Now’s a good time to learn how to prevent water damage in your bathroom before it’s too late! When you find damage, it’s not only a huge hassle, but it can be costly to repair water damage or have mold remediation done.
And what you should know is that your bathroom is just like any other room in your home and can be prone to mold and rot and damaged by humidity or leaks more easily since so much water is used daily in there. Besides a few lines of sealant or waterproof tiles in the shower, there’s nothing to protect your bathroom other than thinking ahead and taking a few extra cautions.
Check Your Exhaust
Be sure to turn on your exhaust fan every time you shower or use the tub and leave it on for a while afterward. Certain states require that landlords provide an exhaust in the bathroom, so if you’re renting and you don’t have one or yours is broken, you should find out your rights and have the landlord fix or install one.
If you’ve purchased your home, the onus is on you to have a working fan. At the very least, a bathroom window near the shower can be opened, or you can place a dehumidifier of various sizes in the bathroom, but the exhaust fan is by far the best remedy as it removes the most moisture and odors no matter what the weather is outside your window.
Minimize Splashing and Pooling Water
It can be helpful when you enter the shower to run your hand under the water, then down the shower wall where your plastic liner hangs. Pushing the liner against the freshly wet wall will act as a seal and hold the shower liner tighter against the wall so while you wash, water is not splashing out. And if you have a shower door instead of a curtain, check the seal on the door if you notice water outside the shower.
If you find a little water on the floor, don’t leave it thinking it will dry itself soon enough. Wipe it up so it’s not finding its way into hairline cracks and spaces or damaged tile grout. The same goes for water on the walls – repeated splashes of water will damage your drywall.
Kids splash a lot, so having extra towels tucked against the corners around the outside of the tub will make for easier water clean-up. And no matter what age the user, get a great, absorbent bath mat that you can hang to dry after use.
Something most of us never think about is that water sitting in the bathtub can find it’s way out of old or defective pipes, so drain bath water immediately instead of waiting. This type of water damage would be caused under the floor and that can certainly cost you time, aggravation, and a lot of money to fix if there’s rot.
Check Your Grout, Caulk, Drywall, and Tiles
Leaks can be hard to locate because the discoloration in a ceiling, wall or floor does not necessarily mean that’s the place the leak is originating from. For instance, since the toilet is usually the lowest point in the bathroom, leaks from other sources can run along under the floor and pool in the toilet area making you think the toilet is the source of the leak. It can take some detective work to find the true source, and most likely a professional if you’re not a natural at this sort of thing.
Also pay attention to bubbling, soft, or warping drywall and musty or dewy smells that you need to track down a source for, not just discolorations. If your drywall is soft, it should be replaced. You can try temporarily poking holes in the area to help let moisture out until the wall can be replaced. But don’t leave it too long! The source of the water damage or leak needs to be found and remedied before it gets worse or mold grows, and the materials behind that drywall need to be thoroughly dried out and checked for mold before new drywall can be installed.
Any tiles damaged by cracks, chips, breaks, or that are missing altogether need to be replaced immediately. Grout often has micro-sized chips that aren’t easily seen as it decays and/or is walked on day in and day out and so it should be maintained to high standards so there’s less chance water will find its way under the tiles. If there has been damage to tiles or grout for quite some time, you may have mold growth underneath already.
As for caulk, you’ll want to check anything in the bathroom where caulk was used or where you need to use it. A tub surround is not easy or cheap to replace, so if it’s cracking, warping, or growing mold, you’ll want to treat it immediately to stop the mold growth and caulk any areas where water can get behind the surround until you’re able to replace it. Likewise, you’ll need to check your shower pan for cracks and punctures as damage to a shower pan is certainly going to cause water damage to your subfloor underneath. If you don’t know what a shower pan or tub surround is, please Google them!
Check Your Sink and Vanity Too
Go inside and under your vanity to check water lines, pipes, and caulking for damage or leaks. Repair and replace as needed. Keep the faucet area of the sink dry and free from any sitting water as the seals and caulk will eventually deteriorate and allow that water to leak.
Oh, That Leaky Toilet!
And finally, if you’re not a plumber or motivated to do a lot of Googling and YouTube video research, this is where a professional will surely need to be hired. There are so many reasons a toilet could be leaking and sometimes it seems it’s one thing, but it ends up being another. There are valves, floor flanges, gaskets, tank-to-bowl connections, the possibility that the leak is sourced elsewhere but pooling under the toilet…so don’t be afraid to get some help.
