Skip to Content

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Toilet (3 Easy Ways)

Use these methods to remove hard water stains in a toilet

This article will go into how to remove hard water stains from a toilet and restore your toilet bowl to its original glory. There’s nothing quite more embarrassing than having hard water stains in your toilet bowls. When we used to have friends over, we’d remind them that we had hard water and that the stain in the toilet is from that and not our neglect of a house cleaning checklist. Luckily we found out that we can do something about these hard water stains in a toilet, and it was easy to remove mineral stains like these using these methods. 

Let’s get cleaning!

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Toilet

What causes hard water stains?

The stains from hard water in your toilet bowl are from the extra minerals and sediment that are in your water source. All water has minerals and sediment in it, but hard water has an excess of these minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium.

It is these excess minerals in your hard water that can start to stick to the inside of the bowl giving it a brown or rust color. These rust and scale stains can cause real damage to your plumbing fixtures. 

The stains show up in your toilet bowl because there is standing water. This can cause a hard water ring in your toilet as well, though not all toilet rings are caused by hard water.

These minerals are present in your water throughout the household plmbing system; it’s why you periodically need to remove calcium build-up on your taps and showers. There are plenty of hot water tanks in the scrap yard near me because of the hard water build-up inside of them.


Method 1: How to clean hard water stains in the toilet with baking soda and vinegar

This is truly one of the great cleaning tips. If you are wondering, “How do you remove mineral deposits from a toilet” This is the first thing you should try when removing stubborn hard water stains from your porcelain toilet bowl.

It’s an easy-to-make homemade cleaner, and you likely have both of these in your pantry. Plus, this solution is great for cleaning bathtub drains and cleaning stainless steel sinks.

Here are the steps to cleaning hard water stains in a toilet with vinegar and baking soda.


Step 1: Put your gloves on

This should be in your household cleaning supplies. Put them on and get started.

Step 2: Flush the toilet

It’s always good to get rid of the water that is in the bowl before you start. If the hard water stain is at a lower level than the water, you may want to turn off the water supply to the toilet and then flush it so that you can have a concentrated mixture of baking soda vinegar going on the stained area.

Step 3: Pour in the vinegar

Place a cup of vinegar in the bowl, mix the vinegar with the water using your toilet brush. You can also use a spray bottle of vinegar to make sure you are hitting the stubborn areas.  Be sure to swish it around and coat the hard water stains. Leave this sit for one minute. 

Step 4: Add baking soda

Next, add a cup of baking soda, followed by another cup of vinegar. The baking soda will react with the white vinegar and will cause the mixture to fizz (a la school volcano experiment) and bubble.

As this mixture starts to fizz, it will begin to break down the build-up of the hard water. Scrub the mixture all over the bowl with the toilet brush, and make sure you get all of the hard water stains.

Let it sit for 30 minutes, then come back.

Step 5: Remove the hard water

Now take your toilet brush and scrub away to remove the hard water stains. Give the toilet a flush, and you should have a nice clean toilet.


how to remove hard water stains toilet

Method 2: How to clean hard water stains in the toilet with borax and vinegar

If the baking soda and vinegar cleaning solution didn’t do the trick, the next step is to try Borax and vinegar. This method is fairly similar but uses a different combination of household items to get your toilet clean.

Step 1: Put your gloves on

Make sure you have a good pair of rubber gloves for cleaning these water stains. They make cleaning a toilet so much easier to handle.

Step 2: Flush the toilet

Give the toilet a flush to remove and refresh the water that is in there. Always make sure the toilet water is fresh.

Step 3: Pour in Borax

Pour a 1/4 cup of Borax into the toilet and swish the Borax around with your toilet brush. Or make a Borax paste and apply it to the scale stains directly. 

Step 4: Add vinegar

Add one to two cups of vinegar. Let the Borax and vinegar mixture sit for 30 minutes. Make sure you give the mixture enough time to do its magic. Tell the family that the toilet is not in use, and go about the rest of your bathroom cleaning schedule.

Step 5: Scrub the toilet bowl

Once you have waited long enough, grab your best toilet brush, scrub the sides of the bowl, and remove the hard water stains from the toilet. The combination should have loosened the build-up. Once you’re done scrubbing, give the toilet a powerful flush, and you are done.


Method 3: How to remove stubborn stains from a toilet bowl

If you are still not having any luck removing the stubborn stains with a toilet brush (a stiff-bristled nylon brush can be useful in these situations) and the ideas we have suggested (baking soda, borax, etc…) then you may need to take it to the next level.

You will have to use something store-bought to get your toilet clean.

Use a scouring stick to remove the stains.

Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover, TBR-6, Grey Pumice Stone with Handle, Removes Unsightly Toilet Rings, Stains from Toilets, Sinks, Tubs, Showers, Pools, Safe for Porcelain, 1 Pack

Use a Pumie scouring stick (it’s like a pumice stone) to remove the hard water in your toilet bowl. The one thing to be careful when you are using an abrasive scouring pad like a pumice stone or steel wool is that you can damage the finish of the bowl, and that can give you other issues like black mold in your toilet.

We don’t want to create a new problem, so be cautious when using any type of abrasive scrubber when removing your hard water toilet stains. If at all possible, it’s better to use a nylon brush, but any hard object could potentially damage your toilet’s finish.

Make sure to read all the instructions for using a pumice stone before you start. We don’t want to swap one problem for a new one. Don’t assume that you need to use more elbow grease because the stain isn’t coming out, it may take a little time for you to remove it and extra force could damage the bowl.  

Once you’re done scrubbing flush the toilet a few times to rinse it out. 


Last method: Toilet bowl cleaner

If none of these methods have worked, the last step is to get a stronger toilet bowl cleaner. There are several strong toilet bowl cleaners on the market. You can find them here on Amazon. They’re great for removing mineral build-up and getting rid of toilet rings. Give it a spray and then use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl and it should do the trick. 

Final thoughts on removing hard water toilet stains

All of these solutions address the issue of having hard water in your house. Depending on how hard your water is you may need to use one or all of them.

Many parts of the country have hard water, and the best way to get rid of hard water altogether is to install a water treatment system like a water softener. That is what we did, and it has helped with our hard water issues throughout the house.


Looking for more cleaning articles? Read these…

This post may contain affiliate links which go towards keeping this site running. Please see our Disclaimer and Privacy Policy for more. We are a member in the Amazon Affiliate Program. Thank you for your support!