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Can't remove toilet bowl stain buildup

September 11, 2002

I have never had this problem before. There is a greenish buildup on the bottom of my toilet bowl that will not come off. I thought it was some sort of mineral buildup (lime, hard water, etc.) I have emptied the bowl of its water and poured in a lime/rust remover liquid and let it sit. But no matter how much I scrubbed, it wouldn't come off. Any suggestions?

Comments (50)

  • akaDenise

    Could it be a copper precipitate from copper pipes? If this is a copper-based stain I'm not sure how to remove the stain. Anybody else have any good ideas?


  • ohforpetesake

    Bleach is the only thing I can think of besides Lime Away.

  • albert_135   39.17°N 119.76°W 4695ft.

    If the ususal stuff from the supermarket , bleach and limeaway etc, fails there is a nasty one sold at serious hardware stores called santee or santeen or something to that affect. Expensive and nasty stuff. It ate the metal out of my toilet brush. You will want real gloves and eye protection.

  • mhofmann

    Try to find a thing in the hardware store called a "Pummie." It's a long pumice stone (like the ones you can use on your feet) but has a plastic handle. It was the only thing that cleaned all the stains from the toilets in the home I bought last year. (The entire house was filthy and the toilets were the worst.) My handyman wanted me to replace all the toilets because they were so incredibly dirty and stained. Instead, I found the Pummie and scrubbed with it several times until the toilets were clean. Give it a try. Costs about $6.

  • noodlesportland

    Try ZUD you can get it at target I think or some grocery stores..take the water out and then just make a paste and scrub lightly..it is miracle stuff

  • sameboat

    There is a product called Barkeepers Helper. It comes in a cardboard cylinder like Comet. You can find it in the car cleaning aisle at the groceery store. It WILL work! It works like magic when nothing else does. Better than Lime-Away (which never worked for me because the stains were so bad when I bought the house.)

  • centralcacyclist

    Try muratic acid. Find it in the pool chemicals. Use it carefully, don't splash, ventilate the room. Wear rubber gloves, don't get it on anything!

  • chispa

    I second the use of a pummice stone, used for removing dry/rough skin from feet. Any pharmacy should have some. I also thought I would have to buy several new toilets for the house we bought. Spent about 1/2 hour scrubbing each toilet, stains came out and they look like new.

  • jannie

    I tried one of thgose pumice brushes, I scrubbed and it eneded up scratching the finish off, revealing tan ceramic. Looks terrible!

  • prettyphysicslady

    Try the pumice stone. They are cheap, easy to find and work great. I used them to clean old lime and hard water stains off the bathrooms here. I have a cabinet full of dozens of cleaning products I tried first that were useless.

  • zarine

    How about steam cleaning it?

  • mikie_gw

    Had a toilet that was really bad all over. Nuffin cleaned it. I tried many different grocery store cleaners.
    New once per week housekeeper told me to buy a product called 'The Works' and she would use that to clean it. Said it might take her several times.

    I bought some and started using that bathrooms toilet and everytime before using it would swish the brush and scrub a bit,,,, then after flushing would squirt some more 'The Works' in.

    Housekeeper returned the following week to find that one was now a spotlessly clean toilet.

    I don't know why that particular toilet now gets ring around the bowl within a week. That's the only one out of three here that does that. Must be something dissimilar metals in the line feeding it.

    The Works says active ingreadiant is Hydrogen Chloride 16% which with water is Hydroclorid Acid. It works very well here - about $2 for a good sized bent neck squirt bottle.

    Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.theworkscleans.com/toilet.htm

  • lisa77429

    Could that quick ring line be from damage to the porcelin from cleaners? I used a pumice stone and ended up with frequent ring lines afterwards. Just wonder if the original surface is breached in any way, will it permit continuous problems down the road?

    If worse comes to worse, toilet bowls ARE fairly inexpensive.

  • lkplatow

    I just went at the rings in my toilet wtih the advice of this thread. I tried The Works, didn't do anything. Tried Barkeeper's Friend - that worked but took a LOT of elbow grease -- I think I scrubbed the toilet for over a half hour straight. I've still got two more toilets to do and would like to find an easier way.

