How To Clean a Toilet With Vinegar

This post is a part of my Cleaning with Vinegar series.  Join me as I explore many of the ways you can use vinegar as a natural, eco-friendly cleaner in your home.  Not only is vinegar a fabulous way to “clean green,” it’s an inexpensive alternative to harmful toilet cleaning chemicals.

The bathroom is my least favorite room to clean in my house – mainly because of the “ick” factor when it comes to cleaning the toilet.  There’s no way to avoid doing this dreaded chore – but there are ways to make the job easier and last longer in between cleanings.  The best part about it is that your toilet can become shiny and clean using the natural cleaning and disinfecting power of vinegar.

how to clean a toilet with vinegar

Do you have hard water and/or mineral build up causing an annoying “ring” in your toilet bowl?  My toilets used to have that problem before I started cleaning with vinegar.  Keep reading – I’ll tell you how easy it is to get rid of annoying toilet rings with vinegar!

Do you want your toilet to stay cleaner, longer in between regular scrubbings?  Read on for an easy tip on how to do it with vinegar.

It’s easy to be “green” and use vinegar as a natural toilet cleaner.  Exchange your strong-smelling, dangerous chemicals for a bottle of vinegar and a simple scrub brush, and follow these directions for a naturally clean toilet!

How To Clean Your Toilet with Vinegar

Supplies Needed:

  • Toilet Brush
  • Vinegar


  1. Pour one cup of vinegar into your toilet bowl, swish it around the bowl with your scrub brush and allow to sit for at least 5-10 minutes.
  2. Scrub your entire toilet bowl (don’t forget to clean under the rims) with your scrub brush.

Congratulations, your toilet bowl is now clean and deodorized!

How To Keep Your Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Longer In Between Regular Scrubbings

Supply Needed: Vinegar


  1. Make sure the toilet has been flushed.
  2. Pour approximately one cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes.  That’s it!

How to Remove Hard Water/Mineral Build Up “Ring” Around the Toilet

Supplies Needed:

•             Toilet Scrub Brush

•             Vinegar


  1. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into your toilet bowl, swish around with your scrub brush and allow to sit for an hour.
  2. Scrub stains or rings with scrub brush.  Repeat process for stubborn stains.

IF the mineral build up “ring” is stubborn, I have found an easy, all-natural way to keep it at bay for months at a time. It’s called a pumice scouring stick, and is very similar to pumice stones you may already use to exfoliate your skin. I found these little miracle workers on the cleaning aisle at my store. They are simple to use – just follow the package directions to gently scrub away mineral build up inside the toilet.

The rings will eventually build up again, but it usually takes a few months (at my house.) When the ring becomes noticeable again, I use the pumice toilet bowl ring remover to get rid of it. Works like a charm every time!

Do you use vinegar to clean your toilets?  What else do you use vinegar to clean at your house? Did I miss any tips or leave out any important information about cleaning toilets with vinegar?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.


  1. I never would have thought….I do clean my coffee maker out with it and it does a great job…so why not the toiler? Thank you…going to try it…much better than those toxic cleansers…i actually used a bleach tablet made for toilets…which ate away at the bolts holding my toiler seat down…and I had a major water flood.

    • I’m so glad you are going to try it – it really works great. My toilet had a constant ring from our horrible hard water and now that I use vinegar, it doesn’t keep coming back.

      That is crazy about the bleach pills eating through your bolts and causing a flood! Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your comments and tip on cleaning out coffee makers with vinegar. I’m sure someone will find that helpful to know, too.

  2. Thank you!! I have one nasty toilet that just won’t come clean. I’m going to try this tomorrow!

  3. Amanda N. says:

    I clean most things with vinegar…I actually cleaned my toilets with vinegar last night! haha 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by – do you have anything you really love to clean with vinegar? I’m looking for new ways to try to clean with vinegar – I just started with the toilet because I hate it the most, and now it’s done!

