5 Genius Ways To Remove Stubborn Rust Stains from Toilet

Unsightly rust stains in your toilet bowl? No problem! I have a few solutions for you. No, this will not be one of those articles with solutions that don’t work.

From natural remedies to cleaning products, all of these have been tried and tested by me, and I can say for certain that they work!

how to clean rust stains from toilet

Now, before we begin, I must mention that the rust in your toilet reveals high iron content in your water supply. The stubborn stains are in fact, limescale buildup and iron particles that have oxidised and turned a brownish orange over time.

Without further ado, here are five solutions for your ‘rusty’ toilets that actually work.

Method #1: Pure Magic Solution 

Just as the name implies, this eco friendly solution is like magic for the toilet. It was created by former British Bakeoff winner, Nancy Birtwhistle who shared the recipe on page 228 of her book, Green Living Made Easy.

nancy birtwhistle pure magic solution

She calls it the best toilet cleaner because ‘it dissolves limescale, dissolves watermarks, kills germs, whitens and brightens’. I have tried and for an eco friendly, it is incredibly good. Plus you avoid using chemical cleaners.

Best DIY cleaning solution for rust stains in toilet

Recipe: 

  • 200g (7oz)  citric acid
  • 150ml (5fl oz)  just-boiled water
  • 20ml (3/4 fl oz) eco-friendly washing-up liquid
  • 10 drops tea tree oil or other scent of choice
  • 1 pint measuring jug
  • Small whisk
  • 400ml (14fl oz) spray bottle

Method

  1. Mix the citric acid and hot water in a jug until dissolved completely.
  2. Stir in the washing up liquid/ dish soap and essential oil with a whisk.
  3. Let it cool and it’s ready to use. 
  4. You can pour into a spray bottle but for heavy mineral buildup, pour directly into the bowl and let it sit for 2 hours or overnight. Wash with a toilet brush and flush. I suggest emptying the toilet bowl of water to avoid the water diluting the mixture. Here are three ways to empty your toilet bowl.

Ways To Get Water Out Of The Toilet

  • Plunger: Insert a plunger into the bowl till it feels secure to the base. Move it up and down till the water slowly disappears. Wipe up the rest with a dry rag. Don’t forget to wear gloves
  • Toilet Brush: Push this back and forth into the toilet till the water starts to reduce.
  • Water: Yes, water. Fill a bucket with water and pour it fast into the toilet bowl, I don’t know why this works but it will significantly reduce the amount of water in the bowl. Mop up the rest with a dry towel or rag.

Method #2: Bar keeper’s Friend (BKF)

There are many commercial rust removers on the market but I can only vouch for a product I have used. Bar Keepers Friend is that product and it works! Unlike many other products it has a gentle abrasive particles but won’t scratch your ceramic or porcelain toilets.

bar keepers friend

For this method, you will also need to empty your toilet bowl but it doesn’t have to be completely dry. You’ll need some water to activate the BKF powder. Mix it around with your toilet brush and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. 

For that nasty brown ring or stains around the bowl, pour some BKF on a non scratch scouring pad and wet it slightly. Rub in circular motions on the ring using some elbow grease and leave to sit as well.

In 15 minutes or less, the toilet rust stains will be gone and you will be left with a clean toilet. Repeat if there are still left over stains, or try any of the other alternative methods I mention in this post. 

Method #3: Muriatic acid

If you want to get rid of those rust stains quickly and don’t mind the use of harsh chemicals, try muriatic acid. 

Muriatic acid for cleaning toilet

Muriatic acid is a form of hydrochloric acid. It is an extremely powerful and concentrated acid so cover your eyes and nose and wear gloves because it will burn your skin. Also take care to protect bathroom surfaces like marble because it will discolour them. 

This acid has a pH of 1-2 and it will remove hard mineral deposits and hard water stains instantly. 

Method: 

  1. Empty the toilet bowl and pour muriatic acid neat into the bowl
  2. Soak some on a paper towel and press around the rim if you are dealing with stains there as well
  3. Let it sit for 2- 3 minutes (yes it works that fast) 
  4. Agitate with a toilet brush taking care not to let it splash back in your face
  5. Flush and enjoy your clean toilet. Repeat if needed

This video shows Muriatic acid in action

Important tip: 

People who do not mind using chemicals consider it the best way. My genuine advice would be to try less corrosive chemicals. Over time, it can peel off the coating in your toilet and lead to a toilet that gets stained quickly. 

Start with a mild cleaner like Pure Magic before you try something as strong as Muriatic acid. 

Method #4: Pumice stone

I love a toilet pumice stick. When all else fails a pumice stone is sort of a last resort solution. If everything else I have mentioned so far fails, this will work. 

You simply wet it with water or dip in the toilet and gently scratch off the rust stains.

pumice for toilet cleaning

As you scratch you will inevitably see some pumice powder come off but that’s okay. 

Again, the only reason I do not fully recommend this as a go to solution is that it can scratch off the enamel of the toilet making it more likely to get future stains. 

Method #5: Undiluted White Vinegar

I saved this method for last because lots of people have complained that it doesn’t always remove rust stains but is fine for general toilet cleaning. I find that it works if the stain is not too severe.

To use this: 

  1. Empty the toilet bowl and make sure you get rid of the water in the bowl (I share a few methods above). 
  2. You want undiluted vinegar and the water in the toilet bowl might dilute it. Use a paper towel soaked in vinegar for any brown rust stains around the rim
  3. Let it sit overnight (I told you it takes a while)
  4. Agitate with a brush, flush and repeat if necessary 

Want to know which methods I’d use? 

I would without a doubt go for methods 1 and 2, Pure Magic and Bar Keepers Friend. Nancy’s pure magic is amazing and it works. Bar Keeper’s Friend is also highly effective even though it has a lot of chemicals. 

Preventing rust stains in toilets

I am the biggest advocate for prevention over cure. To prevent rust stains in the future:

  1. Install a water softener: Although slightly expensive, a water-softening system will eliminate the presence of iron in your water system and stop the problem from reoccurring. If you have the means to invest in one, do it!
  2. Keep a cleaning schedule: Cleaning your toilet regularly will help prevent any tough stains from settling in the first place. 

Conclusion

There are so many methods of cleaning brown stains in the toilet but these are the only methods I would vouch for. They work! Understandably not all of them are eco friendly and I might get some judgement for that. 

If you keep a regular cleaning schedule, you wouldn’t need any harsh chemicals. No judgement from me, just some sisterly encouragement.

Let me quickly recap the best solutions for getting rid of those unsightly stains in your toilet. 

  • Pure Magic Solution
  • Bar Keepers Friend
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Pumice Stone
  • Undiluted white vinegar

Remember again that regular maintenance trumps any harsh chemicals. Keep a cleaning schedule and stay proactive.

Till next time!

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Hey you, I’m Torera

Hey there! I am Torera, a home care and cleaning enthusiast with a mission to make cleaning as fun and easy as possible for women like you. As someone who had to learn everything from scratch, I have the mindset of a beginner and know exactly how to take you from A to Z. Let us ditch the overwhelm and create a space that is clean, cozy, and totally you!