This is a guide that is going to show you how to clean your dirty toilet tank and ensure the longevity of your toilet. Oftentimes when cleaning the bathroom, the toilet tank is the #1 most missed area that rarely or ever gets cleaned. Experts say that cleaning your toilet tank once or twice a year can expand the life of your toilet and the inner working pieces.
Toilet tanks fall victim to hard water build-up, rust, mold, and mildew that damage your toilet. But don’t fret! You can get this done with cleaning materials you probably already have on hand right now.
Below you’ll find a list of all the materials needed and an easy step-by-step guide on how to get your dirty toilet tank looking nice and fresh.
How often should you clean your toilet tank?
It is suggested that cleaning your toilet tank 1 to 2 times a year can prevent toilet stains, rusting, mildew or mold growth, and buildup of minerals from hard water. These things often result in unpleasant odors, lingering odors, and can damage the metal parts and rubber parts of your toilet and tank causing you to have to replace these pieces, or even the whole toilet, sooner than normal.
The materials you’ll need to clean your toilet tank.
- 3 Gallons of Basic or Distilled White Vinegar. Choose one of the two over any colored variety of vinegar as it could stain your toilet resulting in an odd off color. Depending on how bad your toilet tank is, you’ll need at least 3 gallons of white vinegar to fill the tank with.
- Rubber Gloves
- All-purpose Cleaner. This can be any toilet or toilet tank cleaner that’s meant for non-food surfaces.
- Soft Scrub Sponge. This can be dual purpose sponge that has a rough side and a soft side.
- Bristled Scrub Brush. This can be a small handheld brush like the one you would use in the kitchen, or you can use the toilet brush you would usually use for cleaning the toilet bowl.
- Optional – Baking Soda. If you have especially bad rust strains or tough stains on the inside of your toilet tank, baking soda can be used to help scrub away those stains.
How to clean your toilet tank.
- To start off, wear a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. If you have any skin abrasions or hang nails, the white vinegar will burn the exposed skin.
- Next, gently remove the toilet tank cover and place it on the floor or in the bathtub on top of a towel. Be sure to keep it out of your way so you don’t accidentally trip over the tank cover.
- Do not drain the water that is already in the tank. Mix the white vinegar with the water by slowly pouring in the white vinegar until you are an inch from below the top rim of the tank.
- Allow the mixture to sit for a minimum of 12 hours. This will allow the white vinegar to eat away and dissolve any mildew, rust, or deposits inside the tank. Be sure not to flush during this time and ensure that the toilet will be left undisturbed. Keep any pets or small children away from the tank during this time.
- Once the 12 hours is over, flush the toilet 2-3 times to cycle the white vinegar out of the tank.
- Reach behind your toilet where the water valve is located. This is usually a small pipe coming out of the wall behind your toilet and as a knob or turn handle that will cut off the water supply to your toilet. We don’t want it to fill with any more water.
- Flush the toilet and remove as much of the remaining water as you can. Removing the water from the toilet tank allows you to reach into the tank with your scrub brush or sponge and clean the buildup with ease.
- Using your scrub brush or toilet brush, begin scrubbing away the rust, mildew, and/or mineral buildup.
- Once you are finished, use the sponge to gently wipe the metal and rubber pieces inside your tank. Be sure to get the very top and the very bottom of each piece.
- This is an optional step but if the inside of your tank still has built-up rust or rust stains, use the hard side of your sponge and sprinkle baking soda on top. This should help get rid of those stains.
- If the inside of your tank still looks dirty after you have completed the previous steps, spray some all-purpose cleaner inside the tank. Be sure not to directly hover above the opening and direct your face away from the spray so as to not inhale the chemicals. Follow the manufacturer’s directions and allow the cleaner to sit inside the tank for as long as needed.
- Once that is done, continue to scrub the walls of the toilet tank. Repeat the previous step as needed until you are satisfied with the cleanliness of your toilet tank.
- The final step is to now turn the water supply back and allow for your toilet to refill. Flush 1-2 times, or more if needed, to ensure that the cleaner is completely washed away.
If your toilet tank is especially dirty or you are having a hard time scrubbing away the tough stains, cut off the water supply and completely empty your toilet tank. Fill up the tanks with Basic or Distilled white vinegar until you are at least an inch away from the top rim and allow the white vinegar to sit undisturbed for a minimum of 12 hours. From here, begin following the steps again from Step 5 and on.
How can I maintain the cleanliness of my toilet tank?
To avoid further extensive cleanings to your toilet tank, consider using drop-in tablets or tank tablets to help maintain the cleanliness and help prevent further growth of mildew, rusting, or mineral buildup. Be sure to use a non-toxic and bleach free tablets as the harsh chemicals can corrode and damage the metal and rubber pieces inside the tank.
Additionally, tank tablets with chlorine bleach or chemical sodium hypochlorite in the ingredients list can not only harm your toilet tank but also your septic tank. Using White Vinegar and small amounts of Dawn dish soap will go a long way in keeping your dirty toilet tank a clean toilet tank as well as protecting your septic tank.
I am John Kluge, co-founder of Toilethackers.org. With 10+ years of experience working with toilets, I have garnered a lot of understanding about resolving toilet-related issues. Knowledge is meant to be shared and I am passionate about teaching people the right way to keep toilets clean and also fix toilet-related issues. I co-founded this blog to share my experiences and keep readers updated about toilet-related issues. Knowledge sharing is my forte and I always do so with ease. With exceptional writing and analytic skill, I use my skill to simplify complex terms and ensure readers grasp more understanding about toilet issues.