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Discussion Starter #1
Perhaps not exactly a frugality topic, but I'm curious how others clean stains in the toilet? I am struggling with some stubborn black stains. I can't tell if they are mineral/lime scale or something organic. I'm using some Lysol toilet bowl cleaner (hydrochloric acid) which seems effective on some parts, but leaves black stains remaining.

I'm going to try other methods: laundry detergent, or vinegar. Both with lots of scrubbing (plastic non-wire brush only).

I also found this discussion thread somewhere else with some really good general info. Pasting some of it below:

Toilets these days are made of vitreous porcelain, i.e. they're non-porous, and are covered with an impermeable high-temperature glaze, fired to around 1200C (not like steel baths which are enamelled at a lower temperature, say around 900C). Even if the integrity of the glaze is compromised, cracked or chipped for example, the underlying ceramic shouldn't absorb stains. The exceptions are old toilets made say pre-WW2 which were earthenware and porous, and the glaze could/would craze and allow water and stain to penetrate into the underlying ceramic.
Virtually all staining is on the glaze surface, either deposits of lime scale that become discoloured, or deposits of iron hydroxides arising from water that has picked up iron from old iron pipes. I would be very cautious about using strong chemicals such as caustic soda or strong acid to remove the staining. Both are capable of etching the glaze and potentially making the problem worse in the longer term, especially caustic soda. I would try some standard lime scale remover first. If that doesn't work, strong bleach, or even hydrogen peroxide, left for a few hours should deal with any organic staining. Only if these fail would I try stronger chemicals, but be very careful when handling them as they can cause burns, and if they get in your eyes will damage them or even cause blindness. Wear rubber gloves and goggles. Concentrated sulphuric acid reacts violently with water so if you do use it, make sure the trap/U-bend is empty and quite dry. Give some thought as to how you're going to get the chemical out of the bowl after you've used it. Simply flushing it away may have unexpected and violent results.
and

The debris tends to be a mixture of limescale, with embedded organic matter for colouring.
Brick acid (Hydrochloric) is excellent at dissolving limescale at even quite weak dilutions (a few splashes into the U-trap water will sort out a loo which isn't too bad). The organic matter simply comes free when the limescale is gone - literally one wipe with the toilet brush after it's been standing for a while, and it's as good as new.
You shouldn't use brick acid regularly as it may attack cast iron drains, mortar joints, etc. Also, don't use it on an antique Victorian crapper, but on a reasonably modern pan with undamaged glaze, it should be fine. Flush several times to clear out pipework. (Don't use it on enameled baths though - it will wreck the polished finish, making the surface much harder to keep clean.)
With some weaker proprietry descalers, they seem not to work through the organic matter, so you only remove the top layer of limescale and it doesn't get any further. Bleach is good at temporarily making the organic matter invisible, but much less effective at removing it. If you use a weak descaler, you may need to alternate with something to tackle the organic matter. Washing machine or dishwasher detergent (powder or liquid) work very well for this, particularly if heated. Caustic soda is rather OTT. In any event, don't use one cleaner after another without completely flushing the first from the pan and sewer pipework.
 

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What % hydro-acid did you use? I I picked up some 23% stuff from home hardware - commercial grade. Did the trick.



the same acid in our stomachs.....must be safe to drink....or use as a medicinal aid.......but that’s another topic
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What % hypo-acid did you use? I I picked up some 23% stuff from home hardware - commercial grade. Did the trick.
Mine is 10% hydrochloric acid so yours is much stronger!

Do you think this acid can etch away and damage the glaze surface though? That's one concern I have with the acid. The toilet bowl is a ceramic that is coated with a glaze, and that glaze is essential for keeping it easy to clean.
 

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Mine is 10% hydrochloric acid so yours is much stronger!

Do you think this acid can etch away and damage the glaze surface though? That's one concern I have with the acid. The toilet bowl is ceramic that is coated with a glaze, and that glaze is essential for keeping it easy to clean.

(Reminder/warning to everyone: don't ever mix these chemicals. If you're going to try a different cleaner, you must flush several times in between.)
id think infrequent use would be okay.
 

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I use CLR for scale deposits on toilets. Works very well. Not sure what the black stains are that you refer to. Are they near the top of the bowl or at/below the water line?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for notes above on Polident & CLR

The stains are not a ring, not at the water line and not running down the sides. They are marks below the water line, but not right at the bottom. It does not look typical and I can't find any examples through google image searches.

I want to try some bleach on it but am hesitant about wasting that stuff due to COVID-19 uses.
 

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Never had anything that wouldn't come off with a toilet brush and a little vinegar. Used to clean with bleach but that didn't do much for water stains. So now I only use that once in a while. All the toilets in the house are only 10-15 years old though. And I've never used any abrasives on them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Never had anything that wouldn't come off with a toilet brush and a little vinegar. Used to clean with bleach but that didn't do much for water stains. So now I only use that once in a while. All the toilets in the house are only 10-15 years old though. And I've never used any abrasives on them.
Thanks, I'll try vinegar next time. That seems like a good cleaning idea and much less toxic than other options.

The acidic toilet bowl cleaner, and then later (after much flushing) a small bit of bleach, seems to have done the trick and the stains are gone.
 

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Thanks, I'll try vinegar next time. That seems like a good cleaning idea and much less toxic than other options.

The acidic toilet bowl cleaner, and then later (after much flushing) a small bit of bleach, seems to have done the trick and the stains are gone.
vinegar also comes in different strengths...I think pickling vinegar is the strongest.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I tried some laundry detergent in the toilet and was pleasantly surprised! I brushed, foamed it up, then let it sit for a while. It seems pretty effective!

And I like that it's a safe substance... smells nice too. Next, I'll try vinegar as suggested above.
 
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