    I went to home depot to ask about the pumice stone but the guy looked at me like I was from outer space. Does anyone know of a store where I could buy one of these things? Thanks!

  • kacee2002

    Our local Ace Hardware has them...Pumie heavy duty scouring stick. Was in the aisle with the cleaning supplies. Read the directions...it can damage the finish and must be used wet.

  • zanesmom

    One of my toilets was stained horribly (it was like that when I purchased the home). It was too disgusting to use, in truth. I tried nearly everything, even letting Coke sit in the bowl (really, Coca Cola is supposed to remove the stains) - I even did the pummice stone, I would tear into the job while my son was taking a bath. Lime Away, CLR, none of it worked.. well, the pummice might've, but it wasn't worth the effort, it was taking forever. I ended up buying a new toilet - what a difference, so I've now fully redone the BR. :)

  • mammaliz_yahoo_com

    Pumice stones work very well not just on the toilets but also the BBQ and many other areas around the home. I was having a lot of trouble finding a pumice stone in any stores ( other than the sort sold for foot care and way to costly to consider cleaning with them ) so I started shopping online. The best price I found was at Marko Inc. Just $3.85 each and shipping/handling was 7.00 when I ordered 4. Much better price than Ace had!

    Here is a link that might be useful: Marko Inc. Pumice Stone

  • maryland_irisman

    2 other products you may want to try....let the water drain below the stain. Use hydrogen perocside on the stain. It may turn a bit yellow on the first application. The more applications, the more the stain should subside. Something we used to use in the Army....hot lemon juice. Pour it slowly on the stain. Then let the water build up to cover the stain and pour a generous amount of lemon juice in and let it soak.....oh yeah, here's another one...there are teeth cleaners that contain pumice...that's what the Hygenist uses during your dental cleaning and polishing....maybe that would be less punishing than the stone? I guess I'd better hide my toothbrush in case my wife reads this!!!

  • bugmanusa

    I got the toilet stain out of the bowl and here's how. I used the same stuff I've used on the Glasstop stove we have. I used Cerama Bryte glass-ceramic cooktop cleaner with a Scott Brite no scratch pad. I first turned off the water to the toilet and used a small cup to get as much water out of the bowl as I could. Then I poured the cleaner on the stain and started scrubbing with the pad. It took about 20 or so and it was done. At first it might not seem to work but it is. Keep scrabbing and add more cleaner if you need it. My bowl looks brand new again with no scratches.

  • phxie

    I have tried many different things to try to get the stains out of my toilet bowls, but the ONE thing that actually worked was using Cerama-Bryte.

    I removed most of the water from the bowl and used a scratchless scrubbing pad to apply the Cerama-Bryte to the stain and scrubbed like mad. This was fairly effective at removing a lot of the stain. I wanted to take a break from the scrubbing, so I decided to try dabbing on globs of Cerama-Bryte directly to the stain all around the bowl and left it sit for about 1/2 hour. When I came back and resumed scrubbing, the stain came off a lot easier.

    Depending on how bad your stains are, you may need to do this 2 or 3 times and it does require elbow grease, but it does work!

  • aquamarine11

    I was able to clean a very soiled toilet with white vinegar. No harsh chemicals, no fumes, etc. The bowl seemed to be very corroded with years of mineral build up, and vinegar was the only thing that actually worked, along with the elbow grease using a 3M sanding screen. For the really tough spots, I picked at the deposits with a screwdriver, and for a finish, to amend any scratches I created with the screwdriver, I cleaned the bowl with BarKeeper's Friend (the best cleanser there is). I am amazed that the two toilets I thought I was going to have to replace look brand new! Hope this helps.

  • dgmarie

    Super iron out will work but wear a mask, open all the windows and run a fan. This will clean it but may knock you out.

  • bippylove

    get a green toilet

  • toilettoiler

    There was a nasty looking toilet with a resume that hit about 10 years. Let's just say that toilet needed therapy not cleaning!

    In any case, I started off simple; tried Lysol toilet cleaner: nothing.
    Then White vinegar for 4 hours: nothing. Just a bad stink.
    Cola overnight: Nothing. Stains were accentuated instead of extenuated which made me want to exenterate the thing!

