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A guide to toilet cleaning: how to do it safely & thoroughly

With all of these articles on how to clean a toilet, you might get overwhelmed. We, at the Toilet Specialist, went on a quest to find out how to safely and thoroughly clean your toilet.

This is what we’ve found:

What is the best way to clean a toilet?

In short:

The best way to clean a toilet is to first empty the tank, then empty the bowl, put in cleaning solutions, and let it soak. Then, clean the bowl (and tank), rinse, dry, and wipe down with an disinfectant wipe. Lastly, you should not forget to clean the area around the toilet.

Here at, we know 3 types of cleaning:

  • Deep Clean
    • A full-on thorough cleaning of the toilet
    • This includes letting your toilet soak (overnight) in a natural cleaning solution
  • Regular Clean
    • Regular once-a-month cleaning of the toilet
  • Touch up Clean
    • A once-a-week wipe-down to keep things extra fresh

Decide which type of cleaning you want to do when (more on this when we talk about your cleaning schedule later in this article).

Toilet cleaning material list

These are all of the materials you need to thoroughly clean your toilet:

  1. Natural toilet cleaner (exists out of a powdered mixture and a liquid mixture)
    • It’s a 1:1 ratio of water and white or distilled white vinegar and a mixture of powdered citric acid and baking soda).
    • Find the DIY recipe here
  2. Toilet brush
  3. Rubber gloves
    • To protect your hands
  4. At least three paper towels or cleaning cloths
  5. Disinfectant wipes
  6. Trash bag or bin for disposing of used materials

As you can see, we only use natural ingredients. Here’s the DIY recipe for a natural toilet cleaner.

1. Remove any obstacles

Make room to clean. Move any objects that might hinder you when cleaning:

  • Trash cans
  • Bath mats, rugs
  • Magazines
  • Toilet plunger
  • A free-standing toilet holder

Nothing gets more annoying than having to move things when your (gloved) hands are deep into toilet dirt.

2. Turn off the water supply

Before we actually start cleaning the toilet we need to turn off the water supply. Why? So that our natural cleaning solution will come into direct contact with the toilet’s surface. If there is still water present our cleaner will be diluted which is not what we want.

Turn off the water supply by closing the water valve which is usually located behind your toilet.

This will take less than a minute (more like 5 seconds really)!

3. How to thoroughly clean your toilet

At last, the fun part!

To do a thorough deep clean of your toilet here’s what you do:

  1. Once your water is shut off empty the tank and bowl by flushing.
  2. Now that your bowl is emptied of water, sprinkle some baking soda and powdered citric acid in the bowl. Next, add your cleaning solution. A few spritzes should do the trick.
    • It will fizz so be careful
    • Let this mixture sit for at least 30 minutes
  3. Scrub the toilet using a brush
  4. Turn on the water supply
  5. Flush
  6. Grab a cloth and spray some DIY natural toilet cleaner on there
    • Use only the liquid and not the powder
  7. Wipe down the exterior of the toilet using the cloth
    • Don’t forget the nooks and crannies
    • Add more cleaner if needed
  8. Grab a new clean cloth, wet it with water, and wipe down the toilet to clean off the cleaner
  9. Get another cloth or paper towel and dry the toilet
  10. Grab disinfectant wipes and wipe down the toilet one last time

That’s how you thoroughly clean your toilet!

But cleaning the toilet doesn’t stop there…

toilet cleaning

Clean around your toilet

Have you ever thought about cleaning the area around your toilet?

Maintaining cleanliness around your toilet is crucial because it’s a common area for grime, dirt, and other residues to accumulate. Neglecting this space can lead to unexpected odors. Additionally, especially when men stand while urinating, tiny urine splashes can reach surfaces outside the toilet.

These are often unnoticed by the naked eye.

Once you are done with the floor, you succesfully deep-cleaned your toilet and the area around it! If you want to go all out you can use a natural bathroom freshener as a finishing touch.

For this use the following customizable recipe: DIY toilet spray. You can also use this spray as your homemade poo-pourri :).

How to clean your toilet tank

Ever cleaned your tank?

You should clean your toilet tank twice a year. You do this by shutting off the water supply. Next, you flush the toilet to empty it. After that, you fill the tank with your natural cleaning solution and let it sit overnight. The next day you scrub the tank and its parts gently with a (tooth)brush.

  • This should only be done twice a year max.
  • This natural cleaning solution exists out of 1 part water and 1 part distilled white vinegar.

You can read our elaborate how to clean your toilet tank guide here.

Supplies to clean toilet tank

Monthly cleaning habit

Other than a deep cleaning, the other two ways of cleaning are a monthly regular cleaning and a weekly touch-up cleaning. The way a monthly cleaning differs from a deep cleaning is that you don’t let the bowl (and tank) soak for a long time.

A regular clean can be done in a matter of minutes. You need the same supplies as a deep clean.

A regular cleaning exists out of the following:

  1. Turn off the water supply and flush so that the water will be emptied
  2. Add your natural cleaning solution by spraying it in the bowl and onto the exterior
  3. Sprinkle your powdered cleaner in the bowl and leave it for a minute of 5
  4. Grab a brush and start cleaning the bowl
  5. Scrub the exterior by using a cloth or a brush/sponge
  6. Grab another clean cloth, wet it, and wipe down any solution on the exterior
  7. Turn on the water supply and flush
  8. Dry the exterior and use a disinfectant wipe for the final touch.

