How to Remove Rust From a Toilet Bowl: 5 Easy Ways

Spotting a rust stain on your toilet bowl can make your blood boil, especially since they seem to form out of nowhere and seemingly overnight. Rust stains give people the impression that you maintain unsanitary conditions in your washroom. As a result, it’s only natural for you to look for an easy and quick fix to keep your toilet bowl rust-free.

To remove rust from a toilet bowl, use vinegar, lemon juice, or CLR calcium lime and rust remover. Apart from being cheap, these approaches are easy, and you don’t need a professional cleaner. The key is to have the right equipment and follow the correct procedure.

In this article, I’ll discuss five easy ways to remove rust from a toilet bowl. I’ll also take you through the causes of toilet bowl rust and how to prevent the menace from occurring in the first place. Keep reading to learn about keeping your toilet bowl rust stain-free.

Removing rust from a toilet bowl.

1. Use Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is an excellent home cleaning agent. It contains citric acid, a crucial antimicrobial agent with pH 3.

However, keep in mind that lemon juice is notably less potent than vinegar when it comes to dissolving rust. Moreover, when employing this technique, it’s essential to turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to empty it. That way, the lemon juice won’t get diluted.

What you’ll need:

  • Fresh lemon juice
  • A clean cloth or sponge
  • Water
  • Powdered laundry detergent/borax/salt


  1. Mix lemon juice with water in a 1:1 ratio.
  2. Add salt, powdered detergent, or borax to the mix. You can use any depending on availability.
  3. Apply the paste to the rusty areas.
  4. Let it sit for at least half an hour.
  5. Scrub with a brush.
  6. Rinse off the lemon juice and detergent mixture with water.
  7. Flush the toilet bowl to check if the rust stains are gone. If they’re not, repeat the process until they disappear.

Expert Tip: If you decide to use salt, be extra careful not to apply the lemon juice paste to the metal parts of the toilet bowl. Salt is believed to contribute to the degradation of metals.

2. Use Vinegar

Vinegar is an excellent cleaning agent that removes rust stains because of its 5% acetic acid. Moreover, the National Library of Medicine states that vinegar kills many household pathogens found in toilets compared to other household cleaning products.

Acetic acid is strong enough to remove rust stains from your toilet bowl. Horticultural vinegar is even more efficient as it contains up to 45% concentration of acetic acid. However, you must be careful when using horticultural vinegar because the high concentration of acetic acid can harm your skin.

You should also take extra care not to use vinegar on marble, granite, or other natural stone surfaces as it may damage them.

What you’ll need:

  • Vinegar (horticultural or white)
  • A clean cloth or sponge
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles


  1. Put on your protective gloves and goggles.
  2. Pour undiluted vinegar into a clean bowl.
  3. Dip your sponge or cloth in the vinegar and apply it to the rust stains.
  4. Let it sit for 2 hours before scrubbing with a brush.
  5. Rinse off the vinegar with water.
  6. Flush your toilet bowl to check if the rust stains are gone. If not, repeat the process until they disappear.

Expert Tip: You can also use a spray bottle to apply vinegar to rust stains. This method is quite efficient when you don’t want to dirty your hands.

3. Use Coca-Cola

Coca-cola contains phosphoric acid, which gives it a pH of around 1.5 and eats tooth enamel.

This low pH level allows cola to quickly dissolve and remove rust from any surface.

What you’ll need:

  • A can of Coca-Cola
  • Spray bottle


  1. Fill the spray bottle with coca-cola.
  2. Spray the coke directly on the rust stains.
  3. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing with a brush.
  4. Rinse off the coke with water.
  5. Flush the toilet bowl and check if the rust stains are gone. If they’re not, repeat the process until they disappear.

4. Use Pumice Stones

Pumice stones are excellent porcelain-cleaning agents formed when lava mixes with water. Although hard, these stones are soft compared to porcelain. Therefore, you can rest assured that the stone will not rub scratches into your toilet bowl.

Pumice stones effectively remove rust stains from your toilet bowl because they’re abrasive. The stones will rub the rust off the toilet bowl without damaging it.

What you’ll need:

  • A pumice stone
  • Moisturizer/water


  1. Turn off the water to the toilet bowl and flush to empty it.
  2. Wet the pumice stone with water or moisturizer.
  3. Gently rub the wet pumice stone on the rust stains in a circular motion.
  4. Flush your toilet bowl and confirm that the rust stains are gone. If they’re not, repeat the process until they disappear.

The stone wears out as you rub it on the toilet bowl, leaving small pumice particles. These particles combine with water forming an abrasive paste that helps remove rust more effectively.

6. Use CLR Lime and Rust Remover

This combination is fool-proof. It’s a powerful cleaning agent that can remove even the most stubborn rust stains.

CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, Blasts Calcium, Dissolves...
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It’s worth mentioning that CLR calcium and lime rust remover is quite corrosive. Therefore, you must take extra care not to get it on your skin or clothes. In case of contact, flush the affected area with water immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

What you’ll need:

  • CLR calcium lime and rust remover
  • Toilet brush
  • Protective gloves
  • Goggles


  1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet bowl.
  2. Flush the water in the toilet bowl.
  3. Put on your protective gloves and goggles.
  4. Pour a cup of CLR lime and rust remover into the toilet bowl.
  5. Leave it for about 30 minutes.
  6. Scrub the bowl with a toilet brush.
  7. Connect back the water.
  8. Flush your toilet bowl with water and check if the rust stains are gone. If not, repeat the process until they disappear.

CLR lime and rust remover effectively remove even tougher rust stains because it has four acids. These include:

  • Lactic acid
  • Gluconic acid
  • Lauramine oxide
  • Propylene Glycol

A combination of these acids makes CLR a powerful rust removal agent.

What Causes Rust in Toilet Bowls

Rusting in toilet bowls is usually caused by iron build-up. When there’s an excess of iron and other similar minerals in the water and plumbing pipes, rust stains will inevitably follow. 

Another important thing to note is that rust generally occurs when iron comes in contact with oxygen and humidity. This is why toilet bowls are the ideal environment for rust spots to form, meaning you’ll have to pay extra care and attention when it comes to keeping it squeaky clean.

Let’s now look at each cause of rusting in the toilet bowl so you can understand how they contribute to the menace.

Corrosion From Plumbing Pipes

Plumbing pipes are usually made of iron. Over time, these pipes corrode and release small iron particles into the water supply. When this water is used for flushing the toilet bowl, it carries with it these tiny particles of iron which eventually accumulate and cause rust stains in the bowl.

The leading causes of corrosion in plumbing pipes are:

  • The pH of the water: Water pH should be maintained as close to 7 as possible. Your plumbing pipes are exposed to corrosion if this pH drops to acidic. The acid dissolves the copper oxide barrier exposing the pipes to moisture and oxygen, hence corrosion.
  • High temperatures and oxidation: When water is heated, it speeds up the oxidation process. This causes the plumbing pipes to corrode faster and release more iron particles into the water.

Presence of Iron in the Water Supply

Iron is a naturally occurring element in the earth’s crust. It is present in water supplies as either dissolved iron or suspended iron particles. These particles are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye, but they can cause rust stains in your toilet bowl over time.

Dissolved iron is usually not a problem because it does not cause discoloration. However, if the water contains high levels of iron, it can cause staining and discoloration.

Suspended iron particles are usually visible as small rust-colored specks in the water. When these particles come into contact with oxygen, they oxidize and cause rust stains.

The leading causes of iron in water are:

  • Leaching from iron pipes: Over time, the water in your home leeches small iron particles from the pipes. This is why well water usually contains high levels of iron.
  • Erosion of rocks and soil: When water flows over rocks and soil, it picks up small iron particles.
  • Runoff from rusting objects: If any objects in your water supply are rusting, they will release iron particles into the water.

How to Prevent Rust Stains in Toilet Bowls

The best way to keep your toilet bowl sparkling clean is by knowing the different ways to prevent rust formation in the first place. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Use a water softener: These are by far the best way to prevent rust from appearing in the first place. They remove any minerals like iron from the water before they even get the chance to create rust in your toilet bowl. The key is to ensure that the water softener is properly maintained to continue to do its job effectively.
  • Clean your toilet bowl regularly: A regular and thorough cleaning schedule allows you to remove any possible build-up before it turns into a problem. All you need is a brush, a good-quality detergent, and your willingness to put in the time.
  • Upgrade your plumbing pipes: Iron pipes are more likely to corrode and release iron particles into your water supply. Consider upgrading to copper or PVC pipes to reduce the risk of corrosion.
  • Remove rust stains as soon as possible: If you do notice any rust stains in your toilet bowl, it’s essential to remove them as soon as possible. The longer they’re left, the harder they will be to remove.
  • Invest in regular plumbing inspection: Have a professional plumber inspect your plumbing system at least once a year to check for any signs of corrosion or wear and tear.
  • Avoid using bleach: Doing so will only deteriorate the situation as they strip the toilet bowl of its protective coating. Bleaching agents work by oxidizing the iron, which will cause it to rust more quickly.
  • Clean with vinegar: Make it a habit to use vinegar when cleaning your toilet bowl. The vinegar will help remove any rust that has already formed and will also help prevent new rust from forming.
  • Use a toilet bowl cleaner: There are different toilet bowl cleaners on the market with chemicals that help prevent rust. Look for a cleaner that contains phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid.

Final Thoughts

Toilet bowls are not immune from rust stains, especially since they are in constant contact with water and iron deposits. Therefore, you must clean the bowl and remove rust stains as soon as they’re spotted. The good news is that there are many ways to go about this, as outlined in this article. Whichever method you choose, follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging your toilet bowl.

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