How to Clean a Toilet & Keep it Clean

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There are an estimated 50 bacteria per square inch on your toilet seat. Some of them can make you and your family sick. 
 
It goes without saying, keeping your toilet clean is important. We’ll go over everything you need to do, and watch out for, when cleaning your toilet the best way. Cleaning a toilet is hard work–trust me I know–so we’ll also go over how to keep it clean.
 

Let’s start off by going over the tools you’ll need to take a deep dive into toilet cleaning

  • Some disinfecting spray or wipes
  • Cleaning Gloves (long ones to prevent anything getting on your hands & a pair reserved for cleaning the bathroom)
  • A liquid toilet bowl cleaner that is store purchased or you have made yourself (we cover diy toilet cleaning instructions later on)
  • A tough bristle toilet brush
  • Paper towels or cloth
 
Clean toilet

Toilet Cleaning Steps For a Deep Clean

Step 1 Clear the area
 
Cleaning a toilet tends to be a bit messy and there’s a chance you might be splashing toilet water in the area. Remove anything that you don’t want cleaned or toilet water on. 
 
Don’t forget to remove anything from on top of the toilet tank. It’s an easy accident to drop something in the toilet.
Step 2 Start with the Outside
 
Many focus on getting the inside of the toilet bowl clean, but the outside is also as important. Did you know that one study found toilet flushes spread microorganisms up to 2.7 feet away from the toilet?
 
So don’t only clean the toilet, also clean the wall behind it on this step. Spray the disinfecting spray all over the toilet and adjacent walls and floors. Wait 15 minutes before wiping off.
 
A common mistake is wiping the disinfecting spray right after spraying. It can take up to 15 minutes for it to work. Read the label and it should say how much time it takes to work. If it doesn’t say then wait 15 minutes. You will work on the interior while it does it’s magic.
Step 3 Now the Inside
 
To make this task easier drain your toilet. Toilet cleaners are super concentrated because they get diluted with toilet water. Draining the toilet water helps them do their job. You can also use a milder cleaner, if you’re trying to avoid harsh chemicals. It’ll also be less work if you drain the toilet.
 
Apply the toilet cleaner to the inside of the toilet bowl (either a home made one or store bought). Distilled vinegar is the most basic effective cleaner. Add baking soda to take it up a notch.
 
If going with store-bought avoid chlorine bleach. It can be harmful to your lungs. Look for hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach.
 
Make sure you apply generously and don’t forget to work on the toilet bowls rims.  Now while you’re waiting for the cleaner to work it’s magic you can go back to the exterior.
Step 4 The Wipe Down
 
Going green and using reusable wipes is great but when it comes to the toilet disposable are best. To be eco conscious, biodegradable paper towels are the best.
 
 As a general rule when wiping start from top to bottom. Going bottom to top can leave streaks from dripping cleaner. It’s important to wipe the exterior as well. The floor surrounding the toilet and the back wall(thank you kids and men). 
 
Also, there is no need to wet the paper towel when wiping down. Disinfectant is designed to removed with a dry paper towel.
Step 5 Work on The Stains
 
After doing all this, most of the grime and stains will be gone. If tough stains remain then it’s time to bring out a bristled brush.
 
If you notice a ring in the bowls interior it’s most likely minerals in your water. Some experts recommend a pumice stone on a stick, but be weary. Some have damaged the protective coating on their porcelain using this, 
 
Leaving vinegar and baking soda on tough stains will work on almost anything. If you’re left with no options then use pumice stone as a last resort.
 
Turn the toilet water back on and give it a flush. Inspect it to make sure everything has rinsed off and left sparkling clean.
Step 6 The Last One I Promise!
 
Cleaning a toilet is not the most pleasant task so good for you for making it this far. Before you take off your gloves it’s necessary to show your tools some love. Now, we sanitize.
 
Pour cleaning solution onto the bristle brush over the toilet bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes then rinse it off. 
 
 Since bacteria thrive in moist environments , it’s important to let your brush dry on a towel before putting it back in it’s storage container
 
Make sure to clean and disinfect the toilet brush canister as well. You can dump it in the toilet with the brush while you let it disinfect. 
 
I’m sure by this point you’re ready to peel off your gloves, but we’re not done yet. Keep your gloves on and wash your hands before you take them off. Use hot water and scrub with soap. You’ll prevent your hands from getting dirty, which I’m sure you don’t want.
 
Now finally you’re done.
 
Recommended Read: Best Bidet Toilet Seat

Toilet Cleaning Steps for a Quick Clean

how to quick clean a toilet
Let’s face it, you don’t always have time to do a deep cleaning when you freshen up the bathroom. You can save it for once a month or every other week. A quick clean is perfect before guests arrive or those weeks you’re not 100% up to it.
 
