Cleaning Guides

How to Clean a Very Stained Toilet Bowl

Toilets are the centre of every bathroom, that’s why it’s such an eyesore when you see one with dark brown stains. While there are many commercial products on the market for very stained toilet bowls, you can also use some home ingredients to effectively remove stubborn spots from the toilet.

So, if you:

  • Recently bought or rented a new home and the toilet is in unsatisfactory condition.
  • Tried different cleaning chemicals, including bleach, but the stains are still there.
  • Don’t want to buy a new toilet, but can’t stand to look at the stains any longer.

Then read along to learn how to clean a very stained toilet bowl.

What causes brown and other stubborn toilet stains?

Your toilet can get stained even if you clean it regularly and adequately. The reason is not that you’re doing it wrong; but rather that there’s something in the water. 

You see, there are two types of water: soft and hard. The liquid is soft when it falls in the form of rainfalls. However, as it travels through the rocky ground, it picks up minerals such as chalk, calcium, lime, iron and magnesium. They, in turn, make the water hard.

Hard water always leads to mineral build-up, because of the minerals it contains. They attach themselves to every surface they come in contact with. The green, light brown or yellow stains in your toilet indicate that the water in your region is hard and the toilet has lime build-up. That’s why all your cleaning attempts so far have failed.

In addition to limescale formations, however, it is possible to also notice traces of rust, which normally appear in the form of red or dark brown spots.

Mould can also easily build up under the rim of the toilet or inside the toilet bowl and it usually looks like dark green or black staining.

How to clean a very stained toilet bowl

Before you get down to deep cleaning your heavily stained toilet bowl, make sure you’ve prepared non-abrasive brushes and toilet-only gloves. Brushes with plastic bristles or pumice stone are better alternatives to wire brushes, which can severely damage the enamel surface of your toilet.

Also, having a separate pair of gloves only for your toilet will help avoid cross-contamination. Finally, there’s the matter of choosing the right cleaning agent. If you are looking for a way to remove limescale and other stains from the toilet naturally, you can check our method below. It can easily be used for both toilet bowl stain removal and general washing and maintenance of the toilet.

  1. Stop the water supply

    Locate the supply valve in your home and turn it clockwise until the water stops.

  2. Remove the water

    To avoid diluting your cleaning solution, you can remove the water from the toilet bowl using a cup, as well as eliminate the last drops of water with a sponge.

  3. Pour vinegar into the toilet bowl

    Pour 1 or 2 cups of white distilled vinegar into the toilet bowl. Make sure to cover all stained areas.

  4. Sprinkle baking soda

    Cover all stains with baking soda. You will get a sizzling reaction. Wait for about 15 minutes.

  5. Scrub and rinse

    Scrub the stains with your brush or pumice stone. Turn the water back on and flush. Repeat if necessary.

While a lot of people resort to bleach, we do not recommend it as a cleaning agent. Not only because it bleaches the stains and doesn’t remove the limescale, but also because of the strong chemicals in it and the potential residue.

White vinegar and baking soda combo is just one possible homemade cleaning solution you can try to eliminate toilet bowl stains. Borax can also serve as a substitute for the bicarbonate of soda. Other alternatives that can also prove effective for getting rid of hard water stains are coke and lemon juice.

Learn about cleaning toilet exterior
Cleaning Guides
How to Clean a Toilet

Why is it important to remove limescale buildup from the toilet bowl?

Besides just looking plain nasty and giving wrong impressions to your guests, there is one more reason why you should get rid of toilet bowl stains. The deposits from the bowl go down the drain every time you flush.

In time the deposits might collect somewhere further down the pipes and might restrict the water flow. A blockage is a worst-case scenario, and it’s not unlikely. If it’s too late and your toilet seems blocked, arrange a visit from a professional plumber.

How to prevent hard water stains in the toilet bowl

Clean your toilet every month and clean below the water level every few months. That’s so the limescale deposits wouldn’t pile up on the surface they come in contact with.

As far as the water itself, you can install a water softener system. It’s a whole-house filtration system meant to remove the minerals from the water which make it hard. This will not only be good for your toilet but your taps and appliances which use water.

However, the downside is that it’s quite expensive to have such a machine installed. It’s much more affordable just to hire professional help.

You may also like:
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How to Unblock a Toilet – 4 Simple Ways

Hire professionals

If you lack enough free time or simply don’t want to kneel down and scrub the brown crust off your toilet, it’s time you hired professionals.

Fantastic Services works with professional cleaners in UK who are experienced and fully equipped for any cleaning task. They will have your toilet looking like new in no time.

Looking for a reliable cleaner near you?

Find an experienced professional to take of the bathroom instead of you.

Add a valid postcode e.g. SE1 2TH


  • Brown stains are the result of hard water and not your cleaning wrongly. 
  • Don’t use bleach as it will only bleach out the stain, but not remove it.
  • Use a clean brush with plastic bristles.
  • Remove all the water from the toilet bowl so it wouldn’t dilute your cleaning solution.
  • Repeat cleaning if necessary.


Is your toilet very stained? How did you manage to clean it below the water level? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Images source: Bacho, VVVproduct /

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