How to Get Rid of the Toilet Bowl Ring

Updated
Remove the ring that’s ruining your bathroom experiences. 

The toilet is one of the most unpleasant things to clean in the house. However, it’s absolutely necessary that you clean your toilet at least weekly to limit germs, bacteria, odors and unpleasant signs of grime. This includes the nasty ring that appears in the toilet bowl.

We’ll share a few different ways for how to get rid of the toilet bowl ring. So next time you go to the bathroom, it’s a much more relaxing and clean environment.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

  1. Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bowl.
  2. Add one cup of baking soda.
  3. Add two more cups of vinegar.
  4. Let this sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Use your toilet brush to spread this all over the ring.
  6. Let this sit for another 30 minutes. Use your toilet brush to scrub stubborn stains.
  7. Flush the toilet.


What Causes the Ring in the Toilet Bowl?

The ring in the toilet bowl is typically caused by bacteria and mold, or hard water.

If it’s bacteria and mold, this results from a buildup of germs or fungus in the water that sticks to the toilet bowl. Once bacteria is in a damp environment, it will just flourish which makes the toilet bowl ring even worse.

Specifically, Serratia marcescens is what causes a pink ring in your toilet bowl (1). This bacteria likes to grow in places that contain fatty substances — including feces — and that’s why it’s commonly found in the toilet bowl. But it can also be found in the bath, shower and sink.

On the other hand, hard water can cause toilet bowl rings. The mineral deposits give the ring a rusty appearance, but sometimes, it can look black. The minerals leach out of the standing water and cling to the toilet bowl.

Pro Tip

If you have a black ring caused by hard water, you may need to hire a professional cleaner or find a heavy-duty cleaning product. This is harder to remove than other types of toilet bowl rings.

How to Get Rid of the Toilet Bowl Ring

Sick of that ring in the toilet bowl? We’ll help. Try any of these seven methods to tackle the dirt.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

These household items can work together to deal with the toilet bowl ring, especially if it was caused by hard water.

  1. Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bowl.
  2. Use your toilet brush to dissolve it in the standing water.
  3. After a minute, add one cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl.
  4. Add two more cups of vinegar. This will create a fizzing reaction, so don’t panic.
  5. Let this sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Use your toilet brush to distribute the solution where the ring is. Don’t forget to spread it around under the rim of the toilet.
  7. Let this sit for another 30 minutes. Use your toilet brush to scrub stubborn stains.
  8. Flush the toilet.

Toilet Cleaner

If you have a toilet cleaner from the store, you can definitely use that to try and tackle the toilet bowl ring. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance for instructions. This is especially good for bacteria or fungus stains, but it may also work for hard water stains.

Bleach

What about bleach? Give it a go if you’d like! Just keep in mind this is best for bacteria or mold-induced toilet rings, rather than hard water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging. Don’t forget to flush a few times afterwards.

Warning

Never mix bleach with other cleaning products as this can create toxic or hazardous gasses.

Borax and Vinegar

If the baking soda and vinegar hack isn’t working, try this one. Borax is a bit stronger than vinegar, so it may do a better job.

  1. Sprinkle ¼ cup of Borax into the toilet bowl.
  2. Use your toilet brush to dissolve it in the water.
  3. Pour one cup of distilled white vinegar into the toilet bowl and use the toilet brush to dissolve it.
  4. Let this stand for 20 minutes.
  5. Scrub the toilet bowl ring with your toilet brush to remove the stains.
  6. Flush to rinse.

Dryer Sheet

Dryer sheets can do more than just make your clothes nice and soft. They have multiple uses around the house.

  1. Put on rubber gloves.
  2. Grab a dryer sheet (it’s okay if it’s already been used) and scrub the toilet bowl ring.
  3. Flush to rinse.

Top Tip

This works even better if you’ve already tried the baking soda (or Borax) and vinegar tip.

How to Get Rid of the Toilet Bowl Ring Naturally

While a few of our tips already involve natural ingredients, here is one more for the road.

Are the above methods not working? Well, pull your rubber gloves on and grab a pumice or scouring stone. This works especially well straight after the baking soda and vinegar tip, but you can use the pumice stone on its own.

Once your rubber gloves are on, use the pumice stone to gently scrub the toilet bowl ring. The abrasive texture will help to remove it. Just make sure you’re using a pumice stone for cleaning purposes only. It would be really gross if someone in the family went on to use the same pumice stone on their skin!

How to Get Rid of the Toilet Bowl Ring Without Scrubbing?

Okay, so getting down and dirty in the toilet bowl isn’t for everybody. Plus, not everybody has time. Don’t worry — we have a mess-free and easy tip for you. All you need is a Magic Eraser.

  1. Cut a quarter of the Magic Eraser off.
  2. Drop it into the toilet bowl and let it sit overnight.
  3. In the morning, use a long-handled net to fish it out. Do not flush it.
  4. Flush the toilet to rinse away any residue.

Keep in Mind

This works best for lighter toilet bowl rings. If yours is stubborn or really large, this won’t work as well.

Does Vinegar Remove Toilet Bowl Rings?

Vinegar appears a lot in our methods because it works really well for removing toilet bowl rings. This is because vinegar is good for removing limescale which is caused by hard water. The limescale will combine with the acetic acid in the vinegar and the CO2 goes back into the atmosphere. H2O forms, and calcium acetate forms, too, which is water-soluble (2).

As for bacteria and mold, vinegar can kill 82 percent of mold, so it works really well on these types of toilet bowl rings, too (3). However, bleach or a toilet bowl cleaner may be more effective.

The bottom line is that vinegar is a great non-toxic choice.

Does WD40 Get Rid of Toilet Rings?

You can use WD40 to get rid of toilet rings, according to the manufacturer (4). Spray the WD40 onto the ring and it will soften the rust and lime deposits so you can easily scrub them away. Spray. Wait a couple of minutes. Scrub. It’s that easy!

Just be sure to use a small amount because WD-40 advises not flushing it down the toilet.


Remove the Ring

With these seven methods, you can remove the toilet bowl ring once and for all. Once it’s gone, make sure to regularly clean your toilet bowl to avoid it building up again.

Whether you want a natural product, or a store-bought one, we’ve got tons of methods to try. Baking soda and vinegar, as well as the pumice stone trick, are ideal if you want something natural and non-toxic.

If you want to avoid scrubbing altogether, go for the Magic Eraser method. Just make sure to fish it out the next morning!

Lastly, cut back on waste by reusing old dryer sheets to eliminate the toilet bowl ring.

Headshot of Beth

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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