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How To Clean A Stained Toilet

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toilet next to shower

For most people, cleaning the toilet is the least favourite chore. In fact, there seems to be a general misconception that the toilet is the most germ-ridden part of the house.

However, while your number ones and twos certainly do a number on your toilet, your smartphone, doorknob, and purse have been proven to contain almost as much or even more bacteria than your toilet seat. Why? You’re always touching them right after touching other stuff.

That being said, you really shouldn’t shy away from cleaning your toilet and when you do begin, you should go for nothing less than a spotless surface. Unfortunately, some stubborn stains make it pretty difficult to do so.

Now, you might think that the good ol’ bleach would work.

However, in reality, flooding your toilet with bleach is pointless. In addition to being harmful to your health and toxic to the environment, it lacks an emollient agent. Worse, it doesn’t address the issue of limestone deposits. 

In this article, we’ll quickly assess the most effective and simple toilet cleaning solutions.

Prevention is better than cure

As with many household chores, the key to a flawless toilet is proper maintenance. There is no room for procrastination.

If you wait for limescale, foul odours, and various stains to appear before taking action, you may have to use a lot of elbow grease as well as harsh or aggressive products.

Your sanitary facilities and the environment will both be negatively impacted by these pollutants.

If this is not the type of living you’d like and you are a master of organisation, you should stick to a simple and effective three-point routine.

  1. Use a toilet brush to clean the inside of the toilet bowl at least once a day. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we cannot prevent certain types of dirt from accumulating in that area. This regular mechanical (and economical) action is all we need to keep the different types of dirt away.
  2. The fight against limescale is on. Every week, fill the bowl with water and add a descaling product designed for toilets (that is, an acid-based product). Allow it to sit for as long as necessary, preferably overnight. In this way, the lime will not settle, and the yellow stains will not form. 
  3. Put an end to your weekly maintenance with a “bacteria hunt.” Sprinkle any biocidal product under and on the sides and back of the bowl. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Flush the toilet after wiping it down with a sponge.

How to Clean a stained toilet: 10 effective methods

If, despite your best intentions, you deviate from this “toilet routine” (or if you get dirty toilets during your vacation or a move), do not panic. There are always solutions.

Remember that the internet is full of cleaning tips. Although it is strongly recommended not to play chemist – substances can cause burns, gaseous fumes, or even explosions, so it is essential to be aware of the dangers associated with certain products.

Take a look at our top tips for using substances effectively and safely to get your toilet in tip top condition.

White Vinegar

In addition to being a mould and odour deterrent, white vinegar is also an excellent descaling agent.

White vinegar is a must-have ingredient in your kitchen to thoroughly clean the house and make it sparkle.

Nature-based and relatively inexpensive, it is one of the essential products in economical and ecological cleaning. Grandmothers have used it for decades to clean the toilets effectively and without the use of chemicals.

To clean your toilets with white vinegar, follow the steps outlined below.

  • Begin by heating white vinegar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and add a few pinches of coarse salt to the mixture
  • Once you’ve done that, generously apply the solution to the walls of your scaled toilets and leave it on overnight
  • Remove any remaining residue with a spatula the following day. Your toilet should now be sparkling clean. The best part is that white vinegar is also excellent for keeping pipes clean and preventing foul odours rising from them

Citric Acid

Citric acid is one of the most essential products of the smart household. It is completely biodegradable, natural, and significantly less expensive than the chemical cleaning products found in supermarkets.

Rightly so, this acid naturally found in lemons, is a powerful cleaner, degreaser, stain remover, and antioxidant, as well as an anti-scale agent. So, you can use it in the home and garden to dissolve rust and lime.

If you want to use citric acid to make your toilet shine, follow these instructions:

  • Prepare the citric acid cleaner by heating half a litre of water in a saucepan with four tablespoons of citric acid, stirring constantly
  • Apply the solution to the pan and let it work its magic while you clean the rest of the bathroom
  • Use a toilet brush to scrub the inside of your toilet bowl after cleaning it with this mixture. All the dirt and scale that had accumulated over time would become a thing of the past

Note: Always put on a pair of gloves before using citric acid to protect your hands. The skin can be irritated by this product, even though it is all-natural.

Hydrochloric Acid to scrub heavily scaled toilets

You may not want to use hydrochloric acid to clean a toilet. But it’s one of the most powerful cleaning products out there when white vinegar or citric acid isn’t enough.

You can’t argue with the effectiveness of hydrochloric acid. It is readily available from home improvement stores, and it is also very inexpensive and simple to use.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using hydrochloric acid to clean a limescale-filled toilet thoroughly.

  • Pour a glass of acid into your toilet bowl, close the bowl, and let it sit preferably overnight or at least 2 to 3 hours, before flushing
  • If necessary, flush with water and lightly rub the area. It’s like magic. Your toilet will be like new again, with no stains or lime left

Hydrochloric acid is a highly corrosive and toxic substance that must be handled with extreme caution. Take time to read the directions before using it, and when you use it to clean your toilets, remember to wear protective gear such as a mask and gloves.

Baking Soda to make toilets shine

The same way that white vinegar and citric acid are magical products that are inexpensive cleaners, baking soda is a magical product that every self-respecting household fairy must have in their kitchen cupboards.

