Remove demonic* rust/poop stains from toilet bowl?
December 17, 2013 9:59 PM   Subscribe

How to remove rust stains etc. from very dirty toilets?

For reasons I won't bother you with, I find myself tasked with cleaning up two VERY nasty white porcelain toilets (think along the lines of the worst gas station toilets you've ever seen). I've tried the regular old toilet brush with bon ami cleanser on it, and the stains just laugh at me. I had a small amount of CLR that seemed to help a bit on the lesser stains, but my main problem seems to be that I can't get the cleaner or the brush up under the toilet bowl rim where the truly nasty stuff resides.

Any secrets from the hive mind?

*I can't say for certain that demons are responsible for the stains.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hot water, maybe?
posted by Sara C. at 10:03 PM on December 17, 2013


I use Lime-A-Way Toilet Bowl Cleaner.
posted by kidbritish at 10:04 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


If it's a standard tank toilet (not a built-in like in most public restrooms), either shut off the water to the toilet, or jimmy the tank float so it stays up, and then flush. The bowl will stay mostly empty, making cleaning easier (and your cleansers less diluted by water), but there is still plenty of water in the trap to prevent sewer gas from coming back up. With so little water in the bowl, you can dip your brush in the collected cleaner runoff at the bottom and bring it back up to keep working it around the bowl and under the rim. When you're done, restore water flow, let the bowl and tank refill, and flush again normally.
posted by xedrik at 10:14 PM on December 17, 2013


Also, if you're having trouble physically getting whatever cleaning product under the rim, get a gel that comes in that weird specially-shaped spout specifically for this purpose.
posted by Sara C. at 10:14 PM on December 17, 2013


Yeah, Lime-a-Way is good. Vinegar can help for part of it, but is tough to soak up to the rim--spray bottle helps. It may take a number of tries to get it done, but it'll get done. I started work at a place once where the bathroom was revolting but, but even just mostly working with vinegar, it only took a couple weeks to get it back looking civilized except for a few mostly-invisible spots under the rim. It really is usually just mineral deposits from the water, not anything as bad as you think, if you've already cleaned it with an ordinary bleach cleaner. If it doesn't budge after trying normal stuff, get a pumice stone and just put on gloves and go at it that way. It can scuff up the porcelain if you clean it that way all the time, but for one-time stuff it's usually worth the small chance of slight damage.
posted by Sequence at 10:19 PM on December 17, 2013


I had good luck with KABOOM on the stubborn rust stains in Mom's toilet.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:21 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This stuff. Yes, it's at the dollar store and it costs a buck but it is truly amazing mostly because it's ~20% hydrochloric acid. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses and use a brush with a very long handle. You will not have to scrub, the brush is just to move the stuff around in the spots the bottle can't reach.

This is probably not one of your more environmentally sensitive options but it will turn your toilet bowl into a gleaming white temple. After you use it once, you can go back to Bon Ami or vinegar or whatever else you'd normally use.
posted by jamaro at 10:21 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Forgot to add - I let the KABOOM sit in there a lot longer than the container said I needed to.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:22 PM on December 17, 2013


Use a pumice stick.
posted by Duffington at 10:24 PM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Pumice stone works well in worst-case scenarios, but can scratch the porcelain and leave more porous spots for later stains. My landlady made us sign a clause in our lease that we are only allowed to clean our (very old, sparkling-new-looking) porcelain toilets and sinks with emery cloth, which I would think you could find at any hardware or home depot-type store.
posted by stellaluna at 10:27 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once used laundry "oxygen cleaner" to get the stains out of a ceramic teapot and it worked incredibly well, though I subsequently realized that it's probably poisonous or something like that so I've never done it since. But unless you drink tea out of these toilet bowls, if you have some oxygen cleaner on hand it might be worth a try.
posted by XMLicious at 10:33 PM on December 17, 2013


Drain the toilet like xedrick instructs then put a thick coating of The Works on there and let it sit for an hour. Scrub and follow up with a good elbow grease scrub with a scratchless nylon scrub pad and Bar Keepers Friend. Repeat if needed. Worked for us with horrifically rusty well water.
posted by cecic at 10:38 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dump in a large bottle of Coca Cola, let that sit for a couple hours, then try to clean it.
posted by kellyblah at 2:43 AM on December 18, 2013


Fill the bowl with bleach. Let sit for a few hours.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:07 AM on December 18, 2013


Yeah, this is what hypochlorite bleach is for. Just don't mix it with anything else. You don't need to fill the bowl with undiluted bleach.

