Chrome is an amazing invention. A durable, lightweight material that creates a beautiful finish when used to coat metallic features but, like other metals, it can quickly lose its shine if it isn't properly cleaned. Most bathroom fittings are not made entirely of chrome, rather they are made of durable metals such as brass and then coated with a layer of chrome to give them a beautiful finish. The beauty of a chrome finish can also provide its biggest problem; as it is usually so gleaming, any build up of dirt is made even more apparent. You may be wondering how to clean chrome in your bathroom and it's a straightforward matter but one that requires a little more care than cleaning more common metals such as steel and brass. Fortunately, maintaining your chrome can be easily achieved with household cleaning products or a couple of other items.
One of the most important things you'll need for cleaning chrome is a microfiber cloth. These modern cleaning cloths can be purchased at any home supplier and, while it's possible to use any rag or sponge to clean your chrome, a microfiber cloth is designed to attract dust and dirt, making your task easier. How significant a job cleaning your chrome will be largely depend on when you last cleaned it. The smooth surface of a chrome finish means that most dirt should wipe away easily but it's possible that you will encounter some more stubborn water marks and stains, especially if it has been a while. An old toothbrush will help you clean hard to reach places (you can also use an old electric toothbrush head but be sure to change it back before brushing your teeth!) Cleaning your chrome frequently will make your task easier each time you return to it and ensures that your bathroom keeps shining.
While it's important to make sure you clean your chrome regularly, sometimes the best approach is simply to clean it whenever you notice spots of dirt, tackling it before it has a chance to leave a stain. There are a number of different chrome cleaners available from your local hardware shop and some supermarkets, including sprays and creams. Most of these will work best when applied to the chrome and left to soak for a while, breaking apart any dirt without weakening the chrome finish itself. You can then use your cloth or sponge to wipe away any remaining dirt and buff the chrome until it gleams. This is where it's a good idea to always use two cloths, one for wiping away dirt and one for polishing; this should prevent you from simply redistributing dirt. Once you've polished your chrome, a quick rinse with water and a buff with a dry cloth will leave your chrome glistening.
Vinegar – Vinegar is one of the more popular cleaning liquids and is perfect for cleaning glass and metals thanks to its slight acidity. White vinegar in particular is often sold for its cleaning power and is very affordable. Using vinegar to clean is as simple as soaking a cloth in it and then wiping away dirt. Cleaning with vinegar might make your bathroom smell for a few hours but an open window or an extractor fan should take care of this problem quite quickly.
Baby Oil – Baby oil might seem like an unusual choice but it can be a quick and inexpensive way of cleaning your chrome when you have nothing else to hand. In addition, it should leave chrome with a glistening shine. However, be prepared to wipe it away from surfaces you'll actually need to touch, such as those of taps, as you don't want to end up with oily hands every time you use your bath or wash basin.
Sugary Drinks – By now, you probably know the dangers that soft drinks pose for your teeth, especially if you don't brush twice a day. Fortunately, the ability of sugary drinks to erode teeth is the same trait that makes them a useful bathroom cleaner! If you dip a cloth in cola and use it to wipe the chrome features of your bathroom, the mild acidity of the liquid should help you remove stains easily. Just be sure to wipe them clean with water afterwards; leaving your taps sticky would defeat the purpose of cleaning them in the first place.
Lemon and Baking Soda – Like vinegar, the acidic nature of lemon juice makes it a great choice for cleaning chrome. One tip for removing stubborn stains from taps is to stick half a lemon over the end of the tap for half an hour before wiping it clean, though this shouldn't be necessary with chrome due to its smooth surface. You can wipe surfaces with lemon or lime juice or mix either of them with baking soda to create a more potent cleaning paste. Be sure to give the mixture time to do its work and then rinse it clean.
Baby Wipes – Baby wipes are sold already soaked in cleaning solution and ready to clean. While they are intended for infants (and anyone else who likes how kind they are to skin) they also provide a convenient way of wiping clean any grubby metals in your bathroom. Using baby wipes in this way is far from the most cost effective way of cleaning your chrome but it can be useful in case of an emergency, such as when you remember your in-laws are visiting in an hour and you've run out of cleaning products.
Nail Polish Remover – Like baby wipes, you probably don't want to make a habit of using nail polish remover to clean your chrome due to the cost involved but it can be a powerful emergency solution if you have nothing else to hand.
Salt – Mixed with water, salt makes an effective cleaning agent and can also enhance the cleaning abilities of other cleaners such as vinegar. Sprinkling some vinegar onto a damp cloth should increase its scouring power but without damaging the surface of your chrome.