The first thing you want to do when preparing to remove stains from your toilet is to shut off the main water valve located behind the toilet on the wall. Turn it clockwise until it stops. Then use a bucket or cup to remove as much water as you can from the toilet bowl.
If you're using a brush, use one with nylon bristles. The old-style ones with wire bristles will scratch and damage the porcelain. Or, you might even consider using a pumice stone instead of a brush -- it's slightly abrasive, but not enough to damage the porcelain. However, if you go this route, make sure there's a bit of water in the toilet to work with. The water helps prevent the pumice from scratching the porcelain.
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If you're using a commercial cleanser, follow the directions on the label. But you can use more natural solutions that you probably already have at home:
- Vinegar and baking soda -- Add 1 or 2 cups of vinegar to the toilet bowl along with a few sprinkles of baking soda. Swish the solution around the bowl with your brush for a few minutes and then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Scrub the stains with your brush (or pumice stone). If this doesn't remove the stain, try adding some lemon juice to dissolve the last of it. Turn the water back on, flush and repeat the cleaning process, if necessary.
- Coca-Cola -- After emptying the bowl, fill it with Coca-Cola (yes, really -- Coca-Cola). The acids in the soda help eat away at the stains. Let it sit overnight. Flush the next day and get to work with your pumice stone or brush on the now-loosened stains.
Now for what not to do: Don't use bleach in the toilet bowl. It won't work on the stains and can damage a septic system. And never, ever, mix bleach and ammonia. The resulting fumes can irritate respiratory passages and can even be fatal. Don't scrub with anything metal or super-abrasive. You'll ruin the porcelain.
The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that you may need to apply your stain remover more than once, and be ready to apply some good old-fashioned elbow grease. You can get rid of the stains if you persevere!