman, architect at Delson or Sherman Architects, Brooklyn, N.Y. "If they start thinking about it as soon as they move in, it might be too late."

Consider these bathroom features that will make cleaning less of a chore.

Wall-mounted appliances: Toilets and faucets that are mounted to the wall make it especially easy to wipe clean the surfaces underneath. With fewer obstacles cemented to the floor, mopping becomes simpler. The same goes for cleaning the countertops.

Gray grout: White grout becomes stained very easily and is hard to maintain in any bathroom. Try a pale gray grout instead, Sherman says. Stains will be less noticeable on gray, making your cleaning job much easier.

Back-painted glass: Another solution to the problem of white grout lines is to skip grout altogether. Replace tile with a single pane of back-painted glass to eliminate lines or crevices where dirt can gather, says Stephanie Horowitz, managing director and architect at Boston-based ZeroEnergy Design. Since the glass is back-painted, it can add a dose of color and design, and can work in shower enclosures or as an accent.

Sealed surfaces: For the sink area, Soria recommends solid countertop materials where the sink is seamlessly built-in. "When you can avoid seams and cracks and crevices that we know are difficult to clean, then you'll be doing yourself a favor, if low maintenance is your goal," she says. Stay away from porous surfaces that collect dirt and bacteria.

Ventilation: A quiet fan or open windows will reduce the moisture in a bathroom, therefore decreasing the likelihood of mold. Preventive measures such as proper ventilation can reduce time spent cleaning in the long run.

Proper flooring: A slightly sloped floor will prevent accumulation of standing water and mold, Sherman says. He also stresses the importance of concrete underlayment with regard to the fight against moldy bathrooms.

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