How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Your Toilet

Removing Toilet Hard Water Stains

This post includes affiliate links. Please see my disclosure.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Seriously, Sara? You post all of these great recipes and photos on your blog and today you’re showing us your toilet?” Well, yes, yes, I am. And just to warn everyone up front, you may want to take caution when reading through this post. What you’re going to see here is not pretty, but it’s effective. And I’m going to use my bare hands doing it.

Ick. I know, right? When you’re a mom there’s not too much that can phase you anymore. My hands have held things and cleaned up things that I don’t really care to talk about right here and now, but rest assured, my toilet IS clean – it’s these pesky stains that I need to address.

I’m ASSUMING that there are some of you out there that suffer from this problem as well, and I’m ASSUMING that’s why you’re here – to learn how to remove hard water stains from your toilet. If you’re here just for entertainment purposes. . .welcome. I’m okay with that, too.

So now you see what I’ve had to deal with. This is a toilet in our laundry room. It’s hardly ever used. I think that’s part of our problem. I’ve been making a point to use this toilet more often and it’s been working in my favor. The kids never think to check that bathroom when they’re looking for me. 😉 Okay, okay. I’m just kidding. Kind of. Sort of.

So, this is really easy, peasy. What I’m sharing today is the EASIEST way to remove hard water stains from your toilet – without bleach, without harsh chemicals and without needing any sort of mask. All you need is a pumice stone and some elbow grease. Really? Really. Grab a pumice stone, dip it in the water and LET’S DO THIS!

P.S. They also make pumice stones with handles, so if you’re a bit skittish about sticking your hand in the toilet, try one of those!

How to remove hard water stains from your toilet

Let’s talk as I scrub. First of all, you’re welcome for getting photos of this. This was one of the strangest and most difficult shoots I’ve done in a long time. Imagine yourself with a camera in one hand and your other hand in the toilet. I did it for you. Why am I not wearing gloves? Because this is a toilet in my own home. Will I come and help you clean yours? I will come and SUPERVISE as you clean yours. If you have chocolate in your house that I can eat while I watch you clean your toilet. . .even better.

How to remove toilet stains
I absolutely get that some of you are not reading this post at all. You’ve just come to check out what the miracle cleaner is for making your porcelain toilet clean and sparkly again. If I were you, that’s all the info I would want, too. So once and awhile it’s just fun to be goofy to see if anyone is really paying attention. AND. . .well, this is truly who I am.

Alright, see that powdery substance inside the bowl. That’s just pumice stone powder that’s rubbed off of the stone while I’m cleaning the stains off. Do you see the stains disappearing? Yep, this really works.

How to remove hard water stains from your toilet
There are a few faint marks still remaining in the above photo, but I wanted you to see the progress. The most difficult area of the toilet to reach is right below the rim of the bowl. Just keep working that stone and you’ll be able to bring your bowl back to it’s original splendor. Now the most complicated part. . .how do you keep the water stains from returning again?

My best advice is just to clean the toilet more often and use the toilet more often. The two seem to go hand-in-hand, don’t you think? Many of you may be asking, where do I find a pumice stone? Well, these babies are often used in pedicures and clear away the rough, dead skin from your feet. This post is getting better and better, isn’t it? Try the nail polish/foot care aisle of your local drugstore or discount retailer. They aren’t difficult to find!

Best of luck to you and your toilet bowl. I can guarantee that once you try this, you will be amazed at the results. It’s takes literally minutes and I promise that the pumice stone will not scratch a porcelain surface. It’s funny how something so natural can clean better than some of the harshest cleansers out there. But it just goes to show you how helpful a piece of hardened lava foam can truly be! Have you discovered any other natural cleaners that have surprised you with their effectiveness?

How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Your Toilet



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  1. Donna Perdue says:

    I love the pumice stones! These can also be purchased in the cleaning supply section of most big box stores, grocery stores, and hardware stores.

    • I will try this thank you …please please do you have any ideas or tips on how to remove stains from the floor of a walk in shower/ toilet room (wash room )

  2. It worked! Those hard water marks have drove me nuts and I never knew how to get rid of them. Thanks.

  3. Martha Ezell says:

    Thx for the humor. I have chocolate. Pls come. I’ll be looking for one with a handle.

    • Martha, if you have chocolate, I’m in! LOL Good luck with your pumice stone search – I certainly hope you find one with a handle!