You can use baking soda in various ways, from making your cakes and other pastries puff up, to removing stains from a mattress. It can also be used to get rid of the limestone encrusted at the bottom of your toilet bowl.

Here’s how to use baking soda to make your toilet sparkle:

  • Pour the equivalent of three glasses of white vinegar into your toilet bowl, making sure to cover the entire bowl and not miss any corners or crannies
  • After that, sprinkle approximately three tablespoons of baking soda on the inside of your toilet’s walls. The mixture of baking soda and white vinegar will then undergo a chemical reaction, causing it to become effervescent and foamy. Don’t worry; this is entirely normal and will not harm you or your toilet
  • Leave it to sit for 30 minutes before cleaning it with a stiff brush. Your toilet will now be spotless and gleaming

Note that you can also use baking soda to clean other parts of your toilet. Simply sprinkle it on a sponge and then run it over the toilet seat, toilet bowl, under your seat, and even inside your flushing mechanism!

Dishwashing Liquid

Is your toilet still clogged? Do not be upset. You can save money while also being practical, by simply using washing up liquid from your kitchen. It not only smells great and cleans well, but you can also use it to unclog toilets.

It works wonders and is one of the simplest solutions here today, good old washing up liquid and hot water.

  • Fill your toilet with a large amount of washing up liquid
  • Fill the toilet bowl halfway with hot water (not boiling)
  • Leave it on for 30 minutes at a time
  • Flush

Borax and Vinegar

Hard water stains in the toilet and other plumbing fixtures can be easily removed with the help of borax. It is a multipurpose cleaning product that is inexpensive and easy to use.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using borax and vinegar to clean a stained toilet thoroughly.

  • You can clean your toilet by putting 1/4 of a cup of borax in the bowl. Then use a toilet brush to scrub it around
  • Let the mixture sit in the bowl for approximately 20 to 30 minutes after adding 1 cup of vinegar
  • To completely remove the stains, clean the bowl with a regular toilet brush. To rinse, flush the toilet

Borax Paste

The borax paste can be used to remove stubborn hard water stains from the toilet. Here is a guide about how you can use the borax paste to remove the stubborn stain.

  • Close the water supply to the toilet at the fixture shutoff valve. Then flush the toilet to clear out the bowl. This is necessary to prevent the hard water stains from being covered by water
  • Use half a cup of borax and enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Mix the two to achieve the right consistency
  • Make a thin layer of paste on the hard water stains in the toilet and spread it around until it covers them completely. Add the vinegar only when you’re ready to apply the paste, as the borax will set quickly
  • Let it sit for 20 minutes
  • Scrub the paste and stains away with a brush to ensure they are removed. Flush the toilet to clean it of residue

Use a Pumice Stone

Pumice stones behave similarly to sandpaper and can be used to remove stains from your toilet by rubbing them against the stains. In contrast to bristled toilet brushes, pumice is tougher than the stain but lighter than the porcelain, which allows it to remove stains effectively without damaging the toilet.

It is an inexpensive, natural, and non-toxic solution that is exceptionally effective when removing toilet stains.

Here is a step-by-step guide about how you can use pumice stones:

  • Prepare your pumice stone by soaking it in water
  • Scrape the stains out of the bowl with the stone. You won’t have to use too much elbow grease. Simply scrub lightly and apply pressure where necessary
  • When used, the stone will grind down a little bit, especially if you use a lot of force, but it will not harm your sewer or septic system and can be flushed away

You do not have to use the same pumice you use for your pedicures. We’d actually recommend you to buy a separate pumice stone for the toilet! You’ll also find many “toilet-friendly” pumice products on the market that are easy to use.


Are you in desperate need of household products, but you don’t have any vinegar, dishwashing liquid, or anything else to hand? Instead of drinking it, try cleaning your toilets with Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola and its phosphoric acid are effective cleaners for toilets, and they are readily available.

  • In a toilet, pour 250ml of Coca-Cola (about a can)
  • Leave to rest for an hour
  • Make use of your toilet brush to clean
  • Flush the toilet

Bleach to wash the bowl

Bleach is an extremely powerful product that can clean and disinfect a wide variety of surfaces and objects around the house. As a result, bleach can be an effective cleaning solution for stubborn stains in the toilet.

If your toilet bowl is not too badly discoloured and you want to disinfect and remove light stains, follow these steps:

  • Pour bleach into the toilet bowl’s interior walls
  • Leave on for ten minutes to ensure that the bowl is thoroughly cleaned
  • Finally, flush the toilet to complete the process


Chemicals that are harsh and expensive are unnecessary in the prevention of hard water stains in the toilet. Borax, vinegar, and baking soda are excellent cleaning and disinfecting ingredients.

If you use them regularly, you can prevent toilet stains. Try to clean your toilet daily to avoid any stubborn stains.

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Meet our reviewer

Jimmy Pearce is our resident expert on domestic cleaning appliances. Having managed a large electrical retail store for over 10 years and with a family that includes 3 kids, there is little Jimmy doesn’t know or hasn’t seen when it comes to domestic cleaning. When he’s not spending time with the family or reviewing domestic appliances, Jimmy is often found in his man cave jamming on his bass guitar.