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Toilet Trouble: 5 Ways to Remove Mineral Stains

Mineral stains and hard water can do a number on your toilet, too.

Yvonne Harbison
Yvonne Harbison
Kohler Kingston Comfort Height Complete Solution Two-Piece Elongated Toilet

Easily overlooked below the waterline, hard water and mineral deposits can quickly build up in your toilet bowl. Not only are these stains unsightly, they’re also difficult to remove with a standard toilet cleaner and brush.

With hard mineral stains in your toilet bowl, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Upon noticing the first signs of a mineral stain in your toilet, your best bet is to use a standard cleaning solution to get rid of it. If it persists, a little bit of regular TLC can go a long way toward keeping the stain from getting worse.

While there are many products on the market today designed specifically to get rid of stains that might accumulate in your toilet bowl, there are a few easy ways to remove mineral stains in your toilet with items you probably already have at home.

1. Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda are two powerful household cleaners, especially when used together. To eliminate mineral stains from your toilet bowl with these ingredients, follow this process:

  • Pour a cup of vinegar into the bowl, then mix it around with a toilet brush.
  • Add a cup of baking soda to the coated areas and immediately follow up by adding another cup of vinegar.
  • Wait about 10 minutes to allow the baking soda and vinegar to interact, creating that effective fizzing action.
  • Use a toilet brush to move the baking soda and vinegar solution around the bowl, focusing on areas with hard stains.

After completing the last step, let the solution sit for a while again. Finally, use a stiff brush to scrub away any stains still sticking around in your toilet bowl.

2. Cola

You might think putting soda in your toilet bowl to clean mineral deposits is counterproductive, but it can do wonders for eliminating stubborn stains. Start by flushing the toilet to empty the bowl and then close the flapper to keep it from filling up again. Alternately, you can also turn the water off at the shutoff valve and then flush the toilet, whichever you find works best. Once the bowl is nearly empty, fill it almost to the top with a few liters of cola. Let the liquid sit for a while so the acidic soda can eat away at the stains – overnight is recommended. The next morning, flush the soda down the toilet and use a stiff brush or pumice stone to scrub away the remaining residue.

3. Vinegar and Borax

Borax is a great cleaning product that, when combined with vinegar, can successfully eliminate hard water and mineral deposits. You can use this combination in your toilet and most other plumbing fixtures, too. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Grab the Borax and pour ¼ cup into your toilet bowl. Then, using a toilet brush, swish it around.
  • Add 1 cup of vinegar. Allow the solution to sit in your toilet bowl for about 20 minutes.
  • Use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl clean and eliminate any remaining stains.

4. Borax Paste

This cleaning method is for extremely stubborn mineral stains in your toilet. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Shut off the water to your toilet and flush it again to let all the water drain out of the bowl. You need to make sure the hard water stains are completely dry and not protected by water.
  • Using ½ cup Borax, add enough vinegar to make a paste.
  • Shortly after you mix the paste, spread it onto the stains in your toilet bowl so they are completely covered. Note that the paste will harden rapidly, so make sure you don’t start this step until you are ready.
  • Let the paste sit on the stains for up to 20 minutes.

Once you’ve let the paste sit, use a stiff brush to remove the paste and scrub the stains off. Don’t forget to turn on the water to your toilet again once you’re done!

5. Scrub Brush

For any of the solutions listed above, a scrub brush may work better than a standard toilet brush, especially if you’re dealing with extensive or extremely stubborn staining. For example, if you go with the Borax paste method, a toilet brush might have some trouble getting to the bowl finish because the paste is tougher than the bristles —it’s not as effective. The thicker tines of a scrub brush will achieve enough friction against the stains to have a good chance of getting rid of them. Make sure you wear rubber gloves when you do this and use enough elbow grease to really make a difference.


While there are many ways to effectively and safely remove hard mineral stains from your toilet, know that they won’t necessarily work magic on the first try. You can also try combining different methods to eliminate everything from minor staining to stains that have worsened over the course of several months. Be prepared to repeat each of these cleaning solutions several times to fully remove the stains from your toilet bowl. The stains take time to develop and will sometimes take old fashioned elbow grease and patience to remove.

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