If it's iron-rich well water you're flushing with, it'll just keep re-staining.
posted by scruss at 6:04 AM on December 18, 2013


Mr Clean Magic Eraser brought my toilet back to almost-new after decades of neglect.
posted by nacho fries at 7:28 AM on December 18, 2013


My Asian markets have melamine sponges (Magic Eraser) on a stick specifically for toilet cleaning.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:55 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you decide to go the melamine sponge route, you could clip it into one of the toilet brushes that uses disposable heads, like the Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:41 AM on December 18, 2013


I'm seconding the pumice stick. Hard water and rust stains often don't respond to bleach, but the pumice stick is like magic! It has made my toilet look brand new and it doesn't require you to work with smelly or caustic chemicals.
posted by annaramma at 8:52 AM on December 18, 2013


"The Works" and a pumice stick got our toilets clean after multiple uses of CLR failed.
posted by belladonna at 8:58 AM on December 18, 2013


If they're that bad, I'd just replace them. Probably about the same amount of work. You can get a toilet for under $100 at Home Depot.
posted by ecorrocio at 9:25 AM on December 18, 2013


If you've got a lot of mineral buildup, shut the water off, let the toilet dry a bit, then spray with WD-40. It's amazing. There's still a bit of water under the mineral, and the WD-40 will work under it displacing the water and loosening the buildup. A pumice or emery (I prefer pumice) will take it off.

I know whereof I speak as I cleaned for people who have such miserable water that their toilets were brown in six weeks, and the scale came off in chunks. They had to replace their pipes because of it.

Takes off nasty soap scum in the shower, too. Use Dawn afterwards to get it off.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:54 PM on December 18, 2013


Bleach. Just make sure there are no other cleaners in the toilet first for it to react with.

I love The Works toilet bowl cleaner someone else recommended it rips through hard water stains but don't use it with bleach.

I have also used Barkeepers friend with good success cleaning a porcelain bath.
posted by wwax at 1:06 PM on December 19, 2013


First off, a quick but very sincere "Thank you" to all of you who were kind enough to reply. I assure you it is genuinely appreciated. I saw that a dozen or so people favorited this question, so I thought the least I could do was to follow up with what I've learned.

Sara C.: "Hot water, maybe?"

I thought about that, but I was afraid the large temperature differential might crack the porcelain so I chose not to try that. You're right about your next comment. Those bottles designed to be used upside down really helped.

kidbritish: "I use Lime-A-Way Toilet Bowl Cleaner."

I would have loved to have tried this stuff out, but I couldn't find the toilet bowl cleaner version anywhere. It's on my list to find and try.

xedrik: "If it's a standard tank toilet (not a built-in like in most public restrooms), either shut off the water to the toilet, or jimmy the tank float so it stays up, and then flush. "

Brilliant point, and, yes, they are both tank type toilets.

jamaro: "This stuff. Yes, it's at the dollar store and it costs a buck but it is truly amazing mostly because it's ~20% hydrochloric acid. "

The Works was definitely very helpful. It still took many applications and LOTS of scrubbing, but that stuff worked really well on the more nasty of the two toilets.

The Underpants Monster: "Forgot to add - I let the KABOOM sit in there a lot longer than the container said I needed to."

I was initially confused about Kaboom because I saw the spray can version first. I bought it, but haven't tried it yet, so I can't comment. However, I then saw the liquid version in the angled bottle, and grabbed that as soon as I saw it. That stuff worked really well on the less dirty of the two toilets, although I still have a water level rust stain that it couldn't quite kill. Otherwise, I was very pleased with the liquid Kaboom.

XMLicious: "I once used laundry "oxygen cleaner" to get the stains out of a ceramic teapot and it worked incredibly well, though I subsequently realized that it's probably poisonous or something like that so I've never done it since. But unless you drink tea out of these toilet bowls, if you have some oxygen cleaner on hand it might be worth a try."

I will keep this in mind, thanks. I did not try this route, but will.

BlueHorse: "If you've got a lot of mineral buildup, shut the water off, let the toilet dry a bit, then spray with WD-40. "

I was very intrigued by this, but I was too chicken to actually try it. The toilets aren't mine or my landlords. I was doing this for a friend and I can't afford to replace the toilets if this had somehow damaged them. Believe me, I'm really good at destroying things even when I have only the best of intentions.

Once again, I really want to thank all of you for your helpful suggestions!

Rick aka INNH
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:17 PM on December 20, 2013


FWIW, I've poured water just off the boil down the toilet to clear a clog, and it has not cracked anything. I think toilet porcelain is a bit stronger than that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:22 PM on December 20, 2013


Sara C.: "FWIW, I've poured water just off the boil down the toilet to clear a clog, and it has not cracked anything. I think toilet porcelain is a bit stronger than that."

Oh, OK. I had no idea. Didn't mean to be rude by dismissing your idea, Sara. It's more that I'm a scared little wussy who is unsure of even the most basic facts of his environment. Still want to thank you for your help, though! Cheers.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:54 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's all good, just wanted to clarify that this is totally OK to do. For future readers, or for future toilet problems of your own.
posted by Sara C. at 10:37 AM on December 21, 2013


Sara C.: "It's all good, just wanted to clarify that this is totally OK for future toilet problems of your own."

It's funny, isn't it? There are some of us who never have toilet problems, and then there are guys like me. Oh well... could be worse. I can't complain.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 3:52 AM on December 22, 2013


  then spray with WD-40

Ack, no. WD40 has no place in any wastewater system. It's a petroleum pollutant.
posted by scruss at 8:41 PM on December 28, 2013


« Older Can you help me find a classic, badass, [fake]...   |   Mavericks Server Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.