How to clean toilets – toilet-bowl rings and rust stains

Halloween is sneaking up on us, so as a treat, I thought I’d cover the very spooky and scary topic of cleaning toilets!

First up, toilet-bowl rings. If you have a toilet-bowl ring that is driving you crazy, I assume you’ve tried all manner of standard cleaning methods such as liquid bleaches, powdered cleanser, and SpeedCleaning Pro Scrub. If so, and if you’re still staring at a ring around the bowl, here’s a solution that may seem drastic but that is safe and effective: a pumice stick.

Pumice is a mild abrasive that’s softer than porcelain (so it doesn’t scratch it) but harder than the toilet ring so it can rub it off. Make sure both the porcelain and the pumice stick are wet before starting, and then gently rub off the ring with the stick. You’ll be amazed. If this is a persistent problem, think about installing a water softener. Toilet rings are caused by water evaporating and leaving behind mineral deposits, and they can cause permanent damage if ignored for a long period of time.

Next, rusty toilet bowls. Do you have rust stains in your toilet bowl? These are usually due to iron in the water, which can also stain your laundry and add an unpleasant taste to the water (out of the faucet – don’t try drinking your toilet water!). The most commonly used chemical to remove rust is oxalic acid. Zud is one example of a product that uses oxalic acid— which is toxic, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely and carefully.

Don’t use chlorine bleach on rust because it sets the stain and makes your problem worse. Another solution is to install an iron filter in the water line. It’s also possible that your porcelain toilet has worn thin over the years so that the underlying metal is now exposed to water and is now rusting, in which case you should pony up for a replacement bowl.


1 Comment
  1. Thank you so much! Moved into our home 3 years ago and have tried everything under the sun to remove the hard water deposits. It has gotten better after many hours and many products but was still a constant ugly reminder! I actually had a pumice stone but was afraid to use it to make the scratches worse (from former cleaning efforts). I jumped out of my chair when I read this, found my pumice stone and Ta Dah!!! I should have taken before and after photos! I tried so many things for over 3 years and was always disappointed… I am delighted! I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders! I succeeded in eliminating the problem.
    Now, to remove all traces of water deposits on the guest shower tile walls. I have tried vinegar soaked paper towels and every product I can find. Those water spots glare at me every day! Suggestions!? I have even used professional products that a friend uses and he cleans tile and grout for a living.
    Thanks again! One problem down, one to go!!!

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