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6 Top Ways to Clean a Badly Stained toilet

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Badly stained toilets are not only unsightly they can cause you a lot of embarrassment if you’re throwing a party or having friends over. Whether you’re moving into a different home that already has badly stained toilets or if you’ve simply neglected to keep yours clean, we’ve got you.

Read on for 8 tried and true cleaning methods, and answers to frequently asked questions. 

When using any of these methods, please be sure to keep children and pets away from the toilet.

Recommended Read: Best Small Toilets for a Compact Space

Using chemicals to clean a badly stained toilet

Method 1: Chlorine bleach 

Toilet open that was cleaned w bleach
Toilet Cleaned with Bleach

Note that large amounts of bleach are not safe for septic tanks.

What you will need: Pure bleach, toilet-safe brush, and (if desired) rubber gloves.

How to: You can clean and disinfect your toilet bowl using 1/2 cup chlorine bleach. Pour it into the bowl, and let it stand for ten minutes (or up to 30 minutes). Scrub the bowl with a toilet brush, making sure to get under the rim. Flush. Wait 5 minutes, then flush again.

Recommended Read: Best Toilet Repair Kits for a Strong Flush

Method 2: Name brands 

Clorox Bleach Name Brand Cleaner Being Held
Name Brand Cleaner

There are lots of products on the market, but consumer polls and professional product testers seem to agree on these three: Kaboom! Scrub Free, Lime-A-Way Liquid Toilet Bowl Cleaner, and Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner.

What you will need: Cleaner, toilet-safe scrub brush, and (if desired) rubber gloves.

How to: Follow the directions from each manufacturer carefully. 

Natural ways to clean a badly stained toilet:

Method 3: Pumice rock

Pumice stone rock zoomed in
Pumice Stone

Pumice stones are not recommended to wash marble, laminate, plastic, or fiberglass toilets; doing so will result in permanent scratches. Use pumice stones for porcelain toilets.

What you will need: Pumice stone, and (if desired) rubber gloves.

How to: Dunk the pumice stone into warm water and let it soak for 5 minutes. This will soften the stone so that it’s safe to use on your porcelain toilet. Once wet, rub the stone back and forth over the any engrained lines and “erase” it the same way you would pencil from paper or the strip from a lottery ticket.

Recommended Read: Best Toilet Fill Valves Reviewed

Method 4: White vinegar 

Vinegar bathroom cleaner in two bottles
Vinegar in Two Bottles

The pH level means that vinegar can break down not just hard water stains, but also other stains effectively. (Hard water is water that contains a high concentration of minerals.)

For very stubborn stains, you can add a few sprinkles of baking soda or Borax (Ajax).

What you will need: White distilled vinegar (no other kind will do), toilet-safe scrub brush, and (if desired) rubber gloves. 

How to: Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the toilet bowl, let stand for an hour or two, brush, and flush.

Recommended Read: Best Short Depth Toilets 24-25in For Small Bathrooms

Method 5: Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil and flowers
Tea Tree Oil and Flowers

Tea tree oil is an essential oil, which can be purchased at health and vitamin stores or online. It is not only natural, it is antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic!

What you will need: Tea tree oil, baking soda, distilled white vinegar, spray bottle, toilet safe scrub brush, and (if desired) rubber gloves.

How to: 

Mix inside strap bottle

½ teaspoon tea tree essential oil

½ cup baking soda

1 cup distilled white vinegar

Spray into the toilet bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a brush, and flush. 

Method 6: Cola

Cup of cola with ice

Mom always did say soda would rot the enamel off of your teeth and maybe she was onto something! Whether it’s Coca Cola or Pepsi, the acidity in these sodas makes it great for cleaning purposes because it eats away limescale. This is also an effective method when your toilet is stained because of hard water. 

What you will need: Coke or Pepsi (brown sodas only—pop has three different types of acid: citric, carbonic, and phosphoric—it’s the phosphoric acid found in most dark-colored fizzy drinks we’re after here), access to a microwave or stove, toilet safe scrub brush, and (if desired) rubber gloves.

How to: Warm one cup of soda in the microwave (about 45 seconds) or over the stove in a pot (get it warm, not boiling). Pour liquid into the toilet. After letting the soda sit for two hours, flush the toilet. Scrub if needed. 

Frequently asked Tough Toilet Stain Questions:

Wrapping Up Severely Stained Toilet Questions 

There are several different methods for cleaning a badly stained toilet. Whether you want to go the chemical route or the natural way is entirely up to you. 

Have you tried any of the methods we suggest? Let us know whether or not they have worked for you and feel free to add tips of your own in the comments below. 

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