There’s silicone caulk or another product that could need sealing around the base of the toilet, so do check that regularly as well. This is important as pooling or splashed water, bad aim by users, toilet leaks from above, and water during mopping can find its way under your toilet and subfloor. Be sure to take this step only if you’re sure there’s no current leak, and keep a gap open behind the base of the toilet so any large leaks will show themselves in the future instead of being completely sealed and allowed to damage everything to the point of no return.
There are usually two camps in the Spring Cleaning arena and that’s the Hate It and the Love It teams. Which one are you on? Regardless of how you feel about it, whether you look forward to it all year, or whether you dread it; whether you go for it with gusto, or you procrastinate all season, both types of cleaners find one thing in common: once it’s done, it feels SO GOOD.
There’s a reason spring is the annual cleaning season and while we don’t know for sure what that is, we assume it’s because you’re cleaning out everything that stagnated during the winter and the major holidays. You’re getting back on your feet in your home, and the sun is shining and the birds are singing to cheer you on. It’s just a great time of year to get it all done! Summer will come soon, kids will be out of school, things will be busy. Shortly after that, the holidays begin again. What better time of year is there than when the weather is just right and not much is calling you away just yet?
So whether you’re a spring cleaning weekend warrior, or you’ll be taking your home by storm for one week straight, it’s time to buckle down and get started. Here’s a fun guide for all that is spring cleaning. Enjoy!
Planning ahead will help you shine… literally.
Make a master list of everything that needs to get done first. Then read through it. Feel that? That feeling is overwhelming and frustration at the max. Take a breath, this will get easier. First, you need to choose the path that’s right for you.
– Will you clean only one room at a time?
– Will you tackle one chore throughout the entire home at a time (ie: cleaning closets)?
– Will you start at the front of the house first?
– Do you have helpers?
– Will you declutter then hire a cleaning service to deep clean?
– Will you do 15 minutes a day? The entire weekend? Take a work vacation until it’s done?
Tackling the tasks can be tedious
Once you know your intended direction, take your master task list and start breaking things up into smaller chores. Essentially, you’ll break it all down into smaller bites that are easier to digest when reading your list. Like the old saying goes, no one says you have to eat an elephant in one bite!
Don’t get caught up in procrastination
Don’t let yourself get away with not picking up the supplies you need. Or watching a movie marathon on TV. Or picking up a new book you won’t be able to put down. Or taking too long to go through a box in the closet. Or deciding you MUST binge watch a new show on Netflix all the way through. Save those for your reward when you’re done. Just give in to the madness of spring cleaning and your chore list because once you start knocking things off that list, your motivation will rise and your frustration will go away. And having said that…
Track your progress
Keep your master list and your task trackers moving by crossing off everything you complete. Don’t cheat! You’ll know. But then again, there are some psychological fools you can use to make it a better process. For instance, if you do something more that wasn’t on your list, write it on your list and then mark it off. Sounds crazy, but it helps. Time your cleaning efforts too if you think it will help you to look back and say, “Wow, that didn’t take as long as I thought it would,” or, “Look how far I’ve come in one weekend!”
Another thing to remember is that even if you can’t see it, you will know that under your bed is completely spotless. The cobwebs behind the armoire are gone. The dust you couldn’t see in the fabric on your curtains or your upholstered furniture is gone. Your carpets released an awful lot of dirt, dander, and pollen you couldn’t see but know has been steamed and sucked away. Behind the toilet and refrigerator is cleaner than it’s been since last year. Way to go! You feel more refreshed mentally just knowing what’s been cleaned.
Speaking of mental health from cleaning…
You might struggle with what needs to be donated, sold, tossed, saved for a yard sale, or burned on a proverbial funeral pyre because you’ve had it so long but aren’t using it and can’t seem to part with it. But ashes to ashes, dust to dust, everything needs to go. So how do you resolve to finally get rid of things? As quickly as you can.
Don’t think too hard, just toss things into boxes and move on to the next area that needs sorting and cleaning as fast as you can. Have someone else come get the boxes if you can’t get them into your car to the donation center immediately yourself.
You’ll be your own hero when you see space opening up on the floors and shelves and closet rods. Your linen closet will besorted and minimal. Your clothes will not bulge from the closet. Your shoes will be a manageable number. Your desk will show you that it does indeed have a top and isn’t just a pile of papers. You’ll feel the light, airy vibe that comes from dust-free shelves, clean windows, empty spaces, and room to grow. You’ll no longer feel guilty about the things you have in the way, you’ll no longer trip over excess, you’ll see floors you haven’t seen all year (or longer). You won’t dread the unannounced visit and instead look forward to the company. Your headspace will thank you.
