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How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet

If you’re searching for “how to remove hard water stains from toilets,” you’re in the right place.

Our complete guide covers the most effective and natural remedies available. Read on to learn more!

Have Hard Water Stains in Your Toilet?

Cleaning the bathroom, especially the toilet, does not rank high on most people’s lists of things they love to do. But throw hard water stains into the mix, and it’s even more of a pain.

How to remove hard water stains from a toilet graphic displayed on a laptop next to an article summary

Luckily, there are some easy ways to remove hard water stains from toilets and keep them from coming back.

You clean your toilets regularly, so where do those stubborn stains come from?

The water, of course. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, hard water is water with a high mineral content.

The offending minerals that are responsible for the hard water stains you battle are magnesium and calcium, both of which are picked up by the water as it percolates through mineral deposits in the ground on its way to you.

There’s no need to fear drinking hard water because your body benefits from the minerals in it. It’s really your house that you need to be worried about, the evidence of which you’re probably staring at in your toilet bowl right now.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Toilets

Have you been shopping for a solution to the problem of hard water stains in your toilet?

There are a ton of products out there that are advertised to remove buildup caused by hard water.

In most commercial toilet-bowl cleaners and cleaning products that profess to rid your toilet of hard water stains, hydrochloric acid is the main ingredient.

The problem is that if you’re not careful, the hydrochloric acid can damage the surface of your toilet bowl, making it even more susceptible to stains in the future.

Luckily, there are a few natural ways you can attack toilet bowl stains that are the result of hard water. It just takes a little elbow grease and the use of a few products you probably already have on hand.

Victory With Vinegar

Flat lay composition with vinegar and cleaning supplies on color background to remove hard water stains from toilets

New Africa/Shutterstock

White vinegar is a really great thing to have around your home because it has so many household uses. Leave your laundry in the washing machine too long, and it smells funky?

Wash it with vinegar.

Need to clean your windows and leave them streak-free? Vinegar will do the job. Need to dye 100 Easter eggs by tomorrow morning?

Vinegar is your friend!

Removing Hard Water Stains From Toilet

You get the point. Vinegar has a lot of uses, and one of those just happens to be tackling those tough toilet stains.

To attack hard water stains, you first need to flush your toilet to empty the tank and turn off the valve that supplies water to your toilet. Then, use your plunger to empty your toilet bowl of water.

After that, dry the inside of the toilet with paper towels to absorb any extra water. The dryer you can make the surface, the better, since water can dilute the power of the vinegar.

Now, pour vinegar into the toilet bowl up to the waterline. Next, take a rag and spread the vinegar all over the toilet, including into the areas that are difficult to reach, like under the toilet rim.

Then, close up shop and leave it just like that overnight, making sure to close the room off so no one accidentally uses the toilet (we’re looking at you, children).

Follow-Ups Are Required

The next day, attack those stains with a toilet brush, preferably with a rather stiff nylon toilet brush (never use a metal brush).

If you have super tough stains, then you might need to move to a pumice stone. Yes, the pumice stone you use to smooth your rough heels is perfect for cleaning the toilet.

All you have to do is scrub gently as you pour more vinegar over the stain to help loosen up the minerals. Once it’s done, restore water flow to your toilet, flush it, and voila! Hard water stains are gone!

Baking Soda Sweep

To clean hard water stains from toilet, a bunch of vinegar, sponges, and gloves


If you feel like you need something a bit more powerful to clean those hard water stains, then you need to bring baking soda on board.

Mixing together baking soda and vinegar creates a chemical reaction that cleans your toilet and your toilet drain. Two birds, one stone. Just as with the previous cleaning tip, empty your toilet tank, plunge the water into it, and wipe it dry.

Then, mix together vinegar and baking soda to make a paste; just be careful to add a little at a time or it might fizz up over the sides of the container you’re mixing it in.

Once you’ve formed a paste, put on your rubber gloves and apply the mixture thickly to the inside of the toilet bowl. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then use a toilet brush or pumice stone to scrub.

Once that’s done, restore water to your toilet and flush to wash away any remaining paste. That’s it—no more hard water stains in your toilet.

Avoid a Repeat Performance

Old and new water softener tanks in a utility room waiting for replacement to remove minerals from hard water

Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

You’ve worked so hard to banish those hard water stains from your toilet that you certainly don’t want them to come back.

The good news is that there are preventative actions you can take to keep stains out of your toilet bowl. The easiest is to simply scrub your toilet bowl regularly to keep the minerals from building back up.

It’s not a bad idea to scrub your toilet daily to prevent the mineral from taking hold. If your water is so hard that you can’t keep the stains from reappearing, then you may want to consider a water softening system.

This helps to remove the minerals from your water and reduce the problems that hard water can cause beyond your toilet bowls, such as mineral buildup on faucets and dishwashers.

Cleaning toilets with some serious hard water stains can be a bit intimidating, but with the right tools and a few hard water cleaning hacks, it’s a job that you can do well.

If you want to make sure you never have to go to these lengths again, then a water softener may be in your not-too-distant future.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Toilets

Using one of the above methods, you can easily remove hard water stains from toilets. We are big fans of anything natural, so the fewer chemicals involved, the better.

We prefer using vinegar, baking soda, or a pumice stone. Make sure to let us know what natural method worked for you, and while you’re here, be sure to check out our other home guides.