How To Clean Brown Stain In Bottom Of Toilet Bowl

Last Updated On April 11, 2024

Updated on July 18, 2022



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how to clean brown stain in bottom of toilet bowl

Do you notice unsightly brown stains at the bottom of your toilet bowl? They happen to all toilets eventually, especially in low-traffic bathrooms where water sits.

Cleaning a dirty toilet is never fun, but a toilet bowl covered with rust stains or hard water stains can be frustrating. We know you want to find an effective, sanitary, and simple solution. You’re in the right place!

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • Brown stain or “ring” at bottom of the toilet bowl: what you need to know
  • Supplies you’ll need to rid of stubborn brown stains in the bottom of the toilet bowl
  • What are the best and worst methods to remove toilet stains that are brown
  • How to get brown stains out of the toilet bottom

What's In This Guide?

      Brown Stain In Bottom of Toilet Bowl: What You Need to Know

      Dark colors, including the brown stains you find at the bottom of your toilet bowl, easily show up thanks to the white backdrop. The stains also often develop at the very bottom of the toilet bowl, making them especially stubborn since most people don’t remove the standing water in the toilet bowl while scrubbing. If you need to learn how to do this properly, read this post on how to drain a toilet.

      Causes of a Stained Toilet Bowl

      The two main causes of a toilet bowl stain are pipe corrosion and hard water. (Pink stains in the toilet bowl are different and caused by bacteria.)

      Corrosion refers to the process of metal turning to rust. The corrosion process may occur in the plumbing pipes leading to your toilet and create the stains you see. If the stain develops as a result of corrosion, it may appear dark orange as opposed to dark brown or black spots if the pipes are degrading.

      In other cases, the stains develop as a result of hard water that contains a high content of minerals. Usually, hard water stains appear white in nature. However, a mineral deposit stain can turn dark brown or even black over time. Black stains develop as a result of bacteria eating at the minerals. 

      If you notice blue stains in your toilet, it’s caused by either oxidization in your plumbing or blue toilet tablets. See this related post on diagnosing why your toiler water is blue

      Health Concerns

      There are often no major health concerns to note. However, in some cases the brown stains at the bottom of the toilet bowl can present a relevant health concern, even though it isn’t drinking water. This is a sign more than the stains themselves. 

      The dark stains can indicate rust or excessive amounts of minerals in your water supply, which would also be present in your drinking water. If you have excessive stains, you should also take care while cleaning them. Not only are they tough stains to get out, but bacteria can also become airborne and negatively impact the quality of your bathroom’s air while being scrubbed.

      Sometimes people take this too far. We think this is a bit excessive, but some people recommended that you close the lid before you flush. Let’s be honest…most people don’t do this. It’s hard enough getting some people (kids) to remember to flush at all. 

      Now let’s get into the main subject of the best methods for cleaning stubborn brown toilet rings.

      did you know how to clean brown in bottom of toilet bowl (1)

      Supplies to Get Rid of Stubborn Stains in the Bottom of the Toilet Bowl

      Toilet Brush 

      Naturally, you’ll need a toilet brush that allows you to remove all stains. 

      The toilet brush comes with a long handle that allows you to clean without getting yourself dirty. It also comes with soft brushes that won’t damage the porcelain. Most people have one on hand, but here is a great option if you need to buy one.  

      Toilet Cleaner

      You will need a toilet bowl cleaner to assist your efforts.

      You can buy a toilet bowl cleaner that contains chemicals, or you can make a homemade cleaner made from vinegar (white vinegar) and baking soda. We love this brand that is safe (if you splash it in your eyes) and if children are in the house.

      Scrub Pad

      For the toughest stains, you can use a scrub pad marketed as a “toilet ring remover” to scrub the stain out. This one is awesome

      Use a scrub pad that is safe for porcelain so that you don’t damage the toilet further.

      Avoid using sandpaper and steel wool when possible! Otherwise, you’ll have permanent scratches to go along with your stains. 

