How to Clean a Toilet
Under 2 hours
Cleaning a toilet is one of the ways you can make your home a healthier place. You should clean your toilet with a disinfectant solution at least once a week to get rid of bacteria and viruses. Knowing how to clean a toilet the right way with the appropriate cleaning supplies can make the job easier and more effective. This guide gives you step-by-step instructions on the best way to clean a toilet.
Toilet Cleaning Supplies
Toilets are covered in germs, so it's important to have the right cleaning supplies on hand to combat any dirt and bacteria. Here's what you'll need to get the job done:
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands while cleaning a toilet bowl.
- Bathroom cleaners that include hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach.
- Disinfecting wipes to quickly clean the exterior of the toilet, including the seat and lid.
- Paper towels.
- Toilet brush with stiff bristles.
- Scrub brush or pumice stone on a stick for tough stains.
- Bleach can be diluted with water and used for cleaning a stained toilet, but it may affect your porcelain.
- Use a bucket to store your supplies and make them easy to access.
Tip: Remove everything from around and on your toilet before you begin cleaning.
How to Clean the Toilet Seat and Lid
Fill the bowl with toilet bowl cleaner to allow it to fully soak while you clean the exterior of your toilet. We'll return to the interior of the bowl later, but for now, start cleaning the toilet seat and lid.
- Spray the outside of the toilet with a disinfectant bathroom cleaner and let the cleaner sit for a couple minutes, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Starting with the tank or top, wipe down the back, front and sides of the toilet all the way to the floor.
- Clean the toilet handle with a disinfecting wipe.
- After wiping down the top of the toilet lid, open the lid and spray the inside, including the hinges, with cleaner.
- Spray the toilet seat on both sides of its top, on both sides of its bottom and around the hinges. If your toilet has hinges that open, open them and spray inside.
- After allowing the cleaner to sit, thoroughly wipe down the inside of the lid, the hinges and both sides of the toilet seat.
- Wet paper towels and use them to rinse off any cleaning residue from the toilet seat.
- Dry with paper towels.
Tip: In between major cleaning sessions, eliminate germ contact by periodically wiping the toilet seat, lid and handle with disinfecting wipes.
How to Clean the Toilet Tank
Cleaning the toilet tank can either involve a deep, interior clean or a quick wipe-down of the exterior. While the water in the tank is usually clean, the metal parts can corrode and rust, and the interior of the tank can get discolored.
- If the inside of the tank looks clean, simply spray the outside with disinfectant cleaner and wipe it down like you did in the last step.
- If the inside of the tank shows signs of rust or discoloration, empty the water from the tank. Turn off the water supply valve, which is located either behind the toilet on the wall or on the floor. Flush the toilet until the tank is drained.
- For cleaning general dirt and grime, thoroughly spray the inside of the tank with a disinfectant. Allow the disinfectant to set for 15 minutes.
- Use a scrub brush to clean the tank and use paper towels to wipe off the tank’s internal parts.
- To remove stains in the tank, fill it with white vinegar up to the overflow valve. Leave the vinegar in the tank for 12 hours. Flush until the tank is empty again.
- Turn on the water supply valve and allow the tank to refill.
- Flush the toilet again to ensure everything is working.
Tip: Do not use bleach inside the tank because bleach can corrode the internal parts.
How to Clean the Toilet Bowl
- Spray or pour toilet bowl cleaner around under the rim and into the toilet bowl.
- Remember to let the cleaner sit untouched in the toilet for several minutes so it can do its job. This is one of the most overlooked steps in how to clean a toilet bowl. Use your toilet brush first to scrub away any dirt and grime that is under the rim.
- Making a circular scrubbing motion from the rim down to the water line, scrub the bowl.
- Scrub the drain hole last.
- Close the lid and flush the toilet.
If standard cleaning isn’t enough, here’s how to remove toilet bowl stains and set-in grime:
- Use your cleaning solution at full strength. Turn off the toilet’s water valve and flush it before adding the cleaner.
- If a scrub brush isn’t enough to remove stains, use a pumice stone.
Tip: One of the best ways to clean a toilet is to start by putting the cleaner in the bowl, then cleaning the rest of the toilet before returning to scrub the bowl.
How to Remove Toilet Stains
A common concern about how to clean a toilet is what to do about stains. Toilet bowls can have different kinds of stains, most of which have nothing to do with the toilet cleaners you use. Most can be removed with a scrubbing brush or pumice stone. Here are a few ideas on how to remove toilet stains:
- If you have reddish, brown or even gray stains in your bowl, it’s most likely limescale caused by hard water or minerals in the water. Urine scale stains happen when urine gets absorbed into the porcelain.
- To remove stains, scrub with a chemical toilet bowl cleaner that’s formulated to remove the limescale or urine stain.
- If you prefer a home remedy, you can remove limescale with undiluted white vinegar. Pour the vinegar into the toilet bowl, focusing on the sides and areas that are most heavily stained. Let the vinegar sit for three to four hours. When you return, scrub the bowl, using more vinegar as needed.
- If a scrub brush isn’t removing stains well enough, try using a pumice stone. Pumice stones are abrasive enough to remove limescale stains but soft enough not to scratch porcelain.
Safety Tip: Never combine vinegar home remedies with bleach. Bleach and vinegar can create toxic chlorine gas. Before cleaning, decide if you want to use chemical cleaners or home remedies and stick to just one method at a time.
How to Clean Around the Toilet
Once you have a clean toilet, here’s a few tips for finishing your cleaning job:
- Microscopic bacteria and other dirt from inside your toilet usually get on the floors and walls too. Spray cleaner on the walls around the toilet.
- Use clean paper towels to wipe down all around the toilet, behind the toilet and on the adjacent walls.
- Don’t forget to remove the toilet paper and wipe the holder down.
- Mop down the floor with a disinfectant.
Tip: Remember to close the lid before you flush to prevent any bacterial spray from landing on your walls and floor.
Toilet Cleaning Tips
- Try to clean your toilet every week. If it's cold or flu season, you may wish to clean it more often.
- Never put the toilet brush back into its holder wet. Disinfect the brush and then place the brush head between the seat and the bowl until it air dries.
- Disinfect the toilet brush holder and let it dry.
- Keep your toilet clean between deep cleanings by getting into the habit of doing a quick toilet bowl scrub every other day or so. Keep a toilet bowl cleaner nearby for quick scrubs.
- The best way to clean a toilet and keep your hands safe is to always wear gloves. This will protect your hands from chemicals and germs.
- Before you remove your gloves, wash your hands with hot, soapy water. Dry gloves before putting them away.
- Use anti-bacterial sponges, disposable wipes or reusable cloths.
- Launder any washable cleaning cloths by themselves using bleach and hot water.
- If you have pets, avoid toilet bowl cleaner tablets or disks in case they drink the water.
Learning how to clean the toilet is a simple way to keep you bathroom germ-free. Want to have products on hand whenever you need to clean? Our repeat-delivery subscription service doesn't require a membership fee.
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