There is nothing less attractive than a toilet ring. Even if you regularly clean, rings tend to return time and time again. Trust us; we know that using store-bought toilet cleaning solutions can be tempting. Grocery store aisles are lined with products that proclaim an instant clean.
However, these often contain harsh chemicals that can actually cause irreversible harm to your bowl. We believe that rings belong in jewelry stores, not in the center of your porcelain throne.
The first step in getting rid of hard-to-remove toilet rings is understanding what makes them appear in the first place.
Luckily, our team of toilet experts here not only know the causes, but how to get rid. In this article, we will teach you all about where rings come from and how to eliminate the unsightly stain for good.
What Causes a Toilet Bowl Ring
A toilet bowl ring can appear for various reasons and with a variety of discolorations.
Much like a mood ring, the shade of your toilet ring can tell you a lot about what the underlying issue is. They can appear as a pink, red, brown, rust, green, and even black stain (source). Pink and red stains may indicate heavy levels of iron in your water, while green or blue stains often mean elevated bacteria levels that cause mold or mildew (source).
A toilet ring may not indicate your mood like its jeweled counterpart, but it can certainly help determine the best method to clean it.
If you have fallen victim to using typical household toilet cleaners, that may also cause discoloration in your bowl (source). Many cleaning chemicals that are supposed to disinfect toilet bowls can, unfortunately, remove the sealant in your toilet and cause a permanent ring on the water line.
In fact, most toilet cleaners contain harmful chemicals, according to the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia (source). Not only that, but cleaners on the market are often expensive. With our methods, you can avoid toxins without putting a painful dent in your bank account!
One of the leading causes of toilet rings is a change in conditions. A ring is unavoidable if there is a constant transition between wet and dry states.
Rings also appear due to hard water and mold or even from bacteria called Serratia Marcestens. Well water is another culprit that can even cause your toilet to turn black over time. We believe that it’s natural for your toilet to develop a ring.
However, we have plenty of expertly-tested solutions to help you remove a ring hassle-free.
Removing a Toilet Bowl Ring (6 Best Methods)
It is unlikely that a bowl ring will appear if you clean your toilet weekly. However, we know that it is easy to fall into the habit of neglecting your restroom until the final moment. Whether you have last-minute company or simply can’t stand another day without scrubbing the bowl, we’ve been there.
If a ring has already occurred and won’t go away, you can try general household items instead of using various commercial products. Some of them even work in as little as 15 minutes!
There are also plenty of natural solutions that are both good for your toilet and for you. So many toilet cleaners on the market contain toxic substances like sulfates, phosphoric acid, and sodium hydroxide.
If you struggle with asthma and breathing trouble or even eye, skin, or lung irritation, your toilet cleaner may be the culprit (source). Luckily, your health doesn’t have to suffer in order to have a crystal-clear toilet.
Using our recommendations below will allow your toilet to have the same white, shiny look it had when you first purchased it. Simply choose one of the six options and get to work. Our team of toilet pros will guide you along the way!
Pro Tip: You should wear protective gloves when following any of the options below to avoid skin irritation.
1. Baking Soda and Vinegar Method
Baking soda isn’t just an excellent component in making a cake and vinegar is a wonderful product for more than salad dressings and marinades. If you have these products in your household, you’re in luck!
These are some of the most successful components for removing toilet bowl rings and, in general, are excellent multipurpose cleaners. They are also a non-toxic and hypoallergenic option for anyone sensitive to harsh chemicals (ie. most of the population).
To clean your toilet with this method, you must first pour a cup of white vinegar into the toilet bowl and spread it around using a brush. After two minutes, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of baking soda into the bowl. Once the baking soda is added, pour two more cups of vinegar into the toilet.Pro Tip: Add in the baking soda slowly so that the solution doesn’t bubble over. We’re cleaning toilets here, not making a middle school science project!
After ten minutes have elapsed, use the brush to spread the solution around again. Make sure the cleaning mixture has also reached under the rim.
Finally, let everything sit for 15 more minutes, scrub the remaining stains with the brush, and then flush. Don’t flush prematurely. If you do, you’ll risk removing the cleaning solution before it has ample time to work its magic.
If you are looking for a new toilet brush, we have you covered in our toilet brush review article.
2. Borax and Vinegar Method
Borax is an excellent solution for removing stains, especially those caused by hard water. This compound is another mild option, so it should not irritate the lungs or skin.
Start by sprinkling 1/4 cup of Borax into the bowl. After this, swish it around with a brush.
Then, add a cup of vinegar and swirl it around again. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then scrub the bowl with a toilet brush to remove the remaining stains.
Finally, flush to clear the toilet of the borax solution.
This method should be used for difficult-to-remove stains if the baking soda and vinegar method fails to work.