You’ll need the same supplies as a deep cleaning. 
 
  • Disinfecting Spray & Wipes
  • Cleaning Gloves (ones reserved for only the bathroom)
  • A Toilet Bowl Cleaner (or vinegar & baking soda)
  • Bristle Brush
  • Paper Towels
Step 1 Scrub the Bowl
 
You can clean the toilet parts in any order, but to be as quick as possible, it’s best to start with the bowl. This way if you splash any water–since you won’t be draining the bowl–you won’t have to re-clean the outside. 
 
Spray the outside of the toilet with disinfectant spray. Let it work it’s magic while you quickly clean the inside.
 
Pour the toilet bowl cleaner as directed and scrub with the brush. Apply pressure on any build up and stains. Mix in some cleaner with the toilet water for extra help.
Step 2 Now the Outside
 
The disinfectant spray should have had enough time to kill germs and loosen up the grime for you. Wipe down the outside of the toilet with a disposable paper towel (biodegradable is good here for the environment!). Start with the highest point of the toilet and work your way done.
 
You can use an old toothbrush to get in hard to reach hinges. Also, give a quick wipe to the floor and the back of the wall to get rid of germs.
 
Step 3 Flush it Down
 
Now that the outside is clean, flush the toilet to remove excess cleaner. Don’t flush any paper towels as they can cause a toilet to clog and ruin your hard work.
 
Step 4 Sanitize
 
Before removing your gloves wash your hands. Use hot water and soap to disinfect the gloves that you use only to clean the toilet with. 
 
Spray disinfectant on your brush and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off. Moisture promotes bacterial growth so let it air dry before putting it away.
 
Congratulations. You’re done with this weeks quick cleaning.
 
rubber gloves for cleaning a toilet

How To Clean a Toilet Tank

You worked hard cleaning your toilet, you give it a flush and now it seems a little dirty again. Have you cleaned your toilet tank recently?

Cleaning the toilet tank twice a year is sanitary and can extend the life of your toilet. How? It keeps dirt, bacteria, and mineral build up out of sight. That’s great for your eyes. But, the metal parts in your toilet tank don’t think so.
 
If left too long, these conditions can prematurely corrode the toilet parts, smell bad, and make you work harder by making you clean the toilet more often than you need to.
Required Tools
 
  • Pencil (If tank water level isn’t already maked)
  • Vinegar (for old toilets that haven’t had their tanks cleaned)
  • Toilet Brush 
 
Step 1 Empty The Tank
 
You need to locate the water valve (usually located on the wall behind the toilet or the base) and turn it off. Check the inside of the lid to see the water level. Mark it with a pencil if you’re water level isn’t already marked.
 
Flush the toilet and wait for it to drain completely. It’s not uncommon for it to take a couple of flushes.
Step 2 How Dirty is it?
 
If you’re toilet is new then it will be a straightforward job. But, if you see any discoloration or build up at the bottom of the tank or walls a thorough job is necessary. The easiest way is to fill the tank with vinegar and let it sit for 12 hours. 
 
It can take a bit of vinegar ,but a gallon is about 3$. If you keep up with the cleaning you shouldn’t have to do this again any time soon. 
 
Once it’s been sitting for 12 hours, scrub all the stains and build up off with a brush. Everything will come off after the vinegar seep. Flush it all down when you’re done.
Step 3
 
Spray the tank–All over the walls and bottom–with your favorite disinfectant cleaner. Baking soda and vinegar are okay too. Make sure your cleaner is metal friendly, if not avoid spraying it near the metal parts. This should be on the label. (Bleach corrodes metal)
 
Let it set for 15 minutes.
Step 4
 
Grab you perfectly sanitized toilet brush and get to work on the tank. Some recommend a separate brush, but, if it’s kept clean there’s no need. 
 
Scrub out the tank thoroughly–work around the fixtures and corners were build up happens–and remove the grime
 
Step 5
 
Turn the water back and let it fill to the pencil mark or whenever indicated. Flush the toilet and make certain it’s clean. If it’s not, repeat steps 1-4. 
 
Once you’re happy put the tank lid back on and you’re ready for business. You’re toilet will thank you. Nice.

Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

According to the american lung association, “many house cleaners contain harmful chemicals. Even products labeled as clean and natural.”
 
With this in mind, making your own cleaner–with ingredients you pick–will prevent harm

Common Ingredients

White Vinegar
It’s safe, it disinfects, and eliminates odors. What more can you ask for?
Lemon Juice or Citric Acid
Citric acid is in lemon juice. The acid helps remove stains left due to minerals from hard water.
Essential Oils
They have antibacterial properties and smell great. Tea tree oil is the most studied. Read up on why you should be using it here.
Baking Soda
It doesn’t have any antibacterial properties but it will help deodorize and remove stains. Also, mixing vinegar and baking soda is always fun.

