How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Toilet?

Water is essential for life, but it can also be a nuisance when it leaves hard water stains on surfaces like your toilet.

If you’re looking for an easy way to remove those stubborn marks, keep reading.

how to remove hard water stains from toilet

In this article, we’ll share the reasons behind hard water stains and how to get rid of them effectively. We’ll also share some actionable tips to prevent hard water stains from coming back.

Read on.

Why Do Hard Water Stains My Toilet?

Hard water stains are caused by a buildup of minerals like calcium and magnesium.

When water contains a high level of minerals, it is called “hard water”. These minerals do not evaporate along with water and get left behind on the surfaces from where water has evaporated. This results in a hard water stain.

Hard water stains can quickly build up on toilet surfaces, especially in the toilet bowl and porcelain/ceramic sink. Over time, these stains can become difficult to remove.

This is because the toilet bowl holds standing water. Hard water stains are stubborn stains and won’t get off with a toilet brush or any cleaning products.

They are also so embarrassing because they will make your toilet look ugly to the eyes.

Since they are difficult to remove, using the wrong cleaning products will prove ineffective.

The high level of mineral content also causes hard water to be more alkaline than soft water.

This means that it can quickly corrode metal surfaces and damage your plumbing fixtures over time. That’s why we recommend installing a whole house water softener that will keep the water soft.

Hard water causes hair fall, rashes and allergies, stains everything that gets in touch, and damage plumbing fixtures. So, it’s recommended not to continue using hard water for long period.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from the Toilet?

Removing hard water stains from your toilet is an easy and simple task as long as you have the right cleaning agent.

This section presents a step-by-step guide on each method of removing hard water stains from your toilet.

Method 1: Using White Vinegar and Baking Soda

Don’t want to risk buying harsh chemical cleaners? There are natural household cleaning products that can easily remove hard water stains and buildup.

White vinegar and baking soda are two cleaning products well-known to get rid of hard water stains on the toilet. Though each of them can get rid of hard water stains to a level, their combination is more effective.

To remove hard water stains using white vinegar and baking soda, do the following:

  1. Flush your toilet and ensure that the water in the toilet bowl is clean.
  2. Add a cup of white vinegar to the water in the bowl. Mix the solution with a stiff nylon brush.
  3. Leave the mixture for about 1 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add a cup of baking soda to the mixture and another two cups of vinegar immediately.
  5. The mixture should start fizzing and bubbling. Allow this to settle for 10 minutes.
  6. Apply the mixture over the stains using a toilet brush.
  7. Also, use the brush to scrub the hard water stains in your toilet bowl (apply some effort at this point to clean up).
  8. Leave the mixture for about 30 minutes and scrub hard again until the stains are gone completely.
  9. Flush your toilet and see the difference.

However, if the stubborn stains would not leave, repeat up to step 7 but leave the mixture overnight. The next day, use the brush to scrub on the stains.

For best performance, drain your toilet bowl if possible, using a plunger. This will give you extra room to add more mixture if needed.

Also, ensure that your bathroom is well-ventilated while using this method to avoid the strong odor of vinegar.

You can also apply this method to remove hard water stains in your toilet sink or toilet tank. Make sure that the toilet tank or sink is empty before application.

Plastic parts in the toilet tank may get damaged if you try this without getting them out of the way.

Also, insert the drain plug in the toilet sink before adding the vinegar.

Method 2: Using Borax to Get rid of Hard Water Stains

Borax is another potent cleaner that can remove hard water stains from your toilet bowl and sink with little effort. Removing stains with Borax is pretty simple with these steps:

  1. Add a half cup of Borax to your toilet. Sprinkle it around and make sure that it covers all the stains.
  2. Use a stiff nylon brush to gently scrub, spreading the Borax around the surface.
  3. Leave the Borax on the surface for a while. It’s best if you can leave it overnight.
  4. The next day, scrub hard on the stains using the brush until all the stains are gone. You may add vinegar and allow it to stay for about 25 minutes before scrubbing to make the stains softer.
  5. Flush or rinse your toilet as the case may be.

Method 3: Using Heavy-Duty Cleanser

If the hard water stains are so difficult to remove with any of the methods above, try this heavy-duty toilet cleanser.

Mix the following ingredients in a spray bottle:

  • White vinegar – one cup
  • Borax – ¾ cup
  • Lavender essential oil – 10 drops
  • Lemon juice/Lemon essential oil – five drops 

Shake the bottle gently to blend the mixture. Spray the mixture on the hard water stains in your toilet.

Use a stiff nylon brush to scrub on the stains.

Leave the cleanser on the surface for about one hour.

After an hour, apply a second coat of cleaners on the stained surface before you use a clean toilet brush dipped in vinegar to scrub again.

If the stains are too hard to get rid of, you may leave the mixture on the stains overnight to allow them to work better.

Scrub hard on the stains with a stiff nylon brush.

Flush your toilet to see the difference.

This heavy-duty stain removal should remove hard water stains from your toilet. However, if the natural household cleaning products listed above aren’t effective enough, try commercial cleaning products.

Method 4: Using Commercial Cleaning Products

There are several different commercial cleaning products out there that can get rid of hard water stains in your toilet.

Most of these cleaning products are without harsh chemicals that can affect your toilet plumbing fixtures.

Though you still need to be very careful when making selections. Get one from a nearby store that’s labeled as safe and comes from a popular brand.

These commercial cleaning products have instructions on how to apply them.

Follow these instructions carefully and you will have your toilet restored to its original clean state.

Generally, commercial cleaning products require that you squirt a small amount of the cleaner on the hard water stains.

Leave the cleaner to sit on the stains around the toilet bowl or sink for about half an hour or so. Scrub the stains afterward.

Note that some commercial cleaning products can be harmful and should be handled with care.

Method 5: Using a Sandpaper or Pumice Stone

If all the methods above prove unsuccessful, that means the stains are very thick and can’t be dissolved easily.

Don’t lose hope, here is yet another solution for you – sanding the stains.

You need to be careful with this method to avoid scratching your toilet bowl or sink. Plus, put on hand gloves and goggles as you’re going to be close to the toilet bowl.

Wet a piece of sandpaper with water and add a little bit of vinegar to it. You may also use a pumice stone.

A pumice stone on a stick is preferable. Also, make sure that the pumice stone is wet to avoid damaging your porcelain toilet.

Gently rub the stained area in a circular motion until the stains are gone. Be careful not to scratch the surface of the toilet bowl.

Rinse your toilet bowl with clean water afterward.

When you do this with sandpaper, start with fine grit to medium grit to avoid any scratches.

Medium grit should work on most stubborn stains but if needed, you may carefully use higher grit sandpaper.

After sanding down the surface, you may still see some stains as you were careful not to damage the surface. You’ll need to follow any of the first three methods to get back the shine on the bowl after applying method 4.


You may not be able to do away with hard water, especially if the water is coming from your municipality.

But with the five effective methods above, you can clean and remove hard water stains from your toilet without any problem.

Remember to be patient when dealing with these stains as they may take a while before they disappear completely.

This video may help you on accomplishing the objective as well:

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