Natural Toilet Cleaning
Updated: Nov 19
Cleaning does not come naturally to me, and I do not whistle while I work. There are no cheerful chipmunks, trilling bluebirds, and swishing skirts while I tidy up the place. I do not hum a merry tune and dance with my broom. (Although sometimes I do get certain songs in my head; for example, “The Never-Ending Story” becomes “The Never-Ending Laundry” at folding time while “Rock the Casbah” becomes “Scoop the Catbox”—speaking of miserable chores.) There is no music during toilet-cleaning time, but I’ve come to terms with it, while using nothing violently blue with caustic fumes.
Several years ago, while looking for natural toilet bowl cleaning solutions, I read about some fizzing toilet cleaning “bombs” and soon bought the stuff to make them. Then I didn’t make them. (Do you do that, too? If so, I’m glad it’s not just me. If not, then skip this post, head over to this blog post, and make the fizzing toilet bombs right away!)
Not wanting to waste the main ingredient for the toilet fizzers (citric acid), and yet wanting to clean the inside of my toilets without chemicals, I decided to bypass making the fizzies and just use the fizz. I finally figured out a system that worked for me. Here are the steps I take to keep my toilet bowls sparkling clean!
First, I keep a container of cheap baking soda and a container of citric acid (STORE BOTH OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN IN A CHILDPROOF CONTAINER), as well as a tablespoon measure and a toilet cleaning brush in every bathroom. (Side note: We spent years living in abodes with one bathroom; I was in my multiple-bathroom home for several months before I figured out to keep a toilet brush in EVERY bathroom rather than carrying the yucky thing from room to room. I admit this only to be helpful to others, because surely there is someone else out there who has multiple bathrooms and needs this tip. They’re inexpensive. Buy several!)
When I’m ready to clean a bathroom, the first thing I do is flush the toilet and then drop two tablespoons of citric acid in the water at the bottom of the bowl. Then I usually leave it for at least fifteen or twenty minutes while I clean other parts of the bathroom (although if I'm in a hurry and the toilet just needs a quick clean, I'll skip ahead to the next step). Inevitably one of the three other people in my house comes in needing the toilet and I shoo them away to the other bathrooms.
After the elapsed time has passed, I drop two tablespoons of baking soda into the toilet water. After a few seconds a reaction occurs and the water starts bubbling. I move on to other things and let the baking soda and citric acid continue to mingle. Inevitably someone comes in again needing the loo, and I shoo them away once more.
When the fizzing stops, I grab the toilet brush and scrub away! Once the bowl is clean, I spray the rest of the toilet surfaces with my all-purpose cleaner of choice*, wipe with an absorbent rag (I like using prefold cloth diapers for this purpose), and call it clean! I may not whistle while I work, but I sure am glad when I’m done.
A few notes here. If your toilets have buildup in them, such as rings around the bowl or deposits in the bottom that look dark brown, this treatment may not remove all the buildup right away. You’ll need to do it several times and it should improve every time. The longer you can leave the citric acid, the better. For a particularly stained older toilet in our basement bathroom, I actually left the citric acid overnight, which worked well for most of the deposit but I needed to use a pumice stone to remove the last of it. Once I used the pumice stone, the stains stayed away with regular cleaning. When a toilet gets those really bad deposits (they’re minerals), a pumice stone is really the only thing I've found that works, and since the stones are chemical-free, they’re a great option—as long as your toilet is made of standard porcelain.
Here's a quick summary of how to clean your toilet using my method!
Quick clean: Drop two tablespoons citric acid in bowl. Add two tablespoons baking soda. Allow to fizz. When fizzing stops, scrub bowl. Flush when scrub is complete.
Deep clean: Drop two tablespoons citric acid in bowl. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to overnight. Add two tablespoons baking soda. Allow to fizz. When fizzing stops, scrub bowl. Flush when scrub is complete. Repeat if necessary. Use pumice stone (if toilet is porcelain) for stubborn buildup.
*A post about the all-purpose cleaners we use will be coming soon, so stay tuned!
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