3. Bleaching Method
Bleach is a tried and true whitening solution that is perfect for sanitizing and brightening your toilet bowl. However, simply using bleach toilet cleaners is a huge mistake. These solutions may be easy to get, but can lead to permanent toilet bowl stains. Harsh cleaners can remove the sealant in toilet bowls and cause permanent rings.
Instead of falling into the trap of purchasing a market toilet bowl cleaner, pour a cup of bleach into the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes.
After this time has elapsed, scrub the bowl and the area under the rim with a brush to remove any remaining stains. Flush after cleansing, and the bowl stain should be cleared.Pro Tip: Bleach is the most toxic substance on this list! Be sure to wear protective gloves and never mix it with other cleaning products.
4. Pumice Method
Pumice stones are an excellent option for a hard-to-remove bowl stain, especially for toilets with chemical-caused toilet rings. However, avoid using pumice regularly and always be careful when using this option. You can permanently damage the bowl’s surface if you utilize this method too often or with too much force.
To use this method, simply scrub the toilet ring with a pumice stone. This will buff out the stain.
After using the pumice, you may want to consider re-sealing your toilet bowl. Pumice can remove the sealant coating and lead to more stains down the line.Pro Tip: Think about purchasing a Pumice Toilet Ring Bowl Remover. They are soft and won’t damage the bowl if not overused.
5. Abrasive Sponge or Magic Eraser Method
We know, it can be incredibly frustrating when you try a few methods to clean your toilet and nothing seems to work. If the cleaners above fail, it may be time to break out a sponge and scrub away the stain yourself.
To do this, grab an abrasive sponge and rub away the stain.Pro Tip: Using a small amount of bleach and water in the scrubbing solution may also help. Just be sure to use gloves, bleach can irritate exposed skin.
Magic Erasers are another excellent tool in your toilet-cleaning arsenal. If an abrasive sponge isn’t working, grab one of these from your local grocery store and get to work. A Magic Eraser does its job overnight.
Simply cut a rectangle off of the sponge and let it float in the bowl as you sleep. Remove the sponge from the toilet when you wake up, and the ring should magically be a thing of the past. Or, at least, a thing of the night before.
6. Lemon Kool-Aid or Alka-Seltzer Method
Oddly enough, our toilet pros have successfully cleaned toilets using Lemon Kool-Aid and Alka-Seltzer tablets. Try one or the other, it doesn’t matter.
To use this method, grab one packet of sugar-free Lemon Kool-Aid or two Alka-Seltzer tablets and drop your selection into the toilet bowl. Let it sit for an hour, and then use a toilet brush to scrub.
This may be an unconventional method, but it is a great way to clean a toilet in a non-toxic and comfortable way.Pro Tip: Pour yourself a glass of Lemon Kool-Aid once the job is complete, you deserve it.
Any of the above options are excellent ways to ward off a toilet stain out for good. However, if you want to keep the unsightly ring away, it is important to regularly maintenance your bowl. This should be done once a week.
Some methods can be harsh on bowls like pumice stones and abrasive sponges, and should not be done once a week. A magic eraser is another excellent option, however, constantly buying new sponges can get expensive and is not recommended.
We believe that the best maintenance method is using borax.
To do this, simply sprinkle a cup of Borax into the bowl before bed once per week. We recommend choosing one day of the week and incorporating it into your routine, so you don’t forget.
Make sure that the Borax solution covers the whole bowl. When you wake up, scrub the bowl with a brush and flush the toilet. The Borax will loosen any stains and make for effortless cleaning in the morning after staying on the surface for the whole night.
This solution will also ward off toilet odors, making it well worth the weekly maintenance time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do Toilet Rings Appear so Fast?
Toilet bowl rings occur for different reasons, but hard water is the main culprit (source). If you often get a ring, you should check the water’s hardness or pH level. If that’s not the problem, your water may have a high concentration of bacteria. You can also think about how often you regularly clean your toilet and whether your cleaning approach is effective.
Can I Remove the Ring Using Coca-Cola?
Coca-Cola is far more than America’s favorite carbonated beverage. If your toilet plumbing is sourced with hard water, this particular soda can be an excellent way to claen a stain. Although unconventional, this method is expertly-tested and non-toxic. Using the sugary beverage works as it removes limescale, a substance with a low pH value (source).
For best results, remove all the water from your bowl. This doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will allow the beverage to work best for hard-to-clean stains. After that, pour a 2-liter bottle of coca-cola into the toilet bowl. You may need two bottles if this does not reach the ring. Make sure to pour the soda around the edges and under the rim. Scrub the toilet using a brush, and then let the Coca-Cola sit in the bowl for at least five hours. Scrub it again, and then flush the soda.
While this may not work in severe cases, it could be an easy way to remove minor stains.
Removing a toilet bowl ring doesn’t have to be strenuous. You don’t need harsh chemicals – simply follow our instructions using basic household items, and you will effortlessly get rid of a stain.