  4. This is what I used to use too! My brother told me to STOP using it because the pumice can scratch the toilet and leave micro scratches where debris can get into and make it worse in the future. What I use now is a bit easier and Very quick! Simply get some size 000 sand paper, aka drywall sandpaper, found at any hardware store. It come in sheets (I’m thinking around 12 inches sq or so). Easily cut into small usable squares. Turn off the water at the back of the toilet, flush to remove the water. Use the sandpaper and the stains come right off! Less than a minute usually. Turn the water back on and voila! Hope this helps 🙂

    • Elizabeth, thanks so much for sharing! So far I haven’t seen any problems by using the pumice stones but I’m always open to alternatives and I know my readers are, too! Thanks so much for taking the time to write such an insightful comment!

      • Debra waters says:

        If your afraid of scratches…try fine steel wool. I used it on my mirrors that had hard water stains and it comes off without scratching. Use on shower doors too. Even ceramic tile so why not toliets!

    • I’ve used to use pumice stone in the past, but often ended with black/grey marks that wouldn’t come off before all the mineral buildup was removed. I was told that the porcelain might not be a good quality. Interesting that someone has had good luck with sandpaper. I’d be inclined to think either would harm the porcelain finish.

    • Kolleen Dohermann says:

      I read an article in a newspaper if you can imagine that and it reminded us readers that porcelain is delicate and a pumice stone is not. I believe once you scratch off the veneer the stains will come back quickly. Hmmm.

    • Elizabeth is right. I am an owner of a cleaning service since 1986. It can scratch the porcelain of toilets.

  5. Lu, you’re right that regular sandpaper would probably harm the porcelain as well. The drywall sandpaper is very fine and sort of doesn’t look like sandpaper, per se. It looks more like soft screen fabric. Hope this helps to clarify.

  6. I am envisioning a horrible nails on the chalkboard noise when you do this. Is there a horrible noise? I don’t think I could do it.

  7. Elizabeth is correct. Using the pumice stone will scratch the porcelain and the stains will come back. Wet/dry sandpaper is the alternative and it really works. This is from personal experience (yuk)

  8. Hi Sara

    Funny post – I loved it. I have another way to remove hard water marks the doesn’t require reaching into the toilet or scrubbing. Vinegar! Just pour in vinegar and let sit for 20 mins or longer, depending on the stain. Then use a toilet brush to scrub where the stains are bad. That’s it! Often, I don’t even have to scrub, it just flushes away! Works for me every time.

  9. Christine says:

    Sara, I found out about using pumice last year and have had wonderful success with it. I, too, plunge in without gloves. 🙂 After all, it’s just cold water. works like a charm! No more toxic chemicals. Pumice-on-a stick can be found in several catalogs like Miles Kimball.

  10. Priscilla says:

    THANK YOU!! We live in SE NM and no matter what I clean with it gets these stains. Gotta go-cleaning the toilet now!

  11. heather mae says:

    I have used the pumice stone for 7yrs on same porcelane toilets and never had a problem ever. I don’t have micro scratchs only thing it does do it get rid of hard water stains. Perfect solution. My toilets look like they are brand spankean new.

  12. Bed Bath and Beyond has one specifically for toilets. Finer and will not scratch the porcelain. I love it, there about 3.99.

  13. Have been cleaning my toilet like this for years. it does work. Love how you tell a story, Thanks for the chuckles.

  14. Aw bummer. I had hoped for some magic cure-all revelation that would free me from the tedious chore of pumicing my toilets. I hate pumicing the toilets. But you’re right it really does work and it’s the only thing that works. And thank goodness it doesn’t involve harsh chemicals!

  15. Cindy P says:

    Glazed porcelain tile has a Moh’s hardness of 8 on the geologic scale. Pumice is 5.5-6. So it won’t scratch tile or toilets. Not even micro abrasions. I’ve been using this for most of my life (from a little box in the cleaning section of most stores) and have never had a problem. So go for it! Scrape it off.

  16. I really wish I could upload my before and after pictures of the work I just finished on one of my my two horrendous toilets because if I hadn’t done the work myself I truly don’t think I would believe it! I was at my wit’s end tryin to tackle the mess that I called a toilet my last and final option was to just paint the dang thing or replace it.. yeah to me it was that bad and cleaning it was a pointless battle. Believe me when I say that your’s is considered immaculate compared to mine. So coincidentally I stumble upon this page and right away I get to work probably took me 40 mins but I’m soo proud to say it’s ore beautiful then the day it was bought thank you so so much for this advice you have saved my bathroom dignity

    • Ashley, your comment just made my day. I’m so happy you didn’t have to paint your toilets! It does take a bit of elbow grease but the results are pretty amazing!