      • Let’s see…we were giving a large throw-rug that had belonged to an Aunt who smoked VERY heavily. I sprinkled it with baking soda, rubbed the baking soda in with a stiff brush, spritzed it down with vinegar, let it sit in the sun that way for about an hour, then I hosed it down and waited for it to dry. Smell GONE! 🙂

        I’ve also found that sprinkling baking soda on the shower floor and then pouring some vinegar over the top will loosen up rust stains and soap scum enough that I can usually just wipe the grime off with a damp cloth. Less scrubbing is always good.

        My countertops also get disinfected with vinegar instead of chemicals.

        I like to put a little white vinegar in with the water in my steam mop when I do my floors, too. 🙂

        And, it’s not really cleaning, but 1/2 cup of white vinegar works in the place of liquid fabric softener in the laundry. It makes a huge difference when I hang-dry my clothes, I’ve noticed.

        • Thanks, Amanda! Those are great tips, I will definitely try them and probably end up reporting them here in a blog post one of these days. I especially love the steam mop tip. Now I just need a new steam mop (mine died awhile back). I loved it though. My floors seemed to stay cleaner for a little longer after being steamed instead of just regular mopped.

      • Hi, I have washed my face with vinegar for years. Squeeky clean and does not dry your face. Be careful not
        to get it in your eyes tho. Just add a little to your sink with some water and wash with a wash cloth. You will
        not believe how clean your face will be. I’m 72 and hardly any wrinkles.

        • Thank you for sharing your vinegar secret for younger looking skin. That is really amazing how it has worked for you! I wonder if it would work for me as well. -Nicole

  4. Jeni Mitchell says:

    Cleaning the toilet absolutely makes my skin crawl. It’s a germ OCD thing. That being said, I’m working on cleaning the toilet on a more regular basis without looking like I work for HAZMAT or a nuclear disaster has just been declared. I will have to try your vinegar suggestions. Anything that will clean it, clean it well, and clean it so I don’t have to as often ~ that is worth trying as far as I’m concerned :).

    • I’m totally with you on the toilet/germs thing. I love the vinegar solution because is it safe (even for our septic system) and cleans and deodorizes well. I keep a bottle of vinegar in the bathroom so in between scrubbings, I can deodorize the bowl. I usually do it overnight so it can sit for a longer time. You can even use Apple Cider Vinegar if you want.

    • As I fellow germ OCD, cleaning the toilet or even looking at it is not for me. We have well water here, and the rust stains are horrible. Nothing works so I’m going to try the vinegar. I’d rather clean with natural things than all the chems. I have two cats, and they sometimes vomit. I had one that peed on the carpet at my old place when she was sick, and I used vinegar to get the pee smell out, which is very important coz animals will pee in the same spot if the smell is there. I used vinegar and let it sit for about an hour, sopped it up, then sprinkled baking soda on it. Works great!

  5. Thanks! I’ve been looking for more ways to clean with vinegar! I’ve stumbled this page and made sure you’re in my G+ circles! Thanks for linking up at last week’s Super Sunday Stumble! -Christine

    • Hi Christine, Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ll be posting more cleaning with vinegar tips soon. I’m trying some out right now. Thank you for the stumble. 🙂 – Nicole

  6. Blessie Nelson says:

    I found this article so useful for our home. thanks!

  7. Alvin Payne says:

    Great toilet cleaning tips. Make sure you keep it clean and clear, the edmonton plumbers highly suggest the maintenance an care for your precious throne.

  8. rochelle haynes says:

    nice to know!

  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE using vinegar to clean with! My mom used to use it and I hated it because of the smell, but now I LOVE it! We have well water so the mineral deposists in our toilets are out of control. Pumice stones work, but having to scrub with my hand all up in the toilet isn’t exactly my idea of fun. Our issue was under the rim – trying to figure out how to keep the vinegar wet while I kept it there. I wanted it there for at least an hour – so I soaked some paper towels then had my husband rip off some aluminum foil (plastic wrap will work also) and I basically wrapped the foil over the rim so it stayed all while holding the paper towels in place. It’s hard to explain, but it worked great. I also soak paper towels in vinegar and wrap them around our faucets for at least an hour – then they’re sparkly clean. No more chemicals for me!

