How to Remove Toilet Bowl Ring Stains

Do you scrub and scrub your toilets, only to find that they still have ring stains? Do you constantly look up how to remove toilet bowl ring stains? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Toilet bowl ring stains aren’t a sign of bad housekeeping! Ring stains develop for several reasons. Pale brown stains that look like rust can be due to mineral deposits and hard water, while black, orange or green rings and streaks may be mold. A pink ring is usually caused by a bacteria called Serratia Marcescens. (Chandler, 2018)

Hard Water Stains

Hard water stains often look like brown rings. What is hard water? The simple definition of water hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. (Hardness of Water, 2020) Hard water has a higher concentration of calcium and magnesium. Hard water can cause minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron to build up on the toilet bowl causing ring stains.

Mold Stains

What if the toilet bowl ring stains are green, orange, or black? This is probably mold! Mold is a fungus that thrives in humid climates. Mold spores are carried through the air until they find someplace dark and damp to live, like your toilet!

Bacteria Stains

If the stain is pink, you probably have bacteria called, Serratia Marcescens. This is a bacterium that loves to grow in wet places! Chlorinated water usually kills the bacteria. If you have a well, you are more likely to have these bacteria in your toilet, because well water isn’t treated with chlorine. Toilets that sit for long periods of time without being flushed are also more likely to have pink rings, because when the water stands in the toilet for some time, the chlorine in it will dissolve, making conditions more suitable for bacteria.

How to Remove Stains

There are many products on the market designed to remove toilet bowl stains, but what if you want to try some easy at home methods? We’ve picked the best methods to show you how to remove stains using supplies you may already have. Just make sure you wear your gloves!

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Do you remember the baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment in school? Did you know that baking soda and vinegar are also good for cleaning? When mixed together, baking soda and vinegar cause a chemical reaction that fizzes and can help break down stains.

  1. Pour one cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in a cup of baking soda. Then, add two more cups of vinegar! You will notice that the baking soda and vinegar blend starts fizzing immediately.
  3.  Let it sit for about ten minutes, and start scrubbing. Use your toilet brush to move the solution around in the water and scrub the toilet bowl.
  4. Let it sit for thirty more minutes.
  5.  Flush your toilet to rinse.

Borax and Vinegar

You probably already have some borax laying around the house. If you don’t, you can buy it in the store close to where they keep the cleaning and laundry supplies. Borax is a stronger cleaning product that can help break up the stains in your toilet bowl.

  1. Pour ¼ cup of borax in the toilet bowl. Use your toilet brush to move it around.
  2. Add a cup of vinegar. Let the vinegar and borax solution sit for about thirty minutes.
  3. Scrub out the bowl with a toilet brush.
  4. Flush the toilet to rinse.


If you have stains that are deeply set in, you can try spot treating with borax.

  1. First, turn off the water to the toilet and flush it to remove the water.
  2. Pour borax directly on the stain and rub it in well.
  3. Let the borax sit on the stain for thirty minutes
  4. Turn the water back on and flush to rinse the toilet.

Pumice Stone

Do you still have stains? Try a soft pumice stone! Pumice stones are often used as beauty tools to remove dead skin from your feet. They are good to use for difficult toilet stains too. Here are some tips for using the pumice stone to remove toilet bowl ring stains:

  1. Make sure the pumice stone stays wet while you are using it. 
  2. Use it after you have already sanitized your toilet.
  3.  Scrub the stain in small circles.
  4. Flush the toilet to rinse.
  5. Use this occasionally for your toughest stains.

How to Sanitize the Toilet

Sanitize with Bleach

If you are trying to kill mold or bacteria, bleach is the go-to product for sanitization and disinfectant.

  1. Pour one cup of liquid, chlorine bleach into your toilet bowl.
  2. To kill bacteria and mold, let it sit for thirty minutes.
  3. Scrub the toilet bowl with a toilet brush.  Don’t forget to scrub under the rim.
  4. Flush the toilet to rinse.
  5. Remember, don’t combine bleach with other cleaning products. It is too easy to create toxic combinations!

Sanitize with Hydrogen Peroxide

If you want an alternative to bleach, try hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Pour 1/3 cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl.
  2. Let it sit for thirty minutes.
  3. Flush the toilet to rinse.

Preventing Toilet Bowl Ring Stains

 Here are a couple of different ways to prevent stains.

Siphon Jets

First, check your siphon jets located under the rim of the toilet. Hard water deposits can also clog up the siphon jets, making it more difficult for the toilet to flush completely. This makes it more likely that you’ll have stains!  Fortunately, these are easy to clean:

  1. Soak some paper towels in vinegar.
  2. Place them under the rim of the toilet and let them sit for a couple of hours.
  3. Remove the paper towels and use the scrub brush to scrub under the rim.
  4. Flush the toilet to rinse.

Baking Soda Soaks

 At the end of the night, before you go to bed, pour some baking soda into the toilet bowl. Let it sit overnight and flush in the morning to prevent bacteria and stains.

After following these tips, you’ll have a shiny clean toilet bowl, and no ring stains in sight!

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