Getting Rid of Hard Water Stains in the Toilet

A Clean Toilet Bowl.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains in the Toilet

On the average, most of us keep a clean and tidy home.

But there have been instances when we have gone in to do a move in or move out cleaning and the place looks like it hasn’t been cleaned for quite a while.

These are the homes where our maids are really put to the test. It’s hard work – but they get the scrubbing done and we’re proud of them.

So when we’re asked the question “how to remove hard water stains from the toilet”, we’ve got the answer and can help you get the job done right.

There are different ways to tackle hard water stains. Follow me down the page and I’ll give you several options to clean the toilet so you can achieve a whiter than white clean!

How to Clean a Toilet

It’s not one of the most glorious jobs and I don’t really like to clean it and I’m sure you don’t much like it either. But when it’s dirty and needs to be cleaned – it has to be done – hard water stains and all.

What is Hard Water Build Up?

If you have never come into contact with this before it can be a bit shocking if not downright scary.

Hard water build up can show as a discolored, raised ring inside the toilet bowl that does not come clean with normal (or even heavy duty) scrubbing.

The buildup comes from minerals in the water. Over time and with evaporation the minerals are deposited on the inside of the toilet tank.

Cleaning these types of stains does involve some scrubbing, but don’t worry too much, the stains will come off.

Trust me, in my days of professional cleaning, I have come into contact with all sorts of toilets in varying degrees of “dirty” that can be transformed.

Drain the Tank First

Turn off the water supply to the toilet. Cleaning products will work better when used directly on the stain. The water in the tank would dilute the cleaning solution, making your job harder.

Removing excess water will also help avoid splashing when scrubbing, leaving less water on the floor and on you.

How to Turn off the Water to the Toilet

  • Find the valve behind the toilet where the water supply goes into the wall. Turn the valve to the off position and then flush once or twice to remove all the water in the toilet tank.
  • Make a point to listen for running water after flushing, if you hear water you have not shut the valve off completely.
  • Once all the water has drained from the bowl, put on some gloves, find the problem spots, and get ready to do some serious cleaning!

What Cleaners should you Use?

How ever you decide to clean, using all natural products, heavy duty cleaners or a combination of both, there are product choices out there that can work amazingly well.

I know when we clean houses; I like to use different products. If not just to switch up the routine, but to make cleaning more interesting – if cleaning can be more interesting.

Here are some of the natural cleaning products we have found that can adversely affect most stains and problem areas.

Pumice Stones

Pumice stones are the gold-standard for removing hard water deposits.

To use the pumice stone, do the following:

  • Wet it with some of the water that is remaining in the toilet bowl after draining the tank.
  • Rub at the stain with gentle and consistent pressure until the stain is gone.
  • Keep the pumice stone and the bowl wet when cleaning so you don’t scratch the porcelain.

The pumice stone will leave a grainy residue that will wash off. If you have never used one before test in a small area first and you will be amazed at just how efficient this is on hard water stains.

I can’t tell you how many times this tool has returned a bright white to some of the worst stained toilet bowls.

If you have a colored toilet and haven’t used a pumice stone before you may not want to start just yet. The color is only as deep as the glaze and could be scratched if not careful.

Removing Hard Water Minerals with Vinegar

Hard water build up (minerals) are alkaline so you will need a cleaner that is acid based to remove it.

If you don’t like messing with commercial cleaners that are toxic and environmentally unsound, don’t worry, you don’t have to. Just use plain white vinegar. It’s that simple.

I really like to use vinegar for cleaning jobs. It’s safe, nontoxic, doesn’t leave a residue and it’s a natural deodorizer and disinfectant.

You’ll need at least 1 gallon of plain white vinegar for this job.

  • Pour white vinegar straight into the bowl and brush it around where the stains are.
  • Let the vinegar sit for 15 to 30 minutes then scrub again.
  • I like to use a long handled brush for both obvious and hidden areas.

Vinegar has a strong odor, so you might want to open a window or turn on a fan. If you have pets or small children in the house, close the bathroom door to keep them out.

Be careful when using vinegar, never use on marble or natural stone products as it is slightly acidic and can permanently damage the surface.

Removing Hard Water Minerals using Baking Soda Paste

Should straight vinegar not do the job, mix baking soda water until you make a paste out of it. Apply this to the stains in the bowl and scrub with a green scrubby. Leave the paste in place for 15 to 20 minutes and scrub again.

Finishing the Job

To finish the job, turn the water back on and flush the toilet. You might need to scrub the bowl and flush a time or two to get any remaining residue off the sides of the bowl.

Colored Toilet Tanks

You know the old saying “Better safe than sorry”? If you have a colored toilet, try using a soft, green scrubby when cleaning with safe products like plain white vinegar or Soft Scrub.

Colored toilets start off as white porcelain. Colored glaze is then applied and fired on. If scratched deeply, you can scratch the color off. If you are in doubt about any cleaners, check with the manufacturer.

A Word of Caution

I’ll say this again in case you didn’t read it above and because I don’t want you to ruin the surface of your colored toilet – if you’ve never used a pumice stone before, now is not the time to try.

If used to scrub to hard, or something sharp got embedded in the stone, or if not enough water is used with it, you risk scratching your toilet.

Preventing Future Stains

To avoid future staining, a good brushing of the toilet once a week will easily dislodge sediment before it has a chance to build up. It only takes a few minutes.

You can use any of the products already mentioned as well as comet or soft scrub for the more routine cleaning.
If you are on a well water system you can also avoid future staining by adding a water softener.

Now that you have gotten rid of those unsightly rings around-the-toilet and know a bit more about how to clean and get rid of hard water stains, half the bathroom battle is won!