Picking the Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner in 2018 for Your Toilet

While it may be common knowledge that keeping the bathroom clean is important, not everyone understands the need to choose the right product for the job. Toilet cleaning solutions in particular, require a good balance between their ability to kill bacteria and prevent or remove stains.

If you don’t have the time to be hands-on with the cleaning process there are products that do most of the job for you. However, picking the right one requires you to be familiar with a few facts. In this article we'll cover various options.

Best Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Few people want to make scrubbing toilet bowls a weekly routine. An automatic toilet bowl cleaner might be your safest bet to eliminate the hands-on approach. A good automatic cleaner requires no scrubbing or wiping. The best automatic toilet bowl cleaner is also non-damaging to the tank or the plumbing.

Fluidmaster 8100 Flush 'N' Sparkle

The Flush ’N’ Sparkle takes a different approach than 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 in 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. 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. Because the cleaner solution flows with the flush water and doesn’t stick to the bowl, there is nothing left to work with. The fast acting formula does enough work with just a flush.

  • The exclusion of bleach makes the product non-damaging to pipes
  • Cleans with every flush
  • Doesn’t require scrubbing
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    The cartridge lasts up to three months
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    Doesn’t damage the rubber flapper or the flush valve
  • Not compatible with all toilet designs
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    It takes a couple of minutes to install
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    Staining your hands is possible

Best Tablet Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Most people choose tablets over liquid cleaners because they don’t imply any hands-on scrubbing. To qualify for the title of best tablet, the product needs to accomplish three things. It has to clean and sanitize the bowl with each flush. It also has to be long-lasting and cause little to no damage to the tank’s interior.

Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Tablets are some of the easiest to use toilet 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 constant odor repelling with every flush.

The strong cleaning power of the Clorox tablet also protects the bowl against stains. However, this only works on stain-free toilet bowls. The proprieties 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 causeadverse reactions to the chemicals in the Clorox tablet. Although ammonia is a popular ingredient in toilet cleaners, the solution from this product doesn’t need the 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.

  • Easy to use
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    Requires no scrubbing
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    Cleans, deodorizes, and sanitizes with every flush
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    Repels stains
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    Long-lasting effect
  • Can potentially damage the rubber flapper in the tank
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    Recommended only for high usage toilets

Best Eco-Friendly Toilet Bowl Cleaner

It’s tough to make an efficient eco-friendly toilet bowl cleaner. Most biodegradable formulas are septic safe and contain little to no dangerous chemicals. But is that enough to also clean your toilet? One such product comes with a good balance between the use of natural ingredients and the ability to clean and sanitize the toilet bowl.

Seventh Generation Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

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.

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.

  • Doesn’t contain chlorine, bleach or ammonia
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    The solution is septic safe
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    Doesn’t have synthetic dyes that can cause stains
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    Easy to apply under the waterline
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    Leaping Bunny and USDA certified
  • Requires more scrubbing to clean the toilet
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    You have to use it more often than less-environmentally friendly products to keep the toilet clean

Best Liquid Toilet Bowl Cleaner

What makes a liquid cleaner the best? It’s usually about finding the right balance between bottle design, viscosity and effectiveness. How long a bottle lasts is also important as it determines if the product is cost-effective or expensive. However, the best liquid toilet cleaner is not always the priciest one.

Lysol Power & Fresh Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The first feature that stands out for the Lysol Power & Fresh is its the 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 a 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.

The Lysol Power & Fresh deodorizes the toilet instantly. The Ocean Fresh scent is quite pleasant but it doesn’t have a long-lasting effect.

  • Angled bottle design
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    Ocean Fresh scent
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    Can prevent the formation of stains if used regularly
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    The solution’s viscosity allows it to stick to the toilet bowl
  • Requires intense scrubbing to remove stains
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    The bottle cap is hard to open
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    Can be damaging to pipes due to the use of bleach in the solution

Best Gel-Based Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Gel-based solutions for the toilet bowls are more about maintenance than deep cleaning. They aren’t usually enough to prevent stains and kill all bacteria but are good products to pair with other cleaners. Gel cleaners don’t damage the insides of the tank and don’t interact with other cleaning solutions.

So, what characteristics constitute the best product in this category? Firstly, it should have a pleasant scent since it will be noticed with each flush. Having the consistency to last at least a week is also important. This gives the gel the ability to disperse enough to clean with every flush.