  10. I’m glad I saw this on your “popular posts” list. Cleaning toilets is one of the hardest jobs for me, mainly because the cleaners I’ve used trigger my asthma and I end up coughing my head off. I’m going to try this, for sure. We just bought a huge jug of vinegar to descale the Keurig, so I’m stocked up. Thanks!

    • Vinegar is one of my favorite cleaners and also I use it for my laundry’s fabric softener. I love it and need to post about cleaning with vinegar more often. I never thought about it being good for people with asthma. I hope it works well for you. You’ll have to keep me posted.

      • Just tried it on the downstairs toilet. It worked pretty well, but the stains up under the rim are still there, so I might try the other commenter’s idea about using a soaked paper towel. There is also still a faint ring at the water line, but I think after the next cleaning it will be gone. Thanks again!

        Here’s another use for vinegar: Last fall, I canned a lot of applesauce made from windfall apples that I disinfected by giving them a soak in vinegar. I hit them with a scrub brush, let them bob in a 1:3 solution of vinegar to water, then rinsed them and hit them with the brush again if needed.

        • Hi Anne, Thanks for the update. I’m glad it worked for you. If you have a bad mineral/hard water build up, here is what I have since learned to do: About twice a year, I have to take a pumice stone (there is a kind for toilets that has a stone covered with a sponge on one side) and scrub the hard water build up with the stone. It builds up over time no matter what I do and ends up catching the stains so there is a ring where the water line hits. I hope that makes sense! But the pumice stone is a great, natural (chemical free) way to remove build up without scratching your toilet porcelain.

          Thanks for the tips on disinfecting apples with vinegar. I like that idea a lot better than using soap or something else that could leave a bad residue. -Nicole

          • Thanks for the additional info. I’ll keep an eye out for a pumice; that might be just what I need.

            With regard to the apples, I forgot to mention that I left them in the vinegar solution for at least 15 minutes before rinsing them well. I didn’t peel them before cooking, so it was important to disinfect them. The previous year, I washed each one with a little dish soap, but it took forever and I rinsed the heck out of them to be sure there was no soap in my applesauce. With the vinegar, I wasn’t afraid of a bit of residue and it was a lot less work.

  11. I actually used to clean houses for a living, and I can’t believe I didn’t know vinegar could clean my toilet. It works great on marble floors and counter tops too. Thank you so much for this tip 🙂

  12. Maryann D. says:

    I love cleaning with vinegar and baking soda. I never tried vinegar for my toilet yet, and it does need help. I am definitely going to try this!

  13. Is it safe to leave vinegar in the toilet bowls while on vacation? It’s hard to remove the hard-water ring when it hasn’t been flushed in weeks.

  14. Since you were asking about other uses, when I was using cloth diapers I used to pour about a cup (I didn’t measure, just poured) in the wash cycle. I never had stained or stinky diapers after washing. Of course I had stinky diapers when my cutie did you know what…

    • Valerie Curtis says:

      Misty, I use vinegar in my laundry as a disenfectant and a cleaner version of fabric softener. Vinegar should be put in the fabric softener cup. If put in with the detergent it breaks down the cleaning agents and it may not be getting your clothese as clean as you thought!

  15. Thank you for sharing. I use vinegar in cleaning my furniture and hardwood floors but didn’t know this works well in toilets as well.

