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

Last Updated on July 8, 2023 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 of 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 manganese ions 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 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 around the ring, then wait 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 your bowl badly scratched. Avoid harsh chemicals as much as possible since they are terrible for 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 entering the house. This water is, therefore, stagnant for a long time. When the minerals or bacteria in the water find a constant supply of oxygen, a reaction occurs, 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 are few 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 many cleaning agents are advertised as able to remove 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 agents 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 do 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 is also an excellent 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 can 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, 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 and drain the drain. If you have no plunger, 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 baking soda.
  • Add one cup of vinegar slowly. You add slowly 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. However, you should slightly scrub the toilet after every 5-10 minutes to ensure 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 refers to a pumice stone. It is a rough volcanic rock that is one of the most common substances 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 a 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 that 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 gently. 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 is common while rubbing off the toilet ring with a pumice stone. If it irritates you, be sure to use earplugs. Remember also to use rubber gloves to protect your hands.

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

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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 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 beside the bowl on a sponge will get the strain off your back.

Use the dryer sheets to scrub the toilet bowl ring, starting from one point and going all the way around 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 eliminate a toilet ring. However, many other methods that work the same or are slightly less effective are recommended. 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 the 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 is 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, pour a cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl, let it sit for a little while, then clean it 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 in 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 wet the entire bowl.
  • Slowly pour a cup of vinegar into the bowl and swish around with the toilet brush to ensure all bowl parts are covered.
  • Add a generous amount of baking powder 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 an hour.
  • After half an hour, thoroughly scrub your toilet with the 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.

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

In reality, however, borax is not very different from baking soda, so it is still in use in the United States. With proper body protection, borax combined with vinegar can successfully remove 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 that 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 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 impossible, but it needs work. You will also need to wash your toilet regularly to prevent the toilet ring from recurring.