How To Get Rid Of Toilet Ring: 18 Ways To A Sparking Clean Toilet

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.

What Causes Toilet Bowl Ring?

Before learning how to get rid of toilet ring, you have to understand what causes toilet bowl ring.

There are typically three reasons why a ring forms in a toilet bowl:

  1. Bacteria. Organisms 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.
  2. Fungus. Moulds and fungus love moist conditions – the toilet bowl is a perfect place for them to grow. Fungus growth often starts out looking like a grey ring but, if left to grow, can become fuzzy in appearance. Like bacteria, this usually happens when toilets are not used often.
  3. Mineral Deposits. 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 over time.

What Causes 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.

What Causes 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.

What Causes Gray Ring in Toilet Bowl

Gray toilet bowl rings are usually caused by either calcium deposits leaching from the hard water. In places with very hard water, these deposits can develop fairly quickly and need to be tackled regularly to minimize their appearance.

Another possibility is early signs of mould, or fungus, growth. While it’s easy to recognize fungus once it grows and gets fuzzy, it can first appear as a gray ring on the surface of the toilet bowl water.

What Causes Yellow Ring in Toilet Bowl

Yellow rings are often a combination problem involving hard water deposits. Calcium deposits, combined with small amounts of iron (which show as brown deposits), can produce what appears as a yellow toilet bowl ring.

These can be managed using any of the hard water solutions below.

What Causes Brown Ring in Toilet Bowl

Iron deposits from hard water are essentially rust forming in the toilet bowl. Brown toilet rings are evidence of higher iron content in the water. This is often seen in households using well water.

Buyers Guide for Toilet Ring Remover:


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. First determine the cause of the toilet ring, then use one of the following methods to eliminate 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.

Always use rubber gloves when cleaning the toilet. Bacteria, mould, and cleaning chemicals should never come in contact with skin.

Safety glasses should be used to prevent eye splashes when using chemical cleaners.

Consider a mask if fungus is present. Spores can easily become airborne and be breathed in.

Safety first.

Toilet Cleaner

Using a ‘regular’ toilet bowl cleaner, such as Lysol 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.

Lysol 88830PK Power & Free Toilet Bowl Cleaner Cool Spring Breeze 24 oz Bottle 2/Pk



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.

Clorox Regular Bleach 64 oz - 2 Pack (128 oz Total)


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.

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 16 oz (3 Pack)

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.

Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover, TBR-6, Grey Pumice Stone with Handle, Removes Unsightly Toilet Rings, Stains from Toilets, Sinks, Tubs, Showers, Pools, Safe for Porcelain, 1 Pack

Magic Eraser

An unusual use for a Mr. Clean 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!

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Extra Durable, Shoe, Bathroom, and Shower Cleaner, Cleaning Pads with Durafoam, 10 Count

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.

Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser | 12-Ounces | 2-Pack


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.

Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover 28 oz - 2 Pack

Plain Vinegar

Vinegar works as a chemical cleaning agent. It is, after all, simply acetic acid. It is best used on hard water, or mineral deposit stains, as it works to chemically release those agents from the toilet bowl.

Pour 1/2 cup vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit for at least one hour (and up to overnight if possible). Use a toilet brush to break up the debris and flush it all away.

Heinz Cleaning Vinegar (1 gal Jug)


Borax, or sodium tetraborate, is another chemical agent useful in dissolving mineral deposits. It can be used to loosen the deposits so they can be more easily scrubbed away.

The powder works best when it has direct access to the toilet ring. Turn off the water to the toilet and flush it until the toilet bowl empties out. Then sprinkle the borax on the toilet ring and let it sit for 20 minutes. Wipe away the borax and the toilet ring. Voila!

20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster & Multi-Purpose Household Cleaner, 65 Ounce

Borax and Vinegar

Pairing two chemical cleaning agents doubles up on the power of each. Combine vinegar and borax into a paste and apply to the toilet bowl ring. Rub the paste into the stain and let sit for 20 minutes until the mineral deposits have loosened somewhat. Wipe, or lightly scrub, to remove the stain.


Dishwasher Pod

Dishwasher pods work remarkably well in the dishwasher to remove dirt, grease, grime, and hard water deposits. Why wouldn’t it work on toilet bowl rings also?

Simply toss the dishwasher pod into the toilet and let it sit overnight so it can dissolve and let all the elements come together. You could speed up this process by opening up the pod a little bit before dropping it in there.

Give the toilet a swish in the morning and it should be all cleaned up.

