How to Teach a Blind Student to Clean a Toilet

A young female student wearing yellow rubber gloves is leaning the surface of a toilet.

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With Bonus IEP Goal included

Oh, hello there. If you’re reading this post, it’s probably because you’re trying to solve a problem that has come up more than once during my teaching career. If you’re reading this post, then you understand how a clean toilet prepares students for life after school, and you probably know about the expanded core curriculum. I feel like we are already friends!

When my blind son was 6 years old, he jumped off a slide and broke his leg. I wish I could tell you it was the first time he had jumped off of something dangerously high, but it wasn’t. He had a hairline fracture and had to be in a cast for 6 weeks that ran from his toes to his mid-thigh. He already had difficulty aiming when using the bathroom…add the inconvenience of a full-leg cast and we had minor haz-mat issues a few times a day. He would come to me and say, “I don’t think I got anything in the tank, Mom.” He was right. It was everywhere but the tank. We live in Wyoming, and using the restroom outside in -40 degree weather with high winds wasn’t an option either. So, I became really good at cleaning my toilet. And when he got old enough, I taught him to clean up after himself.

Today we are going to talk about how to teach that skill to students who cannot see, or see very little. If you jump to the end, there’s a fillable document for an IEP goal, if you know, you’re short on time.

Let’s get started!

You’ll want to begin by going over why a clean toilet is important. A clean bathroom is a hallmark of a well-kept house, and knowing how to clean a toilet is a baseline independent living skill. It makes it easier to have friends over, it makes it easier to have all kinds of long-term relationships. You don’t often think about it, but having a clean toilet is pretty important socially. You might also need to touch on what clean vs dirty looks like, and what a dirty toilet implies. I know, super gross! And yet, we must not gate keep important visual information from our students. Talk about the fecal matter, brave teachers.

Next, line up some tools. Kids usually get excited about the tools, and then they can take them home and practice, which is great for functional application. Families will love you, too. 


  • Pair of cleaning gloves
  • Scrub brush
  • Toilet plunger
  • Toilet brush
  • Small cleaning brush (like a denture toothbrush)
  • All-purpose cleaner (like Dawn dish soap)
  • Bleach or other disinfectant NOTE: never use bleach with vinegar, it can create toxic fumes.
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Toilet or substitute (this one from amazon has most of the things you would need)

Bonus points if you can line up a field trip to Home Depot to arrange a tour of a pristine (i.e. unused) toilet.

I like to point out the parts of the toilet that need special attention when cleaning. These parts include around the base, behind the toilet, the back of the exterior part of the bowl, and the area where the toilet is screwed into the base.

I also like to pre-teach how cleaning gloves work and why a student wears cleaning gloves. Have them practice taking the gloves off and on, if you like. I also point out the size and shape of the brushes, like how bigger brushes can cover larger areas while smaller brushes can get into nooks and crannies. You might want to review why it’s important to get into the nooks and crannies.

Don’t forget to go over the types of cleaners and the safety precautions around them.  NOTE: never use bleach with vinegar, it can create toxic fumes.

Next up, task analysis. I’ve broken it into numbered steps. And yes, this is what it takes to clean a toilet, for all my SPED Director friends out there who are wondering why visual impairment instruction takes the time it takes.

  1. Teacher will review the rubric (see below) with the student, including all expectations. For cleaning the toilet, those expectations are: Toilet is clean, all surfaces. Toilet passes the “smell test.” Student can name the basic parts (tank/cistern, bowl, handle, shut off valve). Student demonstrates how to use a toilet brush to clean the inside of the basin. Student able to demonstrate use of plunger.

  2. Teacher will go over the “smell test” – that the toilet houses some pretty stinky things and those smells can linger. The smells are fixed by using an all-purpose cleaner (like dish soap) and a disinfectant (like bleach). In order to pass the “smell test,” a toilet must not smell like the stinky things it flushes away – feces and urine – it must be disinfected from germs.

  3. Student will use gloves, and run hand along the different surfaces of the toilet. Unlike other parts of the bathroom, the toilet should be both cleaned and disinfected even if its surfaces are smooth. Teacher and student review the parts of a toilet, including the tank/cistern, bowl, handle, and shut off valve. Teacher and student might practice turning the shut off valve off/on and the teacher can review why the shut off valve is important and when to use it.

  4. Student will use a mild cleaner (like dish soap) and a cleaning brush to scrub the surfaces of the toilet. Those surfaces to clean will include the bottom of the toilet and the floor around the toilet. The student should pay particular attention to the places where smells can linger (see diagram above). In tight areas (like where the lid is attached to the bowl), the student should use the smaller brush (I use a cleaning denture brush, and this brush is only used on toilets).

  5. Student will use the plunger to remove most of the water from the bowl. Place the wet plunger on a set of paper towels away from the toilet. The student can then spray the inside of the bowl with bleach. (I also give the plunger a bleach spray, both in and out). NOTE: never use bleach with vinegar, it can create toxic fumes.

  6. Student will use the toilet brush to swipe the insides of the toilet bowl. I use a clockwise motion, starting from 12 o’clock at the top of the inner rim, and then work my way down and around in a swirling motion until I get to the drain. Student might need visual confirmation that the toilet bowl is clean, or teacher might instruct the student to just make two passes. Student should scrub the inside of the drain. Student can leave the toilet brush on the side of the toilet bowl to dry (I give it a spray of bleach here too).

  7. Student will take a paper towel, dampen it, and spray it with bleach. The student will use this disinfectant to wipe the walls around the toilet, the floors around the toilet, and the toilet itself. I start at the top of the area and move downwards in an S pattern. Multiple paper towels might be necessary.

  8. Teacher will review with student the different cleaners and their safety precautions, as well as how to find that information on their own. (ex. YouTube, asking a parent, google search, etc.).

To close, I go over the rubric (see below) with the student and score them for the day. I also like to review all the skills covered. Look at how amazing your student is! Cleaning toilets like it’s no big deal. What a super star!

And here’s the rubric!

Lesson Plan: Cleaning the toilet

Reach Out With Any Questions!

We look forward to helping you and your students.

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