How to Remove Rust Stains from Your Toilet Bowl

Rust stains are a sore sight and make even the most sanitized toilet seem unhygienic. Moreover, they create a conducive environment for harboring pathogens and can be embarrassing if you host visitors who may take it as a testimony of your home-keeping skills. It is therefore critical to arm yourself with the know-how and tools needed to combat this menace.

How to remove rust stains from your toilet bowl

To effectively remove all rust stains from your toilet bowl, you should follow these simple steps:

  • Begin by flushing the toilet to ensure the toilet bowl is wet.
  • Add your preferred cleaning solution capable of dissolving the stains, so they are easily removable.
  • Using a toilet brush, scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly, concentrating on the visible stains under the rim, the waterline, and the hole at the bottom.
  • Gently use a pumice stick or Shaw’s pad to scrape off stubborn stains if there are any still remaining.
  • Close the lid and rinse the toilet bowl by flushing the toilet.

Stick around to find out about the different cleaning products available and how to use them, combat stubborn toilet stains, and keep safe while cleaning the toilet. At the end of this article, you should be able to go about removing rust stains like a seasoned pro.

Stage 1: Preparation

Choose a time when nobody is around to frequently use the toilet to perform this task, as the toilet will need to be undisturbed for a while for the process to be effective. For example, you can do it when people are asleep or out of the house. Alternatively, you can provide a temporary alternative for those who need to use the toilet while cleaning is ongoing.

Some acidic cleansers produce fumes that can be dangerous to inhale. Acid also has the potential to burn your skin and eyes. Therefore, it is advisable to put on clothes that cover the skin, rubber gloves, and protective eyewear like goggles or a face shield to avoid coming into contact with them.

These will also protect you from the pathogens and germs which are prevalent in such an environment.

Ensure adequate ventilation; open the windows and doors so that any toxic fumes can escape, keeping in mind bathrooms don’t usually have the best air circulation.

Stage 2: Getting the Toilet Bowl Wet

This is necessary so that the stains can be sufficiently saturated to become soluble, making them easier to remove using a scrubber or scouring agent. The amount of effort it takes to achieve this will depend on how bad the staining is.

Occasionally you will need to add another cleaning agent to dissolve the mineral deposits, and water is a catalyst for these reactions.

Stage 3: Add the Cleaning Agent

There are several options available at this point, the general idea being to introduce reactants capable of dissolving the mineral deposits, making them loose enough to be wiped or scrubbed off.

You want to keep the process simple and affordable so that it is sustainable. The strength of the cleaning agent will be determined by the extent of staining and personal preference. There are homemade organic solutions and specially formulated stain removers to choose from, and we shall explore both options.

Homemade Stain Removers

Lemon Juice and White Vinegar

Pour distilled white vinegar in the toilet bowl, ensuring all the affected areas are covered in it, and leave it overnight. Pour any available lemon juice on top of it and let it sit for about an hour for the reaction to take place before scrubbing away the rust using your toilet brush. Rinse the bowl by flushing the toilet.

Borax Powder and Lemon Juice

Pour ½ a cup of lemon juice and a cup of borax and stir them until the solution forms a paste. Apply this paste on the affected areas and let it sit for a few hours to allow the chemicals to loosen the stains. The past should come off with the stains when you remove them.

Water and White Vinegar Solution

Mix the ingredients in equal proportions and apply the solution to the affected area. The more stubborn the stains are, the more concentrated the vinegar should be in the solution. You can use a cloth to rub the solution onto the stains or use a sprayer bottle which helps you get to the less accessible spots. Leave the solution for a while before rinsing to allow time to react with the stains.

Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Pour the baking soda into your toilet bowl, spray vinegar on it and let it be for up to 45 minutes. Use your toilet brush to scrub out the stains and flush to rinse.

If stubborn stains remain after this process, introduce warm water with your next baking soda solution. The goal is to saturate the stains and loosen them up.

Coke Soda

Pour the soda into the toilet bowl and leave it overnight, so it has sufficient time to react with the mineral stains. You can then use your toilet brush to scrub off the stains and flush to rinse.

