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How To Remove Hard Water Stains From Toilet

by | Sep 30, 2023 | House Cleaning

Toilets tend to attract dirt just by being themselves, but sometimes there’s another cause for those stains on the porcelain. 

If your house has a water source with high mineral content, you may see some white, brown, or rusty stains in the bowl!

How to remove hard water stains from toilet? With a bit of elbow grease and some things from your home! 

Here are some effective cleaning combos:

We’ve also listed some of our favourite commercial cleaners that are great at removing hard water stains from your toilet.

So if you’ve got hard water issues, you’ve come to the right place!


What Causes Hard Water Stains in Toilets?

Dirty toilet bowl with limescale stain deposits.

Residential water lines carry either hard or soft water. Water that contains high levels of minerals (such as magnesium and iron) is “hard water.”

This water then deposits minerals when it evaporates or flows through pipes and water fixtures. In your toilet bowl, since it holds standing water, the hard water stains happen due to mineral buildup.

What colour are hard water stains? They’re generally chalky white, but some minerals such as iron will cause brown or rust-coloured stains.


How Often To Clean a Toilet with a Hard Water Line

You should clean your toilet every week, regardless of hard or soft water. This will maintain a sanitary bathroom and prevent a pesky hard water stain from forming.

However, if your water source has particularly high mineral content or if rust and scale stains are starting to show, clean right away!


How to Clean Hard Water Stains in Toilets Naturally

If you want to use cleaners that are friendlier to the environment and your wallet, there are some already in your home! 

Combine some handy household items to make natural toilet bowl cleaners for hard water stains.


Before you remove hard water stains from your toilet

Hand flushing toilet bowl with button

Start by draining your toilet bowl. This will make it easier for you to clean. 

You can either:

  • Switch off the water supply and repeatedly flush, or
  • Pour water into the bowl until it drains without triggering the flush

When cleaning, use rubber gloves to protect your skin. Or if you’d rather not get up close and personal with the dunny, a reliable house cleaning service will do that for you!

TIP: Don’t forget to clean the toilet brush as well, or you’ll be putting more dirt into your dunny.


Clean toilet hard water stains with white vinegar and baking soda

Woman cleaning white toilet bowl with baking soda

Most cleaning sites will tell you to combine the two substances to remove hard water stains. However, there’s a more effective method for cleaning with these two popular home items!

Wet the toilet bowl surface and sprinkle in a cup of baking soda. Use a scrub brush or sponge to work the baking soda into the stains.

Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar or simply pour a cup into the bowl. (Mind the fizzing!) Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes (or 30 minutes for stubborn stains), then take a toilet brush and start scrubbing.

Add more baking soda and vinegar as necessary. Keep scrubbing until the toilet bowl is clean.

Flush to rinse.


Clean toilet hard water stains with pumice stone

This method is especially effective for removing hard water stains in toilets along the water line. A pumice stone can scrub off stains without scratching porcelain toilets.

Lightly wet the toilet bowl surface. Take your pumice cleaning stone and gently scrub to remove hard water stains.

Repeat the steps until the bowl is clean. Flush away any debris.

TIP: This method also works with fine-grade steel wool!


Clean toilet hard water stains with borax

Borax is another household staple you can use to remove hard water stains. 

Be mindful of how you mix it, though – in combination with some substances (like bleach), it can create dangerous chemical reactions.

Mix half a cup of borax with a quarter cup of white vinegar. Use gloves while spreading the paste onto the hard water stains in toilet bowls.

Let the solution sit for 20–30 minutes, then use your toilet brush to scrub away the stains.

Flush to rinse.


Clean toilet hard water stains with baking soda and citric acid

For a quick and easy clean, simply mix together:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup citric acid
  • 1 tbsp hydrogen peroxide

Apply this to the damp surfaces of the bowl and scrub the stains with a toilet brush. Flush to rinse.

You can also use these ingredients to make homemade toilet bombs! Mix the baking soda and citric acid, then slowly add in a half teaspoon of vinegar and 1 tbsp hydrogen peroxide. Work carefully or it’ll bubble up!

Finish with a few drops of your essential oil of choice. Fill silicone moulds with the paste and freeze overnight so they harden.

When needed, toss one toilet bomb into the bowl and get scrubbing!


Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners for Hard Water Stains

If you’re looking for commercial products to eliminate hard water stains from your toilet, here’s a handy round-up of our favourites!

But these aren’t the be-all, end-all of effective toilet cleaners available in Australia.


Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush Toilet and Bathroom Cleaner

Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush Toilet and Bathroom Cleaner

Get everything you need for toilet cleaning in one package with the Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet and Bathroom Cleaner Multipack! It contains the starter kit (handle, pads, stand), gel cleaning stamps, and flushable antibacterial wipes.

The best part? No need to wash anything after cleaning – just flush the pad after use.

For more stubborn hard water stains, you can opt for their Heavy Duty pads. They’re not flushable, but they do contain a cleaning foam that activates when immersed in water.


CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover

CLR Calcium Lime Rust Remover 

Does CLR remove hard water stains from toilet? Yes! Your best bet is the Calcium, Line & Rust Remover since it’s specifically for mineral build-up, but the Brilliant Bath cleaner works too.

Mix equal parts CLR and warm water in a bucket or similar container. Apply the mixture directly on the stains with a sponge or brush.

Let the solution sit for 2 minutes, then rinse with cold water.



Does WD-40 remove hard water stains in toilet? The company themselves say that yes, the Multi-Use Product can!

(What can’t this product do?)

WD-40 softens rust and mineral deposits brought by hard water. Simply drain your toilet, then spray the Multi-Use Product on the affected areas.

Let the substance sit for around 5 minutes, then use a toilet brush to scrub the stains off.

Do not flush WD-40, as it’s not a greywater-safe cleaning product! Instead, use a wet cloth to wipe away the residue until the bowl is clean.


How to Prevent Hard Water Stains in Toilet Bowl

Hard water stains can become permanent if you leave them too long. The mineral deposits will create rusty stains that will be almost impossible to clean off.

Besides removing hard water stains, it’s possible to prevent them!

  • Install a water-softening system in your house
  • Check your pipes for rust
  • Try toilet tank cleaners

And of course, clean your toilet weekly! (Plus the rest of your bathroom, too.) If you stay on top of routinely cleaning your home, you won’t have a hard time with hard water (ha!) – in the toilet and anywhere else.

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.