By Amy Hunt
You would think that we would all know how to clean a toilet. The average person spends 690 hours every year cleaning their home, according to a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Yelp. Yet, the survey also found that cleaning the toilet was one of the most dreaded household chores and people don't know how to do it properly.
Regularly sanitizing and cleaning your toilet isn't just about keeping your bathroom sparkling clean. It's also critical for your health and safety as toilets harbor numerous disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
If you've skipped your regular toilet cleaning one too many times, or if your city or town has hard water that's high in calcium and other dissolved minerals, you may notice significant toilet stains and hard watermarks.
Don't worry, though. With a pinch of creativity and a few moments of proverbial elbow grease, you can restore your toilet to its former glory. Thoroughly cleaning your toilet might never become your favorite household chore, but with the following tips and tricks, it might no longer be your most dreaded cleaning task.
Once you see how easy it is, you might just be in the mood to descale the kettle too.
How to clean a toilet in 6 simple steps
Step 1: Gather your supplies
You'll likely have most, if not all, of these cleaning supplies lying around your home:
- Cleaning gloves
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- Measuring cups
- Toilet brush
- Chlorine bleach-free sanitizer solution, spray or disinfectant wipes
- Paper towels or rag
Step 2: Mix and dispense your all-natural cleaning solution
The best part about this homemade cleaning solution is that it's 100 percent natural and doesn't require any harsh cleaning ingredients, bleach, or chemicals that could jeopardize the health and comfort of you or your family.
After putting on your gloves, pour one cup of white vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit for three to five minutes. According to Harvard University, the naturally acidic properties of white vinegar remove hard water stains and mineral deposits on most household surfaces. Plus, vinegar naturally kills many types of bacteria and viruses.
Then, add a cup of baking soda, plus another two cups of white vinegar. The two ingredients will create a voluminous amount of fizzing and foaming, which helps lift away mineral deposits and organic stains.
Step 3: Swish and wait
Using your toilet brush, swish the vinegar and baking soda around your toilet bowl. Pay particular attention to areas with a particularly heavy buildup of staining or mineral deposits, such as the bottom of the bowl or the edges just under the inside rim.
Let the white vinegar and baking soda fizz away for 10-20 minutes. For more severe toilet stains, allow the mixture to soak for longer.
Step 4: Sanitize
While you're waiting, sanitize the toilet bowl rim and seat using a non-bleach sanitizer solution or spray with a rag or paper towel. Disinfectant wipes are also a good option for sanitizing your toilet. Be sure never to use bleach while also cleaning with vinegar. When combined, bleach and vinegar create a toxic, dangerous reaction.
If you don't have any all-natural, bleach-free sanitizer on hand, vinegar can work as a quick standby. Pure, undiluted vinegar is quite effective for killing common pathogens like salmonella and E. coli. Spray onto your toilet seat and rim and let it air dry. Don't wipe away the vinegar, as it needs a significant amount of contact time to sanitize hard surfaces like a toilet seat.
Step 5: Scrub away the stains
After 10-20 minutes, your homemade cleaning solution will have done its magic and lifted away most, if not all, stains and watermarks.
Give the toilet a thorough scrub with the toilet brush. This step will eliminate any remaining stubborn stains, and the fine granules of the baking soda will act as a natural, gentle abrasive to deep-clean your toilet and leave the porcelain spotless.
Step 6: Give your toilet a final flush
Flush away your cleaning solution and enjoy a clean, sanitized toilet. If it's been exceptionally long since you last gave your toilet a deep cleaning, you may notice a spot or two that you missed. Go ahead and do another quick round of vinegar and baking soda. Because it's all-natural and gentle, this homemade cleaning solution is ok for repeated, back-to-back scrubbing.
How often should you clean your toilet?
Now that your toilet is gleaming, make a point to schedule this routine into your regular chores. For the best results and optimal toilet stain prevention, clean your toilet thoroughly once a week. Not only does that keep your bathroom looking, smelling, and feeling fresh, but it also helps prevent future staining and mineral deposit buildup. Plus, it makes future toilet cleaning much faster and easier.
If, for any reason, you can't get to your regularly scheduled cleaning, try the toilet tank hack. Simply pour four cups of white vinegar into your toilet tank. Let it soak for an hour or two, then give it a couple of flushes. This method won't be as thorough as a full toilet cleaning, but it will help dislodge any hard mineral buildup in your toilet tank and dissolve any surface staining in your toilet bowl.
Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.
What did Simone Biles qualify for and when is she competing in the Olympics?
Everything you need to know about Simone Biles, the American gymnast competing in the Olympics
By Laura Harman •
Prince Charles’ heartbreaking regrets over Prince Harry and baby Archie
A sad situation for Prince Charles and his son
By Caitlin Elliott •
How to clean a bathroom—a step-by-step guide to get yours gleaming
Learn how to clean a bathroom to a sparkling standard with our handy checklist
By Amy Hunt •
Sage green—how to use this timeless color in a modern and fresh way in your home
Sage green is a calm and soothing shade that will bring the outdoors in
By Amy Hunt •
The best scented candles for a gorgeous-smelling home
Taking deep breaths has never been so thrilling thanks to the best scented candles
By Sibelle Mehmet •
The best blenders for making smoothies, soups, sauces and desserts
See our pick of the best blenders to buy, that'll help you make some of your favorite recipes and get the most out of your ingredients
By Rachel Ogden •
How to clean laminate floors properly without damaging them
These top cleaning tips for how to clean laminate floors will help to keep your flooring sturdy as well as sleek—all it needs is some TLC to keep it at its best
By Amy Hunt •
These are the best Nespresso deals to shop—from coffee and espresso machines to capsule pods
The one-stop destination for Nespresso deals across retailers
By Dominique McIntee •
How to clean aluminum to keep it from looking dull, dirty or scratched
Help your items to sparkle with our guide for how to clean aluminum
By Amy Hunt •
Furniture deliveries are being delayed everywhere but there's an explanation
Production delays have caused a foam shortage nationwide leaving most customers waiting months for their new furniture
By Rylee Johnston •