There is nothing more unsightly than a stained toilet bowl. Yet, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you scrub, the stains just don’t go away.
Stubborn stains on porcelain surfaces are usually mineral deposits caused by hard water. These alkaline substances are relatively easy to clean with acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar. Bicarbonate of sodium can act as a whitening agent, while bleach or hydrogen peroxide can kill mould spores and bacteria.
Regardless of what causes the mess, here’s how to clean a very stained toilet bowl.
1. Citric Acid
Citric acid is a natural agent that can effectively remove hard water stains. This substance is naturally found in lemons and other citrus fruits, but the acid citric powder (found in most grocery stores), is a better choice for cleaning the toilet.
To clean the toilet:
- Create a citric acid paste by mixing the powder with a bit of water.
- Apply the paste directly onto the stained areas of the toilet bowl. Make sure to cover the entire stain.
- Allow the citric acid paste to sit for one to two hours. The acid will react with the mineral deposits, breaking them down.
- Once the time is up, use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl thoroughly.
- Finally, flush the toilet to rinse away the citric acid paste.
While this method is very effective, remember that you might have to empty the toilet to get rid of stains under the water line. To do that, use a cup or another container to remove the water.
2. Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Sodium
Bicarbonate of sodium and vinegar, when combined, create a natural and effective cleaning solution.
Start by sprinkling a generous amount of bicarbonate of sodium directly onto the stained areas of the toilet bowl. Next, pour vinegar over the bicarbonate of sodium, causing a fizzing reaction.
Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes, allowing the chemical reaction to break down the stains.
After the wait time, use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl, paying special attention to the stained areas. Flush the toilet to rinse away the residue and reveal a cleaner bowl.
3. Borax and Lemon Juice
Borax, or borate of sodium, is a salt traditionally used in cleaning. It is now banned in the UK – as well as the rest of Europe – but you can use Borax substitute for this homemade remedy against stained toilet bowls.
The method is similar to citric acid, but you should use Borax substitute and lemon juice instead of citric acid and water.
Mix the Borax substitute with lemon juice to obtain a paste-like consistency. Apply the paste over the stains and wait for at least an hour.
Scrub thoroughly with a toilet brush and flush. Repeat as needed to remove the mineral deposits and stains.
4. Vinegar and Salt
Another common household substance that can dissolve hard water deposits is vinegar. Combined with coarse salt, it can create a scrubbing paste that can dislodge stubborn stains.
To clean the toilet:
- Remove the water from the toilet bowl if the stains you want to clean are under the water line.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of salt directly onto the stained areas of the toilet bowl.
- Pour vinegar over the salt, ensuring that it covers the stains completely. The combination of vinegar’s acidity and salt’s abrasive texture works to break down and lift the stains.
- Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour or longer, depending on the severity of the stains.
- Scrub with a toilet brush and flush. Repeat if necessary.
5. Denture Cleaning Tablets
Denture cleaning tablets contain specific cleaning agents designed to remove stains and build-up from dentures. They typically contain a combination of enzymes, surfactants and oxygenating agents that work by targeting and loosening organic matter, such as food particles.
Each ingredient in these tablets works in a different way. For instance, the enzymes are effective in breaking down proteins and other organic substances that can contribute to stains. Surfactants help to dislodge and lift the stains from the surface, allowing them to be rinsed away more easily.
Oxygenating agents release oxygen bubbles when they come in contact with the water. This bubbling effect breaks apart deposits.
Overall, the combination of enzymes, surfactants and oxygenating agents makes these tablets effective in removing stains from various surfaces, including toilet bowls.
Simply drop a couple of denture cleaner tablets into the toilet bowl and let them dissolve. As they fizz and break down, they help loosen and remove stains.
Allow the tablets to dissolve for the recommended time, usually several hours or overnight. Once dissolved, use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl thoroughly, ensuring to target the stained areas.
6. Denture Cleaning Tablets and Vinegar
If the denture cleaning tablets didn’t work on their own, combining them with vinegar can create an effective cleaning solution for stained toilet bowls.
Drop a couple of denture cleaning tablets into the toilet bowl and pour vinegar over them. The effervescence of the tablets and the acidity of the vinegar work together to break down and remove stains.
Allow the mixture to sit for several hours or overnight, allowing sufficient time for the cleaning agents to work.
After the wait time, scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly with a toilet brush, focusing on the stained areas. Finally, flush the toilet to rinse away the dissolved tablets and vinegar.
Whether you’re dealing with rust, mineral deposits or hard water stains, Coca-Cola can help you get rid of them.
The popular drink contains phosphoric acid. Technically, this acid gives it its tangy taste. However, it also helps break down and dissolve certain types of stains, including mineral deposits, rust and hard water stains.
The acid reacts with the stains, weakening their grip on the surface and making them easier to remove.
Acidic properties aside, the carbonation in Coca-Cola contributes to its stain-removing action. The bubbles and fizz created by carbonation help to agitate and loosen the stains. This agitation, combined with the acid in Coca-Cola, can help dislodge and lift the stains from the surface of the toilet bowl.
Simply pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowls, right over the stains. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight, then scrub with a toilet brush and flush.
