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How to Clean Toilet Stains with Vinegar

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A stained toilet is unsightly. As such, you might find yourself needing to quickly clean up your toilet stains, especially those nasty stains around the waterline before company arrives. But, what do you do if you do not have toilet bowl cleaner? Vinegar to the rescue!

This article will guide you on the best way to clean toilet stains with vinegar and the most effective tools to get the job done. Without using harsh chemicals! Read on to find out more about using vinegar for a dirty toilet, including stains in the toilet tank, and how to get the best results so you will have your toilet sparkling in no time.

Jug of white vinegar sitting on kitchen table.

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How do I Clean my Toilet Stains with Vinegar?

If vinegar is all you have handy and your toilet needs attention, you can make it work.

To use vinegar on your toilet stains, you can pour anywhere from ½ a cup to a cup of vinegar into your toilet bowl, scrub up the sides with your toilet brush, and let it sit in the bowl for anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. However, there are other steps you can take to help the process.

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What Tool Should I Use?

Scrubbing is essential for toilet stains and toilet rings, especially if they go far up the sides where the vinegar/water mix in the toilet bowl will not reach it naturally.

A regular old toilet scrub brush might get the job done, but you might find that the bristles just are not allowing you to get in there as deeply as you want to.

A more robust tool that you have a little more control over might be better. An old toothbrush is a good option for this purpose; you can apply more pressure as it is better at targeting trouble spots.

You could also use an electric scrubber, which is essentially a big electric cleaning brush.

Regular cleaning tools, like a sponge, a steel wool pad, a pumice stone, paper towels, a wet cloth, or a magic eraser are also options.

If you do choose to use something softer like a sponge, though, be advised that you will have to throw it away after every use and, since it is more delicate, you might not be able to scrub as hard.

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The Perfect Solution

Vinegar on its own will do the trick to removing most stubborn stains, plus vinegar kills germs.

However, some tough stains in toilets (i.e., rust stains, stubborn hard water stains, scale stains, buildup of minerals, or brown color around the waterline) need more attention.

If you have the means, an effective way to get the deepest clean possible for extra tough stains is to add another cleaning agent to your vinegar solution.

Baking soda is a perfect natural cleaning agent for removing your toilet stains. Add the baking soda into the vinegar directly into the toilet bowl.

You should be following a 1:2 ratio of baking soda to vinegar. However, if you prefer to make a thicker paste, add a little more baking soda until it reaches your desired consistency.

Clean, white toilet with lid down in gray room.

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The Toilet Cleaning Process

You can invest in all the fancy scrubbers you want, but it will not matter if you don’t use them right. For better results and to get the most stain-free toilet possible, you should:

1. Pour the vinegar (and optional additives) into the toilet bowl

2. Put on rubber gloves

3. Grab your Designated Toilet Tool and dip it into the water at the bottom of the bowl

4. Scrub aggressively in circular motions. You should see the stains start to fade

5. After you have scrubbed the whole thing, close the toilet lid and allow it to soak

6. Flush away the mixture when you decide to (anywhere from 1-24hrs)

7. Scrub once more if you notice any residual stains

8. Flush again

9. Repeat until all stains are gone

Some people prefer to put the vinegar and water solution into a clean spray bottle rather than pouring vinegar into the toilet bowl.

This natural solution works, plus you can also use it to wipe down the outside of the toilet!

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What Causes Toilet Stains?

Toilet stains are gross, but the truth is, toilet stains usually have nothing to do with what you are putting in the toilet.

It is all in the water. 

Water contains minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. These things, which are moving through the toilet as you flush the water, leave deposits behind. 

Those deposits build up over time and create staining; for example, brownish red stains are caused by iron, white-yellow stains are caused by calcium or lime deposits.

Woman wearing red rubber gloves cleaning toilet with green microfiber cloth.

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Why Does Vinegar Work so Well?

Vinegar is a go-to for cleaning bathrooms, mainly because it easily removes limescale and other stains. In addition, it is a deodorizer, which is a good thing to use in your bathroom! 

It also works great for a mirror and glass cleaner.

Vinegar is very acidic, so it interacts with the chemical compounds to break them down while the acidity also works to kill the bacteria.

How Do I Keep My Toilet Stain Free?

After you have scrubbed your toilet stains away with vinegar, you will probably want to avoid an ugly toilet bowl ring and to keep your toilet clean for as long as possible. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop the minerals from leaving deposits in your toilet, especially toilets that do not get a lot of use and have standing water in the bowl.

But there are ways to prevent them from sticking there.

You can use toilet cleaner tabs. They make ones that stick to the side of your toilet so they don’t get flushed down. These contain chlorine bleach and other substances to keep your toilet clean and kill bacteria/ break down mineral deposits with every flush.

There is some controversy about where to put your toilet tablets. Some people swear by placing them on the inside part of the tank, while others claim that doing that can damage the toilet’s parts. After all, the entire purpose of the tabs is to break things down. If you’d like to be cautious, just put them in the bowl instead.

Simple and Natural Way to Clean Toilet Stains

Cleaning toilet stains with vinegar-water solution is an easy solution; all you need is some gloves, a little vinegar, something scrubby, and a few minutes of your time.

Stains in your toilet are entirely natural, but they are ugly, so it’s best to remove them as soon as you notice them starting to pop up.

Vinegar is a good choice as the acetic acid can assist with killing bacteria and unpleasant odors while helping you avoid lots of commercial cleaning products.

So next time you are searching for a great cleaning product for your bathroom (toilet, toilet seat, shower door, etc.), grab a bottle of vinegar.

The best part is that you can feel good using natural ingredients to clean your home!

Questions You May Have

How long do you leave vinegar in the toilet bowl?

After scrubbing, let the vinegar and water solution soak for 1-24 hours before flushing/rinsing away.

Can I leave vinegar in my toilet overnight?

Yes, you can leave vinegar in your toilet overnight without issues!

Does vinegar remove toilet stains?

Vinegar does a great job of removing toilet stains. However for tougher stains, try making a paste of vinegar mixed with baking soda. Apply paste to stain and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing.

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