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Self-cleaning bathrooms: how to have one in your home

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Make your bathroom a place of peace and relaxation, rather than manual labour. Photo: Getty
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If I never have to scrub and bleach (and scrub and bleach) another piece of mouldy grout in my lifetime, it will be too soon. As an eternal renter, I have seen my fair share of badly designed, poorly maintained bathrooms, and not only seen them, I’ve had to clean them … every, single, week.

The process of standing in the shower while inhaling bleach as I toothbrush the dark mould out of square upon tiny square of white grout, or virtually hugging the toilet to clean the dust that has accumulated in the hard-to-reach crevices and crannies of the exposed piping, or awkwardly wiping around fiddly tapware again, and again and again, well, quite frankly, I’d rather be doing something else with that time.

When I daydream about the future home of my dreams, it’s not beautiful bedrooms, elegant kitchens or backyard wonderlands that I dream about. No, it’s a simple, thoughtfully designed bathroom that has as its one shining goal – to be as easy-to-clean as possible. And from my experience, here’s how I reckon you get it.

Go groutless

There’s no need to stick to traditional tiles (and grout) when there are so many excitingly easy-to-clean alternatives on the market. Rendered concrete is a low-maintenance alternative to tiles, and it looks fantastic in this modern Melbourne bathroom, especially with the wooden vanity, which adds warmth to the room. The geometric floor tiles with dark grout also mean it’ll take longer for any dirt to be obvious.

Or, choose dark grout

Tiles don’t have to be struck off entirely, but if mouldy grout is your nemesis, then consider darker tiles that will suit dark grout. Stains will be less noticeable than on white grout making for an easier clean. This beautiful Sydney bathroom has limited the tiles to one wall, lovely yet low-maintenance.

Lose the cubicle

Enclosed shower screens are great at keeping water contained (a pet hate is totally open bathrooms that remain eternally wet from one end to the other), but the traditional shower frame is also freakishly good at attracting mould and gunk in all those corners and crevices. The glass panes themselves are also a pain to keep clean. In time, they can develop glass rot which leaves them permanently foggy and streaked. A small, non-enclosed shower screen is not only easier to clean, but less expensive to replace down the track.

Lose the glass altogether

Wet rooms have their advocates, but for me, I don’t like the way the water seems to end up everywhere underfoot. A glassless shower alcove is a good alternative. No streaky glass to clean, but you also won’t get wet feet when brushing your teeth at the basin.

Choose a standalone tub

Moisture-attracting nooks are the enemy of the easy-clean bathroom. Bathtubs that are enclosed against the wall leave plenty of opportunity for mould to gather in the creases and corners against the wall and also the lip of the bath, so the more streamlined your bath, the easier to clean. This square bath sits flush with the ground (as opposed to a clawfoot for example) and has been positioned in the middle of the room thanks to the floor-mounted tap, preventing any awkward spaces to try to squeeze your mop around or under.

The toilet. Ewww, right? No-one wants to spend any longer than they have to cleaning the loo, or getting any closer than is absolutely necessary. Opting for a streamlined wall-mounted toilet, as pictured, makes it easier to mop under and wipe quickly (with less awkward curves and corners to gather dust and dirt). Make sure there’s enough room between the toilet and the wall to comfortably wipe the toilet and mop around it.

If you don’t want to wall-mount, at the very least opt for a skirted toilet – this streamlined design gathers less dirt and is much easier to clean.

By Laura Venuto

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