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how to clean a toilet two photos of a professional cleaner cleaning a toilet

How To Clean A Toilet

by | Jun 30, 2023 | Toilet Cleaning

We all know we need to clean the toilet, but no one enjoys getting up close and personal with it. 

Still, given how much use the “porcelain throne” gets daily, it’s imperative to keep it pristine.

How to clean a toilet? Here’s a step-by-step rundown:

  • Clean the bowl and exterior once a week, the tank once a month
  • Empty the bowl by shutting off the valve then flushing, or pouring in a bucket of water
  • Apply a good quality toilet cleaner under the rim of the bowl
  • Use a scrub brush to clean down to the bottom of the bowl
  • All-purpose cleaner takes care of the exterior
  • Disinfecting spray or wipes will clean the seat
  • Fill the cistern with vinegar overnight then flush

Don’t bet your bottom on a dirty toilet. Grab that scrub brush and get to work!


Why Clean a Toilet?

It’s a toilet – need we say more?

Toilets are exposed to plenty of dirt, bacteria, and grime, both from day-to-day use and from being in the bathroom. Letting that build up can pose a hazard to your health.

The wet, semi-enclosed nature of a toilet makes it a perfect place for germs to thrive.

Make cleaning inside and around the toilet an essential part of your bathroom cleaning routine

Or if you’d rather not get cosy with your bathroom porcelain, an experienced home cleaning service can get it done for you!


How Often to Clean a Toilet

clean toilet with folded toilet paper

Thankfully, we don’t need to buddy up with our toilets every day. You’ll need to clean the different parts of your toilet at different intervals.

HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN A TOILET BOWL: Clean your toilet bowl and exterior once a week, no buts!

You can make the task easier for yourself by regularly disinfecting the seat.

HOW OFTEN TO CLEAN A TOILET TANK: Clean the toilet tank every 3–6 months.

A dirty toilet tank can lead to unpleasant odours in your bathroom. It can also cause damage to the inner mechanisms.


Toilet Cleaning Supplies

Before you tackle your toilet, build your cleaning arsenal! Each part of the toilet will need its own cleaning solution.

What you need to clean the toilet:

  • Toilet cleaner of choice
  • Toilet brush
  • Microfiber cloths or paper towels
  • Bathroom-specific disinfectant or all-purpose cleaner
  • Protective equipment

Also, you might want to keep a mop handy in case any toilet water spills onto the floor.


How to Clean a Toilet Bowl

cleaner using a toilet brush to clean inside the bowl

To deep clean your toilet, you’ll need to scrub and disinfect every surface: bowl, seat, rim, handle, and exterior. This will eliminate most bacteria and deter mould or mildew.

Start by emptying the bowl, either by:

  • Pouring a bucket of water in to flush the toilet without a refill
  • Switching off the valve and flushing

Don’t forget your rubber gloves and goggles! All-purpose cleaners and bathroom cleaning products tend to contain bleach, which can be harsh on your skin.


How to clean the toilet with vinegar

This is an easy one. Start by sprinkling a cup of baking soda into the toilet to scour the dirty surfaces. You can use an old toothbrush to spread it around, especially on stubborn stains.

Follow with a healthy pour of white vinegar. While the mixture is fizzing, use the toilet brush to scrub the bowl.

Let the solution sit for 30 minutes, then flush.


How to clean the toilet with toilet cleaner

cleaning inside the toilet with a toilet brush

Take your toilet cleaner and apply it underneath the rim of the toilet bowl, going around in a circle. Pour enough that it flows down to the bottom, coating the whole surface.

Let the cleaner sit for 5–10 minutes.

Use your toilet brush to scrub firmly, scraping away any residue and gunk. Try to keep the brush head within the bowl to avoid splatter.

Don’t forget to clean under the rim and into the drain as well!

Afterwards, shut the lid and switch the valve back on so you can flush to rinse.


How to clean the toilet using toilet “bombs”

If you’re using fizzy toilet bombs to clean, it’s straightforward! Simply take one of your toilet cleaning bombs and toss it into the water.

Once the bomb starts to dissolve and fizz, use a toilet brush to scrub around the toilet bowl. Get all the way under the rim and down to the drain.

When everything is clean, shut the lid and flush to rinse.


Cleaning the exterior of the toilet

cleaning the outside of the toilet

While you’re waiting for your preferred toilet bowl cleaner to work, get to cleaning the outside of the toilet! 

You can use either a disinfecting spray or an all-purpose cleaner.

Work your way from the top of the tank, down to the base. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the surfaces, switching out for a new one as needed. 

Don’t forget the handle, tank edges, and any nooks and crannies.


How to clean a toilet seat

a professional house cleaner cleaning underneath the toilet seat

Your skin touches the toilet seat, so make sure you disinfect it regularly. 

Use a disinfecting spray or wipe to clean. You can also use vinegar in a spray bottle.

It’s not just the top of the seat, by the way – you’ll need to raise the seat and disinfect underneath as well, then the rim of the toilet.

Rinse the seat with a damp rag to remove any chemical residue.

TIP: Keep disinfectant wipes handy in your bathrooms to quickly clean toilet seats after use.


Cleaning behind the toilet

This will be a bit awkward – reaching behind the dunny can involve weird angles. You can mop the area, but that won’t get everything due to the narrow space.

There are flexible or bendable scrub brushes you can use in combination with an all-purpose cleaner. Alternatively, vinegar in a spray bottle works too.

