Most people don’t like to spend their free time scrubbing a toilet – especially with an efficient cleaner. Options for toilet cleaners are plentiful, so how do you choose the right one for you?
We’ve done the research so you don’t have to – keep reading to understand considerations when choosing a cleaner plus some of our favorites!
|›||Best Automatic||Fluidmaster Flush ‘N’ Sparkle|
|›||Best Tablets||Clorox Automatic|
|›||Best Eco-Friendly||Seventh Generation Natural Cleaner|
|›||Best Liquid Squirt||Lysol Clean & Fresh Bowl Cleaner|
|›||Best Gel-Based||Lysol Click Gel Automatic Cleaner|
|›||Best Toilet Bowl Hanger||Lysol No Mess|
|›||Best for Hard Water Stain||Lime-A-Way Liquid Bowl Cleaner|
|›||Best Bleach Free||Clorox Disinfecting Bathroom Spray|
Types of Toilet Bowl Cleaners
There are four main types of toilet bowl cleaners to consider. You’ll apply each one differently, so the choice of which to use depends on your personal preferences. Let’s check them out.
Like many other household cleaners, this type of toilet cleaner comes in a bottle with an easy spray nozzle. To use a spray bowl cleaner, spray the inside and outside of your toilet bowl directly.
Then, simply wait a couple of minutes and then wipe the outside of the bowl and flush one or two times.
These types of cleaners can usually be found in most households. They come in a bottle that’s similar to spray cleaners, but instead, they use a squirt nozzle. To clean, you should use them similar to spray bowl cleaner.
First, squirt the cleaner on the outside of the bowl. Then, squirt the cleaner inside and use an old toothbrush to scrub the surface.
Let the cleaner sit inside of the bowl while you wipe down the outside of the bowl and behind the toilet. After a few minutes, flush once or twice to finish cleaning the inside of the bowl
Gel cleaners usually come in a small package for one-time use. You simply need to squeeze all the content into the bowl and that’s it!
Most gel cleaners will provide freshness with every flush for around two weeks.
This style is one of the simplest toilet bowl cleaners available, but it won’t always offer the same deep cleaning that a spray or squirt bowl cleaner will.
Talking about ease of use, tablet bowl cleaners are another convenient option.
Basically, all you need to do is to throw the tablet into the toilet tank and perform a flush. The cleaner will then work its way through the toilet on its own.
Like gel bowl cleaners, this is a very easy option, although it may not clean as deeply as other options.
Comparison of the Most Popular Toilet Bowl Cleaners in 2023
Best 8 Cleaners for Toilet Bowls (Rank & Review) on the Market
We selected the top toilet bowl cleaners to review that will not only clean your bowl, but sanitize as well.
1. Best Automatic Bowl Cleaner
“A good automatic cleaner requires no scrubbing or wiping. An automatic toilet bowl cleaner is also non-damaging to the tank or the plumbing.”
The Flush ’N’ Sparkle takes a different approach from the old tablet and liquid toilet cleaners.
It makes use of a capsule to keep the solution from blending with the water in the tank.
This reduces the risk of damaging the rubber flapper or the flush valve.
The cartridge is connected to the flushing system and the flow pipe. This way, the self-cleaning toilet system pushes the liquid directly into the toilet bowl.
This also ensures an even dispersal around the bowl. The liquid cleans everything including the hard-to-reach area under the rim.
The installation shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes depending on your tank design, and replacing the depleted cartridges only takes seconds.
Since a single one lasts up to three months, this isn’t a process you’ll have to repeat too often. Although the cartridge is safe to handle without protective gloves, it can stain your hands.
When using the Flush ‘N’ Sparkle you don’t have to scrub the toilet, the cleaner solution flows with the flushing water and doesn’t stick to the bowl, there is nothing left to work with. The fast-acting formula does enough work with each flush.
