Choosing a Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated February 20, 2017)


The first time I visited family in the country, I was appalled to learn that my elderly in-laws had been using tainted water for everything except drinking and cooking. Their sons had paid to have a well drilled for them, and the drillers had hit a vein of coal, resulting in what they called "red" water. The water was, indeed, red. From years of bathing in the water, their skin had a slight orange tint, their white hair had turned coppery, and their sinks, bathtub, and toilet bowl were thick with hard deposits of red iron.

I quickly learned that ordinary toilet bowl cleaners would not remove the iron deposits from the porcelain toilet bowl. I found that using a pumice scouring stick, Comet Powder Cleanser, a little water, and a lot of elbow grease removed the iron stains.

Choosing the appropriate toilet bowl cleaner depends upon what causes the stains, your water hardness, the products you use to clean your toilet, and what type of toilet you have. Follow these guidelines when choosing a toilet bowl cleaner:

  • Identify the stain. Determine what kind of stain your have in your toilet bowl. The most common types of stains are rust, lime, and scum.
  • What to use. Hard water contains natural minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron, and they form hard deposits on every surface they occupy. Adding a filter system and water softeners can help remove those harmful particles from your water. To remove the stains from your toilet bowl, choose cleansers that contain hydrochloric acid or muriatic acid. You can find them at your local home improvement store. Never use a product that contains bleach on rust stains because bleach will simply set the stain.
  • What not to use. Avoid using "drop-in" toilet bowl cleaners—the discs that are meant to be dropped into the toilet tank. A plumber told me that those discs create sludge at the bottom of your tank, and subsequently clog the water holes around the rim of the toilet, making it impossible to gain enough water power to properly flush a toilet. They also create blue stains on your toilet bowl. Instead, use a mild toilet bowl cleaner and a brush once a week to remove toilet bowl stains.
  • How to use it. Read product labels on toilet bowl cleaners to determine if they will harm your toilet bowl. Always use a nylon-bristled brush on a fiberglass bowl, since wire brushes will scratch the bowl. Once you permanently scratch a toilet bowl, it is impossible to remove stains from the scratches.

If you choose to use a pumice stick on your porcelain bowl, make sure that you buy a pumice stick meant for cleaning porcelain, and not a pumice stone used for removing dead skin from feet. Never use a pumice cleaning stick on a fiberglass bowl. Take care when using products with hydrochloric and muriatic acid, as they are corrosive and can burn your skin and harm carpet and vinyl.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


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What is one more than 9?

2017-02-20 14:00:11


Not only is this water discolored, it stinks too. Suggest a new well immediately. Perhaps they can get some assistance from the state or the county.

2015-08-03 06:32:01


A product called WINK which contains hydrofluoric acid does a good job on iron stains

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