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods, Actionpacs Dishwasher Detergent with Dishwasher Cleaner Action, Fresh Scent, 62 Count

Denture Tablets

Cleaning teeth and cleaning toilets sound like completely different tasks, but denture tablets can do both jobs (just not together!).

Denture tablets create a slight acidic environment and so can kill bacteria and mould as well as loosen mineral deposits.

Two ways to use denture tablets:

  1. Toss a couple of tablets into the toilet and let sit overnight before scrubbing away the remaining residue.
  2. Break the tablets down and mix with a bit of water to create a paste. Empty the toilet bowl of water and apply the paste directly to the stain. Let it sit overnight and wipe away the paste, and the toilet ring, in the morning.

Polident Overnight Whitening Denture Cleanser Effervescent Tablets, 3x84 count

Coca Cola

What may sound like a strange cleaning agent has been a ‘cleaning hack’ for many years! Coca Cola (or any unbranded cola variety) is an acidic liquid and, along with the fuzzy carbonization, can clean a variety of things.

Start by emptying a can of cola into the toilet and letting it sit to do its thing. If that doesn’t remove the stain entirely, try emptying the water out and then pouring the cola directly onto the toilet ring.

18 Pack of Cola

Scrubbing Sponge

Good old elbow grease might be the solution in the absence of any available cleaning agent.

An abrasive type scrubbing sponge can be used to scrub away all but the most stubborn of toilet rings. Although this may also work on hard water build up, it likely won’t remove any discoloration. The toilet will be clean though!

Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges, For Washing Dishes and Cleaning Kitchen, 9 Scrub Sponges

Steel Wool

Even more aggressive is steel wool. This is a great option when combined with household vinegar providing a mechanical scrubbing action with a chemical mineral remover.

Be sure to use a very fine steel wool to avoid scratching the porcelain of the toilet bowl – and don’t rub too vigorously.

Homax 10120000 Steel Wool, 12 pad, Super Fine Grade #0000, Rhodes American, Final Finish

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets work best against every-day-run-of-the-mill toilet bowl rings. Those caused by soap scum, gathered dust, and normal general use. They are not so great again mineral deposits and hard water stains.

You’ll need direct access to the toilet ring for this to work best so flush away all the extra water before you begin. Then, simply rub the dryer sheet around the toilet ring until it has disappeared.

Bounce Dryer Sheets Laundry Fabric Softener, Fresh Linen Scent, 240 Count

Lemon Koolaid

I have no idea who ever came up with the idea of using lemon Koolaid to clean a toilet. I didn’t even know Koolaid came in lemon flavor!!

And, honestly, I have no idea how this works. I imagine the citric acid in the lemon works to dissolve mineral deposits and lets you flush them away.

Sprinkle the Koolaid in the toilet and let it sit until the toilet ring is dissolved then flush away.

Koolaid lemon lime drink mix (Pack of 6)

Alka Seltzer

Alka Seltzer works in much the same way as denture tablets do; creating an acidic environment that dissolves the deposits that are causing the stain.

Simply drop a tablet or two into the toilet bowl and let them dissolve for a few hours before giving the toilet bowl a good scrub and flushing it all away.

Alka-Seltzer Lemon Lime, 36 Count


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How does baking soda get rid of toilet rings?

Baking soda works best when combined with vinegar. This allows the abrasive qualities of the baking soda to work with the acidic vinegar to remove toilet bowl rings.

Does Magic Eraser remove toilet bowl ring?

Yes, Magic Eraser can be used to remove toilet bowl rings that are not too stubborn. Simply drop 1/4 of a Magic Eraser sponge into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a while. Be sure not to flush it!

How to remove toilet ring without scrubbing?

Most chemical based toilet ring remover methods will work without scrubbing. Try using CLR as it is a powerful chemical agent that will remove most hard water based toilet rings.

How to prevent toilet bowl ring?

Regular cleaning can prevent toilet bowl ring. Often, toilets that are not used very often will see an increase in hard water deposits. Trying to get to these weekly, even just for a quick swish-cleaning, will help prevent these types of rings from occurring.

How to get rid of calcium ring in toilet?

Any of the chemical cleaning agents listed above will help get rid of the calcium build up often found in toilet bowls.

Help, the toilet bowl ring keeps coming back!

Yes, this is unfortunately, inevitable. Even toilets that are not used very often will develop a toilet ring as dust, bacteria, and hard water deposits build up over time. The best solution is prevention; regular cleaning of even unused toilets will help prevent having to tackle larger toilet ring issues.