Home > Maintenance & Renovation > How To Clean a Toilet the Right Way

How To Clean a Toilet the Right Way

Updated Jan 17, 2023

Updated Jan 17, 2023

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > How To Clean a Toilet the Right Way

Nobody looks forward to cleaning a toilet. It’s not glamorous or fun, but it can be satisfying when you complete the chore quickly and efficiently. Surprisingly, there are a few ways that you can mess up the job by not eliminating bacteria or viruses, using the wrong products, or making the job unnecessarily hard by complicating the task. 

Here are our top tips for cleaning a toilet properly so you can check this off your to-do list in no time. 

close-up of scrubbing brush cleaning a dirty toilet bowl
Image Source: Canva

1. Gather the Right Supplies

For starters, you must never use bleach on your toilet. While bleach may seem like a great way to get rid of tough stains, it’s a cleaning product that you should never flush down a toilet. Bleach harms your home’s pipes and can pollute the city’s water supply and the environment. 

Don’t use sponges to scrub a toilet, as damp sponges are an ideal environment for bacteria growth. If you must use a sponge, sterilize it in between uses by placing it into a microwave for around 30 seconds while damp to kill off pathogens. Paper towels or reusable cloths are better choices as they can be tossed or easily cleaned in hot water. 

Many other cleaning supplies contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other chemicals that can contribute to chronic respiratory problems, headaches, and allergic reactions. We recommend either looking carefully at the ingredients in your cleaning products or using natural solutions like castile soap or a combination of baking soda, white vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. 

Gather the following supplies for a great toilet bowl clean: 

  • Toilet brush – an angled toilet brush with stiff bristles is ideal
  • Eye protection – many cleaning products have irritating or harmful chemicals that can permanently damage your eyes. 
  • Rubber gloves
  • All-purpose cleaner or disinfecting wipes
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Pumice stone – check the type of material your toilet is made from and if it’s compatible with a pumice stone before using this to scrub the toilet. 

2. Prep the Bathroom

After you’ve collected all your supplies, remove everything from around your toilet and anything sitting on top of the toilet tank lid. Cleaning a toilet can quickly become messy if you splash water or cleaner outside the toilet, so perform this quick step to prevent additional messes. 

3. Apply Cleaning Solution

Pull on your rubber gloves and eye protection before applying any cleaning products to protect your eyes and skin from irritation. Next, flush the toilet with the toilet lid down to prevent spraying or splashing, and add your toilet cleanser to the toilet bowl. Apply the bathroom cleaner as close to the rim of the bowl as possible to keep the cleaning solution from being diluted by the toilet water. 

4. Clean the Exterior of the Toilet

person cleaning the exterior of a toilet
Image Source: Canva

While you give your toilet cleaner time to work on the toilet grime, move to clean the outside of the toilet. Choose a disinfectant spray and spray the toilet down, starting at the top to prevent dripping on surfaces you have already cleaned. 

Spray the toilet handle and edges with the cleaner, then wipe them down with a clean cloth. Work on the outside lid of the toilet next and wipe down the entire outside of the bowl, starting with the front and sides, before reaching the bottom edges of the toilet. Again, this cleaning order helps you to avoid needing to redo any sections. 

After cleaning the toilet, take time to wipe down or mop the floor around the toilet, which is likely dirty with dust, grime, and even bits of toilet paper. Take a moment to change the wastebasket next to the toilet and clean any containers holding toilet paper or your toilet brush. 

5. Clean the Toilet Seat

The toilet seat is often neglected during bathroom cleanings. However, it’s the part of the toilet that comes into contact with people, so you should thoroughly clean it. 

Start by lifting the toilet seat, then spray the seat, the inside of the lid, and the rim of the toilet with your bathroom cleaning product. Wipe down the seat, lid, and toilet hinges at the back of the toilet seat. Depending on the type of toilet, the hinges may pop open to give you better access to cleaning the toilet. After cleaning around the hinges, wipe the entire toilet seat with a damp cloth to remove any lingering chemicals on the surface. 

6. Clean the Inside of the Toilet Bowl

Start by scrubbing underneath the toilet rim with your scrub brush first using the toilet brush’s bristles. Check for stains and grime and scrub at any stubborn spots. Next, take your toilet brush and scrub the toilet bowl and drain hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl. Flush the toilet with the lid down afterward. 

If your toilet bowl has tough reddish rust, brown, or mineral stains, attack them with a strong commercial product like Rust Away or Lime-A-Way. Alternatively, you can use baking soda or even a can of cola. Simply pour the can of cola into the stained toilet bowl, then scrub and rinse the bowl. Follow this up by mixing vinegar into the toilet bowl water to eat away the remaining stubborn stains. Regardless of what cleaning product you use, flush the toilet before working on rust stains with a rust-cleaning product to prevent the rust-cleaning product from reacting with chemicals in general-purpose toilet cleaners. After, flush the toilet once more. 

If your toilet has tough-to-get-to spots, use an old toothbrush to clean tight nooks and crannies. 

7. Install an In-tank Cleaner

An in-tank toilet cleaner, or a continuous toilet cleaner, helps keep your toilet bowl fresh every day. After cleaning and flushing the toilet, install a new in-tank cleaner to enjoy a fresh toilet daily. Please note that you’ll need to remove the in-tank cleaner anytime you use the toilet bowl cleaner because different chemicals may react poorly together and even stain the inside. 

8. Clean Your Gloves & Tools

Don’t forget to clean your supplies for next time. Place the wet toilet brush under the toilet seat cover and pour the cleaning solution over it into the toilet bowl. Allow this cleaning solution to sit for a minute, then rinse it with a pitcher of water. Follow up by cleaning the scrub brush’s canister by filling it with soapy, warm water, which you can dump into the toilet. 

Don’t put the brush back into the canister until it has completely air-dried. This last step is crucial to prevent bacteria growth. 

It’s second nature to want to peel off your gloves the minute you’re finished cleaning a toilet. However, take a moment and head to the sink and give your gloved hands a thorough scrub with hot water and soap. This step keeps your gloves clean for next time and prevents your hands from getting dirty when you pull the gloves off. Next, pull the gloves off and hang them up to dry before putting them away in storage. 

person cleaning a toilet with gloves on
Image Source: Canva

Final Thoughts

We hope these DIY toilet cleaning tips help you easily clean your toilet and the surrounding areas. When it comes to cleaning, few things are worse than a filthy toilet so keep on top of toilet cleaning with a quick cleaning session each week. Installing an in-tank cleaner can also keep your bowl fresh and extend the time between cleanings, reducing your overall workload.

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