What's the best way to keep the toilet bowl clean?

By: Kim Williamson

Steps to Cleaning the Toilet Bowl

Before you battle in the bathroom, choose your weapons.

  • Commercial cleaners are best for hard water stains because they contain acid and also disinfect. Look for ones containing hydrogen chloride, HCL or muriatic acid. Unfortunately, they can be hard on your skin and eyes so it's good to wear gloves. Don't use bleach, as it will set the rust stain.
  • If your toilet doesn't have hard water stains, you can use a general toilet bowl cleaner. Mild acids, like vinegar or lemon juice, are eco-friendly alternatives but not always strong enough to do the job.
  • Chlorine bleach is great for general disinfecting but it too can irritate skin and eyes, so again, wear cleaning gloves. Be careful because spilled bleach can ruin your bathroom rug or floor or fade out colored porcelain enamel. Don't combine bleach with another product as you could create a toxic substance and a possible explosion!
  • Use a toilet brush with flexible, plastic bristles; avoid metals as they can scratch. An easy-to-grip handle and contoured body help you get under the rim and deep into the bowl. Now, it's time to clean:
  1. Remove the water by turning off the valve on the toilet. Flush and plunge out the remaining water. This helps your cleaner work without dilution.
  2. Pour in your cleaner per bottle directions. With bleach or vinegar, use a quarter cup and let the product sit for about 30 minutes, with the lid closed.
  3. Tackle the rest of the toilet with a disinfectant cleaner or disinfecting wipes (use bowl cleaners just for the bowl). Working top-down, clean the tank, handle, lid, and both sides of the seat. The base of the toilet and surrounding floor area will need wiping too, thanks to the men in your life.
  4. Use the toilet brush to clean the bowl and under the rim. If you still have stains, reapply cleanser and repeat.

It may not be the most exciting 45 minutes of your day, but at the end, you'll have the cleanest toilet in town.


Related Articles


  • The Family Handyman. "How to Remove Water Stains." (June 6, 2012).
  • Household Management 101. "How to Clean a Toilet." (June 3, 2012).
  • The Natural Handyman. "Toilet Cleaning Methods and Chemicals Q & A." (June 2, 2012).
  • Rathey, Allan. "Pick a Brush Four out of Five Janitors Recommend." Housekeeping Channel. (June 5, 2012).