Lysol Click Gel Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The application process 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 a 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 the hygiene and provide a pleasant odor 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 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.

  • Easy to use
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    No chemical contacts when applying the gel
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    One unit lasts up to a week
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    The fresh scent lasts between flushes
  • Doesn’t prevent stains
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    You may need a secondary product to help remove stains

Best Toilet Bowl Hanger Cleaner

Sometimes you can’t go wrong with the classics. Toilet bowl hanger cleaners are some of the oldest scrub-free designs. The best hanger cleaner can last a long time because of the cage protection. They usually work at maximum efficiency when placed near the back of the bowl.

Lysol No Mess

​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.

  • Doesn’t require scrubbing or wiping
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    One unit can last up to four weeks
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    Clips securely to most toilet designs
  • Doesn’t remove or prevent stains
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    Requires a very hands-on approach for installing and replacing units

Best Heavy-Duty Toilet Bowl Cleaner for Hard Water Stains

Sometimes the natural or scrub-free approach just doesn’t cut it. Factors such as water quality and frequency of toilet use can render regular household cleaners ineffective. Luckily there are heavy-duty toilet bowl cleaners that can make any stain disappear. In this category, anything other than dissolving the toughest deposits should be considered a bonus, not a mandatory feature.

Lime-A-Way Liquid Toilet Bowl Cleaner

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.

  • Dissolves hard water stains in record time
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    Easy to apply under the waterline due to the angled bottle design
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    Sticks to the bowl for a longer period of time
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    Doesn’t require scrubbing
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    Doesn’t interact with the tank
  • The fumes can corrode metal
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    Toxic ingredients
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    Requires the use of protective gloves and mask
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    Not the best at sanitizing

Best Bleach-Free Spray Toilet Bowl 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 Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner

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 just so to appeal to a larger customer base. 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.

  • Formula doesn’t contain bleach
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    Easy to use and refill
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    Safe to use in the entire bathroom
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    Septic safe
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    Does a decent job at dissolving stains
  • Hard to apply under the waterline
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    Releases toxic fumes if it gets in contact with bleach or bleach-based solutions

What to Look For in a Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Because so many factors are involved there are few toilet cleaners that can do it all for you. Some may need more elbow grease to do a great job while others simply require constant use. There are many options to consider.

Delivery System

  • Squirt bottle
  • Spray
  • Gel
  • Tablets

The delivery system is one of the first aspects to consider when shopping for a toilet bowl cleaner. Sprays may be quick to apply but they don’t offer the same coverage as angled squirt bottles.

Leave-in tank tablets and automatic cleaning systems also offer 100% bowl coverage because the solution flows with the flush water. As a downside, tablets often contain chemicals that can be damaging to the flush valve and rubber components in the tank.

Gels and hanger cleaners also go with the flush water flow but they aren’t as powerful. Most of the time these products offer the best results when used to maintain hygiene rather than actual cleaning. Even the best gels and hanger cleaners can’t handle tough stains without additional scrubbing.

Choice of Ingredients

  • Eco-friendly
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    Bleach, chlorine, ammonia containing mixtures

Most natural and eco-friendly products seem appealing but they are not the most cost-effective choices for cleaning toilets. Most of the toxic ingredients they omitted are exactly what you need to completely sanitize a toilet bowl and remove stains. This means that you will often have to use more of the product to get the job done.

All-in-One Products

  • Deep cleaning solutions
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    Hygiene maintenance products
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    Heavy-duty stain removing cleaners

Few products manage to do everything right. Some are better cleaners and some are better disinfectants. Since this is the case even for the best toilet cleaners regardless of delivery system, it is usually a good idea to use two separate products.

Using a strong disinfectant and a different formula for stain removal and protection is not a bad idea. So long as you keep in mind that certain ingredient interactions can result in toxic releases.

Following this guide will increase your chances of finding the right product for your needs. As long as you are familiar with your tank’s design and plumbing system you should have no problem in finding a product that is effective, safe and easy to use.

Final Words

If you’re not familiar with your toilet’s design have a peek inside the tank. If you’re unsure about the plumbing your house has, contact your contractor or ask a plumber for advice. Once that’s out of the way, the product filtering process is halfway done.

By now you should have enough information to make the correct decision for your toilet bowl cleaning needs. It all boils down to how much physical effort you want to put in or how much time you can spare. You should also consider the added benefit of using toilet cleaners with a child proof design even if they’re not the most time efficient.

  • December 1, 2017
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