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How to Clean a Badly Stained Toilet

How to Clean a Badly Stained Toilet

A stained toilet can be an eyesore and especially if you have to receive visitors in your house. Hard water can quickly build up on your toilet and, over time, cause rust or brown-like stains. These stains and others may be hard to remove unless you find out their causes. To get rid of brown stains, ensure you perform general cleaning and determine your bowl stains’ source. Later use the appropriate products and methods to get the toilet bowl white again, as explained below.

Cleaning a Stained Toilet

Whether you need to keep your toilet presentable at home or workplace, there are five methods you can use. But it’s best to always do a thorough cleaning on a routine basis and ensuring you keep the cleaning materials spotless, like the brush, pumice, and more.

What You Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • A cleaning brush
  • Commercial cleaner
  • Pumice
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Coke
  • Bleach
  • Spray bottle
  • Tea tree oil

Safety Precautions

To help you achieve the best results, I recommend you clean your toilet brush regularly. A dirty brush will always leave your toilet unclean and not sparkling white. After you finish cleaning, spray your brush with a disinfectant like rubbing alcohol or antibacterial cleaner and let it stand for some minutes. Later rinse it with clean hot water and allow it to drip dry.  Other tips to follow for you to clean your toilet safely includes;

  • Remember to wear rubber gloves; they will protect your skin from cleaning agents and bacteria. The rubber gloves minimize the risk of spreading bacteria if you remove and disinfect them after use.
  • Do the cleaning in a well-ventilated room to avoid inhaling vapor from the cleaning agents.
  • Avoid mixing commercial cleaning products; the combination of bleach and proprietary cleaner produces toxic vapor.
  • Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions when using any cleaning agent to avoid damaging your toilet’s inner workings.

Initial Toilet Cleanup

First, you need to do basic cleaning of your toilet before deciding how to remove brown stains from the toilet bowl.  

  • Plunge the bowl to remove some water to make cleaning easier.
  • Scrub the toilet with a brush and a cleaner; this will help you tackle any tough stains. Sprinkle the cleaner of your choice to the inside of the bowl and around the edges. Later use the brush to scrub and remove debris.
  • You can use store cleaners or DIY products, which include; Comet, Soft Scrub. DIY products are baking, white vinegar, borax, or bleach.
  • After a good scrub, let the toilet sit for around 30 minutes before flushing.

Overnight Soak

Overnight soak is a great way to eliminate stubborn stains once and for all. Use white vinegar to help clean a badly stained toilet seat.  Pour ½ cup or 118 ml of white vinegar into the toilet bowl and close the lid. Please leave it to sit overnight. If there are stains around the toilet’s rim, drape toilet paper pieces on them and pour vinegar to ensure the vinegar stays on the stains.

 If there are still stubborn stains remaining, use a green scouring pad and scrub away the stain. The pH levels of the vinegar break down yellow stains on the toilet and other stains effectively. For very stubborn stains, add a few sprinkles of baking soda or borax.

Use Coke

Does coke clean toilets? Coke can remove some of the trickiest stains, like ring rusts. The method is easy as coke contains phosphoric acid, the same ingredient in toilet cleaners. The acidity in the Coca-Cola softens the hardened limescale and makes it easier to scrub off. Coke helps get rid of stains caused by hard water.

  • Empty your toilet by flushing with the water turned off or use a sponge to soak and squeeze all water out.
  • Warm a cup of coke in a microwave or stove
  • Pour the liquid into the toilet and allow it to sit overnight.
  • Scrub with the coke until you remove all the stains and then flush.

Use Chlorine Bleach

You will need to clean your toilet with ½ cup of chlorine bleach. Pour it into the bowl and let it stand for ten minutes. Scrub the bowl with a stiff bristles brush and make sure to get under the rim. Flush the toilet wait for some minutes, then flush again. It’s an effective method to clean, but it makes the stains harden, becoming difficult to clean.

Use Tea Tree Oil

Tree oil is an essential oil, which you can purchase at health and vitamin stores. It’s a natural product, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic. Prepare the tea tree oil solution that you will use. Mix all the contents inside a strapped bottle as follows; ½ teaspoon of tea tree oil, ½ cup baking soda, and 1 cup of vinegar. Spray the mixture on the toilet bowl and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Then scrub with a brush and flush.

Use Pumice

Pumice stone isn’t best to use on marble, laminate plastic, or fiberglass toilets; doing so will result in permanent scratches. Use the stone only on porcelain toilets.

  • Dunk the stone in warm water and soak for 5 minutes; this will soften it and make it safe to use on the porcelain toilet.
  • Rub the stains back and forth to erase them. You can sprinkle your regular cleaning liquid to make it easier to scrub and reduce friction.

 What Causes Brown Stains in a Toilet Bowl?

The brown satins at the bottom of the toilet bowl occur from hard water, which contains a high concentration of minerals. These minerals are calcium compounds, but those responsible for the brown stains are iron and manganese. Iron oxide or rust is the main component.

How Do You Remove Brown Stains from a Toilet?

There are several ways to remove the brown from your toilet. You can use acids, and stronger acids work better than weak ones. However, don’t go for hydrochloric or muriatic as these are dangerous for you and your plumbing. White distilled vinegar is acidic and will get the job done.

Pour half a gallon of white vinegar into the bowl. To handle the stains near the rim, make a paste of vinegar and borax or salt and apply it. Leave it there for some hours. The method may be slow to remove all the stains and may require some scrubbing.

You can also use an acid cleaner and do the scrubbing. Remember to avoid bleach cleaners as they fix the stains and make them harder to remove. Apply your favorite cleaner on the stains, then scrub gently with a  sponge, sanding screen, brush, or steel wool. Be careful while cleaning to avoid damaging the bowl.

Does CLR Remove Brown Toilet Stains?

CLR (Calcium, Lime & Rust remover) can effectively remove the brown stains. Pour I cup of CLR into the bowl and give it some minutes to act on the stains. Then brush the bowl with a hard-bristles to loosen the dirt. Turn on the water supply and flush.

What is the Best Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner?

The DIY products help clean-stained toilets if you can’t purchase the commercial agents or if they are allergic to you. Again, they help you clean the toilet using natural products, thus no exposure to harsh chemicals. Some of the products include;

Recipe 1 Ingredients

  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 3-5 drops essential oils( lemon, lavender. Tea oil, or clove)

How to Use

  • Sprinkle all the ingredients around the toilet bowl. Start with the vinegar, then baking soda, then essential oils, and allow it to settle for ten minutes.
  • Scrub and rinse by flushing.

Recipe 2 Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 3-5 drops of essential oils

How to Use

  • Apply all the ingredients separately on the toilet bowl in this order, vinegar first, borax, and essential oils. Let sit for around 15 minutes.
  • Scrub the toilet and then flush.

Check this too: How to Remove Spray Paint From Glass


The best way to clean your stained toilet is ensuring you do a deep clean every two weeks and a regular clean daily. This way, you will prevent most of the stains, particularly the brown stains, from the hard water deposits. Again, always ensure you use clean apparatus like the brush and cloths. Remember also to wipe down the seat with antibacterial wipes. With the methods above, your toilet will remain fresh and sparkling clean.