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How to Clean Calcium/Limescale Buildup in Your Toilet Bowl?

how to clean calcium buildups in a toilet bowl
Written by Elizabeth Fincher

Are you one of those embarrassed homeowners who pray that their guests won’t use the toilet because it is stained?

The white, chalky deposits won’t come off no matter what you do. As time passes, they become darker and more visible.

The good news is that you can clean your bowl with Coca-Cola, baking soda, and even vinegar. Here’s how to get it done and keep it sparkling and pristine!

What causes calcium build-up in toilets

Mineral-rich water can cause calcium build-up in your toilet. Magnesium and calcium deposits can sometimes be found in water supplies during filtration because water passes through soft rocks. This is called hard water.

However, even filters designed to eliminate these minerals can fail to remove them completely. Minerals accumulate around the water line of the toilet bowl as a result of the water deposited by the mineral. The rim becomes visually unappealing and chalky as they build up.

How to clean calcium buildups in a toilet bowl?

Tools needed

  •  White vinegar
  •  Baking soda
  •  Commercial toilet cleaners
  •  Plunger/heavy cloth
  •  Toilet brush
  •  Allen wrench
  •  Spray bottle
  • Rubber gloves
  • Pumice stone

Step 1: Disconnect the toilet’s water supply

Ensure that the toilet’s water supply is turned off at the main.

Step 2: Empty the toilet bowl

The water level will drop when the toilet is flushed, exposing the calcification. A toilet plunger can push more water down depending on how much water is left in the drain.

Step 3: Fill the bowl with vinegar

Spray vinegar around the bowl liberally. Let it sit for an hour if possible.

Step 4: Clean the toilet bowl

Use a nylon toilet brush with stiff bristles to scrub the calcification. You can also try a pumice stone which can work. The cleaner should be rinsed away by flushing the toilet if the deposits have been removed.  As an alternative, scrubbing may not be enough to completely remove the calcification; if this is the case, scrub off as much as you can, then rinse the brush in the sink.

Traditional ways to clean limescale build-up in your toilet

1. Citric Acid

Citric acid can be used to scrub off deposits that have not yet been cured. Yellow stains in the toilet can be removed by using citric acid on the areas. This is best left soaking in overnight. Clean all ceramic surfaces with a scrubber in the morning, rinse, and wipe. Repeat the procedure if the dirt did not come off the first time.

2. Vinegar

To eliminate nasty stains and rust from your toilet, use vinegar. We used 9% table vinegar or 75% essence. Cover the container with a lid and heat the liquid. You need to reach a temperature of 45 degrees – a strong smell will emanate. After applying the product, allow it to dry for a couple of hours. Lime stains should be exposed and repeated for a longer period if they are old. Use a scrubber to clean, then rinse.

3. Oxalic Acid

A colorless crystal called oxalic acid, removes stubborn deposits with ease. Basically, you only need to scrub those areas and use plenty of water to get rid of the powder. The enamel will rust if left for long periods.

4. Baking Soda

Baking soda can be used to clean so many things in your home, including toilets. You can easily remove marks and build-up. As baking soda is rough, it should not be used excessively: enamel can be damaged. You can rub baking soda on dirty areas and scrub gently. You can add some vinegar for added cleaning power. Rinse again after brushing.

5. Coca-Cola

It’s possible that Coca-Cola will clean build-up on toilet bowls. You will need two bottles of coke. Pour them into the bowl and around the sides. Next, grab some cloth soaked in coke and sit it around the sides of the stained areas. Let this sit for a few hours. Scrub with a scrubber and then rinse.

6. Electrolyte

The electrolyte can clean contaminated areas stained by mineral deposits of different ages. This method should only be used if other methods have failed. There is sulfuric acid in the electrolyte, as well as distilled water. The harsh liquid needs to be diluted in water before cleaning. Protect yourself by wearing gloves and goggles. Put the liquid in the bowl. Wait up to an hour then rinse completely.   

What is the best cleaner for calcium build-up?

1. Abrasive

An abrasive is a powdery element and works the same way as a brush.  Mineral build-up deposits can be effectively removed with powdered substances, which damage the bowl’s surface. Their grazes can cause the bowl to become rough as well as prone to quickly collecting dirt. In order to keep ceramics smooth, liquid products with a gel-like consistency are recommended.

2. Alkaline-based

All types of contaminants can be removed using alkaline compounds, however, their effectiveness is not guaranteed. Through the removal of deposits beneath the waterline, it disinfects the surface of the water. After draining and adding liquid to the knee, it must be left overnight if possible.

Drain the water several times in the morning by pressing the flush button several times. Leaving a clean and white surface, there will be no marks left behind.

3. Acidic

Acidic substances are corrosive. Applying acid requires rubber gloves, a mask, and plastic eyewear. Liquid can cause a chemical burn if it is not handled correctly and touches your skin. Cleaning will be easier since acidic compounds break down dirt quickly.

How to keep your toilet free of mineral build-up?

1. Repair leaks

In the case of leaking drains, have them repaired by a professional. Plaque formation will be prevented, and water consumption will be reduced.

2. Food residue should not be put down the drain

Food residues, especially greasy ones, should not be flushed down the drain;

3. Use a water softener

Alternatively, you can use water softener capsules mounted on the rim of your tank. These will help soften the water and lessen the water marks caused by build-up.

Quick tips

  • Due to fume risks, the area should be well-vented first
  • Wear protective eyewear, rubber gloves, and clothing that covers your entire body
  • Do not mix bleach with other products as this can cause a lethal gas
  • Wipe the toilet over with a brush each day to stop build-up from occurring

About the author

Elizabeth Fincher

Elizabeth started her career as an interior design artist at a multinational interior design farm. She completed her masters degree from the University of North Texas back in 2010. She was also a Spelling Bee runner-up when she was 14. She took interest in bathroom interior designing after joining her first job. Later she started her own firm as an independent artist. She’s been one of the founding members of Toiletsguide. She examines the design and ergonomics of the units we review and directs the interior decoration team of our in-house research facility. Elizabeth plays piano masterfully and always finds time to entertain us in between our busy schedules.

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