Other Acidic Solutions

All the above solutions are possible because of the acidic content of the ingredients eating away at the rust. However, when the stains are stubborn, you may opt to use actual acid to hasten the process.

Although you should beware of the possibility of the acid corroding your plumbing and toilet bowl if left for too long, the procedure is the same. You need to neutralize the acid before flushing it down your drain after use. You can do this by introducing baking soda. The most commonly used are hydrochloric acid and muriatic acid

Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover (CLR)

CLR is a specially formulated cleaner for multiple surfaces. It is recommended because many of the calcium, lime, and rust removers you find, like Blasts CLR, are biodegradable and safe for your plumbing and septic tank.

They come with user instructions that you should follow to avoid damaging your toilet and plumbing. You generally pour the CLR product into the bowl and let it stand for two minutes. Then you scrub away the loose rust particles and flush away the debris.

Stage 4: Scrubbing the Toilet Bowl

Once the rust particles are loosened and partially dissolved, you scrub them off to pave the way for rinsing. Besides the toilet brush, there are other tools suited for stubborn stains.

The Pumice Stick

Its abrasive qualities can scrub off most stains, especially in the early stages of formation. However, you need to wet your pumice stone or stick before application to prevent it from scratching the porcelain and help it capture more of the stains.

Pumice sticks, however, tend to scratch the coating, making porcelain toilets smooth and should be used gently, which is sometimes not enough to remove older stains.

Using Shaw’s Pad

These address most of the shortcomings of a pumice stick, making them a preferred alternative for many. They are used to rub off rust stains once they have been saturated with water and/ or any cleaning solution. You can use the scouring pad alone or get yourself a Shaw’s Pad and handle combination for ease of handling.

Besides rust, Shaw’s pads are useful in clearing hard water lines, algae, and limescale buildup. They can even be used with plain water. They are not as abrasive as pumice sticks and will not damage the toilet bowl finishing or produce an irritating scratching sound while you scrub the bowl.

The pads are also malleable and will enable you to reach inaccessible areas using a toilet brush or a pumice stick with less effort. You can clean thoroughly without leaving streaks and missing spots.

Stage 5: Rinsing the Toilet Bowl

It is important to rinse thoroughly as these cleaners are corrosive by design and may damage your toilet bowl if left longer than necessary.

Take this opportunity to disinfect your toilet, as these solutions don’t have disinfectants in their composition. Compounds like tea tree oil with antibacterial properties can be added to the toilet tank for this purpose. A teaspoon is sufficient for a cleansing cycle.


Hard water mineral deposits tend to build up along the waterline or along the paths through which water enters your bowl when you flush the toilet. They create an uneven surface with a lot of crevices in which filth can accumulate.

Cleaning with cider vinegar

The combination of scaling and grime accumulation may cause blockage of the holes through which water enters the bowl, making the situation worse because they become harder to wash off. The more they accumulate, the harder it becomes to get rid of them with your regular toilet cleaners.

Regular cleaning is advisable to avoid taking extreme measures which will cost more and have you replacing the toilet way before it is due.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Do I Do If the Rust Stains Keep Recurring?

Get a professional plumber to check your pipes for leaks, rust, and scale and have them fixed. You may be having plumbing issues like a rusty water pipe or a leakage.

If the plumbing is intact, it could be a concentration of minerals in your water. You may have to increase your cleaning frequency because the resources needed to change the water source can be overwhelming.

Another remedy is to introduce a water softener before the water gets to your bathroom, eliminating the hard water minerals.

What Is the Best Rust Remover?

Warm distilled water and Shaw’s scouring pad.

This, however, depends on the extent of damage and may not always be sufficient. The fewer chemicals you need to use, the better. You will avoid introducing toxic fumes into the air, making it safer. There is also no risk of the chemical corroding your porcelain toilet bowl finish or plumbing, and you don’t need to guess the ratios and duration needed.

It is also environmentally friendly as it reduces the risk of introducing toxins into wastewater systems.

Is It Bad to Leave Bleach in the Toilet?

Bleach will corrode the porcelain finish of your toilet, making it rough and creating an allowance for the accumulation of grime. Therefore, it should be used sparingly as a last resort and rinsed off as soon as possible.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *