How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet? Top 5 Ways!

Hard water is one of the most common causes of water stains on your toilet, faucet, sink, and even shower. If not cleaned with the right substances, hard water stains can remain after cleaning your fixture. To make matters worse, hard water leaves behind mineral deposits (calcium, iron, and magnesium) that can cause rust, white scales, or yellow stains.

Regardless of how bad hard water toilet stains make your toilet look, you can quickly get rid of them with some household items and chemicals. But before you apply any hard water cleaning substance, make sure the toilet bowl is drained. Flush the toilet to remove the water or use a plunger. Emptying the bowl ensures that the product you’re using isn’t too dilute for perfect results.

Effectiveness of Different Types of Toilet Stain Remover:

Toilet Stain RemoverEffectivenessTime Required
Vinegar and Borax Mixture:90%20 minutes
Coke:85%50 minutes
WD-40 Cleaner:95%10 minutes
Vinegar and Baking Soda:92%30 minutes
Bleach: 90%10 minutes
Vinegar: 88%1 hour
Hydrochloric Acid:96%5 minutes

5 Ways: How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet?

You will find different cleaning products on the market. But a cleaning product is costly, and it contains harmful chemicals. Here are different easy ways that you can remove hard water stains on your toilet:

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Use vinegar

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet?

Vinegar is one of the most effective cleaning substances to use at home. However, vinegar takes a longer time to be effective, meaning you may not use the toilet for several hours. You need to shut off the toilet’s water supply and follow the procedure:

  • Fill the toilet bowl with vinegar – the first step is to fill the toilet bowl with vinegar until it covers the hard water stains. Try to pour vinegar around the edges and ensure it covers all the stains.
  • Spread vinegar on the bowl – next, you should spread vinegar around the sides of the bowl with a rag or cloth. Later on, leave the bowl full of vinegar for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • Scrub the stains – the next day, scrub the stains off using a toilet brush or pumice stone. If there are troublesome stains, you should use old elbow grease to remove them. If you have difficulty accessing tight spots, use a smaller brush. Alternatively, you can use steel wool, but be very careful not to scratch the porcelain surface.
  • Repeat the process – if the stains don’t go away, repeat the process. But if the remaining stains are small, do some thorough scrubbing, and the stubborn stains will disappear.

Use vinegar and baking soda

If vinegar alone doesn’t work, you can try using a combination of vinegar and baking soda. Here is the procedure:

  • Pour vinegar into the bowl – first and foremost, you should pour vinegar into your toilet bowl. Fill the vinegar in your bowl and apply it around the sides and edges of the bowl. Use a toilet brush to spread the mixture and leave it for some time.
  • Add baking soda – Sprinkle a cup of baking soda solution around the bowl. Afterward, add two cups of vinegar to the baking soda and watch as a fizzy reaction occurs. Give it at least 10 minutes. Baking soda is also very effective in unclogging a toilet.
  • Spread the mixture in the bowl – spread the combination around the bowl. Make sure it reaches the sides and edges of the toilet. Next, let it sit for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing the hard water stain.
  • Scrub the toilet – After 30 minutes, you can now scrub as the vinegar and baking soda would have dissolved most stains. Use a brush to scrub any remaining stains. If the stains are many, you can repeat the process. You can use a pumice stone or sandpaper that can scrub away any hard water stains.

Use borax paste

  • Make a borax paste – If the hard water stains in your toilet bowl are minor, you should use the borax paste to get rid of them. Create a borax paste by mixing equal parts of borax and water.
  • Apply the paste – apply or spread the borax paste onto the stain and the entire bowl. Leave the paste for at least 20 minutes before scrubbing. Then use a toilet brush to swish it around your toilet bowl. Borax paste has an active ingredient referred to as sodium borate, which effectively removes mineral deposits and keeps your toilet clean.
  • Scrub – After 20 minutes, you can scrub the hard water stains using a brush. Repeat the process if all the stains don’t disappear.

Use borax and vinegar

If borax alone isn’t practical, you can try a combination of borax and vinegar o remove hard water stains. Here is the guide:

  • Pour borax into the bowl – take ¼ cup of borax and add it into the toilet bowl. Use the brush to swish the borax around.
  • Add white vinegar – Next, add one cup of white vinegar to the bowl. Allow the mixture to react and get to work for at least 20 minutes.
  • Scrub – You can now scrub the toilet using a toilet brush. To reach tight areas, use a small brush. Flush and rinse the toilet. If the stains are still present, try scrubbing them using a toilet brush. If stains still exist, add another cup of vinegar with the baking soda.

Related article: Simple steps you should follow to get rid of toilet ring 

Use chemicals

If home products are not sufficient, you should try using chemicals to remove the hard water stains. Follow this procedure:

  • Put on protective wear – Unlike home-based cleaners, chemicals are dangerous to your skin and can end up harming you. That’s why wearing protective clothing, gloves, and even goggles are recommended when removing hard water stains using chemicals.
  • Utilize diluted hydrochloric acid – Hydrochloric acid is the best chemical to use to remove hard water toilet stains. This is because its highly acidic and abrasive nature allows it to cut through stains. Pour the acid into the bowl and give it a few minutes.
  • Scrub – then you should gently scrub inside the toilet bowl and the stains. Avoid using a lot of force, as this acid can damage your toilet surface.

What is hard water?

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet?

Are you wondering what’s hard water and why it causes stains? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Hard water consists of high levels of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. The stains on your toilet or sink are caused when hard water droplets dry and leave behind calcium mineral deposits.

Related article: Why does your toilet randomly run for several seconds?

Typically, these stains are in the form of white scales, but they can also be brown, yellowish, or rust-colored, depending on the type of minerals in the water. Hard water stains can become permanent and damage the surface if not cleaned in good time. Therefore, you shouldn’t wait longer to clean hard water stains.


With these substances, getting rid of hard water stains is super easy. Ensure you follow the right steps to easily remove hard water stains in your toilet. Avoid using abrasive substances, as they will damage your porcelain’s finish. Additionally, it would be best if you learned how to prevent hard water stains for easy and smooth cleaning.

Hi, this is Robert Crossan, the owner of this website, has 17 years of experience in the installation, maintenance, and repair of toilets and plumbing systems. After completing the Level 2 Basic Plumbing course in 2005, I started working in both domestic and commercial buildings as a professional plumber. So I can figure out the core difference between different toilet models and brands. It also helped me monitor their work performance and setbacks.

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