You won’t need the gym for a while
Okay, here’s the final silver lining to all the spring cleaning madness: Your Fitbit will love you. Walking the halls, moving furniture, vacuuming the stairs, getting every nook and cranny in your entire home in one short timeframe does indeed count as a workout, Feel the burn! You’ll deserve a frozen yogurt or fruit smoothie after this season of cleaning, for sure.
Finding the motivation to clean your home can be like a chess match with your mind. Or perhaps a procrastination match. Either way, there’s strategy involved (whether you know it or not) for your next move or justification for putting things off. Then sometimes it comes right down to your feeling that you’ll be on the next episode of Hoarders if you don’t get motivated soon!
But once you get started, you often realize it really wasn’t as hard as you thought it would be. The biggest barrier was all in your mind. So we need to turn that strategic thinking around into getting things done instead of dragging your feet to the point where what would have been spot cleaning turns into an overwhelming whole house clean-up.
Change Your Thought Patterns
Instead of sinking into despair and negativity about what lies ahead, think about how great it feels when things are done. Instead of thinking about how no one else appreciates your efforts, start thinking about how you’re cleaning for yourself, your peace of mind, your own happiness, pride, and sanity. Once your space is clean, you feel productive, calm, less stressed, and organized. You will not be instantly flooded with embarrassment if that doorbell rings or rushed to get things done when someone’s coming over.
Take Before & After Pictures
Just for yourself, for next time, take pics as you clean. Then next time you’re feeling unmotivated, scroll through some to get you back into the right frame of mind. See how beautiful that dining room table is when it’s clear of the day to day clutter? Get moving!
Start Small & Easy
Choose something that’s in your line of sight (not a drawer or closet) and that’s super easy first. Like clearing the coffee table, watering the plants, or putting wayward shoes on the rack. Do a few smaller chores to get you started and in the motivated mood to keep going.
Keep a List of Everything You’ve Done
While you can certainly make to-do lists ahead of time, the best way to motivate your brain is to see what you have done. Write down every little thing you do and tick a box next to it or cross it off. Keep the notebook intact and don’t toss those lists! Keep adding to them. Imagine your motivation soaring as you turn the fifth page of things you’ve done to a clean, crisp, new sixth page just waiting to be added to.
Get in The Mood
Using some mood music usually works well. There are podcasts and audio books or even TV shows and movies you could play on your tablet as you move around your home that will give you just enough distraction to make time pass. If you only allow yourself to listen to a particular book or podcast while you clean, you should pick a really great one and use it as motivation to clean regularly so you can catch up.
You can also simmer something on the stove like lemon slices or spices you love. Check out concoctions online or simmer oranges, cloves, jasmine, or cinnamon to get you in a cozy cleaning mood. Likewise, perhaps you have a favorite tea that you’ll only allow yourself to sip while you clean. Or you will let yourself have a fizzy drink once everything is done for the day. Take a run to Starbucks for your favorite drink, but ONLY after you’ve finished your housecleaning to-do list.
Another trick is to buy a new cleaning product you’re jazzed about and upgrade your equipment. For instance, if you buy a product with a Wow! cleaning factor or an amazing scent, you’ll be happier to use it. And if your broom is just ho-hum or your duster isn’t doing the best job, go for broke and get something that comes with awesome reviews that you can get excited about.
Post Your Efforts Online
Don’t worry about what others think, just use this as motivation. If you announce that you’re going to declutter your bedroom today, you’ll be more motivated to get it done. And you’ll definitely get things done if you promise to post pics! Nothing says motivation like everyone online holding you accountable. Or think about starting an Instagram account just for your home so you can post pics of your progress and feel proud and extra motivated every day or every week.
Set a Timer
Whether you complete the chore or not, once that timer goes off, you have permission to walk away. But often you’ll stay to finish. The goal here is that you know this chore has an end. So, set it for 5, 10, 20 minutes – whatever you desire – and give it your best.
Let the Light In
It’s like waking up the house, and yourself, to get in the mood to clean. Not only does natural light reveal more so you can see your way to better cleaning and be more motivated to get it all done right then, but open blinds and windows can give you an energy boost too.
Get Dressed for It
If this works for you, get in the groove by putting on your cleaning gear. And we don’t mean the ripped pajamas you were already in. Wash your face, put your hair up, grab some comfy clothes you set aside for cleaning, and a good pair of walking shoes. Whatever works to tell your mind you’re serious about cleaning and you don’t have bare toes to stub or baggy clothes getting in the way while you work.
Phone a Friend
Find one of your friends to be an accountability partner where you talk on a headset while you (or both of you) cleans. Or use the cleaning time to catch up on phone calls you never find time for like calling your Grandma or a long-distance friend from high school. Use the time to catch up with someone special.
