How to Get Rid of Brown Stains in a Toilet Bowl?

Having a spotless toilet can sometimes be quite a challenge because of the hard water buildup that leads to staining. If you wonder how to get rid of brown stains in the toilet bowl, there are some things that you can do.

How do you remove old brown stains from the toilet bowl?
  1. To remove old brown stains from the toilet bowl, Lauren suggests using vinegar to soften the brown marks.
  2. Pour one liter of vinegar down the toilet and let it sit for an hour to three hours, or even overnight.
  3. Then scrub the toilet bowl and flush.

At the moment, there are many products on the market that can be used for this purpose. What is more, there are also some DIY solutions that are not only highly effective but also safe. In this guide, you can learn how to get rid of stubborn stains and prevent them from occurring.

Guide on How to Remove Toilet Brown Stains

Follow such steps to remove brown buildup in the toilet:

  • Thoroughly clean your toilet bowl.
  • Apply a toilet-cleaning solution to the surface of the toilet.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes before you flush and scrub the surface using a toilet brush.
  • Make sure that you don’t use harsh chemicals or bleach.

What causes brown stains in a toilet bowl?

What can be more annoying in your house cleaning routine than dealing with brown buildup in your toilet? A lot of people complain about having this problem despite regular cleaning of the toilet. The appearance of stains in the toilet has to do with the minerals contained in hard water. The mineral compounds found in the water that cause staining include calcium, iron oxide, and manganese.

flushing water in the toilet

Rust and minerals can lead to the appearance of not only brown stains but also lime scale and green strips in the bowl. While having water filters may improve the situation slightly, the minerals will still be present in the water and cause these unfortunate stains to occur.

Limescale appears in the bowl when hard water evaporates, so this buildup appears in the bowl over time. When this buildup dries, small particles of dirt attach to it and thus cause dark stains in the toilet bowl.

How to get rid of stubborn brown stains in your toilet bowl

A lot of people look for ways to effectively get rid of brown film in the toilet bowl. It is important to remove buildup both safely and without damaging the materials of the bowl. Depending on how long the stains have been there, you may have to try different methods to see the results.

Baking soda and vinegar

The first safe and all-natural method that you can use involves baking soda and vinegar. To get rid of toilet brown stains in this way, you should take the following steps:

  1. Thoroughly clean the toilet bowl.
  2. Take about a cup of vinegar and pour it into the toilet bowl. Spread it over the stains with the help of a brush.
  3. Then, you should take a full cup of baking soda and apply it to all the areas where you see some coating.
  4. Pour another cup of vinegar on top and wait about 10 minutes for the reaction between vinegar and baking soda to finish.
  5. Once the fizzing is over, thoroughly spread the mixture with the toilet brush over the bowl and flush.


If you prefer using more natural methods, another accessible option for homeowners to remove brown water stains in the toilet bowl is borax. The product is quite effective in removing mineral buildup without harming the material of the toilet.

The best way to use borax to eliminate brown spots in the toilet bowl is the following:

Clean your toilet bowl as much as possible before you begin.
Mix a cup of borax with hot water. For this purpose, you should use about a gallon of water.
Fill up the toilet bowl with this mixture and leave it for 5-10 minutes.
Afterward, thoroughly clean the toilet with the brush, especially focusing on the areas where you have stains.
Remove the excess residue of this mixture with a cloth and flush the toilet several times before using it.

Commercial toilet cleaner

Depending on your preferences, you may want to purchase a commercial toilet bowl cleaner, which is quite easy to use. The products that work well on stains contain diluted muriatic acid, which is not only effective but also won’t damage the surface.

The exact instructions depend on the type of product that you choose and the manufacturer, but the general guidelines are the following:

  1. You should apply the product under the toilet bowl rim and on the sides.
  2. Brush the liquid to spread it all over the surface, especially in areas that are prone to staining.
  3. Wait for some time before flushing, as stated on the packing of the product.
  4. Flush the toilet.

Keep in mind that acidic cleaners can easily damage different surfaces. If you spill a bit of product on the carpet or the bathroom floor, you should clean it off immediately.

