What the funk?
September 1, 2009 9:17 PM   Subscribe

[WaterFilter] What is this slime that accumulates in my toilet?

I moved to a new place (Indiana) about six weeks ago. I've noticed that my porcelain toilet accumulates a yellowish film of funk in the bowl that stops at the water level. I've wiped it down with a bleach soaked rag a couple of times and the grossness returns about a week later.

I've lifted the lid to the reservoir and the accumulated deposits are in the tank also, which leads me to believe that these funky slimes are coming from the water not from my body. (I live alone and flush after every use).

Algae? Bacteria? Lime deposits? Pharmaceutical residue? Mold?

If I plug and fill my kitchen sink and leave the tap water there, will I see the same deposits on the stainless steel? If I plug and fill my bathroom porcelain sink? Why or why not?

What is it?
posted by at the crossroads to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
What's the float look like? Maybe the plastic is deterioration.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:33 PM on September 1, 2009

This could be lime (in which case you'll want to use limeaway or CLR on it - and it won't usually just magically wipe off without some scrubbing.) Or if you have a water softener system in place - could be filmy stuff from the water softening process. Don't know what the actual name is but it's super easy to clean (no scrubbing involved.)

If it's lime it'll show up in the kitchen sink. If it's possibly from a water softener - I've only ever noticed it in toilets. Maybe something to do with sitting cold water? No idea.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:08 PM on September 1, 2009

Hmm. Well, since it is yellow, I doubt it is the same cause as I had of a strange pink goo very similar to what you report: Serratia Marcescens. However, it might be something akin to the evil pink goo that haunted my bathroom for a year, that is, bacterial in nature. My solution was to take a course grain sanding sponge to the inside of my toilet, then add a PLENTIFUL amount of bleach to my toilet tank and bowl, let sit for several hours (DO NOT PEE IN YOUR TOILET DURING THIS), and flush out completely about six dozen times.
posted by strixus at 10:17 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

A photo may help... but it it's a "slime" that's not only in your bowl but the reservoir, it sounds like something either in your house pipes or something in the municipal supply.

Pour a cup (or so) a bleach in your toilet bowl, wait five minutes, scrub out with a brush. This is pretty standard and doesn't take a lot of time and should take care of the slime.

Do the same with your reservoir, flush a few times, repeat a couple. See if it recurs.

I'm in an entirely different environment, but I get what I suspect to be aspergillis in my toilet (and my kitchen); reddish "slime" instead of yellow. Have never had the problem in other buildings in the same city, so I'm suspecting something with either the point water source or the plumbing design in the building (lots of old people, and lots of backwash).

Killing it slowly (and often) seems to work. Bleach is cheap, and works.
posted by porpoise at 10:40 PM on September 1, 2009

What can happen is that ... biological material ... splashes up under the rim and accumulates. This is why toilet bowl cleaner bottles have that angled top. Splash it up there and scrub usually takes care of it, unless ... there was enough accumulation that it has actually migrated up the holes and possibly into the aqueduct of sorts that is inside the rim. Try cleaning out the holes using a wooden toothpick, really working it around each one as much as you can. See if the gunk returns.

In this case you have to get really brutal. Turn off the water supply to the toilet and flush, to drain the tank. Now open the flap and pour a strong bleach solution down into the drain hole system. Wait a while for it to do its job, then repeat. Scrub under the rim. Then turn the water back down and flush several times.
posted by dhartung at 11:02 PM on September 1, 2009

Sounds microbial. Drop a bleach block into the toilet's cistern and it'll kill that stuff good n proper. But really, unless you're drinking out of your loo, it's probably nothing to worry about.
posted by Jilder at 11:39 PM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Toilet stains are often a combination of limescale and bacteria. The limescale builds up, forms a rough coating, and this gets stained by urine and an army of microfauna.

If your taps, sinks and kettle tend to form chalky deposits, then limescale is probably the main problem. This can be removed using a suitable cleaner (Kilrock-K is the best one we have in the UK - it's formic acid, but anything that claims to wipe out limescale should do it). If you don't have hard water where you live, then disregard this.

But for most things there's really no substitute for rubber gloves, bleach and elbow grease on a semi-regular basis.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:54 AM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've got the same thing. I've lived in the same place for 10 years now, and only in the last year or so has it shown up. I don't know what the hell it is, but it is definitely microbial in nature. I have the habit of not flushing when I #1. Don't want to waste water, and especially at night, if the toilet decides to not flush right and runs, it drives me crazy.

Used to be fine doing this. Now, if I let it mellow, after a few hours it turns cloudy and smells like "stinky urinal". Bleach kills it for a while, but it returns.

(Mental not to self- pick up one of those bleach blocks and see what it does.)

(Note to others- if you do try this, get the ones that are just bleach. The ones that are blue make your toilet not work right. It increases the viscosity of the water and causes the swirling action to not work right and you get "unsatisfying" flushes.)
posted by gjc at 6:44 AM on September 3, 2009

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