    Hydrogen peroxide, Scrubbing Bubbles, elbow grease, etc...
    None of these made even a slight dent!
    Then I read here and went with some advice...
    And let me say 'The Works' works!

    I gloved up, drained out most of the bowl water with a cup and emptied the whole Works container in there. I kept it the suggested 10 minutes. At first, I could not see if the stains were coming off since the it's a thick blue color. I started scrubbing with the toilet brush and noticed what was inital dirt on the brush. I then realised it was the actual stains peeling off! I kept it on for about 20 minutes longer, scrubbed more and most of it was gone! I wanted to make sure and so flushed. I only wish I kept it longer since most but not all of it was gone. I had to finish the job light scrubbing with a pumice stone and Comet with Bleach.

    But trust me, 'The Works' was what had the most affect!

  • jrinidaho_msn_com

    Use oven cleaner. Turn on the vent and close the door until ventilated.

  • brickeyee

    Ammonia is the best thing for copper stains.

    It will remove them.

    Ordinary household ammonia may take a long time, so stop by a gun store and get some Sweets7.62 copper solvent.

    It is stronger ammonia in a semi-gel designed to remove copper from gun barrels.

  • Cabhed_aol_com

    I used a black plunger in the toilet only to find out that it left the bowl looking dark in cooler . Cant remove the discoloration. What should I do to remove the darkness?

  • Kingsite_mts_net

    there is one solution to this problem. it is called old fashned elbow grease. Cheap as well. All one needs is one of those cheap sponge sanding blocks and a little bit of VIM cleaner. Just push as much water as possible out of the bowl, next roll up your slevves and rub away. use the natural feel of your fingers to find the rough spots and concentrate on these areas. Max time 5 minutes. flush toilet and check for missed spots.
    PS: your hands will come out spotless clean as well. This will not hurt your toilet finish. the industry has built their product well.

  • les_noel_nf_sympatico_ca

    Try "Lysol toilet bowl cleaner" -. First throw a bucket of water into toilet bowl so water level is low. Squirt Lysol ( it has a DUCK neck) all around. Let sit for 15 minutes. Scrub with toilet brush and flush.

  • dgmarie

    Get yourself a $2 Pummie pumice stone and start scrubbing the proceline. It will come off.

  • Maymay1051_yahoo_com

    etting ready to move and can not remove the brown colored stain in the bottom of my toilet bowl. Please HELP

  • somethinsfishy

    After buying our current home and spending years scrubbing our Master baths toilet with a pumice stone to get the brown stains out I finally came upon a product called "The Works". It has been 2 months and I have yet to do anything other then the occasional swish with the toilet brush.

    I let The Works soak for a few hours, cleaned with the brush then reapplied and let it soak again for a few more hours.

    Wish I knew about this stuff years ago!!!

  • Clarksdream_yahoo_com

    The Works is the best thing I've ever seen! I've used it for years. Don't buy at large discount stores though, their stuff is watered down. I only buy at Dollar General or some other small store.

  • sss_who_net

    The stain eraser can be purchased at pool supply stores $15. It seems softer than a pumice stone, more like a rubbery substance and takes off the dark ring in toilets with a little effort. The Works and Iron Out work great for rust/iron stains.

  • gr8daygw

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I just want to caution on ever putting all sorts of things in the toilet at once such as bleach/ammonia/other cleaning products. You can get a burn, a bad one and not just on your hands it can get in your eyes. It sort of fizzes up like a science experiment so please only use one product at a time and the advice to use extra strong gloves and eye covering was a good one when going in for a scrub like this one! Good luck and I am going to try some of these good suggestions for cleaning products! P.S. I have been able to get Bar Keepers Friend at Willams Sonoma.

