How to Get Rid of a Toilet Ring

The toilet ring is the bane of many household bathrooms. Despite regular cleaning sessions, most people notice a gross ring forming around the base of their toilet bowl at least once a year. Most commonly, toilet rings form due to hard water, mineral deposits, and even bacteria. Imagine having guests over, and you notice that your toilet looks like the Eye of Sauron two hours before the doorbell rings.

The great news is that there are many commercial cleaning chemicals and products that will remove any stains from your toilet bowl with ease, but those don’t come cheap and are pretty toxic. Regular household items are ubiquitous, affordable, and are also very effective. So, don’t flush our article if you want to find out the eco-friendly way to learn how to make your toilet sparkling bright without the use of expensive and abrasive chemicals.

What Causes a Toilet Ring?

In truth, there are different reasons why toilet rings form, but the thing that is common in all toilet rings is the shift between dry and wet surroundings that enables them to develop. You can quickly determine what causes your toilet ring by its color.

Microorganisms like fungi, bacteria, mold, mildew and other pesky microscopic lifeforms usually form a dark green ring around your toilet. These microorganisms reproduce in damp and moist areas where they can attach themselves to something and concentrate in large groups. The water at the bottom of your toilet and the ceramic inside the bowl make for the perfect conditions. Microorganisms like fungus and mold are very quick to spread, and the longer you leave them thriving, the larger your toilet ring will become in a relatively short amount of time.

On the other hand, bacteria can cause your toilet ring to have bright colors like red and pink. The most common guess people take with this is rust in the water, but the culprit is almost always bacteria. The bacteria Serratia marcescens, aka pink slime, makes your toilet look like a neon-pink rave party of bacteria multiplication. The best way to check for this bacteria is to simply flush the toilet. If the pink ring doesn’t disappear, then you have yourself a bacteria party.

Another common culprit for forming toilet rings is mineral deposits. Many of us have hard water flowing through our pipes, and that water is filled with calcium, magnesium, and other types of minerals. This type of ring buildup can be tricky to remove as it’s very hard when it forms on the surface. In terms of color, calcium and magnesium build-up is most commonly gray but can sometimes be brown if the water has traces of iron in it.

How to Get Rid of a Toilet Ring: The Basics

The most common solution to toilet rings is prevention, but if you already have your own ring going on, then you’ve already flushed that solution. Now that we’ve explained the most common culprits of toilet rings, it’s time to show you what kind of gear you would need and how to eliminate them.

Before you engage in toilet combat, you would need some protective gear. The bare minimum would be rubber gloves that reach past your wrist. This is because toilet water can be full of harmful bacteria and other unfriendly life forms that you definitely don’t want spreading their love on your hands. This is also a good reason not to let your dog drink out of the toilet. If you’re using bleach, make sure that you only dilute it in water unless you want to improvise an explosive or burning device that will kill the bacteria and your toilet and respiratory organs. If you’re using some abrasive cleaning components, we’ll also advise you to wear a protective mask and goggles to avoid any splashes towards your eyes and mouth.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Well, this one should be a no-brainer. Simply head into your local convenience store, mini-mart, or what have you and find the section that has cleaning agents. The selection for toilet cleaning is plentiful and spans from low-end abrasive agents to high-end naturally derived toilet cleaners.

The bulk of the cleaning agents are most commonly derived from chemicals and are very effective for cleaning just about everything but come at a price of their side effects. These can include skin rashes, inflamed respiratory organs, headaches, and similar effects from handling chemicals. If you go down this route, make sure to get some protective gear. Here’s a list of some of the better toilet cleaning agents on the market.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are less harsh and are found in every household. When they are combined, they make up for one of the simplest cleaning solutions for every type of cleaning situation. Aside from cleaning your toilet, you can use vinegar and baking soda to clean pots and pans, stovetops, sinks, and everything. Bonus fact, vinegar and baking soda can remove bubblegum from clothes, in case you happen to sit on some gum while on the bus or you have kids…


Fill a cup with white vinegar, pour it down low on your toilet to avoid splashing. Use a toilet brush to swish the vinegar around the ring and let it chill for a couple of moments. Take a cup of baking soda, pour it down the toilet, and follow it with two more cups of vinegar. A chemical reaction will happen, and things will start to hiss and fizz. Leave the concoction going on for about 10 minutes. After that, take your toilet brush and scrub. Leave it again for half an hour. If there is any stain remaining, repeat the process. After all the marks are cleaned away, finally give the toilet a flush.

Pumice Stone

We usually use the pumice stone to take care of our feet but did you know that you can remove the toilet ring in your bowl? Yes, that’s right, after you’ve done scraping your feet, simply wet the pumice stone and start rubbing the edge of the toilet ring. It’s important that you wet the stone to make it softer; otherwise you risk damaging the interior porcelain of the toilet.


The bleach approach is straightforward, and is best used for getting rid of mold and bacteria-related toilet rings. Simply pour one cup of liquid chlorine into your toilet bowl and let it work for about half an hour. After 30 minutes, use your toilet brush to scrub the toilet, don’t be afraid to put a little muscle into it, and finally, flush. If there are still ring stains, repeat the process. A disclaimer, bleach is rather harmful to porcelain over a long period of time, so some of the other methods would be better if you have a fancy toilet.

Vinegar and Borax

The Vinegar and Borax approach is similar to the baking soda approach. Borax is a bit stronger than baking soda, so it’s best used for hard mineral toilet ring stains. The process is the same but instead of a full cup, use ¼ of a cup of Borax. Make sure to wear gloves.

How to Keep Toilet From Getting a Ring

As we said before, prevention is the best solution. You should avoid flushing things that might cause a clog, such as wet tissue papers and other robust items that would prevent the toilet from fully flushing. Without a full flush, you might have stagnant water, which is a perfect breeding ground for unwanted bacteria that cause toilet rings. The best way to keep your toilet clean is to have an in-bowl or in-tank cleaner that cleans a little after every flush. Or by pouring Borax into your toilet bowl once a week. If you have hard water, the only way is to regularly maintain your toilet with some of our solutions mentioned above. You can make it a part of your Sunday morning cleanup.


Why does my toilet keep getting a brown ring?

This can happen for a wide range of reasons. The most harmless one is having rust in your water from your pipes. This can also be the case if there are mineral deposits from hard water combined with rust from the pipes. A green ring means mold, mildew, and fungus, while red or pink means bacteria.

How do you get rid of calcium rings in the toilet?

The best way is to drain your toilet from water and apply vinegar and baking soda, or Borax. The most foolproof method is to leave the baking soda/borax solution overnight and get scrubbing in the morning. If this doesn’t work, use a chemical toilet cleaner.

Does Magic Eraser remove toilet bowl rings?

In fact, it does. It’s recommended that you cut off a piece of the Magic Eraser and leave it overnight in the water. The next morning you can use the rest of the eraser and the water to scrub off any of the leftover ring stain. This might not work for calcium deposits but is great for other issues regarding mold, bacteria, and mildew.

Can you use a Magic Eraser on porcelain?

This shouldn’t be an issue as Magic Erasers aren’t made from hard abrasive chemicals.

How to get rid of ring stains without using bleach?

If bleach isn’t your preferred method, the vinegar and baking soda trick will always be there to help remove any unwanted ring stains.

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