How to Get Rid of a Toilet Ring Without Scratching the Bowl

Last Updated on May 18, 2022 by toilethaven

What is a Toilet Bowl Ring?

A toilet bowl ring is a brown/black/green discoloration/stain around the bowl’s waterline as a result mineral deposits, mold or/and bacteria.

The most common type of toilet bowl rings are brown/rust in color and are caused by iron and/or manganese ions present in the water. These ions react with oxygen to form the brown ring.

The ring forms around the waterline due to the presence of oxygen which readily reacts with the minerals in the water. Modern toilets are less likely to develop this ring since they are glazed and hence so smooth.

To get rid of a toilet ring, scrub it off using a pumice stone, dryer sheets or Shaw’s pads. Alternatively you can use a combination of vinegar and baking soda then scrub the bowl using a toilet brush. Avoid using chemicals or only use them as a last resort.

If you have WD-40 in the house, you can use it to get rid of a toilet rid. Spray a generous amount of it around the ring then wait for 30 minutes before scrubbing it off with a brush. Wipe off the WD-40 using a rag instead of flushing it down the toilet.

Magic eraser is also quite effective in getting rid of toilet bowl rings. You can start scrubbing the ring away with it immediately after soaking it in water or you can leave it in the bowl overnight and finish up in the morning.

The best way of preventing a toilet ring from forming on your toilet is by installing a water softener. The water softener will remove the hard water minerals before the water enters your house.

As you try and get rid of the toilet ring, it is important to make sure that the method you pick does not leave you bowl badly scratched. Avoid harsh chemicals as much as possible since they are terrible for a our environment.

What Causes the Ring in the Toilet Bowl?

Toilets must retain a small amount of water at the bottom to prevent sewer gases from coming up into the house. This water is therefore stagnant for a long time. When the minerals or bacteria in the water finds a constant supply of oxygen, a reaction occurs hence forming the ring.

The toilet bowl ring does not extend below the toilet bowl waterline because there is no oxygen. It also does not form way above the water because there is no much minerals and bacteria.

You will however still find hard water stains all over the bowl especially in areas with hard water. These stains are however not as bad as the toilet ring.

Why Do Toilet Rings Recur?

Once removed, toilet rings are bound to come back. Although a lot of cleaning agents are advertised as being able to remove the toilet rings permanently, recurring toilet rings are very common.

Toilet rings will always come back to stain your toilet because the problem is neither your cleaning capability nor the cleaning agent’s but rather hard water. As long as hard water keeps flowing in your toilet tank and toilet bowl you will always have toilet rings forming in your bowl.

What you can is stop their severity by constantly cleaning your toilet using the methods I am going to illustrate below.

How to Get Rid of a Toilet Ring

There are of course many products in the market that will promise to remove the brown/black toilet ring. We will therefore look at the best ways to get rid of the toilet ring without scratching the toilet bowl.

While getting rid of the toilet ring, it is also a great opportunity to remove the hard water stains from all over the toilet bowl.

1. Remove a Toilet Ring Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar is a powerful cleaning agent due to its acidity. It is able to remove mold and dissolve toilet stains like rust which are present in hard water. It is also less-toxic and abrasive compared to other cleaning chemicals.

Baking soda which is scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate is a mild alkaline. It dissolves both grease and scum easily. Baking soda is an effective cleaning agent because apart from cleaning, it neutralizes both acidic and alkaline odor molecules.

  • Use a plunger to push the water at the bottom of the bowl drain the drain. If you have no plunger just soak it up with a sponge. The idea is to have that space occupied by the vinegar and baking soda solution, and act on the ring directly.
  • Remove most of the water but not necessarily all of it.
  • Pour one cup of vinegar slowly into the toilet bowl. Using the toilet brush to swish the solution around the entire toilet bowl. Wait for a minute or two.
  • Spread a good amount of baking soda all over the toilet bowl. Ensure the water at the bottom is covered with the baking soda.
  • Add one cup of vinegar slowly. The reason you add slowly is because the vinegar will act with baking soda. If you add the vinegar all at once the reaction might be explosive and splash into your face.
  • Mix the solution with a toilet brush making sure you apply it all over the bowl to target all stains.
  • Give the solution about half an hour to act on the stains. You should however slightly scrub the toilet after every 5-10 minutes to make sure the other parts of the bowl are not forgotten.
  • After the half hour mark, use the toilet brush to thoroughly scrub the toilet ring and the entire bowl until all stains are removed.
  • Flush the toilet a couple of times to remove all traces of the vinegar and baking soda solution.

If you would like a great vinegar for cleaning check out this one on Amazon.

2. Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover

A pumie simply refers to a pumice stone. It is a rough volcanic rock that is one of the most common substance used to get rid of a toilet ring. It is commercially known as a scouring stick.

The first question people ask when you recommend a pumice stone as toilet ring remover is “will a pumice stone scratch a toilet?” A pumice stone if wrongly used has the potential to scratch a toilet.