  • ernie9_eastex_net

    Hydrogen peroxide. Plain ordinary type purchased at drug store for about $1. Leave it in overnight. Then use any ordinary toilet cleaner and brush to clean. Repeat if necessary. (One time use will also make a BBQ grill surface like new. Like new. Works on my porcelain kitchen sink too. )

  • tntkile

    I had this same problem when I moved into my house. The previous owner (my mother in law) loved her some pumice stone! I think this is what brought on the majority of the problem and gave the buildup and stains something to stick to. Anyhow in addition to the damage from harsh scrbbing and lots o pumice it is a low water toilet and is a nightmare!!! I found this stuff at walmart called Liquid Lightening - Toilet bowl and hard surface cleaner not drain opener. I drained most of the water from the toilet and sprayed this stuff in let it sit for a few minutes (about 20) then used a peice of old nylon screen to scrub. Took very little elbow greese and it came off in scaly chunks. It is the best cleaner ever. It is very harsh but worked wonders. I went to buy some a couple of weeks ago and they no longer carry it. I was able to find it on ebay for twenty dollars but use to pay only six for hte same bottle :( hoping walmart starts carrying it again because it is frustrating to find something that works only to lose the ability to find it!

  • minnesotasue76

    I've tried everything including bleach, Bar Keeper's powder, CLR, Kaboom Toilet Bowl cleaner and many others. Nothing would get the "ring" out. My husband suggested Cascade w/Dawn gel cleaner. I just laughed and said what could it hurt. I left the gel on for several hours and low and behold it took it off. I've been trying to deal with the toilet bowl rings for almost 2 years. We have well water with a water softner. Needless to say, he got a huge kiss!

  • dgmarie

    Use a Pumie stone. Did this and within a few minutes of elbow grease it was clean as could be. Cheap, too

  • jlh365

    After reading all your great suggestions I learned that the 2 most reliable forms of removing stains from the toilet are the Pumie Stone and "The Works." We went to buy them both and the store only carried "The Works" so that's what we bought.
    We emptied out some of the water, coated the bowl, and left it over night. This morning we grabbed the toilet brush and to our amazement chunks of hard water and lime scale came right off with very little effort!
    Thank you so much! I have been fighting this losing battle for years and with your help I have won!!

  • brickeyee

    Hard water scale usually succumbs to distilled white vinegar pretty quickly.

    All you have to do is pour a gallon into the bowl and let it sit overnight.

  • Fred Sparks

    After reading all the above I decided to try "The Works". It worked within 10 minutes. I had a badly rusted bowl and bought two bottles at Walmart for $2.61. I dumped an entire bottle in the bowl and let it soak for ten minutes. With just a little brush activity the bowl was perfect except at the bottom where the brush couldn't reach. I highly recommend this stuff. Forget the Pumice and elbow grease!

  • Kerry Blossom

    I use Lysol toilet bowl cleaner in the black bottle (the others don't work) and that seems to work the best for me. I use it on tiles, and anywhere we have any stains from our well water. I am going to also now try the cascade dawn gel!

  • Renee Texas

    I throw a denture cleaning tablet or 3 in there..takes care of any sort of rings.

  • true4uca

    Try 2 cans of coke, let coke set in toilet bowl about 1 hour, clean as usual. May need to be repeated.

  • M Leon Vigil

    Do not use Clorox Bleach with anything that has gaskets. It disintegrates the gaskets and you will have to replace them. It is a great cleaner, but I have learned my lesson having to replace gaskets and sometimes the entire product.

  • gr8daygw

    What my mom had to do was drain all the water out of the toilet and hand scrub the sides with an abrasive sponge with Comet and in some very difficult places she used a pumice stone. Turn off the water at the base of toilet and then flush until the water does not refill the bowl. She has very hard water and at the water level, there was a mineral line formed around it. It was such a job to get off but both she and dad worked on it for quite awhile!

  • pkpk23

    Whink- available at Wal-Mart or Amazon.

    Pumice stone used without water wetting it will definitely scratch surface.

  • oldgardener_2009

    Pumice stone, cheap, can get it at the grocery store.

  • sunnyca_gw

    Pumice stone comes in a stick 6 in. long that lasts quite well in a blue, red & white box hanging up at 99cent or Dollar store. Never mix Comet & bleach together, it can be fatal they used to do that in meat dept on floors & guy was found unconscious , he made it because night manager didn't see him working & happened to be a fireman also & found him & got him help!

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