There are, in my opinion, four types of cleaning: seasonal, deep, maintenance, and help-help-help-I-forgot-people-are-coming-over-in-an-hour-and-my-house-is-disgusting.
Seasonal: seasonal, as the name suggests, takes place only a few times a year. It’s when you freshen up that paint, fix the loose door-knob, do something about the grout, clean out the black hole of beauty products, install that clever and attractive new shelving system you saw, and consider switching shampoo.
Deep: The more regularly you deep clean, the less time it takes. Do it but when the grossness becomes overwhelming, and you might spend hours poking out fresh horrors from behind the bathtub. Do it weekly, and it eventually becomes smooth if annoying sailing.
The organizing principle here is four-fold:
a) don’t clean at whim, divide the room into discrete chunks.
b) go from less gross to more gross
c) go from more laborious to less laborious
d) do floors last.
Get a bucket of hot soapy water and a rag. Clean the notable slime off the walls, and wipe down baseboards, moulding, and any and all other features that do not involve plumbing. Then clean mirrors and other glass surfaces with a spray bottle of Windex, or seltzer and vinegar. Next, the tub. The outside of a tub is usually the less messy part, so wipe that down first. Get a scrub brush and a scrubbing agent, like comet, borax, or baking soda. Sprinkle, add a little hot water, and scrub away. When it’s all finished and rinsed away, I like to wipe the tub down with a rag dipped in bleach. Do the same thing for your sinks: wipe down the entire apparatus, then scrub the porcelain, wipe with bleach, and if you are extremely fancy, wipe down all your stainless steel fixtures with a little oil (jojoba, baby, coconut, any kind works.)
Now, the toilet. The toilet is the worst! Nevertheless, you shall survive. Start by wiping down the entire outside of your toilet, top to bottom, with hot soapy water. Then, lift the lid. Wipe and scrub the underside of the lid, as needed. Lift and wipe/scrub both sides of the seat, then get the area usually covered by the seat. Finally, you’re ready for the dreaded bowl. Don’t worry about it–almost everyone comes in close contact with human waste at some point in their lives, often someone else’s, for extended periods, and the ones who don’t are generally complete bums. Pour the remainder of your (now) tepid soapy water into the toilet bowl, and scrub everything that is not white. Flush, pour a little bleach into the bowl, and let it sit.
Now you’re almost done. Discard your old rags, thoroughly rinse out your scrub brush in the hottest water possible, wash your hands, and fetch a broom, two new rags, and new hot soapy water. Sweep the floor thoroughly, then, starting from one end of the room and working in sections the size of your reach, methodically slosh hot soapy water over the floor and scrub away. Let it sit for a few minutes, then mop of the slosh with your clean rag or towel. Congrats, you’re finished!
Tools: -spray bottle of Windex or seltzer and vinegar
-bucket of hot water and all purpose soap
-scouring agent like Comet, Borax, or baking soda.
Maintenance: The purpose of maintenance cleaning is to make the bathroom pleasant to be in beyond the day you deep clean it. It can also make deep cleaning easier–either way it should take no more than ten minutes.
Put away everything that doesn’t belong: towels on hooks or in the laundry, toothbrushes in the cabinet, shampoo in the shower. Wipe down with a damp rag anything visible on the sink, then toilet seat. Sweep, empty trash. Done.
Tools: -damp rag
Help-help-help-I-forgot-people-are-coming-over-in-an-hour-and-my-house-is-disgusting: The first point here is to jettison any concerns about your guests healthy. The microbes may do what they will; at this point your goal is not to make the bathroom clean, but not-gross-looking. All but your most germaphobic guests will thank you.
To that end, and in order of priorities: tidy up anything that doesn’t along. A neat bathroom looks cleaner than it is. Remove hair from the tub and drains. Wipe down the sink, getting rid of toothpaste stains, etc. If the baseboards are visibly dusty, swipe a rag along those. Clean visible stains off the surface and the seat of the toilet, leaving everything else. Sweep and empty trash, and, if there is still time, give a bleach wipe to the tub, which will then smell clean. Ta da!
Tools: whatever it takes, it’s the Wild West over here.