So, how do you clean a toilet ring with a pumice stone?

  • Submerge the pumice stone in the toilet bowl water for about 30 minutes and wait for it to soften. The pumice stone is highly porous so it will soak in a lot of water. This will help to prevent scratching the toilet bowl.
  • Once the pumice stone is softened, pick one point of the toilet ring and start rubbing gentlty. It acts the way a pencil eraser works.
  • Rub all around the toilet bowl ring until the entire toilet ring is removed.

A screeching sound while rubbing off the toilet ring with a pumice stone is not uncommon. If it irritates you be sure to use ear plugs. Remember to also use rubber gloves to protect your hands.

All toilet bowls are not made equal. If you start rubbing off the toilet ring and you notice your toilet is scratching off, the best thing is to try a different method to get rid of the toilet ring like a vinegar and baking soda solution.

Note: This is a really good pumice stone

3. Removing Toilet Rings Using Dryer Sheets

One of the most inexpensive ways of getting rid of toilet rings is by scrubbing them off using dryer sheets. You can use new dryer sheets but even used ones work as fine if not better.

To protect your hands from germs please have rubber gloves on since you will need to put your hands in the toilet bowl. It is also a good practice to protect your back. Kneeling besides the bowl on a sponge will get the strain off your back.

Use the dryer sheets to scrub of the toilet bowl ring, starting from one point going all the way round the toilet.

Once you are done scrubbing, flush the toilet to remove all the dirt. The toilet ring should be completely gone.

Other Ways to Get Rid of a Toilet Ring

The above 3 are the best ways to get rid of a toilet ring. However, many other methods are recommended which work the same or slightly less effective. Some of them include:

  1. Using magic eraser
  2. Borax and vinegar
  3. Lemon cool aid
  4. Scratching toilet ring with steel wool
  5. Denture cleaning tablets
  6. Using coke to remove toilet ring

Another great way to get rid of a toilet ring and hard water toilet stains in general is by using WD-40. Find more on that in this post.

How to Prevent a Toilet Ring from getting a ring

A toilet ring is quite irritating to look at. You should therefore apart from getting rid of the ring make sure you prevent it from recurring.

The best way to prevent a toilet ring from forming in your toilet bowl is by cleaning your toilet regularly. This because a toilet bowl ring does not happen in one go. It takes time for the minerals to accumulate in order to form a ring.

Once a week you should pour a cup of vinegar in the toilet bowl, let it sit for a little while then clean thoroughly with a toilet brush.

Does Magic Eraser Remove Toilet Bowl Ring?

The magic eraser can be used to remove a toilet bowl ring but the magic part is questionable.  You will cut a piece of the magic eraser, drop it the bowl and leave it overnight. When you wake up in the morning, you need to remove the eraser, take a brush and scrub your toilet.  More work less magic if any.

How to Remove Hard Water Scale in a Toilet

  • Flush the toilet to remove the stagnant water in the bowl and to also wet the entire bowl
  • Slowly pour a cup of vinegar into the bowl and swish around with the toilet brush to make sure all parts of the bowl are covered.
  • Add a generous amount of baking powder also slowly followed by one more cup of vinegar.
  • Slightly scrub the toilet bowl after every five minutes to ensure the entire bowl is wet with the solution for half any hour.
  • After the half hour, thoroughly scrub your toilet with the toilet brush to remove all the hard water stains and scale.

Should You Use Borax to Remove Toilet Bowl Ring?

Borax is advertised as one of the best ways to remove toilet bowl rings. This substance is however banned in the UK and many other countries in the European Union.

The reason Borax is banned in those countries is due to its alkalinity which is likely to cause skin irritation.

In reality however, borax is not very different from baking soda which is why it is still in use in the Unites States. With proper body protection, borax combined with vinegar can be successfully used to get rid of toilet rings.

How to Remove the Toilet Ring without Scrubbing

Removing the toilet ring from a toilet bowl without scrubbing would be a revolutionary idea, if only it existed. Sadly it doesn’t. What you should worry about is how to remove a toilet ring without scratching your toilet bowl. That is more realistic.

If you want to get rid of a toilet ring, don’t fall for the advertisement gimmicks. Toilet bowl rings are stubborn stains which need to be scrubbed hard.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains From a Toilet Tank

  • Turn off the water shut off valve.
  • Flush the toilet empty.
  • Fill the toilet with vinegar to just below the overflow tank.
  • Let it stay overnight.
  • Flush the vinegar down in the morning.
  • Spray the toilet with a disinfectant and wait for 15 minutes.
  • Scrub the stains off with a brush. Remember to wear gloves.
  • Open the water supply to the toilet.
  • Flush the toilet a couple of times.

More on this method in this post.


Getting rid of toilet rings is not an impossible task, but it needs work. You will also need to wash your toilet regularly to prevent the toilet ring from recurring.