How to Clean a Toilet Tank

By: Emilie Sennebogen

The tank is often overlooked during cleaning.
The tank is often overlooked during cleaning.

Cleaning your toilet usually consists of a quick swipe around the toilet bowl, then flush and you're done. Toilets that get used regularly are a little easier to keep clean because the frequent flushing keeps water and air circulating, which prevents things from building up. And by things, we mean household nasties, like mold and bacteria. But if you have an extra toilet in the house that isn't used very often, or you go on vacation for a week or two, you're probably going to open the lid and find a ring of mold around the bowl from sitting water. And if it's in your bowl, it's likely in your tank, too.

Cleaning the inside of your toilet tank probably isn't on your weekly list of chores, but it's a good idea to do once in a while to help keep germs at bay and keep all of the mechanics located inside the tank in good working order. Not to mention that minerals found in tap water like lime and calcium will eventually accumulate and gum up the works, so it's a good idea to occasionally de-scale the tank.


Cleaning the inside of your toilet tank is really quite simple, especially if there's not a lot of buildup in there. All you need to do is remove the lid, pour in your cleaning solution and scrub the sides with a sponge or a toilet brush, taking care not to detach any tubes or chains. Flush a couple of times to make sure that all of the cleaning solution has been rinsed out. Keep reading for more tips on cleaning the inside of your toilet tank.

Tips for Cleaning the Inside of the Toilet Tank

If you want to really get your toilet tank clean, then you need to make sure you have the right cleaning products for the job. Vinegar is a great toilet cleaning solution. Not only is it free of chemicals and naturally antibacterial, it's also an acid, so it will remove minor lime and calcium deposits. All you need to do is pour a couple cups of vinegar in your tank and let it sit for an hour or so, then scrub and flush to rinse. But if you don't feel like something is clean unless the fumes of chemicals burn your nose, then bleach is a good one to use. It's a great disinfectant and will get rid of mold, but it won't have any impact on calcium deposits, so you'll need to use a cleaning product containing acid that's safe for use on porcelain.

If you have some caked-on stains that need a little extra elbow grease, you really need to get down inside the tank. If you don't wish to immerse your hands in that water, then you'll need to drain the tank. All you have to do is turn off the water supply, usually somewhere in the lower back of the toilet, and flush the toilet before you start scrubbing. You will likely find that cleaners work a little better and faster when they're not diluted in water; this goes for inside the bowl, too. Just be aware that chemical cleaners can erode the rubber flapper, which will eventually cause leaks. So while you're down there, be sure to check that your flapper is still in good working order.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Buckminster, Adri. "How to Clean a Stained Toilet Tank." May 6, 2012.
  • Pinto, Jennifer. "How to Clean a Moldy Toilet Bowl." May 6, 2012.
  • "Toilet Cleaning Methods and Chemicals Q&A." May 6, 2012.
  • "Vinegar Kills Bacteria, Mold and Germs." May 5, 1999.