How To Clean And Disinfect A Toilet In 6 Easy Steps

We know that doesn’t sound fun—but who doesn’t want to sit upon a sparkling clean throne?

Cleaning the toilet is never anybody’s idea of a fun time. But toilets, they sure need to be cleaned. We don’t need to tell you why. And if you stay on top of your regular toilet cleanings, they’re really not that bad. We’ve compiled this easy guide that teaches you how to clean your toilet, including how to treat any weird stains—plus how to clean your toilet tank (did you know you were supposed to do that?). Hint: vinegar is your best friend.

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How to clean and disinfect a toilet bowl

  1. Scrub the toilet with a multipurpose cleaning product (our favorite is the vinegar-powered 9 Elements Bathroom Cleaner) or a simple mixture of dish soap and warm water. Scrub the toilet’s inside and outside, top and bottom.
  • Always follow the directions on any ready-made cleaning product’s label.
  • If using dish soap, be sure to wipe the toilet down with a clean, damp rag afterward to remove any soapy residue.
  1. Remove the toilet seat. No seriously, remove it.
  2. Hit the toilet’s hinges with whatever cleaning agent you’re using.
  3. Spray any toilet attachments, like a bidet, with your cleaning 4. product, and wipe off.
  4. Scrub the inside of the toilet bowl with a ready-made cleaning product (we like something with some bleach in it). Don’t forget to get beneath the lip and around the edge of the bowl. Mind your eyes (because bleach!), and be sure to open all your bathroom windows and run the fan for maximum ventilation when cleaning with chemicals.
  5. Now sanitize for good measure. Try something like Microban 24 Bathroom Cleaner, which keeps surfaces sanitized against bacteria for up to 24 hours, even after multiple touches on hard nonporous, non-food-contact surfaces.*

How to clean toilet bowl stains

Your toilet deals with a lot. Here are the best techniques to get rid of the variety of stains plaguing your throne.

Types of toilet bowl stains

Hard water

Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar, and get to scrubbing. Flush to rinse.


In this case, flush first to drain water from the bowl. Spray mildew with white vinegar, and scrub. Repeat the flush-and-scrub system until the stains are gone.


Black mold can be dangerous. If you’ve got a major mold problem in your toilet bowl, consider enlisting a professional cleaner. Otherwise, ventilate the area well by turning on fans and opening windows, and then use a heavy-duty ready-made cleaner containing bleach. Consider wearing gloves and a mask while scrubbing. Flush repeatedly to rinse.

Mineral deposits

Flush to clear the toilet bowl of water. Using either a widely available cleaning product or white vinegar, spray the offending mineral spots. Scrub away with your scrub brush until the deposits chip off or fade away.

Types of toilet bowl cleaners

Warm white vinegar

Nuke several cups of white vinegar in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Pour the hot vinegar into the toilet bowl, and let it sit overnight. Then scrub the toilet bowl in the morning with your toilet brush. Vinegar will generally help with any toilet bowl discoloration by dissolving any mineral buildup.

Baking soda + white vinegar solution

Make a solution of 1 part baking soda and 2 parts white vinegar (combine them slowly!). Flush to remove the water from the bowl, uncovering the stains. Apply the paste to the stains with a rag or scrub brush. Then pour 1 gallon of boiling water into the bowl, and let the entire mixture sit for about an hour. Scrub away the stains with a toilet brush, and flush to rinse.

How to clean and disinfect a toilet tank

Yes, you’ve got to clean that part, too.

  • Empty the tank by locating the water valve and switching it off.
  • Lift the lid from the tank (careful, it’s heavy!) so you can see the water level inside.
  • Flush the toilet until it’s completely empty. (This might take 2 or 3 flushes.)
  • Ask yourself, how dirty is your tank?
  • If it’s just some basic surface grime, a bit of scrubbing will suffice.
  • If there’s major discoloration from mineral deposits or gnarly residue buildup, bust out the white vinegar. Fill the tank all the way up to the overflow valve with vinegar. (Depending on the size of your tank, this could be between 2 and 3 gallons! Luckily, white vinegar is super cheap.) Let the vinegar sit in the tank overnight without flushing. In the morning, flush the vinegar out. Flush a few more times for good measure.
  • Throw on some rubber gloves, and coat the inside of the toilet tank with some ready-made cleaner. Always follow directions on store-bought cleaners. Also try to avoid spraying the toilet’s metal bits, in case the cleaner’s ingredients are super corrosive (ahem, bleach) and may cause rust. Let the disinfectant sit for 10–15 minutes.
  • Bust out your scrub brush (medium to firm bristled ones work best), and get to work on the interior of the tank, making sure to hit all those corners and the bottom.
  • Gently scrub all the parts inside the tank with a soft sponge, like the flapper and the ball float. Soak the sponge with clean, warm water, and spray some cleaner onto the sponge to dilute it, rather than spraying it directly onto the toilet tank’s interior parts.
  • Turn the water back on, and fill the tank back up. Try flushing it a few times. The inside of your toilet tank should appear much cleaner. If it still appears gross, repeat the steps again.

How to keep your toilet tank clean

  • Drain your toilet tank, and fill it with vinegar regularly. The acid in vinegar kills mildew and dissolves mineral deposit buildup.
  • Honestly, we suggest cleaning your toilet tank once every 6 months or so for best results.
    • Unless you’ve got hard water, in which case mineral deposits will build up more quickly.
    • Depending on how frequently the toilet is used, you may want to clean the tank more often.

Cleaning your toilet bowl should become a part of your weekly routine. If you find that you’ve cleaned your toilet thoroughly and your bathroom still smells like a urinal, we’ve got some additional tips for how to get rid of that pee smell.

*When used as directed, effective for 24 hours against Staphylococcus aureus and Enterobacter aerogenes bacteria. Microban 24 does not provide 24-hour residual virus protection.

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