8. Pumice Stone
A pumice stone is a natural abrasive stone that can be used to remove tough stains from a toilet bowl.
Before using it, wet the pumice stone thoroughly to prevent scratching the porcelain.
Gently scrub the stained areas of the toilet bowl with the wet pumice stone, applying light pressure. Take care not to scrub too vigorously or use excessive force to avoid damaging the surface.
Continuously wet the stone during the process to maintain a smooth gliding motion. Once finished, flush the toilet to rinse away any residue and reveal a cleaner bowl.
As an alternative to the traditional pumice stone, you can also use a toilet bowl pumice stone is specifically designed for cleaning toilet bowls and is made of a softer material than regular pumice stones. The cleaning method is the same one described above.
Since the pumice stone is abrasive, you should avoid using it on plastic or coloured parts of your toilet, or you could damage them.
9. Steel Wool
Steel wool is a versatile replacement for pumice stone. This wool is made up of fine steel fibres that create a rough and abrasive surface. When scrubbing the toilet bowl with steel wool, these fibres work to mechanically scrub away stains and build-up.
The rough texture of the steel wool helps to loosen and remove stubborn stains, such as mineral deposits, hard water stains or rust.
Steel wool can be shaped and manipulated to fit into hard-to-reach areas, such as the curves and contours of the toilet bowl or under the rim. This flexibility allows you to target specific areas or concentrate on particularly stubborn stains.
Moreover, steel wool can be used with different cleaning solutions or substances, depending on the type of stain.
For example, you can apply a mild cleaning agent, like a toilet bowl cleaner or vinegar, to the stained areas and then scrub with steel wool. The combination of the cleaning agent and the abrasive action of the steel wool enhances the stain-removing effectiveness.
10. Enzyme Cleaner
Enzymes are biological molecules that act as catalysts, breaking down specific substances. For this reason, enzyme cleaners are particularly effective in removing urine and stool stains from the toilet bowl.
Follow the instructions provided with the enzyme cleaner and apply it directly to the stained areas of the toilet bowl.
Allow the cleaner to sit for the recommended amount of time, as specified on the product label. During this time, the enzymes in the cleaner work to break down and dissolve the stains.
Once the wait time is over, scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly with a toilet brush, ensuring to target the stained areas. Flush the toilet to rinse away the cleaner, inspect the bowl and repeat if necessary.
Bleach is a potent cleaning agent that effectively eliminates stains, including tough toilet bowl stains. Before using bleach, ensure proper ventilation by opening windows or turning on a fan.
Dilute the bleach with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually at a ratio of one part bleach to 10 parts water.
Pour the mixture into the toilet bowl, allowing it to cover the stained areas. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight for maximum effectiveness. Then, use a toilet brush to scrub the stains vigorously before flushing.
If you decide to use bleach, keep in mind that you should never mix it with any other chemicals, including vinegar or sodium bicarbonate. When mixing with the wrong substances, bleach could release toxic fumes that can be life-threatening.
12. Hydrogen Peroxide
Similar to bleach, hydrogen peroxide is an effective stain remover and disinfectant. To use it, pour hydrogen peroxide directly into the toilet bowl, making sure to cover the stained areas.
Allow it to sit for a while to break down the stains effectively. The recommended wait time is usually around 30 minutes.
After the wait time, scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly with a toilet brush, focusing on the stained areas. Flush the toilet to rinse away the hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is relatively safe to use but may cause discoloration on coloured surfaces, so it’s important to perform a patch test beforehand.
13. Oxygenated Bleach
Oxygenated bleach, also known as non-chlorine bleach, is a powerful stain remover that can be used to clean heavily stained toilet bowls.
It generally comes in powder or granular form and contains a compound called sodium percarbonate. When it comes into contact with water, sodium percarbonate breaks down and releases oxygen molecules.
The released oxygen molecules create a bubbling or foaming effect. This oxygenation process helps to penetrate and lift stains from the surface of the toilet bowl. The oxygen molecules work to break down the chemical bonds of the stain, making it easier to remove.
Follow the instructions provided with the oxygenated bleach and apply it directly to the stained areas of the toilet bowl. Allow the bleach to sit for the recommended amount of time, usually around 15-30 minutes.
During this time, the oxygen in the bleach activates and helps lift the stains. Scrub the bowl and flush when you’re done.
14. Commercial Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Commercial toilet bowl cleaners are formulated with powerful cleaning agents specifically designed to remove stains.
These cleaners come in various forms such as liquids, gels or powders. To use them, apply the cleaner to the interior of the toilet bowl, making sure to cover the stained areas. Let the cleaner sit for a few minutes or as instructed on the product label.
Then, using a toilet brush, scrub the bowl thoroughly, paying extra attention to the stains. Finally, flush the toilet to rinse away the cleaner.
Cleaning a very stained toilet bowl is seemingly difficult, but the range of options above can help you complete the chore in the minimum time possible.
Regardless of the method you choose, remember to follow the instructions, take necessary safety precautions and maintain good ventilation during the cleaning process. With these techniques, you can achieve a sparkling clean and hygienic toilet bowl.