Easy and Effective Tea Tree Cleaner

It will disinfect, deodorize, and prevent bacteria from growing. This is my favorite and optimal home made cleaner.
 
  • ½ baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon tea tree oil
 
To use this combo, put the vinegar in a spray bottle with the tea tree oil. Spray down the areas you want to clean and let it sit for 15 minutes to do its job. 
 
Next, sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl, bring out your toilet brush and scrub it down. This is good enough for nearly all toilet cleaning jobs.

Classic Vinegar and Baking Soda Combo

  • ½ baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
 
This combo is commonly used since vinegar and baking soda are often already in the house. Follow the same steps as the easy and effective tea tree cleaner sans the tea tree oil. 

DIY Oil Mix Cleaner

  • You’re favorite essential oils
  • ½ baking soda
  • 1 cup white vinegar
Follow the same cleaning steps as the other cleaners but add your favorite scents. Lavender, lemon, and peppermint are great options.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains

Hard water is water that has a high mineral content, A.K.A the bane of your metal home accessories. It’s formed when “water percolates through deposits of limestone, chalk or gypsum” according to wikipedia.
 
Since water stands still in the toilet you’ll notice this problem here more than anywhere else. There are commercial products that can help remove these stains. But, household product are as good, and avoid harsh chemicals.
 
The best way to remove hard water stains is to prevent them from happening. All you have to do is keep up with your toilet cleaning.
Tools
 
  • Rubber gloves (for toilet cleaning only)
  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Pumice stone on a stick (optional)
  • Toilet Brush
  • Disinfecting Spray
Baking Soda and Vinegar (add essential oils for good smells & anti bacterial properties)
 
Baking soda and vinegar are house cleaning essentials, as mentioned before. They’re perfect for removing hard water stains and will clean the toilet as well.
 
Step 1
 
Pour a cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl, slowly, and work it into the hard water stains. Let it sit for a few minutes.
 
Step 2
 
Mix in another cup of vinegar with baking soda. Watch the vinegar and baking soda react while it removes hard water. Wait 10 minutes.
 
Step 3
 
Use the toilet brush to scrub on the hard water stains. The vinegar and baking soda have done the heavy lifting, thankfully
 
Step 4
 
Leave the solution in the toilet bowl and return 15 minutes later to give it another scrubbing. Then flush. You’re hard water stains should be gone.
 
Repeat steps 1-4 if there are still stains.
 
Step 5
 
Sanitize your toilet brush and gloves. Spray disinfecting spray on the toilet brush and let it air dry. Don’t forget the holder too. Wash your hands with the gloves on with warm water and soap. Keep one pair of rubber gloves for only cleaning the bathroom.
 
You can use a pumice stone on a stick to get rid of extra tough stains. Do it carefully–as a last resort–since some have said it damaged the porcelain. Be gentle if you use the stone.
Keep up with your toilet cleaning and it should be a while before you have to remove hard water stains again. At the very least it should be an easier job next time. 
 

How to Keep a Toilet Clean

Doing a little work–for some of us–a few times a week pays off to help make a job easier. You’ve worked hard getting your toilet clean, now let’s keep it that way.
 
To be honest, there’s no way to keep a toilet from getting dirty. It’s in it’s very nature to get a little nasty.
 
But, an automatic toilet bowl cleaner will go a long way in reducing how dirty the inside of the bowl gets. Some promise that you won’t have to anymore ,but it’s not a realistic expectation. 

How to Keep a Toilet Tank Clean

The best way to keep your toilet tank clean is by putting tank tablets in it. They will keep minerals and contaminants to a minimum so that next time you clean it’s easier.
 
You need to clean the toilet tank twice a year or every 6 months.
 
Avoid tablets with bleach as they corrode metal. This will harm your toilet and will shorten it’s life cycle. There are natural and chemical free tablets available.
 
If you are avoiding tablets then you’ll have to drain your tank and fill it with vinegar every few months. Vinegar will remove germs and dissolve and mineral deposits that are building up. Leave it overnight and flush the next morning. You’ll have to turn off your water valve and drain your toilet to do this.

How to Clean A Toilet & Keep it That Way Conclusion

We’ve gone over everything toilet cleaning related and the gross facts around it. It’s important to keep the toilet clean. It can be a bit of work, but with some steps it’s pretty easy to maintain you hard work.
 
Harsh chemicals are a concern but it’s easy enough to make a natural cleaner at home. Are there any toilet cleaning tips I missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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