      What Are The Best & Worst Methods to Remove Toilet Stains That Are Brown

      Vinegar and Baking Soda: Best

      Vinegar and baking soda create a chemical reaction that’s both effective, environmentally conscious, and safe, making it a great cleaning solution for numerous uses around your house, including your toilet. 

      To use distilled white vinegar and baking soda, you will create a mixture of one part vinegar and one part baking soda. If necessary, you can add some water to create the texture you want. Some people also include some lemon juice. 

      Use the mixture quickly, as you want to take advantage of the chemical reaction that occurs when you combine the two ingredients before it no longer works as effectively. 

      Pumice Stone: Best

      A pumice stone is a natural cleaning product made from pumice. 

      Pumice stones also have dermatological uses for people who want to remove dead skin with a natural exfoliant. 

      To use a pumice stone, you will need to put your hand into the toilet bowl. Many products designed for cleaning toilets come with a handle, though. Remember, you can drain the toilet water first for better access.

      Here is a great pumice stone actually made for a toilet, and it comes on a handle for easy use.

      Hydrogen Peroxide: Best

      Hydrogen peroxide works in a similar way to the mixture of vinegar and baking soda. 

      You won’t need to create the mixture yourself. This will be great if bacteria are indeed in play with hard water.

      Coca Cola: Worst

      Many people think they can use dark cola to remove stains in the toilet. However, the potential damage to your plumbing will only cause more trouble for you down the road. Using a little probably isn’t that big of a deal, however, long-term use is. With other options, we suggest you skip this one. 

      Here is a video about using Coca-Cola on Toilet Stains

      Chlorine Bleach: Worst

      Bleach cleans just about anything thanks to its strong chemical properties. However, the bleaching material can sometimes damage your toilet if not diluted properly. It can also cause discoloration, and be harmful to breathe while cleaning. PASS. 

      How to Get Brown Stains Out of Toilet Bottom

      Step One: Prep 

      You will need to prepare yourself for some dirty work before you get started. 

      Wear gloves and sleeves that aren’t so loose that they risk falling into the toilet as you work. Also, take off those rings and secure your glasses.

      Remove all items around the toilet to give yourself plenty of space to work. This includes the stockpile of toilet paper your children built that looks like a fortress wall surrounding your toilet. (If applicable.) 

      Step Two: Apply Cleanser

      When ready, you will generously apply the cleaner or solution you made to the toilet bowl. 

      You may choose to drain your toilet before you clean it. 

      Step Three: Scrub

      Once you allow the toilet cleaner to set for the appropriate amount of time, scrub with your toilet brush until you have a clean toilet. Think about an ex-boyfriend to really apply pressure, or if you’re the man of the house…a rival sports team. It helps.

      While you’re at it, clean the toilet seat and the outside of the toilet with an all-purpose cleaner or magic eraser and a paper towel. 

      After you scrub, clean the brush in your bathtub and allow it to dry completely before putting it away. 

      Helpful Products For Additional Toilet Maintenance and Repair

      Have a clogged toilet as well? See this post for the best methods and tools for how to unclog a toilet.

      Do you have a leak around your toilet? Try these sealants.

      Final Thoughts On How to Clean Brown Stain in Toilet Bowl

      A stubborn stain in your toilet can cause embarrassment when guests are over, and while rare, even post potential health hazards. Toilet cleaning isn’t the most glorious task, but we all have to do it. This guide describes exactly how to remove the stains effectively and without damaging your plumbing.

      Stains won’t come off? Well, some people simple turn to how to make their toilet water blue to cover them up instead.

      FAQs Regarding Brown Stains in Bottom of Toilet Bowl

      What causes a brown stain in the toilet?

      Brown stains in the toilet develop as a result of pipe corrosion, iron in hard water, or bacteria from human waste. It’s natural, but can be solved following these methods. 

      How do I remove brown stains from the toilet bowl?

      You will remove brown stains by scrubbing them out of the toilet bowl with the proper cleaning solution and tools.

      How to remove rust stain from a toilet bowl?

      Rust stains require more extensive cleaning than other stains. Use a pumice stone and cleaning solution, and clean regularly.

      Read More: Can you flush your toilet when the power is out?

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      About Plumbing Navigator

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      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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