Pro and Cons
- The exclusion of bleach makes the product non-damaging to pipes
- Cleans with every flush
- Doesn’t require scrubbing
- The cartridge lasts up to three months
- Doesn’t damage the rubber flapper or the flush valve
- Not compatible with all toilet designs
- It takes a couple of minutes to install
- Staining your hands is possible
2. Best Tablet Bowl Cleaner
“Drop the tablet in the toilet tank and let them do the rest. Automatically cleans with every flush.”
Tablets are some of the easiest to use bowl cleaners. All you have to do is drop it in the back of the tank. It’s recommended that you do it when the tank is almost empty instead of filled with water.
The Clorox tablet has a lot going for it. A single unit can last up to three months in a high usage tank. You get repeated cleaning and a constant odor repellant with every flush.
The strong cleaning power of Clorox tablets also protects the bowl against stains.
However, this only works on stain-free toilet bowls. The properties of the solution can provide long-term protection but have little effect on existing stains.
The manufacturer advises against combining the tablet with other products. Cleaners that contain ammonia may cause adverse reactions to the chemicals in the Clorox tablet.
Although ammonia is a popular ingredient in them, the solution from this product doesn’t need extra help.You don’t have to check the tank to see if the tablet has dissolved.
Once you no longer notice its scent, you can drop a new one in the tank.
Keep in mind to use protective gloves when handling the tablets even when dry.
Pro and Cons
- Easy to use
- Requires no scrubbing
- Cleans, deodorizes, and sanitizes with every flush
- Repels stains
- Long-lasting effect
- Can potentially damage the rubber flapper in the tank
- Recommended only for high usage toilets
3. Best Eco-Friendly Cleaner
Most biodegradable formulas are septic safe and contain little to no dangerous chemicals. But is that enough to also clean your toilet? Take a look at the eco-friendly cleaner we chose.
“The Seventh Generation cleaner comes with a good balance between the use of natural ingredients and the ability to clean and sanitize the toilet bowl.”
Lemon and other citrus extracts lay the foundation for Seventh Generation’s natural cleaner.These are some of the best natural ingredients for removing stains.
The use of lactic acid as a pH adjusting agent makes the solution a good choice for households with a septic system. Take a look at other septic cleaners here.
Certifications by the Leaping Bunny Organization and USDA make Seventh Generation’s cleaner as eco-friendly as it gets. There is no chlorine in the ingredients and also no ammonia or synthetic dyes. This prevents the mixture from allowing the formation of colored stains.
The lack of certain toxic chemical compounds does make it a less efficient product when it comes to sanitizing. At the same time, there’s nothing preventing you from using it more often to achieve the same results.
Because the solution doesn’t damage the pipes, the tank, or anything else, there’s no reason it cannot be used more frequently.
A drawback of having a less potent mixture is that occasional scrubbing is required to remove stains. Seventh Generation’s formula isn’t as aggressive as heavy-duty stain removers.
This and the fact that the formula is not concentrated means there’s more elbow grease involved in cleaning the toilet bowl.
Pro and Cons
- Doesn’t contain chlorine, bleach or ammonia
- The solution is septic safe
- Doesn’t have synthetic dyes that can cause stains
- Easy to apply under the waterline
- Leaping Bunny and USDA certified
- Requires more scrubbing to clean the toilet
- You have to use it more often than less-environmentally friendly products to keep the toilet clean
4. Best Liquid Squirt Cleaner
A good liquid cleaner contains the right balance between cleaning agents, viscosity, and effectiveness. The amount of liquid is also important as it determines if the product is cost-effective or expensive.
The first feature that stands out for the Lysol Power & Fresh is its angled spout design. This allows an even distribution of liquid around the bowl. It also makes the solution easier to apply under the rim of the bowl.
While most liquid cleaners only require a flush or two, they are still a hands-on approach to cleaning the toilet bowl.
Once completely flushed, the Lysol Power & Fresh no longer does anything for your toilet. It doesn’t offer the same level of protection against stains as tablets.
The liquid sticks to the sides enough to work its magic on bacteria.
The good news is that flushing is enough to remove it. As far as liquid cleaners are concerned, this one is scrub-free.
It may take some people a bit of effort to remove the cap but that’s because it’s a child-proof design. Lysol Clean & Fresh deodorize the toilet instantly.
