Few chores have us as reluctant as cleaning a toilet bowl. We know we have to clean a toilet, but we don’t want to get up close and personal with it. Still, given how much we use the toilet in our house, it’s imperative to keep it squeaky clean. They do call it a ‘porcelain throne’, after all — so make it shine!
If you’re wondering how to clean a toilet, it’s very straightforward! The first step is disinfecting the surface, then starting on the scrubbing. You should also make sure to clean the toilet tank and the exterior of the toilet. Once your toilet is fresh and clean, you’ll feel better going about your ‘business’.
Now, there’s no way around it. It’s time to clean your dirty toilet, so grab a toilet brush and let’s get started!
Why Clean A Toilet Bowl
This question should answer itself — toilets get dirty, therefore we need to clean them! Letting dirt and grime build up from general use can pose a hazard to your health. The wet, semi-enclosed nature of a toilet makes it a perfect place for bacteria, mould, and mildew to grow. And you don’t want any of that in your bathroom.
A clean toilet also adds to the tidiness of your entire bathroom! It’s one of the most important spaces in your house, and it won’t look good if even one part isn’t spick-and-span.
It’s a good idea to clean and disinfect your toilet at least once a week to maintain good toilet hygiene. Make it part of your general bathroom cleaning routine, alongside cleaning your shower glass or even cleaning your shower head! Or if you’d rather not handle the dirty business (and frankly, we don’t blame you), get a home cleaning service to scrub the whole place top to bottom for you.
How To Clean A Toilet Bowl
You’ll need several tools in order to thoroughly clean a toilet. Before cleaning the commode, gather up:
- Toilet cleaner (commercial or DIY — see below!)
- All-purpose spray cleaner
- Disinfectant spray or lemon juice
- Rubber gloves
- A toilet brush
- Goggles or similar eye protection
- Cleaning cloths or paper towels
Don’t forget to remove anything sitting on or around the toilet before cleaning! Once you’re armed, put on a funky playlist. It’s time to get down and dirty!
Disinfecting the toilet
Before anything else, make sure you wear goggles and rubber or latex gloves while cleaning! You need to protect both your eyes and your skin, since toilet cleaning products can be very harsh. Always flush the toilet with the lid down for the same reason.
Start by wiping down the entire exterior of the toilet to ensure your disinfectant is effective. Use an all-purpose cleaner to spray the toilet seat, lid, handle/flush buttons, and the rest of the surfaces. Don’t forget places like the base and the rim! Then wipe it all down.
Follow up with your disinfectant spray. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions (including letting the toilet stay wet for several minutes) before wiping with a dry cloth. You can also use some lemon juice on a dirty toilet for a more natural clean.
Make sure to pay special attention to the toilet seat — that’s the part people come into contact with the most! Clean everything from the seat to the hinges. Your body will thank you.
Once that’s all done, it’s time to move onto the most important part of your commode — the toilet bowl.
Cleaning the toilet bowl
- Lower the water level inside the toilet bowl by pouring a bucket of water in. This will flush the toilet without triggering the refill. Alternatively, switch off the water and flush to drain both the tank and the bowl.
- Pour your toilet bowl cleaner into the bowl. Try to apply as close to the rim as possible to cover all areas. It’ll also help keep the cleaner from being diluted. Let it sit for several minutes.
TIP: Do these steps while waiting for the disinfectant to work on the exterior! Then by the time you’ve wiped down the disinfectant, the toilet cleaner has soaked in.
- Use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl. Begin at the rim and work downwards. Look for stains that need to be scrubbed away (you can use a pumice stone for this if anything is extra stubborn).
- Once you’ve scrubbed it clean, rinse the toilet out, start the water, and flush. (Lid down!) You can repeat once or twice to make sure the cleaning solution is all (ahem) flushed out.
- If your toilet has reddish stains, those are from rust. Use bicarb soda to scrub away any rust stains after you’ve flushed the toilet. Your chosen cleaning product could react with the toilet cleaner. Flush again afterwards.
- When that’s done, mop the area around the toilet to clean up any spills. And don’t forget to clean your equipment too!
Cleaning the toilet tank
We often overlook the interior of the toilet tank when cleaning a toilet, but it’s just as important! A dirty toilet tank can contribute to unpleasant smells or the growth of mould, and can even damage your toilet’s functions. Clean this area once a quarter — or at least twice a year.
Start by emptying the tank of water. You can do this by shutting off the water valve and flushing until it’s completely drained.
Fill the tank with white vinegar up to the overflow valve. Let it sit overnight.
Use a scrub brush to remove any grime and residue after the white vinegar has soaked in. Then turn the water back on and flush several times to rinse the tank out.
Alternatively, after draining the tank, add two cups vinegar, one cup bicarb soda, and some dish soap. Use a brush to spread the mixture around and scrub vigorously. Then let it sit for 15–30 minutes before flushing the toilet to rinse and refill the tank.
DIY Toilet Cleaner
If you’d rather skip the commercial toilet cleaner and use a more natural cleaning solution, you can absolutely go DIY instead. To do that, turn to the two ultimate household cleaning products in your kitchen — white vinegar and bicarb soda!
For a DIY toilet cleaner, you’ll need:
- Bicarb soda
- Powdered citric acid
- Disinfectant essential oil (e.g. tea tree, orange, lavender, etc.)
- Distilled white vinegar (20% strength)
- Glass jars or similar sealable containers
How to make your own DIY toilet cleaner:
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a glass bowl — two cups bicarb soda, one-half cup citric acid powder. It’s important to use a glass container since you could corrode a metal bowl or stain a plastic one.
- Add in 1tsp essential oil, 1-2 drops at a time. Stir after every drop to distribute the oil evenly throughout the mixture.
- Store the dry mix in a glass jar and make sure to label properly! The last thing you want to do is cook with your toilet cleaner — yuck.
- Fill the other jar with a few cups of vinegar and store the two containers together. Label this too — you’ll be using it to clean the toilet, not make stew.
TIP: You can form cubes of bicarb soda toilet cleaner to drop into toilets instead of sprinkling! Grab a silicone mold and the same mixture as above. Slowly add ½ tsp of 5% white vinegar, one drop at a time. Add enough to dampen the mixture so it’ll hold its shape. Then scoop the cleaning solution into the mold and let it dry for a day. Pop the tabs out when they’re done and presto! Toilet cleaner bombs.
To use your DIY toilet cleaner, either sprinkle a tablespoon of the bicarb soda mixture or throw one tablet into the toilet bowl. Scrub thoroughly with a toilet brush. Then add half a cup of vinegar into the bowl — mind the fizz! Scrub again, then let the cleaning solution sit for at least 15 minutes. Flush the toilet, and you’re done.
Don’t forget to leave the toilet open to air out for a while after — the last place you want smelling of vinegar is your bathroom. And with that, your porcelain throne is fit for royalty (yep, that’s you)!