  16. Curious-as I continue to try using vinegar/green products-
    I’ve wondered if acidity of vinegar is hard on porcelain. I see your comments above (thank you!). Why, then, do many uses prescribed for vinegar involve cutting with water. Why not straight vinegar for all purposes? I’m generally tempted to use it straight to kill all germs (in my old house), but concerned it may be contributing to porcelain in shower losing it’s smooth surface. Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Lisa! I can only give you my opinion as to why vinegar is diluted in some cleaning recipes. The reason I dilute vinegar is when I don’t want it to be at its full strength. Full strength vinegar should be okay to use for cleaning non-porous surfaces, but could eat away and damage porous surfaces if not diluted. Full strength vinegar is also not necessary for cleaning some surfaces like glass. It does the job even when diluted. Plus the vinegar smell isn’t as strong when it is diluted.
      It is always a good idea to do a test spot when trying out a cleaner (even the natural kind like vinegar) to make sure that it does not do any damage. Sometimes surfaces have a protective finish on them that can be eaten away by vinegar.
      I am not sure what is causing your shower porcelain to lose its smooth surface, but if you suspect the vinegar is doing it, I would no longer use it or definitely dilute it with water instead of spraying on full strength. I hope that answer sort of help. Thanks for stopping by! –Nicole

  17. Hi Lisa! Woke up this A.M. and said NO MORE DOWNEY…Chemicals Thanks for your hints that I found just now and will get out my VINEGAR! I was always told vinegar kills more germs than bleach which by the way has no value of any kind and does not whiten your clothes…Yay I’m on board! ?

  18. Radian C Trial says:

    Very good information. Lucky me I recently found your site by chance (stumbleupon).
    I have book marked it for later!

  19. BoomBoom!! says:

    OMG!! I tried everything to get rid of those pesky toilet bowl rings in my beautiful new toilets that the harsh water has started to create in them. I followed your directions Nicole and low and behold, the rings are completely gone from all 3 of my toilets. I’m a believer!!! No more harsh, expensive and useless chemicals. Inexpensive vinegar. THANK YOU SOO MUCH!!!

    • AWESOME NEWS! Thank you for letting me know. I am so happy you saved your new toilets! 🙂
      I cannot stand toilet bowl rings and no matter where we live, our toilets get them. I really need to write a follow-up to this post and tell about another easy, chemical-free way to get rid of really stubborn rings. In case you need this tip in the future (or if anyone happens to read through the comments) I will tell you the short version here. Get a pumice stone (similar to the ones you can buy to exfoliate your skin). A pumice stone is THE way to remove really bad toilet bowl rings – even if they have been building up for years. You do have to get close up and personal with the toilet bowl so you can use the pumice stone to gently scrub at the ring, but this is pretty much a no-fail way to get rid of layers and layers of yucky ring build-up.
      I usually need to gently scrub the bowls every 6 to 9 months when the ring build-up becomes noticeable again. I found a pumice stick in the cleaning aisle made especially for cleaning toilets – it is covered with a thin layer of sponge so you don’t scratch the porcelain.

  20. Lori McGarrity says:

    I am a very big fan of white vinegar. I buy it by the 2 gallon box at Sams Club and it’s dirt cheap. I use the paste of vinegar and baking soda (just enough of each to make a thick paste) and I rub it on my stove and oven and glass door, it totally astounded me that it got off all of the hard burnt on stuff on my stove top and I was the most shocked that it cleaned the oven glass door. Didn’t think anything in the world would get that. Also have used it and it did a great job on porcelain kitchen sinks. My other favorite place to use it is in the laundry. I have a problem with my clothes not always smelling the best with some detergents or if I should leave the clothes in over night cause I forgot. If they have that yucky musty smell, I just add some vinegar, probably 1/2 cup and just run the rinse cycle through. Don’t have to re-wash. CLothes don’t end up smelling like vinegar, they just smell clean. Sometimes I will put it in directly with detergent if clothes are already going in there super dirty or smelly. LOVE the stuff. I think it should be a staple in all homes. The baking soad and vinegar trick for the stove top was actually the easiest and cheapest of any cleaning product I tried.

    • I love buying my vinegar in bulk (at Costco, so cheap like at Sam’s Club). I use it every time I wash laundry. I never have any problems with my washing machine becoming mildewy or smelly and I think that using the vinegar is what helps keep it so clean. I have never tried the baking soda and vinegar paste but now I will have to! I would love to be able to clean my stove top like that. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. –Nicole

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