The Ocean Fresh scent is quite pleasant but it doesn’t have a long-lasting effect.
Pro and Cons
- Angled bottle design
- Ocean fresh scent
- Can prevent the formation of stains if used regularly
- The solution’s viscosity allows it to stick to the toilet bowl
- Requires intense scrubbing to remove stains
- The bottle cap is hard to open
- Can be damaging to pipes due to the use of bleach in the solution
5. Best Gel-Based Cleaner
Gel-based solutions for toilet bowls are more about maintenance than deep cleaning. They clean with every flush! But usually enough to prevent stains and kill all bacteria but are good products to pair with other cleaners.
So, what characteristics constitute the best product in this category?
It should have a pleasant scent since it will be noticed with each flush. Having the consistency to last at least two weeks is also important. This gives the gel the ability to disperse enough to clean with every flush.
The application process for this product is very easy. By pressing the applicator against the inside of the bowl, the gel will stick itself to it.
Once the applicator clicks, your job is done. Because the gel doesn’t have cage protection you shouldn’t apply it next to the maximum flow point if you want it to last.
On its own, the Lysol Click Gel won’t keep your toilet bowl clean for long.
What it can do is maintain hygiene and provide a pleasant scent between deep cleans. Where this product shines is when paired with a liquid cleaning solution.
Because a single application lasts up to a week, it makes it a perfect partner for any liquid cleaner. It doesn’t work as well in combination with tablets or other in-tank products. Some ingredient interactions may cause harmful gas releases.
As a standalone toilet maintenance product, the Lysol Click Gel does a good job of keeping the bowl clean with each flush. While it doesn’t kill every type of bacteria it does help prevent them from growing.Of course, this only happens as long as the gel is applied to a recently cleaned toilet bowl.
Pros and Cons
- Easy to use
- No chemical contacts when applying the gel
- One unit lasts up to a week
- The fresh scent lasts between flushes
- Doesn’t prevent stains
- You may need a secondary product to help remove stains
6. Best Toilet Bowl Hanger Cleaner
These toilet bowl hanger cleaners clip the the edge of the rim and provide effective maintenance between bowl cleaning.
With the Lysol No Mess, you get full bowl coverage on every flush. The solution protects against microbes and bacteria.
Because it travels with the water flow, it reaches all areas of the bowl including under the rim.
Similar to how the Lysol gel works, the No Mess hangar cleaner doesn’t interact with your tank. This means that it doesn’t contain ingredients that can cause harm to the flapper or the flush valve.
There is also no risk of corroding any metallic parts after prolonged exposure.
Typically hanger cleaner solutions are more powerful than gels. Because of this, they act more like actual cleaners instead of maintenance products.
The chemical mixture of the Lysol No Mess sanitizes and deodorizes the toilet bowl with ease. It also provides protection because of its constant use with each flush.
The solution also helps prevent the formation of stains to some degree.
When used on a toilet that has been thoroughly cleaned, it can postpone the need for another deep clean.In the best-case scenario, a deep clean won’t be necessary until the hangar cleaner is depleted. In the case of the Lysol No Mess, this can take up to three months.
Pro and Cons
- Doesn’t require scrubbing or wiping
- One unit can last up to four weeks
- Clips securely to most toilet designs
- Doesn’t remove or prevent stains
- Requires a very hands-on approach for installing and replacing units
7. Best Hard Water Stain Cleaner
Facing hard water stains on your bowl? Well sometimes natural or a scrub-free approach just won’t cut it. Factors such as water quality and frequency of toilet use can render regular household cleaners ineffective for toilet bowl hard water stains.
We found the perfect hard water cleaners for your toilet in this top pick.
The Lime-A-Way liquid cleaner is such a product. It uses a very thick gel solution that can coat the entire bowl.
The viscosity of the solution allows it to stick longer to the surface and interact with minerals for as long as it’s needed.
The powerful combination of chemicals makes the product difficult to use. It is quite toxic and requires protection for the hands and face. The fumes are dangerous if inhaled.On the plus side, the angled spout makes it easy and quick to apply the solution all over the bowl.
