How to Get Rid of the Toilet Bowl Ring?

As I was cleaning the toilet bowl in my guest bathroom the other day, I noticed a stubborn, nasty yellow ring that would not budge no matter how hard I tried. I wasn’t going to let this eyesore of a monstrosity get the better of me. So, I went online and sought a solution for this seemingly common problem, and here is what I found. 

The best way to get rid of the toilet bowl ring is by using a combination of baking soda or borax and white vinegar. Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda or borax directly over the stain, followed by a cup of vinegar; scrub and leave for 30 mins. Flush to see the ring disappear! 

But why does the ring form in the first place? Are there any other methods to remove the stain? If you find yourselves asking questions like these, then come along, and let’s dig deeper into this ubiquitous problem that plagues toilets the world over!  

How to Remove the Toilet Bowl Ring?

Hundreds of products in the supermarket claim to remove the nasty toilet bowl ring after just a single application. However, you will be surprised by the effectiveness of some common household items in solving this problem. Here are the most effective methods to get rid of those pesky toilet rings. 

borax and vinegar

Baking Powder/ Borax and White Vinegar 

The best method of cleaning the toilet bowl ring involves using a combination of baking powder (or borax) and white vinegar. Here are a few tips for using this method for the best results-

  • Sprinkle about half a cup of baking powder or borax on to slightly wet toilet bowl, concentrating on the stained portion
  • Gently pour a cup of white vinegar over the powder and scrub with a toilet bowl brush to mix.
  • Let the mixture sit in contact with the stain for about 30 minutes
  • Scrub again with a brush and flush to rinse

How Does the Baking Powder and Vinegar Method Work?

Most toilet rings are formed due to hard water that contains calcium salts which form ‘limescale,’ a tough water-insoluble layer. Combining vinegar and baking powder (or borax) does two things to combat this- it produces a carbon dioxide froth and an acidic environment. 

The carbon dioxide froth has a scrubbing effect, and the acidity due to the vinegar dissolves the limescale. So, when you let the mixture sit in the toilet bowl, it dissolves and cleanses the stain, and you get your shiny bowl back!  

Pro Tip:

If the stain doesn’t go away completely in one go, you should repeat the process, letting the mixture sit a bit longer this time before flushing. 

pouring bleach down the toilet


You can also use good old bleach to clean the toilet ring from your toilet. As bleach contains chlorine, avoid inhaling the fumes and keep the bathroom ventilated while cleaning. Here are stepwise instructions for using bleach to clean toilet bowl-

  • Clean your toilet as you normally do
  • Mix about three tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water and mix thoroughly
  • Pour half the water containing the bleach over the stain and pour the rest of it into the bowl
  • Let the solution sit in contact with the stain for about 20 minutes
  • Scrub with a toilet brush and rinse by flushing

How Does the Bleach Work?

When you dilute bleach in water, it releases chlorine gas, reacting chemically with the stain. The chlorine oxidizes (bleaches) the stain as the reaction continues to remove it. 

Pro Tip:

If the stains are particularly stubborn, increase the amount of bleach and leave it for a longer time. 

two abrasive sponges

Abrasive Sponge and Steelwool

You can take a more hands-on approach using an abrasive sponge or steel wool and a pair of rubber gloves. The method works best if the toilet ring is relatively recent. You need to scrub the ring with the sponge or steel wool pad till the stain comes off. Flush the toilet once you succeed. 

When I experimented with this method, the results were not as good as the vinegar and baking powder methods. Besides, I am not keen on scrubbing the toilet bowl with my hands, even with rubber gloves! 

Pro Tip:

Don’t be too aggressive with the steel wool or the scrubbing pad. If you scratch the ceramic coating, you will see the toilet staining more frequently. So, be gentle but firm while scrubbing. 

How to Prevent Toilet Rings from Forming?

As they say, it is better to prevent now than to find a cure later. So, the best way to deal with toilet rings is to prevent them from forming in the first place. 

You can prevent toilet rings from forming simply by cleaning the toilet regularly with a toilet cleaner. The frequency will vary depending on the type of water and your usage. However, you should thoroughly clean your toilet bowl once a week to prevent toilet rings.  

Here are a few tips that might help-

  • Clean the toilet frequently. I know it is not something that you look forward to doing every week, but it needs to be done if you want to nip the problem in the bud. 
  • Sprinkle about ¼ cup of baking soda on the sides of the toilet bowl before bed and let it sit overnight. Gently scrub in the morning with a brush and flush. Do this every 3-4 days to prevent toilet ring formation, especially if you have hard water. 
  • Flush the toilet regularly after finishing your business! The longer the excrement stays in contact with the porcelain, the higher the chances of forming a toilet ring.

Frequently Asked Questions

vinegar and baking soda in two bottles

Are Baking soda, borax, vinegar, and bleach septic systems safe?

Yes! These ingredients are perfectly safe to use with your septic system and won’t cause any issues. 

Can I replace white vinegar with apple cider vinegar?

Yes! You can easily substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar in the method that we discussed above. Both types of vinegar are dilute acetic acid solutions, so they are chemically very similar. 

Can I use dishwasher pods to clean toilet rings?

While technically you can use dishwasher pods to clean toilets, in my experience, they don’t do that great a job. Vinegar and baking powder is a much better alternative. 

WD-40 to spray rusted toilet seat bolts

Can I use WD40 to remove toilet rings?

I was surprised that the manufacturer mentions that WD40, a very popular degreaser, can be used to clean toilet rings on the label. Just spray it over the ring and scrub with a brush to get rid of the ring. While it worked in my experiment, it is not advisable to flush solvents like WD40 down your toilet. 

To Conclude

Cleaning toilet rings is not that difficult, especially if you know how to get the job done. As we discussed, there are many ways to deal with toilet rings, but the best way is to prevent the rings from forming in the first place. 

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