  17. Oh my word!! The best thing ever!! I wish I could share my photos with you from before and after….but simply amazing,, thank you, thank you, thank you! We are selling our house and I thought I was going to have to buy a brand new toilet…but now I don’t have to!!!

    • That’s wonderful news, Laura! If you want to share your pics, hop over to my FB page! Good luck on selling your home! I’m so glad you don’t need to purchase a new toilet.

  18. The before and after pictures really show what a difference your cleaning method makes! I must say, I’m very impressed. I have hard water too, and it’s starting to wear on me. I think it might be time for me to get a water softener system. That would keep me from getting stains, and it would help with other things around the house.

  19. Pumice stone could make a miracle with your sink,too. It is cheap and effective. I am going to show this article to my mom. She is going to try it immediately. I am so happy that I have found your post. Best regards!

    • I hope it works for her, Bethany!

    • Be careful using a pumice stone on your sinks. Use only if they are porcelain. My husband made a mess of ours and also scratched the drain cover when he decided that since it worked so well on the hard water stains in the toilet it would work in the sink too… :/

  20. Thank you!! I moved into my fiancé’s house after he’d been living here for 2 years with bachelor friends living in the guest rooms. The toilets were awful. For months I’ve waged war with the horrible stains and couldn’t get rid of them. I was considering getting new toilets!! Until today. They look sparkly clean and brand new!! I want to cry!!

  21. Hi Sara. I owe you some chocolate! Thanks for this great tip that works so well. My loo looks brand new again. The added bonus of the pumice being free here, ( I just took my dog for a walk at the lake and picked some pieces up off the shore) was great too. Enjoyed your post, nice to hear a kindred spirit out there! Cheers, Rachel.

  22. Madeleine says:

    I’ve been looking for a solution to this problem for a long time. I’ve tried so many other ways to get rid of those stains to no avail. Thank you so much for your suggestion. Worked like a charm.

  23. As Elizabeth,I also use the 000 sandpaper,but I get some of the water out of the bowl,then spray vinegar, then sprinkle baking soda,the scrum with the the drywall sandpaper.👍🏻👍🏻

  24. Cristy says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all of the comments so I don’t know if someone posted this. I used to do this but don’t anymore. If you refuse to use chemicals of any kinds, this is probably the best way to go.

    I work 40-60hrs a week with a 2hr commute both ways. I refuse to waste time scrubbing anything if I can get it done faster. I use sno-bol toilet cleaner anywhere in my bathroom that has ever had hard water or rust issues. Doesn’t matter how bad it is, put this on to sit a few minds and it wipes clean away. (I had just rented a new place and was scrubbing away with the pumice stone. Hadn’t even made a dent when my grandmother gave me a bottle of sno-bol. Less than 5 mins later it was sparkling clean and I’ve used it ever since).

  25. Darlene A says:

    The ceramic tile in my small shower has brown stains (rust from hard water?) do you think the pumice/sandpaper will work on the tile? Magic Eraser cleans the grout but not the tile.

    • Darlene, I would try some fresh lemon juice on the tile. Squeeze on some lemon juice, allow to set for 5 minutes and then try scrubbing with an old toothbrush. If there is still some stain left, repeat the lemon juice and add some salt on top. Let sit for 3-4 hours, scrub again with the toothbrush and rinse completely. Let me know if this works for you!! Good luck!

      • drain water from the bowl and wax with paste car wax buff with dry cloth and your hard work will last much longer !!

  26. Karen Jones says:

    Vinegar is brilliant for removing hard water stains.

  27. I am from Brazil, and your tip really helped me out!! Thank you so much.

  28. IT WORKS BUT THEN YOU HAVE TO USE IT FROM NOW ON. iT DOES CAUSE TINY SCRATCHES . Those then catch lime, etc. from then on. Don’t use if new commode try something else. please.

  29. They sell pumice stone at Wal-Mart and they call them a power stick. They cost less than 2.00.

  30. Heather Peters says:

    Placing denture cleaner tablets in the bowl and the tank also clean them without scrubbing or damage. Smells good too…

    • Yes, Heather! If the bowl is quite dirty, give the bowl just a real quick scrub after using the denture tablets! Thanks for sharing this tip!

  31. I use lot of time pumice stone it work very good, but I have one toilet will not work I don’t know why. suji

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