Make sure to rinse and dry the area thoroughly! Letting moisture remain could corrode any metal fixtures or cause mould growth.


cleaning the outside of a toilet


How to Clean a Toilet Tank

As they say – out of sight, out of mind. We often forget to clean the cistern or tank, but there’s plenty of reason to crack it open.

Mineral deposits can build up inside, while the water can develop mildew or fungus.

A clean tank can also reduce hard water stains and rust in the bowl.


Before cleaning the tank

Empty the cistern by shutting off the water valve to stop the water flow. Flush the toilet until the tank is completely drained.

Do this after you tackle the toilet bowl so you don’t waste any water.

Never clean the tank will bleach. This can damage the components and kill beneficial bacteria.


Cleaning the toilet tank with disinfectant

Spray the tank’s interior with a disinfectant cleaner, saturating the surfaces. Try to avoid the metal fixtures.

Let the cleaner sit for at least 10 minutes, then use a long-handled brush to scrub everything clean. Don’t use the same brush as the one for cleaning the toilet!

Take a sponge dampened with disinfectant to wipe the different parts: ball float, flapper, handle chain, refill tube, and others.

Switch the valve back on and let the tank refill. Flush 2–3 times to remove any debris.


Cleaning the toilet tank with white vinegar

6% vinegar has plenty of disinfectant power, so it’s great for cleaning. On its own, it won’t damage the interior mechanisms – just don’t mix it with anything else!

Once the cistern has drained, use a wet pumice stone to dislodge any mineral buildup or dirt on the walls and floor. Wipe the surfaces with a damp sponge.

Fill the tank with cleaning vinegar up to the overflow valve. Let the solution sit overnight (around 12 hours), then flush to drain the cistern.

Use a brush to scour off any remaining residue, then switch the valve back on and refill the tank.


How to Clean Toilet Stains

cleaning rust stains off the toilet

Hard water and rust can cause stains inside the toilet bowl or on the metal fixtures. 

Tackle tough stains to maintain hygiene and keep your toilet looking clean.


How To Clean Rust Stains On Your Toilet 

Toilet water often carries rust from metal fixtures inside the tank or from pipes. The rust accumulates on the surface of the bowl.

Clean rust with a paste of citric acid powder with some water. Use an old toothbrush to physically scrub off the rust build-up.

You can also use two cups of distilled white vinegar or a pumice stone. Surprisingly, a Coke can also work in a pinch!

If you notice frequent rust residue in your toilet bowl, check your tank’s components to see if any are corroding and need replacement.


How To Clean Hard Water Stains On Your Toilet 

If you live in an area that has hard water, it can cause mineral buildup on the porcelain surface of your toilet.

Baking soda and vinegar are your friends – just not at the same time. Use one cup of baking soda as an abrasive cleaner for hard water buildup.

Follow by pouring vinegar to create a reaction that loosens dirt and disinfects the bowl.

Flush to rinse.


How to Make Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

If you’d rather skip using commercial cleaning products, you can DIY a toilet bomb! 

The main ingredients are baking soda and citric acid, plus a liquid cleaner of your choice.

  • 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup citric acid, then 1 tbsp dish soap
  • 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup citric acid, and 1/2 cup borax, plus water (essential oils optional)
  • 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup citric acid, 1 tbsp hydrogen peroxide, and 1/2 tsp vinegar

Combine the dry ingredients, then carefully moisten them with the liquid ingredients. Don’t get things too wet too quickly, or they’ll start fizzing!

Fill your chosen silicone molds with the paste, and let them sit in the fridge overnight. Pop them out and store them in an airtight container.

Whenever you need to clean your toilet, just toss a bomb into the water (not that kind!) and watch it dissolve in a fun fizzy burst.


Cleaning Your Toilet Brush

One common mistake people make when cleaning a toilet is not cleaning the toilet brush and holder

You’re sticking that brush inside a dirty bowl to scrub some pretty gross things – so it absolutely needs cleaning.

A quick-and-easy method is to spray the brush with 3% hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar. Pin it between the rim and the seat so it can dry.

It’s very important that you let the toilet brush dry before putting it back in its holder. 

Otherwise, you’re just putting the brush into a puddle of toilet drippings, which… ew.


Common Toilet Cleaning Mistakes

One thing people forget is to wipe or dust the toilet before cleaning. If you leave dust on the surface, you’ll just be wiping it around when you do get to work. 

Use a dry cloth or the dusting attachment of a vacuum to solve that problem.

That space behind and underneath the toilet, where the tubes and valves are? You’re probably forgetting to clean there as well. 

Dust, hair, and bacteria can accumulate there, and the fixtures are prone to rust.

clean toilet in a small bathroom

Using only baking soda mixed with vinegar. Yep – you read that right! It’s often recommended, but not a miracle cleaner. 

Sodium bicarbonate is alkaline while vinegar is acidic, so by combining them willy-nilly, you’re just making them cancel out.

A more effective way of using the two is to use the baking soda as an abrasive cleaner first, then follow with a vinegar spray to disinfect. The resulting fizz can also loosen any remaining dirt for you to wipe away.

Also, make sure to clean your toilet plunger as well! You may not use it frequently (we hope), but when you do, saturate it with a strong antibacterial disinfectant spray afterwards.

And of course, mop after cleaning! It’s good to know how to clean a toilet, but don’t leave the floors wet and slick. 

Otherwise, you’re risking a DIY slip-and-slide in your own bathroom, which could put you on your behind… and make your next trip to the toilet a bit of an ouch.

About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.