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 achieve great results.

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.

Table of Contents:

How do tough toilet stains happen?

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 or brown stains in your toilet indicate that your water is hard and the toilet has lime build-up. That’s why all your cleaning attempts so far have failed.

Bleach does not work against stains in the toilet, because it only bleaches them and doesn’t remove the limescale.


Before you get down to cleaning your stained toilet bowl, make sure you’ve prepared the following items:

  • No abrasive brushes – wire brushes will damage the enamel surface of your toilet. Better alternatives are brushes with plastic bristles or pumice stone. Mind you, the toilet should be slightly wet if you use the pumice stone; otherwise, you will scratch the surface.
  • Toilet-only gloves – have a separate pair of gloves only for your toilet to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Clean tools – always keep your brushes and sponges clean to avoid spreading bacteria. When you start cleaning, make sure it’s with clean tools.
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How to clean a very stained toilet bowl

This method will teach you how to remove limescale from toilet below the waterline. However, it can also be used for the rest of the bowl.

  1. Stop the water supply – locate the supply valve in your home and turn it clockwise until the water stops. This will allow you to work directly on the stains and your cleaning solution will not get diluted.
  2. Remove the water – 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. Use vinegar and baking soda – Pour 1 or 2 cups of white distilled vinegar into the toilet bowl. Then sprinkle some baking soda. You will get a sizzling reaction. Wait for about 15 minutes. Then scrub the stains with your brush or pumice stone. Turn the water back on and flush.

You might have to repeat the process if you still see stains.

Why is it important to remove water stains from your toilet bowl?

Besides just looking plain nasty and giving wrong impressions to your guests, there is one more reason why you should clean your stained toilet bowl. 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 long-term limescale build up in your toilet

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.

Looking for a reliable cleaner near you?

Find a professional to take care of your bathroom.

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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 who are experienced and fully equipped for any cleaning task. They will have your toilet looking like new in no time.


  • 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: Shutterstock / Bacho, VVVproduct

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