No matter how much you scrub your toilet, you’re left with disgusting orange streaks all over the bowl. Consider these options for getting rid of those persistent rings and streaks, along with what not to do.

What Not to Do

When considering your cleaning options, it’s important to remember that your porcelain bowl isn’t indestructible. Rather, you can easily scratch it without the proper care. When considering how to remove those rust stains, avoid using cleaners containing bleach. This particular chemical can make those rust stains even worse.

Oxidizing iron causes rust, including in your toilet. The main ingredient in common bleach is sodium hypochlorite, which is an oxidizing agent. That means it’s like throwing gas on a fire for rust; it’ll just accelerate the problem.

You also want to use caution with the tool you use to scrub the bowl. An abrasive cleaner or brush may scratch the porcelain, leaving more issues for you to deal with to keep your bowl looking clean.

Fortunately, there are plenty of safe options to remove these stains that won’t damage your bowl in the process. If you’re concerned about harsh chemicals, many are natural in nature, keeping your bathroom safe for little ones.

Pumice Stick

You may have seen it and thought it was a gimmick, but a pumice stone stick is an incredible cleaning tool. There are options where the stone is on a stick handle or some where it’s just a stick of pumice stone.

While you may think these are abrasive, they won’t damage your porcelain. The pumice is soft enough that it’ll break down as you scrub. However, it’s just abrasive enough to work on the stubborn rust stains.

As a bonus, if you have mineral buildup along with the rust, the pumice works great on those as well. On the most stubborn stains or buildups, you may need to pair it with one of the cleaner options below. You can pick up your pumice stick from a local hardware store or at numerous online retailers.

Shaw’s Pads

An Arizona plumber developed these pads for exactly this kind of job. You can get them as simple pads, or you can get them on a plastic handle to use on your toilet.

To use these, simply wet the pad with a little water, then get to work on scrubbing. It’s gentle enough to avoid scraping your toilet bowl. As you apply short, vigorous strokes to your stain, the pad quickly lifts it from the surface. It’s like a magic eraser for your rust stains. Check your favorite online retailer or hardware store to see if they carry these incredible pads.


You’ll find borax in a variety of cleaning and personal care products, including toothpaste and hand soap. In small amounts, this natural mineral is harmless to use around your home. The compound found in borax is sodium tetraborate decahydrate, according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Depending on the locations of your stains, you may want to shut the water off to the toilet and drain as much water from the bowl as possible. Once you remove the water, you have a few options for how to apply the borax. Regardless of what option you choose, plan to wear gloves to keep the cleaner off your skin.

The simplest option is not necessarily the easiest. You can simply sprinkle the powder on the stains. However, it can be difficult to get a good coating on your stains doing this. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then, scrub it with either a pumice stick or your toilet bowl brush.

Another option is to mix 1 cup of borax with 1/2 cup of lemon juice. The citric acid in the lemon juice acts as a boost to the borax. Use an old spoon, spatula, or toothbrush to spread the mixture on the stain. Once the mixture starts to dry, use a cloth to scrub it into the stain.

When you’re done scrubbing, use a bucket of warm water to wet the rag, and then, start wiping the solution off. Continue rinsing and repeating until all the solution is off the inside of your toilet.

Be warned that borax has a strong odor. Be sure you have the room well ventilated, and use the bathroom ventilation fan to help remove the odor.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions

Beyond borax, white distilled vinegar is an incredible cleaning agent that most people have around their homes. It has shown promise for removing rust stains from porcelain, thanks to the strong concentration of acetic acid. There are two different ways you can approach using it.

The easiest of the two options is to mix one part white distilled vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Shake it well, and then, spray it on the stains and let it sit for a few hours. When you’re ready, simply flush the vinegar away.

If you have tougher stains or need to get it on the dark stains under the rim, make a paste with baking soda. Use three parts baking soda to one part vinegar, and mix it thoroughly as a paste. Spread it on the underside of the toilet rim with an old toothbrush. Let it sit for a few hours, then flush it. Given the location, you may want to use a rag with warm water to wipe it clean.

Regular kitchen vinegar usually has a concentration of 3% to 4% acetic acid. If this isn’t getting the job done, get a bottle of higher concentration vinegar, which comes in up to 45% concentration. You can pick this up from various online retailers or some hardware stores.

Try Coke

This one may make you laugh or cringe, but Coke works on these stains as well. Lower the water level to expose the stains to the air. Pour Coca-Cola around the bowl on the stains. If the stains are low enough, such as in the drain, consider filling the bowl with enough Coke to cover the stain. Let it sit for a few hours, and then flush it and rinse with a couple of extra flushes.

Coke works on these stains because of what’s included. This American favorite contains carbonic, citric, and phosphoric acids, all of which help dissolve rust.

Commercial Cleaners

If these options didn’t work on your stains, there are some commercial cleaners you may try. One of the most popular is CLR, which is widely available at both local and online retailers.

When using commercial cleaners, be sure they’re designed specifically for rust and porcelain. Also, consider your sewage system and whether the cleaner is safe to use, especially if you have a septic system. Beyond that, use gloves to protect your hands, keep the space well ventilated, and keep children and pets away from the area.

When you need dependable plumbing services around Canton, turn to the same company others have trusted since 2008. Green Energy Mechanical Inc has expert plumbers available for a wide variety of residential plumbing needs as well as NATE-certified technicians to provide heating and cooling installation, maintenance, and repair services. Call to schedule your plumbing service with one of our experts today.

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