It’s not you. Really! That unsightly ring in your toilet bowl is not due to your cleaning schedule or your family’s habits. You are literally battling the elements and, if you want to really know how to get rid of toilet ring, you’re going to have to get your weapons ready, and be prepared to use them.
How To Get Rid Of Toilet Ring
There is nothing more frustrating than trying product after product after product to clean the toilet ring, only to have one after another after another be unsuccessful. It’s a discouraging cycle that usually results with a closet full of useless cleaning products, and a stubborn toilet ring continuing to taunt you.
In order to figure out how to get rid of toilet ring, you first need to determine what is causing it; otherwise you’re just throwing solutions at a problem you might not even have.
What Causes Toilet Bowl Ring?
There are typically two reasons why a ring forms in a toilet bowl:
- Bacteria and mould. Organisms and mould (fungus) can build up at the water surface and stick to the porcelain of the toilet bowl. This can especially happen in toilets that are not used often. It doesn’t take many bacteria to start a problem and they multiply quickly.
- Hard water. All water contains dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron, but hard water contains a tremendous amount that tends to leach out of the standing water and adheres to the surface of the toilet.
Pink Ring In Toilet Bowl
Bacteria such as Serratia marcescens and Pseudomonas aeruginosa grow in pink-ish colonies that can quickly develop into a pink ring where the water surface and the toilet bowl surface meet. These water-loving bacteria are naturally in the environment and easily settle in the toilet bowl where the water is standing for most of the time. This is a relatively easy ring to get rid of as normal toilet cleaners will easily clean and sanitize the toilet bowl, removing the ring.
Using an automated toilet bowl cleaner, such as these Clorox tablets, can help keep bacteria and mould at bay by flushing bleach into the toilet bowl with every flush. These are a great addition to a regular cleaning routine – keeping the bowl fresh and deodorized at the same time.
Black Ring In Toilet Bowl
Hard water is the culprit here. Calcium, magnesium, iron, aluminum, and manganese are all elements found in higher than normal concentrations in hard water. They cause water to have a dry, metallic taste, make soap un-latherable, and leave a dry film on skin. The minerals easily precipitate out and leave deposits on faucets, shower heads, in coffee pots, and black rings in toilet bowls.
Regular toilet cleaners will not work against black toilet ring. This is work for chemistry and manual labour; finding solutions that will break down the mineral barrier and using good old-fashioned scrubbing to work through it.
How To Clean Toilet Ring
First things first. NEVER mix cleaning solutions; doing so can cause caustic and dangerous gases to form that can overwhelm you very quickly. If one cleaning product is not working and you want to use another, be sure to rinse the area fully and completely ventilate the room before switching. Safety first.
- Regular Toilet Cleaner. Using a ‘regular’ toilet bowl cleaner, such as Lysol Clean & Fresh Toilet Bowl Cleaner, will work if you are battling a pink (or orange-y) ring in your toilet. The bleach and cleaners in this type of product will kill the bacteria and remove the stain.
- Bleach. Bleach will only work if the cause of your toilet ring is bacteria or mould; it won’t combat hard water rings and may actually make it worse. Using bleach alone isn’t recommended though – it’s better to use a cleaner that contains bleach as well as other cleaning ingredients. They will be sudsier and will combat dirt, grime, and grease as well as bacteria.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar. This is the science-y solution. Vinegar is an acid and so essentially dissolves the minerals that have precipitated out of the water onto the toilet bowl surface. Adding baking soda allows it to react with the vinegar – essentially neutralizing it – causing it to foam and bubble. This fizzy reaction breaks up the minerals and carries them away. It’s also environmentally friendly; in the end the mixture of vinegar and baking soda becomes salt water and carbon dioxide – no harsh chemicals left over.
- Pumice Stone. Don’t be using a regular pumice stone to clean the ring in your toilet. The Pumie is a softer pumice that will work to scrub away hard water stains when chemical methods aren’t working. It works well in conjunction with the baking soda and vinegar solution and is soft enough that it won’t scrape the porcelain of your toilet.
- Magic Eraser. An unusual use for a Magic Eraser is to use it to combat toilet ring. Simply drop a quarter of a Magic Eraser into the toilet bowl and let it sit over night. This should work for rings that aren’t too large or stubborn. Be sure the fish it out in the morning – don’t flush it!
- Barkeepers Friend. This multi-purpose cleaner can remove hard water stains from many household surfaces, including your toilet bowl. I find it best to drain some of the water out of the toilet bowl, then sprinkle the powder around the ring, and scrub it with a cleaning rag. You can let it sit for 10 minutes or so for really stubborn stains. Rinse and flush thoroughly afterwards.
- CLR. The big guns. CLR – standing for Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover – is a heavy duty hard water enemy. It instantly dissolves hard water stains, yet is non-toxic and safe to use even if you have a septic system. It is the leading product used for managing hard water build up and stains. Simply pour into the toilet bowl, let it sit for 20 minutes, scrub the ring a little, and rinse. Easy peasy.
Keeping a Cleaning Routine
No one likes cleaning the bathroom. Well, no-one in my house anyway.
The best way to combat clutter, toothpaste splatter, messiness, hair-in-the-drain, and stubborn toilet stains is to stick to a regular cleaning routing.
Try keeping a cleaning caddy under the sink in the bathroom for quick, daily, touch-ups of the sink, vanity, mirrors, toilet, and bathtub. A quick spritz, swish, and wipe can keep a bathroom clean between more infrequent deep cleaning (and can make those deep cleanings more tolerable too).