7 design mistakes that are making your bathroom harder to clean

Looking to design an easy-to-clean bathroom? These are the bathroom design features experts suggest avoiding

Blue bathroom with white sink and tiled wall
(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

Cleaning the bathroom is probably top of the list of jobs we most like to avoid, and for good reason. Bathroom ideas can be the trickiest to navigate with our cleaning supplies, and more often than not there will be areas that go completely neglected because we just can't reach them. 

If all this sounds familiar, it could be down to a number of design features that might look beautiful but are making your bathroom harder to clean.

7 things making your bathroom harder to clean 

We've asked the experts to share the design features that are making your bathroom harder to clean, and some alternative solutions. So if you looking at planning a bathroom, make sure you avoid these design mistakes if you want to keep your bathroom sparkling from top to bottom without any extra effort.

1. The toilet is part of the floor space

Wall hung toilet in grey bathroom next to window

(Image credit: GROHE)

Most traditional-style bathrooms are designed with the toilet rooted into the floor, but this makes it extremely difficult to clean the bathroom's entire floor space thoroughly. It's tricky to reach all the way around the base of the toilet with a mop or vacuum, meaning this space often ends up neglected. Incorporating a wall-mounted toilet into the bathroom design instead would avoid this issue.

'From a planning perspective, a wall-hung toilet means you can install the fitting in any convenient place near a water source which opens the space for other more creative decorating ideas,' says Paul Bailey, Leader, Product Management, GROHE. 'This will make the space easier to maintain and keep clean, eliminating those difficult-to-reach nooks and crevices where germs may linger.'

2. Wooden design features

White bathroom with walk in shower and house plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'Bathrooms with ceilings, walls or floors made of porous materials, such as wood, can become breeding grounds for mildew and mould,' explains  Sarah Dempsey, Cleaning Expert, MyJobQuote 'This can have a hazardous and expensive knock-on effect.'

If your bathroom is made up of mostly wood, it's going to be more difficult to clean. Wooden floors, walls or any other design feature are less likely to come up sparkling no matter how much elbow grease you use, so it's worth opting for tiles as part of the design instead. There are plenty of stylish bathroom floor tile ideas that not only look great, but are a dream to clean as well. 

3. Enclosed shower

Pink tiled bathroom with crittal shower screen

(Image credit: Future PLC / Simon Whitmore)

If your shower is enclosed in some sort of structure, whether that's a rectangle, square, or quadrant, it's going to be much more difficult to clean. Not only will you have to keep on top of wiping down the glass enclosure itself - which often results in streaks - there's going to be more crevices in the shower walls for dirt and grime to get stuck in. Walk-in shower ideas on the other hand, don't have this problem.

'The spaciousness of a walk-in shower means that it is very easy to clean,' says Paul. 'The nooks and crannies where dirt builds up in stand-alone or in-bath showers are cut down with a streamlined walk-in shower.'

4. No windows or extractor fan

If your bathroom hasn't been designed to combat moisture and humidity, this is likely one of the biggest things making your bathroom harder to clean. 

Steam from the shower needs to be dispersed, whether that's through an open window or an extractor fan. If it remains trapped in the room, it will lead to damp and mould, and though you can learn how to stop condensation on walls and ceilings, it's going to make cleaning a lot more difficult. 

It's especially important to incorporate a window or an extractor fan into small bathroom ideas, so you don't have to start scrubbing black marks off the walls.

5. Small tiles

Blue bathroom with large patterned tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

'There is now a huge abundance of tiles to suit every taste, and while we love so many of them, choosing smaller tiles can make your bathroom harder to clean as you have more grout which dirt loves to stick to,' says Barrie Cutchie, Design Director, BC Designs. 'Instead, opt for large format tiles or shower panels to limit or remove grout entirely.'

You can learn how to clean grout in tiles easily enough, but you'll be fighting a losing battle if you're working with small tile designs. Opting for bigger tiles will keep your white bathroom tile ideas looking fresh for longer, and they'll be much easier to keep clean.

6. On-floor storage

Bathroom with white tiles and grey vanity

(Image credit: Future PLC / Chris Snook)

Bathroom storage ideas are key to a well-organised and functional bathroom, but if you currently have storage units sitting on the floor, your bathroom will be harder to clean. On-floor storage means more corners to navigate and hidden spaces for dust to collect.

'Bathroom products that sit on the floor can make it slightly harder to clean round as there are corners and edges where dirt can become trapped,' says Lee Reed, Head of Design, Easy Bathrooms. Instead, consider floating vanity units as this makes it much easier to clean underneath. This style of vanity unit works exceptionally well in modern bathrooms with a countertop basin.'

7. Pedestal sinks

Blue bathroom with white sink and tiled wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Pedestal sinks are the trademark of traditional bathroom designs. Rooted into the floor, they're still common even in modern bathroom ideas, but they make cleaning more awkward as they require you to reach around the back of the pedestal to clean the area behind. As this space is usually hidden from view, more often than not, we neglect it completely, only to find mounds of dust and dirt has built up when we do decide to tackle it. 

An alternative to pedestal sinks is a countertop basin, which will leave the floor space beneath free to clean to your heart's content.

How can I make my bathroom easier to clean?

'To create an easy-to-clean bathroom, it’s important to think minimally,' says Sarah Dempsey, Cleaning Expert, MyJobQuote. 'The fewer the corners, clutter, grout, and void spaces behind fixtures in your bathroom, the less there is to clean.'

Your bathroom will be much easier to clean if you keep the floor space as free as possible. Wall-mounted toilets and sinks are pricey, but if you're still in the bathroom design planning stage, they're worth considering if you want to make the cleaning ultra-convenient. Opt for wall-hung storage solutions too, and in general, stick to bathroom cabinet ideas that will keep most things hidden for a clutter-free space. 

'As the most humid space in the home, it’s vital we keep the bathroom clean, to avoid the growth of mildew and mould', says Sarah. 'Avoid using the same sponge for every surface, as toilet-bound germs aren’t meant for your sinks and faucets. And don’t forget to clean your grout, as dirty grout can leave your bathroom looking grimey and old.'

How do you maintain bathroom hygiene? 

The key to maintaining good bathroom hygiene is to clean a bathroom as often as possible. Even if this is just a quick, surface-level wipe down of the toilet, sink, and shower every day, and a more thorough clean once a week, a good cleaning routine will stop stubborn dirt and grime from building up.

'In most cases, regular bathroom cleaning with a little gentle soap, warm water and a microfibre cloth is all that’s needed to keep dirt at bay,' says Paul from GROHE. 'Steer clear of harsh chemical cleaners which can damage the finish, as well as being harmful to the planet. Abrasive scourers are best avoided too.'

Be wary of doing your makeup in the bathroom too. The good lighting and shiny mirror may tempt you, but the makeup particles will outstay their welcome and linger on your sink and floor. 'Try to avoid applying cosmetics over the basin, as the dusty particles can leave unattractive marks – especially on taps in matte finishes', says Paul. 'If it’s unavoidable, keep a cloth handy to carefully wipe off any residue straight away.'

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.