Written by Grove Collaborative

Clean Team: How to clean a toilet naturally.

Last Updated: September 30, 2020

Having to clean toilets isn’t ideal, but the end result is certainly rewarding. Follow our simple guide on how to clean a toilet for the best results.

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Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

If there’s anything we all can agree on, it’s that having to clean toilets is hands down not an ideal task. It’s gotta be done, no question. We’ll call it one of those necessary evils in life, on the road to cleanliness. Besides the fact that a clean toilet is a “good hygiene” requisite, let’s break it down even more. Cleaning your toilet bowl is fairly simple, albeit somewhat gross. Persevere friends, there’s nothing that beats a sparkling, clean toilet!

Why should you clean your toilet?

Remember, a clean bathroom is probably the most important step in maintaining personal hygiene and the overall cleanliness of your surroundings. A dirty bathroom is a veritable den for unwelcome visitors, including bacteria, viruses, pathogens, and even insects like cockroaches.

If your bathroom is one that’s used by multiple people, it’s even more imperative to maintain cleanliness so you can try to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another. Truly, you might get sick if you knew how many unseen germs and bacteria reside in even the most sparkling of toilet bowls.

Since the toilet seat is touched by everyone, resident or guest, that makes it a perfect way for germs to transfer. A clean toilet seat can at least dramatically reduce the chances of getting a virus from another user as well as save you from getting a gnarly bacterial infection, or worse. We’re not really sure what worse is, but let’s just avoid it all together. Scrub a dub dub until that porcelain bowl gleams!

How often should you clean your toilet?

It is recommended to clean your toilet bowl with a dedicated toilet cleaner every week, especially if there are multiple users. Go for a deep clean at least once a month, or shoot for twice a month if multiple people are sharing.

Things you’ll need to clean your toilet

How to clean a toilet: Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Clear away any clutter

Remove items that are placed on the back of the toilet seat or in surrounding areas before you start cleaning. It is also a good idea to open a window for a little ventilation.

Step 2: Apply your toilet bowl cleaning liquid

Put on your gloves and apply your toilet bowl cleaner to the rim of the toilet, as close as possible. Be sure to get some liquid up under the rim as well. Close the lid and let it sit and do some magic. 5-10 minutes is usually a good amount of time.

Step 3: Use a disinfecting spray to clean the exterior

As the toilet cleaner works its magic, start cleaning the exterior of the toilet bowl. Spray a disinfectant on the top and bottom of the toilet lid, as well as the tank and the base of the toilet, and most importantly, the flush handle. Use a cloth, scrub brush, or wipe to rub away any stains and ensure that all the surfaces are thoroughly cleaned. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe away water and residue.

Step 4: Scrub the toilet bowl

Using your toilet brush, scrub the inside of the toilet. The toilet cleaner should have softened any stuck debris, grime, stains, and spots inside the bowl and made it easy to clean. Scrub like your life depends on it — but whatever you do, don’t splash! — then flush the bowl and rinse the brush in the clean toilet bowl before returning it to its stand. Give your toilet one more flush for good measure.

Sustainability Tip

Should you clean your toilet bowl with bleach?

While you may think you’re getting a better clean using bleach, many natural cleaners can tackle toilets just as effectively without taking a toll on the environment. If you have a septic system, bleach kills off all the good bacteria you need to break down waste. Plus, it’s not very nice to the rest of the environment either, with effects ranging from releasing dangerous toxins when mixed with other chemicals in bodies of water to putting wildlife at risk. For an eco-friendly alternative, consider Seventh Generation's new zero-plastic toilet bowl cleaner powder.

Toilet cleaning tips & tricks

How do you clean a badly stained toilet bowl?

Try using white vinegar and Bon Ami. Remove the water from the bowl with a plunger or by turning off the water valve and flushing. Sprinkle the powder on the stains and douse with vinegar before letting the solution set for about 20 minutes. Then scrub and rinse and repeat as necessary. In the case of hard, stubborn stains, you can try using a pumice stone—preferably one attached to a stick—to clean your toilet bowl. You can also use the finest grade steel wool, but be careful with both methods so you don’t scratch the porcelain.

For maintenance in between deep cleans, use disinfecting wipes on all surfaces. You can also try sprinkling some baking soda in the toilet bowl during the week between cleanings, to help keep it fresh. Use a toilet brush to spread it around and then flush. Easy peasy!

How do you remove hard water stains from your toilet?

Also known as limescale or mineral deposits, hard water stains sometimes require a different plan of attack than your typical toilet cleaning, as these stains tend to be more stubborn. While you can opt for a commercial descaler, there are a number of natural alternatives you can try — our favorite is a combination of vinegar, baking soda, and elbow grease.

Grove Tip

Remove hard water stains with vinegar & baking soda

You can try adding a combination of vinegar and baking soda: Add a 1 to 1 ratio of vinegar and baking soda to the bowl, then top off with more vinegar until the mixture foams. Let sit for roughly 10 minutes before scrubbing with a toilet brush, then leave the solution for another half an hour before giving a final scrub and a flush.

How do you make homemade toilet bowl cleaner?

Try the vinegar and baking soda method above for a homemade toilet bowl cleaner that’s affordable and easy to create with ingredients from the kitchen. You can also try using white vinegar solo and letting it soak in the bowl overnight.

What are the best natural toilet bowl cleaners?

Your toilet can be cleaned by using special toilet cleaning products, or by other general cleaning products like vinegar, antibacterial sprays, etc. You certainly want to use something that does the job well, so it might require some experimentation to find your best toilet cleaning solution that’s safe for you, your loved ones, and the environment. Here are some of the best options we’ve found.

Vinegar & baking soda: If you’re going the homemade route, see our instructions for removing hard water stains.

method toilet bowl cleaner: Try this option if you’re used to conventional cleaners but want to make the switch to a natural, eco-friendly option. Ours is naturally derived, making it safer for you and the environment. Who doesn’t like twofers?

Seventh Generation zero-plastic toilet bowl cleaner powder: This cleaner powder uses special waterless technology and dry-locked cleaning power for a biodegradable cleaner produced without any plastic. Cover the surface of the water in your toilet bowl and scrub like you would a traditional toilet cleaner.

Grove Collaborative toilet bristle brush: A toilet brush is another essential if you want to get the maximum benefit out of your cleaning liquid. You can use it to scrub away stubborn stains and spots. We won’t remind you what those stains and spots may be. For a sustainable brush option, try our toilet bristle brush!

Disinfecting spray or wipes: A disinfecting spray is perfect for the outside of your toilet bowl. Use one to ensure that all germs and bacteria are cleared away from the toilet seat. You can test drive our biodegradable antibacterial bathroom spray or Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes for an environmentally safe way to kill viruses and germs. Alternatively, you can use disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces as well, like our disinfecting vinegar wipes.

Shop natural toilet cleaners

Video how-to

Clean Minute: How to clean your toilet naturally

More of a visual learner? We get it! Follow our clean minute breakdown of how to tackle your toilet — just hit play.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our entire Clean Minute series for pointers on tackling your home's trickiest cleaning tasks.

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered. From timely topics such as our handwashing and hand sanitizer breakdown to evergreen primers like our simple ways to reduce your plastic use at home, our handy guides are here to answer your most pressing questions. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

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