Because Lime-A-Way is designed to dissolve deposits and stains you won’t have to scrub the toilet bowl.One or two flushes are enough to clear everything left on your toilet.
Since the solution is not exactly environmentally friendly, it’s not recommended as a weekly toilet cleaning product.
The mixture was created for the main purpose of removing rust stains and hard water deposits.This means that once the heavy-duty cleaning part is over you should use another product to sanitize the toilet bowl.
The combination of ingredients, although powerful against rings and other stains, is not the best at killing bacteria.
Pros and Cons
- Dissolves hard water stains in record time
- Easy to apply under the waterline due to the angled bottle design
- Sticks to the bowl for a longer period of time
- Doesn’t require scrubbing
- Doesn’t interact with the tank
- The fumes can corrode metal
- Toxic ingredients
- Requires the use of protective gloves and mask
- Not the best at sanitizing
8. Best Bleach Free Spray Cleaner
Liquid cleaning solutions are supposed to be easy to apply around the toilet bowl. While spray bottles are harder to point under the waterline, they do provide full bowl coverage quickly. The dispersal rate is superior to any pouring/squirt bottle.
What makes the best spray toilet bowl cleaner? Apart from being easy to apply, it also helps when you can use the formula in other places in the bathroom. That means it’s less toxic than your typical toilet cleaning products.
Clorox covers a wide range of cleaning and sanitizing products. Their disinfecting bathroom cleaner comes in a spray bottle and it’s designed to take care of all your bathroom needs.
The solution kills most of the bacteria you find in everyday households.
The spray delivery system is a good alternative to traditional squirt bottles.
It covers the bowl in seconds and cuts down on the entire cleaning process. You no longer have to wait for thick solutions to drip down from under the waterline.
Because this product doesn’t use bleach, it is safe for households with a septic system.
However, the absence of bleach is not part of the design, it’s because the chemical composition of the formula releases toxic fumes if it comes in contact with bleach.
Not having the same limitations as bleach-based products, Clorox’s spray disinfectant can be used on all bathroom surfaces.
You can kill bacteria in the toilet bowl, in your sink, in your tub, and on your tiles. As long as you don’t forget to wash it off there’s no need to worry.
While it cannot be classified as a dedicated stain dissolving solution, it does work against deposits of average thickness. It may require you to use a brush to scrub the spots a bit before flushing.
Pros and Cons
- The formula doesn’t contain bleach
- Easy to use and refill
- Safe to use in the entire bathroom
- Septic safe
- Does a decent job at dissolving stains
- Hard to apply under the waterline
- Releases toxic fumes if it gets in contact with bleach or bleach-based solutions
Buyers Guide for the Perfect Bowl Cleaner
Here’s a list of eight considerations when picking the right toilet bowl cleaner.
To make sure that the cleaner you intend to buy is effective, always check the reviews online. People who already used the product can tell what sort of results the cleaner produced, such as how much scrubbing is required.
Like with any other product, you should always consider the longevity of the toilet bowl cleaner that you intend to buy as the lifespan of these products can vary. For example, tablets and gels can last between a week and a couple of months, so you should always check the label. If the product lasts for a week or two, you will need to buy it frequently, which can increase costs.
✓ Ease of Use
Before buying, read the label on the product to see how exactly you should use it. Most products require that you flush the toilet, apply the cleaner around the bowl, leave it for some time, and then scrub. However, it’s not the same rule for all products.
Toilet bowl cleaners come in a variety of fragrances. For example, you can choose between lemon, citrus, sandalwood, eucalyptus, and many more. Some people find their smell can be very strong, so make sure to choose one that sounds good to you.
Most toilet bowl cleaners will only be able to remove stains. However, if you pay a few more bucks, you will get one that also disinfects, which improves the hygiene of your toilet by killing viruses and bacteria in addition to removing stains.
Design is important because it directly affects the ease of use. For example, some cleaners come in a bottle with an angled neck, which allows you to spray under the rim, accessing hard-to-reach spots where various bacteria can gather. Buying cleaners with smarter design will make your life easier when using those products.
