Rusty Toilet Bowl? 5 Ways to Get Rid of Toilet Rust

If you’re like most people, you don’t particularly enjoy cleaning your toilets. Whether it’s unclogging the drains or simply just washing away dirt, it takes quite a lot of effort and all that wet grime can be unpleasant. 

But the one thing that can make cleaning the bathroom worse is scrubbing the toilet and realizing that you’ve got a rusty toilet bowl.

Rust is an incredibly stubborn substance to deal with on any surface in your home, but it can be particularly difficult to remove it from a toilet bowl. Finding rust on your toilet bowl can be incredibly annoying, what with the constant flow of water leading to frequent rusting.

Fortunately, there are a few easy things that you can do if you want to get rid of a pesky toilet rust stain and make your bathroom pristine. And we’ve included many of them in today’s article. If you’re currently dealing with problems with your toilet or any other aspect of your plumbing system, you can schedule an appointment with one of our team members at Diamondback Plumbing.

Salt and Lemon Juice

You can make a great homemade rust remover with a few items in your pantry, like lemon juice and table salt. The main reason that this mix works well is that salt is an abrasive substance, having just enough grit to scratch away any rust without damaging the ceramic of the toilet and its finish. When using salt to remove rust, using a bit of water or a light cleaner can go a long way.

However, another great alternative to water is lemon juice. Many citrus fruits – but primarily lemons and limes – have naturally high levels of citric acid. That acid, when used for cleaning purposes, eats away at the rust and any lingering dirt. Combining the lemon juice’s acidity with the light abrasiveness of the salt makes it far easier to remove rust stains from toilets in your home.  

White Vinegar and Water

Much like lemon juice, white vinegar is another great option for cleaning a rusty toilet bowl that you can find in your bathroom. Vinegar is also an acidic substance, often containing a small amount of acetic acid mixed in with water. While the amount of the acid is quite small, the familiar smell and burn that you get when using vinegar in food is still incredibly potent. The result, though, is that vinegar is highly effective in removing stubborn rust.

Though there is a specific type of vinegar for cleaning purposes, many homeowners turn to the food-grade vinegar they already have stocked in their pantry. Since food-specific vinegar has a lower acidity than the cleaning variety, you may need to use a little more to clean your toilet. 

Many sources recommend diluting the vinegar with water before using it to clean surfaces, especially if the acetic acid content is 6% or higher. When cleaning newer stains, simply pour the vinegar into the bowl and use a toilet brush to scrub the stains. Cleaning older stains, however, can be soaked in undiluted vinegar before being scrubbed clean.

Baking Soda and Citric Acid

Baking soda is another well-known household product and is often used as a rust remover, regardless of the surface the rust is on. Much like salt, baking soda is an abrasive substance, though far less intense due to its finely powdered form. It is, however, considered highly effective due to the soda’s alkaline pH level, which neutralizes and removes acidic rust.

Again, like with salt, lemon juice is often a good combination for cleaning mixes when looking into how to get rust stains out of toilets. Though many people might question how effective it is when acids often neutralize alkaline substances, the right ratio mixed emphasizes the baking soda’s cleaning ability. Mixing together two parts of the soda and one part of citric acid in powdered form creates a paste that can be applied on rusted spots.

Pumice Sticks and Stones

Though often overlooked as a homemade and commercially bought rust cleaner, pumice sticks and stones are reliable options for dealing with rusty toilet bowls. Best used for ceramic toilets, all that’s needed to clean rust off are a bit of water and some elbow grease. The pumice stone is also considered an abrasive but, thanks to its volcanic creation, much harder and rougher.

To use the pumice to clean, simply wet the stone – or stick, if you have one – and rub it over the rusted spot. Given enough time, you’ll notice a paste forming. This paste is the pumice stone slowly wearing down, but it’s nothing you need to be worried about. The paste makes the cleaning process easier while polishing the surface simultaneously.

Commercial Rust Removers

Of course, the most effective – and often, guaranteed – way to clean rust off your toilet is commercial cleaners and removers. To be effective when applied, rust removers contain a certain amount of corrosive chemicals. The specific amount used in each rust remover often varies greatly from brand to brand, leading to some being much harsher than others. 

If you plan on using a commercial rust remover to clean your toilet, make sure that you check the label to learn the correct way to use it. Properly following the instructions helps you avoid preventable damage to the toilet and the rest of your plumbing system


Rust is a common part of life, whether it’s found on old metal or in the plumbing fixtures around your home. While it can be quite stubborn to deal with, cleaning rust off of fixtures like your toilet is far easier when you use these cleaning tips. Once the rust has been cleaned off, it’s important to keep your toilet – and plumbing – as clean and dry as possible. If you keep your toilet and plumbing system clean, it’s less likely that rust will form and more likely that your bathroom will stay pristine.

That being said, if you’re dealing with problems with your toilet (or any other aspect of your plumbing system), calling a plumbing company, like Diamondback Plumbing, is the best solution.

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