Serhii Krot /

Do you feel lately that no matter how hard you scrub the toilet, it never seems clean enough? Well, don’t be too hard on yourself – your cleaning skills are not the problem. Stubborn staining of the toilet bowl is more than likely the reason. You can rest assured, though, that cleaning all the stains is easier when you know more about their nature. It won’t take as much elbow grease as you think, either!

Table of Content:

What causes stubborn toilet bowl stains? 

Various factors contribute to the appearance of differently coloured spots around the rim of the toilet, as well as inside the bowl at the water level. In order to apply the most effective cleaning method, it’s important to better understand what you are up against. 

Here some of the most common toilet bowl stains:

  • Calcium build-up – Ordinarily, yellow stains are limescale formations. They are caused by hard water – it’s rich in minerals, which accumulate over time and become visible inside the toilet bowl. Eventually, these minerals can even accumulate in your pipes, causing a toilet block. Calcium build-up has a hard structure, which makes the cleaning of the stains all the more difficult. Therefore, if you can prevent the minerals from building up inside your toilet bowl by destroying even the smallest formations early, you can save yourself a lot of headaches later.
  • Rust stains – If the toilet bowl staining seems dark brown or red, then rust is probably the problem. Pipe corrosion could be the cause, but the red-coloured spots may also appear as a result of iron in the water, which reacts with oxygen and forms iron oxide. Given the white colour of the toilet bowls and their porcelain material, rust stains can be quite challenging to clean. And not a pleasant sight for sure!
  • Blue stains – These types of stains are common in areas with highly acidic water rich in copper. Unfortunately, removing the toilet bowl stain once will not prevent it from returning again, as the water will keep on flowing. There is something you can do, though, and that’s to clean the toilet more often than usual, as well as consult with a plumber.
  • Mould stains – It’s hard not to recognise those, as they cause not only the distinguished dark green or black spots but also the musky, unpleasant odour in your bathroom. Mould will only multiply when not removed early, so do not underestimate this problem. The fungus is also dangerous to inhale and that’s all the more reason to take measures quickly.
Check out: How to Clean Mould Off Bathroom Sealant

How to best remove the nasty stains from your toilet bowl

Spending an afternoon cleaning the stains off the toilet bowl is not something anyone would like, but it’s necessary. Whether you are dealing with rust spots or hard water build-up time will only make the staining worse, creating more work and troubles for you.

Starting with easier and more eco-friendly solutions is a good approach. If there is milder staining on your toilet bowl, you can try and remove them with some homemade natural remedies.

White vinegar and borax/baking soda

What better way to whiten the toilet bowl than with a paste created by the two most commonly used eco-friendly house cleaners – baking soda and vinegar. The first can also be replaced by borax, which consists of white crystal that can immediately dissolve in water. They can help remove hard water stains and bring back the bright white colour of your toilet bowl.


Sprinkle baking soda or borax generously on the stained areas.


Use the toilet brush to scrub a little bit and spread the powder around.


Add approximately 1½ cup of white vinegar into the bowl.


Leave the solution to work for 15-30 min.




Repeat if there are still visible stains.


Do not use any metal brushes when scrubbing the toilet bowl, regardless of the cleaning method you decide to use. There is a big chance of seeing scratch marks afterwards, which are hard to miss or remove from a perfectly white toilet bowl.

Lemon juice and essential oils

Lemon juice is known to whiten surfaces and, thanks to its acidic properties, it can help remove any yellow staining and calcium build-up, although some scrubbing will still be needed. To get the best results here is how to proceed:


Use a clean spray bottle.


Add 1 cup of lemon juice mixed with at least 10-15 drops of essential oils (we recommend you use lemon, tea tree oil, lavender, which work well against mould formations).


Spray the entire toilet bowl, focusing on the stains.


Scrub thoroughly for a while and then leave it on for about 15 min.


Flush and inspect.


If you still see yellowing or any more visible signs of rust or other stains, then repeat the procedure.


Not an exact natural toilet bowl cleaner, but coke can still serve as an effective solution against rust, water or hard water stains. This works perfectly for light or heavy limescale build-up and the best part is that you can remove toilet bowl stains without scrubbing


Pour coca-cola extensively inside the toilet bowl. If you have staining around the rim, make sure to cover that section, too.


Do not scrub, but just leave the liquid on for as long as possible, even overnight.


Rinse afterwards.

If by any chance, you are dealing with a very stained toilet bowl, you may have to resort to specialised cleaning products with a chemical formula. We suggest the following:


It can make your toilet bowl clean quite easily. Once you spray it on the stains, wait a few minutes before you remove it. The important thing to remember is that you should not flush the product down, but just wipe it with a clean cloth.


Due to being highly corrosive and dangerous, we advise you to resort to bleach only in the worst-case scenario. Do not forget to put protective gloves on and open a window to let the toxic fumes out. You may have to leave it on for at least 15 minutes, but if you are worried about the smell, just keep the toilet closed until it’s time to rinse.

The toilet bowl stains don’t want to come off?

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How to keep the toilet bowl clean

It seems unfair to go through all this trouble to remove the stains from the toilet bowl, just so you have to do it all over again in a week or two.

Therefore, stick to the following:

Learn as well: How to Stop a Toilet from Running


  • Take the time to establish what kind of stain you are dealing with, why it appeared in the first place and what can help you get rid of it best. 
  • Using natural remedies to make the stains disappear is the better option, from both an environmental and healthy point of view. Heavily stained toilet bowls, however, will require more elbow grease and some chemical power. 
  • Scrub your toilet as often as you can, even every day if possible. That’s the best way to keep the stains away.
  • Last update: February 2, 2022

Posted in All Articles, Cleaning Guides