✓ Safety for Septic Systems
You should know that not all cleaners are good for septic systems. These systems contain specific microorganisms that help remove excess solid particles. However, if the chemicals kill those good bacteria along with the bad bacteria, it will result in a greater generation of sediments, which can lead to more time spent on septic maintenance. .
If you have a septic system, you should buy products that contain natural components, such as citric acid, which kills bad bacteria but does no harm to good microorganisms. Additionally, some chemicals that are not harmful to good bacteria – for example, sodium percarbonate (the main ingredient in all OxiClean toilet bowl cleaners) are safe for septic systems.
✓ Practical Uses
Before buying one, you should clarify why exactly you need it. Is it for removing rust, or decreasing the frequency of manual cleaning? For example, chlorine-based cleaners are good for bleaching and removing bad odors, but are not as effective for removing rust and rust stains. Instead, you should get a product with sodium hydro sulfate to target rust.
Bowl Cleaner Ingredients
Another way to differentiate between different types of toilet bowl cleaners is the ingredients used within the cleaners. There are a few different common options:
You might have noticed that some toilet bowl cleaners come with an “eco-friendly” label. These eco-friendly ingredients are good for two reasons. First, they won’t do any short or long-term damage to your bowl and your pipes. Secondly, they are safe for the environment, which many people look for with their products.
Bleach, Chlorine, and Ammonia
By comparison, you might also notice that these chemicals are some highly common ingredients in many toilet bowl cleaners because they’re all highly effective when cleaning. For example, bleach not only cleans the toilet bowl but even helps clean the plumbing system when flushed. However, using too much bleach can damage the porcelain over time and cause irreparable damage, so it’s important to limit the use of bleach cleaners.
Similarly, both chlorine and ammonia can help clean but also come with some risks. For example, chlorine and ammonia are both usually found in tablet bowl cleaners. However, since the tablet might sit for a month or longer in your toilet tank, chlorine and ammonia can cause damage over time. Use of these products might even void the warranty, so before using tablet cleaners with chlorine or ammonia, be sure to check the warranty.
As an alternative to purchasing cleaners, some people prefer to clean the toilet bowl with homemade ingredients. Although it might not be as effective as buying a commercial toilet bowl cleaner, homemade options can do the job quite well. However, you should be careful when using homemade cleaners.
For example, hydrochloric acid can clean the bowl perfectly, but it’s highly toxic and can be dangerous for pets and children. It’s also dangerous if you accidentally inhale its fumes.
On the other hand, you can also use lemon juice, white vinegar, baking soda, and borax. These ingredients are excellent for cleaning the bowl and won’t do any harm to your toilet, even after prolonged use. Ultimately, if you’re interested in using homemade ingredients to make your own cleaner, be careful when using any chemical ingredients, and do your research before using any new product.
Types of Deep Cleaning Products
When it comes to toilet cleaners, if you’re short on time, it can be very helpful to use a multi-purpose cleaning product. From deep clean solutions to stain removal, here are some top products to consider:
Deep Cleaning Solutions
Deep cleaning solutions are an excellent choice if you haven’t maintained your toilet in a while, or if you have stubborn marks that just won’t go. Furthermore, most solutions available at stores are not only made for toilet cleaning, but for the whole bathroom, so you can use them to complete a deep clean of the whole room. Additionally, these solutions are quite simple to use – you just have to pour some liquid into the bowl, scrub with a toilet brush or old toothbrush, wait a few minutes and then flush to clear.
Make Your Own Deep Cleaning Solution
If you want to do a deep clean but would rather make your own deep cleaning solution at home, the process is actually quite simple. To start, you’ll want to gather a few main ingredients:
- Baking soda
- Disinfecting essential oils, such as lemon, peppermint, or eucalyptus
- Glass jar
- Wooden spoon
Then, combine two cups of baking soda and one teaspoon of the essentials oil into a glass jar. Make sure to use a glass jar, because oils can react with metal or plastic. Then, use the wooden spoon to mix the ingredients, breaking any clumps that you find. Once fully combined, you can store the mixture in an airtight glass jar.
