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How to Clean
Toilet Bowl Stains

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May 25, 2022

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If you feel like your bathroom cleaning routine is up to snuff, but you still can’t get rid of toilet bowl stains—we get it. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much elbow grease you put behind your toilet scrubbing, as you still can end up with unsightly stains. Don’t be too hard on yourself, though. It’s probably not your cleaning skills or scrubbing muscles to blame as much as not knowing how to clean toilet bowl stains correctly.

Learning how to clean toilet stains the right way means understanding what causes those ugly stains and which cleaners work best. While it may be tempting to attack stubborn toilet bowl stains with the strongest commercial cleaner you can find, we have a better idea. Believe it or not, you likely have the best toilet bowl stain removers in your home already. Hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda are green cleaning solutions to wipe out the most common toilet bowl stains.

We suggest you start with the safest, most natural stain removers and move on to more drastic measures as needed. All you need is a little patience, the right stain removal tools, and this handy guide. Read on to learn how to clean toilet stains once and for all.

What Causes Toilet Bowl Stains?

Aside from the usual suspects, there are various sources for different toilet bowl stains. That’s why you should learn how to clean toilet stains of all kinds. While several of the stain removal solutions in this guide work well for routine toilet bowl cleaning, specific stains require specific methods.
Before we jump into how to clean toilet bowl stains, let’s look at what causes them. Once you know what you’re up against, it’s easier to choose the proper stain remover and maybe even prevent stains in the future.
Here are four of the most common toilet bowl stains and what causes them:

  1. Mineral Stains

When you’re learning how to remove stains from a toilet bowl, your primary nemesis will be minerals. Mineral stains are caused by high calcium levels, limescale, and other natural minerals in your water supply, often called hard water. These minerals build up and create yellow and brown stains that typically don’t respond to regular scrubbing.

Once you notice mineral stains, the buildup can be tough as nails, so you’ll need to know the best way to tackle them. To prevent mineral stains in the future and minimize the damage to your water pipes, consider installing a filter to capture the pollutants.

  1. Rust Stains

Dark brown or red toilet bowl stains usually mean a rust problem somewhere down the line. The culprit could be water pipe corrosion that contaminates the water or high levels of iron in your home’s water source. Unlike mineral stains, you may notice rust stains earlier because the natural red color stands out so brightly against your white porcelain.

Because rust is also corrosive, the hard-to-remove red pigment and the chemical reaction that creates iron oxide can wreak havoc on porcelain. But even if you’ve been putting off the chore for a while, we can show you how to get stains out of your toilet caused by rust.

  1. Copper stains

Even if you don’t have copper water pipes, you can still find copper stains in your toilet bowl. Your water source could be highly acidic and rich in copper, and your toilet is the end of the line where it accumulates. You can get rid of copper stains, but unless you fix the cause, they’re just going to return.
If you have copper water pipes and spot copper stains, the problem could be caused by pipe corrosion. When the problem is acidic water, you can install a filter that cleans the water coming into your home. If the issue is corroding pipes, have them checked by a professional before they get worse.

  1. Mold Stains

Mold stains on tubs, sinks, and toilets not only looks nasty but can have some nasty effects on your health. Mold stains are easy to spot because of the tell tale dark green and black spots. Even if you don’t see mold, if you smell a musky, unpleasant odor in your bathroom, you may have the beginnings of a mold problem.

If you find mold stains in your toilet bowl, it’s essential to take care of the mold right away. Once you’ve cleared up the stains, keep mold and mildew at bay by ventilating the bathroom after bathing or showering.

How to Clean Toilet Bowl Stains Naturally

No matter what kind of stains you’re battling, you can learn how to clean toilet stains without commercial cleaners. Because toilet bowls have their share of germs and you’ll be cleaning with vinegar, you’ll want some ventilation and personal protection.

  • Turn on the fan or open a window first.
  • Wear protective eyewear, gloves, and a mask to protect yourself from bacteria, odors, and especially mold.
  • Use your toilet scrubber to loosen buildup and stains, and pay particular attention to mold stains.
  • Flush the toilet and cut off the water supply.

For the best results, turn off the water flow and apply your stain remover directly onto the stains. Use the methods below, and you can learn how to get stains out of a toilet bowl no matter where they come from.

Lemon Juice

A natural wonder in the house cleaning game, lemon juice whitens and brightens as it breaks down stains. Plus, cleaning toilet bowl stains with lemon juice gives your bathroom a fresh, clean aroma. The acid in lemon juice dissolves mineral deposits, and the antifungal properties kill mold, making lemon juice ideal for hard water stains and mold stains in your toilet bowl.

  • Mix one cup of lemon juice and a half cup of water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the inside of the toilet bowl, including beneath the seat lip.
  • Let the lemon juice work its magic for 20 minutes.
  • Use your toilet scrubber to scrub the stains.
  • Turn on the water and flush the toilet.

If all your stains have disappeared, take a deep breath and inhale the sweet aroma of fresh lemons. If they haven’t, try this next option.

White Vinegar and Baking Soda

If you read many cleaning blogs, you’ve seen your share of this dynamic duo for everything from stain removal to disinfecting. The reason these everyday household products are recommended so often for cleaning is that they are safe, eco-friendly alternatives to harsh commercial cleaners and disinfectants.

Distilled white vinegar is a natural cleaner, disinfectant, and fungicide, and baking soda is a natural deodorizer, whitener, and mild abrasive. This stain remover combo works best when you need to know how to get rid of toilet stains caused by minerals or mold.

  • Sprinkle baking soda liberally onto the toilet bowl stains.
  • Use your toilet brush to scrub the stains and create a paste all over the inside of the bowl.
  • Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to work on the stain and whiten the porcelain.
  • Pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bowl.
  • Close the lid and let the concoction work for 30 minutes.
  • Give the whole inside of the bowl a vigorous scrub.
  • Turn on the water supply and flush the toilet.

For stubborn stains that won’t quite go away, repeat the process and let the stain remover solution sit overnight before flushing the toilet. If the stains still need work, move on to the next stain remover.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hero of the medicine cabinet and all-around handy household staple, hydrogen peroxide is about as safe and natural as you can get for house cleaning. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe bleach alternative that cleans, whitens, and sanitizes, and it’s perfect for getting rid of mold, hard water, and other toilet stains. The one-two punch of hydrogen peroxide cleans stains and kills germs, leaving your toilet bright, white, and healthy.

  • Pour a half-cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Use your toilet brush to scrub the stains.
  • Add a sprinkle of baking soda and scrub again if the stains persist.
  • Turn on the water and flush away stains and germs.

Hydrogen peroxide is beneficial for treating all kinds of toilet bowl stains when you catch them early. The cleansing power removes residue, and the whitening properties help fade the stains before they get too bad.

Hard water, corrosion, and mold don’t mix well with smooth white porcelain. And if you don’t know how to clean toilet stains, your bathroom won’t ever look its best. Use this handy guide to flush away stains for good and keep them from coming back.

If you want to learn other helpful cleaning hacks, check out our how-to guides for cleaning just about everything in your home. Whether you do it yourself or let The Maids clean up, we’re on a mission to create cleaner, safer homes. Get your free online estimate today and find out more about the only residential cleaning company that specifically cleans for health.

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