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How to Remove Rusted Toilet Tank Bolts: 8 Different Ways!

how to remove rusted toilet tank bolts
Written by David Stern
Last Update: August 10, 2023

Rusty bolts on your toilet can become quite a headache since they can cause leaks and damage the other parts of the tank. Rust may also make the water brown that’s not really a pleasing experience!

Here we’ll be sharing the best methods to remove rusted bolts from your toilet tank so your life gets a little easier!

Things to do before you remove rusted toilet tank bolts

Step 1: Gather your tools. You will need –

  • An adjustable wrench
  • A pair of pliers
  • A large slotted screwdriver
  • Replacement nuts and bolts
  • A lubricant like WD-40

Step 2: Turn off the water supply going into the tank.

Step 3: Flush your toilet to start draining the water. If it doesn’t completely drain, lift the flap to drain the remaining water.

Step 4: Use a sponge to soak the excess water. Empty the sponge into the bowl.

Once you’ve completed these preliminary steps, you’re ready to remove the bolts.

How to Remove Rusted Toilet Tank Bolts?

Method 1: Lock Pliers

Step 1: Spray some lubricant on the bottom of the bolts

Step 2: Take your lock pliers and lock them onto the top of the bolt

Step 3: Twist the pliers so that they begin loosening the bolts

Step 4: If you’re having trouble, try using your pliers on the bottom of the bolt rather

Method 2: Hacksaw

Step 1: Grab your hacksaw, lock pliers, and a pair of protective gloves

Step 2: Attach the lock pliers to the bottom of the bolt

Step 3: Take the hacksaw and saw from the top of the nut

Step 4: After sawing off the bottom, use the lock pliers to pull out the top of the bolt

Method 3: WD-40

Step 1: For this method, you’ll need WD-40, lock pliers, a wire brush (preferably steel), a cloth or rag, dish soap, a steel wool scrubber, and a blowtorch

Step 2: Clean the surface of the tank using your wire brush. Use the cloth to wipe up the dirt.

Step 3: Spray the bolts with WD-40. Make sure you cover all of the rust

Step 4: Use your blowtorch to apply heat to the bolts. Do not shoot the flame directly on the bolts

Step 5: Before the bolts cool down, apply some dish soap and scrub away all of the rust. This will also remove any coating or paint in the tank

Step 6: Use the lock pliers to twist the bolts out of the tank. The bolts will be hot so be careful not to burn anything

Step 7: Clean up any excess grime or rust, then let it dry

Method 4: Wax

Step 1: In this unorthodox method, you’ll be using wax, a wrench, and turpentine

Step 2: Melt the wax, then pour it over the rusted bolts. It’s best to cover your work area; otherwise, things will get messy

Step 3: Wait for the wax to solidify

Step 4: Use your wrench to twist the bolts back and forth until they’re loose

Step 5: Clean up the wax using turpentine. You can also use kerosene, but it is extremely flammable

Method 5: Heat

Step 1: This method only requires a cloth, hot water, and brute strength

Step 2: Run your hot water and soak the cloth in it

Step 3: Using the hot cloth, cover the bolts and twist

Step 4: The heat from the cloth should remove any rust build-up, loosening the bolts

Method 6: Baking Soda

Step 1: You will need baking soda and a pair of pliers

Step 2: Pour some baking soda on the bolts and wait 30 minutes

Step 3: Use your pliers to twist the bolts off

Note: This method does not work if the rust is very old

Method 7: Drilling

If removing your bolts is proving to be more difficult than planned, it’s best to bring out the big guns and use a drill. A delicate touch is key for this method. If you drill too deep, there’s a chance the porcelain will shatter.

Step 1: For this method, you need a drill bit that is strong enough to get into metal. You’ll also need a hacksaw

Step 2: Place the bit in the center of the bolt

Step 3: Drill about a quarter-inch into the bolt. The main anchor point of the bolt is now weakened

Step 4: Use your hacksaw to saw through the bolts, then remove them

Method 8: Vinegar

Step 1: Grab some vinegar from your kitchen. Any vinegar will work, but white vinegar is the best option

Step 2: Pour some vinegar on the rusted bolts and wait 10 minutes. The vinegar will eat away any rust

Step 3: Wipe off the bolts and then remove them using a wrench


1. How do I check the tank bolts?

Ans. Open the lid of your toilet and look at the bolts. If they are starting to rust, you can replace them.

2 . How to keep toilet tank bolts from rusting?

Ans. Tank bolts will always be soaked in water, so avoiding rust is not possible. But you can install brass bolts since brass is highly resistant to rust and corrosion.

About the author

David Stern

Despite a humble beginning at a childcare facility, David sored to success due to his inextinguishable desire for learning and a rare self-motivational disposition. The day he received his appointment letter from LANE ENGINEERING CONSULTING, P.C. was the happiest day of his life. He was trained in plumbing and fire protection systems. The firm taught him the fundamentals of waterproofing, facade restoration, mechanical and structural plumbing. His profound and innovative plumbing knowledge sets our research guidelines. He’s currently working on his new book titled “Plumbing Essentials.”

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