To use, add 5 parts of mixture and 1 part vinegar to your toilet bowl. You will notice that the mixture begins to fizz as it reacts with vinegar. However, if there is no fizzing, your mixture might be too old, and you may need to start again with a fresh batch. Once the fizzing stops, use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then flush.
Heavy-Duty Stain Removal Products
If you’ve been neglecting your toilet for quite a long time, you might notice some hard stains that have developed in the bowl. These stains are also very common for homes that use hard water, in which case you can buy a water softener for your home to help prevent staining.
When it comes to products to remove your heavy stains, most can be found as tablets. You simply need to put the tablet into the toilet tank, and then the cleaner will slowly dissolve with every flush, lasting up to 45 days. You can also find heavy-duty stain removal powders, which are easy to use and require no scrubbing. Simply put the powder into the bowl, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then flush. Both of these options will help treat and prevent hard stains in your toilet bowl.
Hygiene Maintenance Products
If you want to maintain hygiene in your bathroom instead of deep cleaning, you can find tons of hygiene maintenance products in the market. These are not as strong as deep cleaning solutions but are ideal for regular maintenance. In most cases, you can apply them in the same way as deep cleaning solutions. Basically, you’ll start by pouring the liquid into the bowl, scrubbing, and flushing after 10-15 minutes.
Beyond the quick cleaning step mentioned above, there are a few other products that can help you maintain top toilet hygiene:
Grout brush; You won’t need this brush every time you clean the toilet, but it’s good to use it a few times a year.
Rubber gloves: Especially when cleaning the toilet, it’s nice to have a pair of rubber gloves around so you can clean everything without worrying about getting yourself dirty in the process.
Disinfectant spray: Toilets are prone to bacteria and germs. Therefore, occasionally using a disinfectant spray can significantly improve the hygiene in your bathroom.
Fresh candle. Not only do candles add to the decor of your bathroom, but they will also help maintain a beautiful smell in your toilet between cleans and even during use.
Other bathroom cleaning products: Beyond your standard toilet maintenance, it’s a good idea to regularly clean your entire bathroom. Some typical products people will use include glass cleaner for the mirror, a disinfectant for the shower, and standard cleaning spray for the counters and any other surfaces.
Additional Cleaner Recommendations
If you’re still looking for more cleaner options, check out this video which compares the six best toilet bowl cleaners. All of these cleaners are excellent, with a range of options varying by price, convenience, and performance.
For example, Lime-A-Way is able to clean mildew and mold the quickest but doesn’t provide top-notch performance for other issues, despite the name. However, if you let it sit for at least 20 minutes, it will work a bit better. By comparison, Clorox provides excellent performance to offer the cleanest toilet possible. The other products mentioned are quite similar, so you’ll want to check out the video to hear about each one and each could be best for you.
Cleaner Chemical Compositions
Most toilet bowl cleaners have one or more active components. When buying, you should investigate the most common use and side effects of each component. The active ingredient is what makes them able to disinfect, remove stains, or remove bad odor. In most cases, active ingredients are chlorine, sodium hydroxide, and ammonium hydroxide. When dissolved, they create compounds that help in removing solid particles in water and in removing bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
They also has “buffer” components that maintain a stable pH. For example, if the water’s acidity rises too much, it will cause certain pathogens to appear. On the other hand, if the water’s pH is too low, buffer components will release acid to raise the pH level.
When you know what these components do, you can compare them between different bowl cleaners. By comparing products, you will know how effective a certain product is as well as any possible health risks from prolonged use.
Without a doubt, the best way to keep your toilet clean is to maintain it regularly. However, if you don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning your toilet, you should consider one of the automatic cleaner products like the Fluidmaster Flush ‘n’ Sparkle. An automatic cleaner will keep your toilet in great shape without requiring a ton of time or effort on your part.
Additionally, when it’s time to deep clean, or if you’re battling hard-to-remove stains, we strongly recommend Lime-A-Way! With these two products, you’ll have a clean toilet every time.