Baking soda and Coca-Cola

Another method may seem strange to some people, but it is also quite effective for brown stains under the toilet rims. All you need is baking soda and Coca-Cola, which contains citric and carbonic acids that help remove the buildup. The steps you should take include:

  1. Wash the toilet to the best of your ability.
  2. Take a cup of baking soda and pour it right into the toilet bowl. Make sure that it also covers the sides.
  3. Pour Coca-Cola on top to start a chemical reaction.
  4. You should leave this mixture for about an hour.
  5. Then you can scrub the surface with the toilet brush and flush.

How to prevent brown stains in the toilet

Preventing brown stains from occurring is just as important as knowing how to get rid of them. If you maintain your toilet bowl in a cleaner state regularly, there will be less buildup appearing on the surface. Here are some important recommendations:

Clean your toilet on a regular basis

It is recommended that you clean your toilet bowl 1-2 times a week even if you don’t yet see any stains. You may not notice buildup gradually appearing on the surface, so make sure that you remove it regularly.

Don’t forget about unused toilets

If there are toilets in your house that are not used on most days, it is a good habit to flush them once a day. This will prevent dirt and bacteria from accumulating in the toilet bowl and causing stains.

Install a water filter

Those who want to go a step further in preventing brown stains in the toilet may want to consider installing a water filter. This is especially relevant to those who live in areas where water is considered hard. There exist many different water filters on the market, but it’s particularly important that it minimizes iron in the water.

Clean your toilet with vinegar once a month

Vinegar is the simplest solution to keep your toilet looking presentable. You should pour several 2-3 cups of vinegar into the bowl on all sides about once or twice a month for the prevention of brown stains. Another option is to spray vinegar on the surface of the bowl several times a week.

comparison of dirty and clean toilets

Make sure you clean inside the tank

A lot of people who clean their toilets forget that cleaning the tank on the inside is also highly important. A dirty tank increases the chances that there will be rusting, stains, and mold in the bowl. Cleaning the tank about two times a year should be enough to keep it in good condition.

To do this, you should take the following steps:

  1. Make sure that the tank is fully empty by turning off the water and flushing it.
  2. Next, you should pour enough vinegar into the tank so that it doesn’t overflow. The best time to do this procedure is overnight because you should leave it there for 12 hours.
  3. Once the time is up, you should flush and scrub the surface with a brush.

It is important to remember that you should avoid using any type of bleach in the tank, as it will cause corrosion.

Consider using tank tablets

There are plenty of tank tablets on the market at the moment, and they are quite effective at preventing stains. It is best to choose more natural options because tablets that are too harsh can cause corrosion or otherwise damage the bowl. Tank tablets will work every time you flush, so the risk of buildup will be much lower.


If you still have questions left after reading our guide, here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding this problem.

What causes brown stains in a toilet bowl?

Brown stains in the toilet bowl are caused by minerals that are found in water. Minerals collect on the surface of the bowl over time, and when dirt attaches to the buildup, it becomes harder to clean.

How to remove toilet stains brown?

You should use one of the methods that you find most appropriate for your home. It is possible to use specialized toilet cleaners that are readily available in stores. Or, you can use other effective solutions, such as borax and a mixture of baking soda with vinegar.

How often should you clean your toilet?

It all depends on how often the toilet is used. The minimum number that all experts agree on is once a week. If there are children in the house and many people using the toilet, it may be reasonable to clean the toilet 2-3 times a week.

Prevention of Stains and Regular Cleaning is Important

Most people would agree that cleaning the toilet is their least favorite chore in the house. Because of the compounds found in water, even weekly cleaning of the toilet may not prevent stains that become difficult to remove. Luckily, there are some accessible ways, such as using baking soda, borax, and vinegar that can help eliminate that disgusting brown buildup.

Have you used any of these methods? Do you have any other suggestions? Please, share your thoughts and experience in the comments below!

Gerald Carpenter

My name is Gerald Carpenter and I am a professional plumber in the third generation. My father was a plumber, my grandfather was a plumber. I wish I had records on my other ancestors.

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