Return to Toilet Question List

Removing Toilet Stains

My toilet is terribly stained. What products can I use to clean it?

Toilet bowls are extremely hard, smooth and resistant to most chemicals.  They are formed from a ceramic-clay similar to wall or floor tile, and are specially glazed to have a glass-like or "vitreous" surface... hence the name "vitreous" china.  This smoothness is important to inhibit the growth of germs by making it difficult for anything to stick to it.  Most materials that could be used for a toilet would not rinse as "clean" after a flush as vitreous china! Lets' move on...

However, constant exposure to minerals and chemicals can take its toll on vitreous china, requiring more-than-superficial cleaning.  There are a few very potent cleaning products that will work.  They are of two types... acid-based or chlorine-based.

PLEASE... NEVER MIX DIFFERENT CLEANING PRODUCTS... the resulting chemical reaction can be very dangerous!!

Commercial toilet bowl cleaners are acid-based, allowing them to virtually dissolve mineral deposits and stains caused by hard and iron-rich water.  They are also very strong disinfectants.

Because of their high acidity, though, acid-based cleaners are also very dangerous to the skin and eyes and can damage a wide variety of surfaces.  Always follow the label directions carefully and wear gloves and eye protection.

Chlorine bleach may also be used, but it will not have any significant effect on mineral stains.  In fact, a good way to know if the stains are from minerals is if they are resistant to chlorine!

Just add a half cup or so of liquid household bleach to the toilet water.  Then swish it around with a toilet brush to get it under the rim.  Try not to slosh it out of the bowl, as the chlorine is also dangerous to skin and some materials.  Let it sit for a few minutes... then flush.

Last resort... abrasive cleaners!!

Sometimes, when all else fails, the use of an abrasive cleanser such as Ajax, Barkeeper's Friend or an abrasive cleansing pad may be the only way to remove heavy mineral deposits.  Keep in mind one thing before you proceed..  Once you use aggressive scrubbing on a toilet bowl, it will tend to get dirty faster since the surface loses its smoothness.  "Miscellaneous stuff" will tend to stick more than before.  Be warned!!

Return to Toilet Question List