Cleaning is not always fun and finding the motivation to keep up with it is so hard. Unless you’re truly a hyper-organized person with the energy and never-ending attention to cleaning that seems to be required, then you’re probably always feeling like you’re behind. We’re here for you! Hire us to help you get caught up and stay caught up, and use our tips, tricks, and lifehacks to help you make cleaning more manageable. Your to-do list of chores will be less procrastinated and feel slightly less painful.
Address Your Weaknesses
First things first, you should put yourself in check and acknowledge what your own weaknesses are because you are “the reason you can’t have nice things”. Joking aside, there’s truth to be had here. Do you leave your clean laundry in a crumpled pile on the couch? Do you not put your dirty clothes straight into the hamper but instead you leave them on the floor? Do you dump your mail on a side table until it’s sliding onto the floor? Do you not scrape and rinse or soak your dirty dishes immediately, so they sit and get stinky and crusty?
We all have flaws and there are little hacks and routines we can start to mitigate them. For instance, a simple organizer or box can hold your mail. A hamper in a better location for dirties or a small stool or chair you can drape dirty clothes on will suffice until you get better at keeping the clothes off the floor. Filling your sink half full of water always so your dishes slide in to soak is great and getting yourself into the routine of folding clothes while you stand at the dryer is a huge help too. You can figure out why your laundry space isn’t conducive to folding things as they come out of a warm dryer – like the temperature, space to fold, lurking spiders – and fix the issue.
Make a Chore List
Warning: The list may start out very long. The problem may be that you’ve let too many things slide, feel overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start. The good news is, there’s no right way or wrong way, but a list will surely help break up the home into manageable cleaning chunks and help you focus.
Start with a list for each room you plan to handle like Master Bedroom, Guest Bathroom, Laundry Room, Kitchen. And include one last list for Miscellaneous if needed. Then on each of those, start writing out every task that needs to be done. Make it as detailed as possible with small, manageable, actionable steps that will feel amazing when you cross them off. Dust light fixtures, wash the China, sweep the steps, vacuum the carpet, scrub the grout, etc.
Prepare Your Cleaning Stuff
In advance, make sure you have everything on hand that you will need for every chore. That way, if you happen to be unmotivated to get to that bathroom, but instead want to clean the home office, you’re ready with the right cloths, chemicals, and tools. Invest in a great cleaning caddy and make sure your dusters and brooms don’t need washing or replacement.
Keep Tasks Simple but Noticeable
You can always add more if you feel motivated and have the time and energy to keep going that day, but otherwise start small and don’t set yourself up for failure from the get-go. Don’t get pigeon-holed into feeling like you need to clean everything, because even a small dent looks great on paper and feels great for your mind. It’s never all or nothing, just do what you feel is manageable that day.
Start with one small, manageable task without overthinking it. It may provide the motivation you need to go bigger and the momentum to keep going. Be sure to mark every task off your list so you can see your progress.
Another trick is to choose a noticeable task. If it comes down to whether you should clean out a junk drawer or declutter the countertop, go for the counter. This provides an instant reward for your mind as it’s something you see as you walk through your space. Picking clothes up off the floor is much more rewarding than dusting a light fixture.
Try one task a day if it all seems insurmountable. If you’ve been doing nothing much for months, imagine what 6 or 7 small tasks in a week will give you. In a short time, you’ll see a huge difference and feel ready to tackle the rest.
Set a Timer or Playlist
We’ve talked about doing smaller tasks, but there are bigger ones ahead, so let’s make them more manageable too. For this, you should set a timer. 10 to 20 minutes should do it, your choice. It gives you an end goal, laser focus on the task at hand, and may even make you move a little faster! You’ll be happy to know you won’t be cleaning the pantry forever, you’ll only have to be in there for 15 minutes this time. An alternative to an alarm is to use a playlist of your favorite cleaning songs to stay focused and motivated. Either way, you have permission to stop cleaning at the end of the playlist or when the alarm sounds without guilt or frustration.
Have Someone Help You
Your partner or family really need to be involved in regular cleaning around the home. There are so many variables though, so this piece is focused on asking for outside help. Do you have a cousin that you enjoy seeing who owes you a favor? Having someone help will keep your momentum going for much longer than 20 minutes. Do you have great friend to sip mimosas with while you clean the spare room together? Trust us, getting a second opinion on things will help you get stuff tossed or packed for donation instead of hoarded. Is there a trusted neighborhood teen that wants an extra $25 so you can cut your cleaning time in half? And of course, there’s always hiring us here at Tidy Maids!