Do this once a month.

Toilet cleaning through touch ups

Next, we have what we call touch-ups:

If your toilet has high traffic (a big household for example) try doing a weekly touch-up. Do this once a week: spray a cloth with your cleaning solution and wipe down the exterior. Go over with another clean but wet cloth and wipe down again.

So basically a touch-up is just wiping down the toilet in between cleanings.

Why does my toilet smell even though it is clean?

When your toilet smells even though you just cleaned it there may be several reasons. It might be caused by a clogged drain, a dry P-trap, or a faulty toilet flange.

Here are 10 reasons why your toilet smells when you just cleaned it + how to resolve it.

Can you use bleach on your toilet?

You can use bleach but it is not advised by professionals. This is because bleach doesn’t get rid of stains, it just bleaches it.

Bleach should not be used to clean your toilet. It is bad for your toilet because it’s a strong chemical that, when used frequently, can lead to damage over time. It may leave parts of your toilet damaged while there are perfectly fine alternatives to use.

Here are 3 reasons why bleach should not be used when cleaning your toilet.

Why clean the toilet with vinegar?

You might wonder why everyone recommends cleaning with vinegar. But it’s basically because vinegar has some amazing benefits. It deodorizes, removes stains, is budget-friendly, and disinfects.

What vinegar to use for toilet cleaning? The NSF (Public Health and Safety Organization) says you should only use cleaning- or distilled (white) vinegar to clean. 

That’s why professionals (plumbers and cleaners) recommend distilled white vinegar in combination with water to clean toilets.

How to clean toilet fill valve

A toilet fill valve is part of the toilet flushing system. The fill valve makes sure the toilet refills again after each flush. Sometimes, due to several reasons this fill valve may become dirty and need cleaning.

Here’s a full tutorial on how to clean your toilet’s fill valve.

What is the most hygienic way to clean a toilet?

The most hygienic way to clean a toilet is to wear protection like rubber gloves. Even a mask may come in handy so you won’t get any toilet particles in your face. Especially when cleaning public toilets this is recommended.

Always wash your hands after cleaning and perhaps your face. If dirty particles come in touch with your face you might get some acne.

How to keep toilet cleaning environmentally friendly

As consumers, we have a responsibility to keep our toilet cleaning eco-friendly. The biggest responsibility lies with the big brands that produce these products. But to them all that matters is money. This means that we, the consumers need to think about what we buy and thus which brand we ”support”.

We have the power to only choose eco-friendly products which force brands to make their products environmentally friendly as well. Because if we refuse to buy bad products they won’t get any money.

To keep toilet cleaning eco-friendly we should avoid using harsh chemicals. This includes bleach, ready-made cleansers that have big warning signs, toilet tablets that usually contain bleach, ammonia etc. Instead, we can use products like vinegar, water, essential oils, baking soda, and lemon.

You can also make your own natural toilet bowl cleaner to make sure everything you use is eco-friendly.

Toilet cleaning schedule

You should clean the toilet every single month. On top of that, you should plan a twice-a-year deep clean which involves cleaning the toilet tank. Additionally, when your toilet has high traffic coming through regularly you can use touch-ups: a weekly refresher in which you wipe down the exterior of the toilet.

A toilet cleaning schedule may look something like this:

52Deep clean + toilet tank clean
1Touch up clean
2Touch up clean
3Touch up clean
4Regular clean
5Touch up clean
6Touch up clean
7Touch up clean
8Deep clean
9Touch up clean
10Touch up clean
11Touch up clean
12Regular clean

Remember, the toilet tank only needs to be cleaned twice a year. Schedule it together with a deep clean.

Free printable toilet cleaning checklist

Here’s a downloadable and printable toilet cleaning checklist:

toilet cleaning schedule

Click on the download button to get your printable PDF for FREE!

How do you clean a badly stained toilet?

To clean a badly stained toilet you need to let your cleaning solution soak. Probably overnight. If you work with a mixture of vinegar and water you can let it soak. If you are using a ready-made cleaner you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Here’s an article on what causes brown stains in a toilet bowl and how to clean them.

Brown stains in your toilet bowl are caused by minerals that are left behind when water evaporates. These minerals, that leave deposits, will catch bacteria and dirt which results in a brown-looking stain.

FAQs about toilet cleaning products

Here are some questions about toilet cleaning answered short and sweetly!

Are toilet cleaning tablets safe?

Toilet cleaning tablets are safe if they do not contain any harsh chemicals. Unfortunately most of the time these tablets contain bleach which you want to avoid. Read the ingredients thoroughly before purchasing.

Is toilet cleaner corrosive?

Toilet cleaner is corrosive because it needs to handle tough stains. Be careful when letting it soak for too long. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions. Wipe down or flush after each use.

Is toilet cleaner bad for the environment?

Toilet cleaner is bad for the environment if it contains harsh chemicals like bleach. Depending on the ingredients it might not even be safe for sceptic tanks.

Top rated toilet cleaning products

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Best rated pumice stone:

Best rated disinfectant wipes:

Best rated rubber gloves

Disclaimer: is not responsible for any damage caused to your toilet and surroundings by (wrongly) interpreting information found on this site. Please seek custom advice from a professional to evaluate your current situation.

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