How to Remove Toilet Bowl Stains


Jody asked: How can I remove stubborn stains from inside the bowl of a toilet? I have tried bleach and other household cleaners with no results!

Toilet bowls put up with a lot of crap, leaving many stains that can be difficult to remove. While it seems that many of them could be washed away, often the most difficult stains are actually mineral deposits from the water. These stains are much more difficult to remove and require stronger methods. These are best to be scraped away using a method that is safe and will not damage the surface of the toilet bowl. Here’s what you need to do.

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. It is easiest to clean the toilet bowl when it is empty of any water. To empty the bowl, turn off the water and flush the toilet until the bowl no longer fills.
  2. Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from any germs and get ready to attack the stains!
  3. The Works cleaner is available at nearly every store that sells toilet cleaning products. Start by applying a layer around the entire bowl.
  4. Next, use the pumice stone to scrub away the stains. It will take some elbow grease, but it will remove the stains really well.
  5. If there is no pumice stone available, a wet/dry sandpaper will also work. Neither of these methods should harm the surface of the toilet. If you see any scratching or marring of the surface, stop immediately and check to ensure you have the correct products.
  6. Continue scrubbing until all of the stains are removed.
  7. When finished, turn the water back on and allow both the tank and bowl to fill with water prior to using again.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners as they can scratch the surface and cause more damage than good.
  • Bleach may remove and/or lighten the stains, but it will be much more temporary. Once the mineral deposits are in place, they will quickly regain their color and become prominent again.
  • A thorough cleaning like the one above typically lasts a couple of months before needing to be repeated.


  1. Harold says:

    Have tried all known products with no results to remove deposits. I used full strength muratic acid that removes concrete from brick with no results. Has anyone found a solution to the hard water mineral stains in my toilet bowl? Thanks.

  2. Jack says:

    I have also tried EVERY (10-plus) product (for rust/lime scale/hard water stains) on the market to remove mineral stains from my white toilet bowls and NOTHING has worked. Please HELP, any suggestions?

  3. Yolanda says:

    Plumber put, what he said, anti-freeze in our toilet bowl attached to the septic system to winterize our home up north while we are away in the south. However, this stuff has stained our toilet bowl – black. How can we remove this stain?

  4. Dotti says:

    My plumber used Spirits Of Salts, which immediately removed a bad rust-colored water stain. I noticed he was using a little brush attached to the lid of the bottle, so no handling problems.

    Spirits of Salts was also used to clean my husbands 3 ft. fold-up wooden rule so you could once again read the measurements like new.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Wow! I have used a countless number of cleaning products on my toilet bowl and nothing has worked, ever! But five minutes with some wet sandpaper and my bowl is WHITE again! I would have never thought to use sandpaper, let alone a pumice stone. I thank you for that tip! :)

  6. Kevin says:

    Totally echo what Rebecca said; I didn’t need any cleaning products at all, just some sandpaper and a little elbow grease. Thanks for the tip!

  7. John says:

    Per Kevin and Rebecca, I went the sandpaper route too and, shazam; my toilet bowls are sparkling white. It took just a few minutes each despite very bad buildup. I went slow at first to be sure that it wouldn’t scratch the bowl – it didn’t – and then I went at it with gusto. I used 400 weight wet/dry sandpaper that I had for another purpose. Previously, I had tried a number of things – vinegar, CLR – with minimal and much harder fought gains. Thank you!!!

  8. Randy says:

    What was the grit number of the sandpaper used?

  9. Samantha says:

    Wow, this tip really worked. I used a pumice stone (that is intended for feet, to help smooth them), but using it on my toilet bowl worked wonders – pure white toilet bowl!

    I was going to buy a new toilet bowl, as I was sick of the stained bowl, but no longer do I require to buy a new one – I have a new one already! Yay!

  10. Jeanette says:

    I used a similar tip I got from another website that mentioned Bar Keepers Friend, which I happened to have on hand, with a pumice stone, and it took it right off – no elbow grease; it just easily peeled off. This stain has been stuck on my toilet bowl for a while and I’ve tried several products with elbow grease and had no luck, until now. I first tried it with the pumice stone, but it didn’t work until I sprinkled on the Bar Keepers Friend on it, then the pumice just tore into that nasty stain and I have a clean toilet bowl again. 😀

  11. Ildiko says:

    Use hydrochloric acid (undiluted). Drain the toilet bowl, pour the hydrochloric acid carefully, and close the seat cover. Turn on a fan or open windows to ventilate air. Leave it for about an hour and just flush it. Needs no scrubbing!!! No effort at all! Amazingly clean. Finally, I won the battle … couldn’t be happier.

  12. Gary says:

    After reading the suggestions, I tried 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper wrapped around a sponge, and it worked like a charm. Done in five minutes! I had tried using a pumice stone with no effect, but pumice, ground lava rock, is not nearly as hard as the silicon carbide on the wet/dry. Get it at Home Depot or woodworking stores.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I have used the pumice stone. Yes, it did work on the side as well as the inside ring when flushing the toilet. At the time, it made my toilet bowl look brand new. Now, the bowl has rust water stains all on the inside going down towards the bowl. Please give me some tips.

  14. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Rust Stains from the Commode.

  15. Don says:

    The silicone carbide particles used in sandpaper, and even the pumice stone, are very, very hard. I don’t see how they could not keep from scratching terribly the the thin glass coating on the inside of the toilet bowl. When the coating is scratched all the way through, rough ceramic becomes exposed, which would be very easily stained by anything that is in the water. I think we can all agree that there is a lot of different ‘stuff’ in toilet water, at least by the time it is flushed! I would NEVER sand the inside of a toilet bowl – not even to remove a stubborn stain!

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