How to disinfect a toilet and how to clean toilet stains - fast!

From how to clean toilet stains to grime-busting deep cleaning tips, our guide will transform your toilet from dirty to dazzling.

Updated 2 October 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time7 minutes

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Cleaning the toilet may be one of the least appealing jobs around the home, but one thing’s for sure: keep putting it off and what’s actually an easy task will only become harder.

We’ve come armed with everything you need to know on how to clean a toilet and get that porcelain seriously clean and sparkling.

Before we go through how to clean a dirty toilet and make it sparkle instead, first make sure you know what you need to get the job done:

  • It’s best to use a brush with plastic bristles for toilet cleaning – wire brushes can damage the enamel surface of your toilet.

  • Always start with a clean toilet brush and toilet brush holder.

  • We recommend keeping a pair of rubber gloves solely for toilet cleaning use, to avoid any cross-contamination. 

  • Make sure you keep one dry cloth available!

  • Rim block isn't essential, but it will help with omitting some odours and stains.

  • Remember – it’s important to keep your brush and sponges clean as well so you’re not spreading more bacteria.

You will need:

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  • How to clean toilet bowls

    If you want to know how to clean a toilet, it’s best to start with cleaning the toilet bowl. For this, you’ll need to clean as much surface area as possible, so start by draining as much water from the bowl as you can. You can do this by siphoning with a plunger, or by turning the water valve off and flushing your toilet.

    1. 1

      Gloves on! Apply bleach.

      Put your gloves on and apply your chosen bleach or cleaning liquid around the rim, letting it run down the sides.

      Domestos being poured into a toilet bowl
    2. 2

      Scrub with the toilet brush.

      Using the toilet brush, start scrubbing under the rim to remove any surface stains and spread the cleaner around.

    3. 3

      Be thorough!

      Continue using the brush to scrub down and around the toilet bowl.

    4. 4


      Go over the bowl with the brush once again and flush the toilet to rinse away the cleaner, making sure that you continue to scrub as the water drains away.

  • How to clean a toilet seat

    Your toilet seat can harbour harmful bacteria, so it’s really important to give it a regular and thorough clean.

    1. 1

      Spray the cleaner.

      Spray some bathroom cleaner or Surf disinfectant around the seat and lid, especially concentrating on any bolts and screws and at the back near the pipe or cistern.

    2. 2

      Use a toothbrush.

      Use an old toothbrush to scrub those hard-to-reach areas like the hinges, and loosen any dirt.

      Gloved hand cleaning toilet seat with toothbrush
    3. 3


      Wipe away any grime with a paper towel and dry off the cleaning solution.

      To quickly clean your toilet seat, it’s useful to have antibacterial flushable wipes handy.
  • How to clean a toilet exterior

    Keeping the outside of your toilet clean is just as important as cleaning your toilet bowl, as it can get just as dirty.

    1. 1

      Spray cleaner on the tank.

         Spray your bathroom cleaner over the tank, lid, base, sides and handle. For ease, you can also use flushable antibacterial wipes.

    2. 2

      Start from the top.

      Starting from the top, wipe down the entire area with some kitchen roll or a cloth, removing all the cleaning solution.

    3. 3

      Always use a clean and dry cloth.

      If the cloth gets saturated halfway through, use a clean, dry one to continue.

  • How to clean the base of the toilet

    Stains and bacteria can accumulate at the base of the toilet where it meets the floor, as well as behind it, causing bad odours to linger.

    1. 1

      Spray the base.

      Spray all around the base of the toilet with the bathroom cleaner.

    2. 2

      Use an old toothbrush.

      Using an old toothbrush, scrub the area thoroughly to remove any dirt or odours.

    3. 3


      Using paper towels or a cloth, wipe away any grime and dry off thoroughly.

      hand wiping base of toilet with blue cloth
    4. 4

      The final touch.

      This step isn’t essential, but we think it’s definitely a plus to have a pleasingly fragrant toilet at the end; hook your chosen rim block over the rim of your toilet to prevent dirt and limescale build-up and keep odours at bay from your toilet bowl.

      hand in black gloves applying rim block to toilet

  • How to clean a toilet quickly

    Sometimes the luxury of time isn’t on our side, but the loo needs to be cleaned, and fast! Here's how to clean a stained toilet quickly.

    1. 1

      Use toilet cleaner on the rim and sides.

      Put on your rubber gloves, lift up the toilet seat, and squirt your toilet cleaner around the rim and the sides.

    2. 2

      Scrub the toilet with the toilet brush.

      Next, scrub the toilet with the toilet brush making sure the cleaning solution reaches every nook and cranny of the toilet, including the u-bend. If you have time, leave the toilet cleaner to get to work for about 30 minutes. If not, on to the next step!

    3. 3

      Wipe the seat and lid.

      Using antibacterial wipes (if you have them), wipe down both sides of the seat and lid.

    4. 4

      Wipe the outside.

      Wipe down the outside of the toilet, starting at the top and finishing at the base.

    5. 5

      Bin or flush.

      Bin the used wipes or flush down the toilet and mission accomplished.

How to disinfect toilet bowls and toilets for a deep clean

A neglected toilet needs a bit more TLC than a regular clean. Here’s how to clean a stained toilet and get it looking good as new.

  1. 1

    Wash down the outside of your toilet with a sponge and hot water to help dislodge any dirt, wiping it and drying with a cloth or kitchen roll.

  2. 2

    Spray some toilet cleaner over the entire toilet: the lid, seat, outside and base. Leave it to work.

  3. 3

    Use a liquid toilet cleaner and dispense under the rim of the bowl, leaving it to work for at least twenty minutes, or overnight if it’s safe to do so – this is the best way to deep clean a toilet bowl.

  4. 4

    Scrub the bowl thoroughly using the toilet brush to dislodge any stains. Flush and rinse the brush. If stains are still present, repeat this step again.

  5. 5

    With a cloth or kitchen roll, wipe off the disinfectant spray from around the seat, base, lid and back of the toilet until the entire toilet is squeaky-clean and dry.

How to get rid of toilet stains

So now you know how to clean a toilet, but do you know how to remove toilet stains? Read on for our top stain-busting tips that will tackle the most common of toilet stains.

How to clean toilet stains: Hard water

  1. 1

    Pour one cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl, swish the solution around with the toilet brush and leave to sit for a minute.

  2. 2

    Add one cup of baking soda and another of vinegar.

  3. 3

    Leave the solution to fizz for about five minutes, then scrub the toilet so the solution reaches all the stains.     

  4. 4

    Finally, flush the toilet and you’re done!

How to remove toilet stains: Yellow stains

Yellow toilet stains are the most common stains – caused by the accumulation of pigment in urine residue – yet the most difficult to remove. Luckily, the strong cleaning powers of bleach can blast away those unpleasant yellow stains.

  1. 1

    Pour bleach around the toilet bowl, and leave it to work for a couple of hours.   

  2. 2

    Once you see that the stains have disappeared, flush away the bleach.

  3. 3

    Leave the bleach on overnight if the staining is particularly heavy.

How to clean toilet stains: Limescale

This mineral deposit forms stubborn stains that can be tricky to remove, and often requires a specialist product. If you don’t have any, you can use vinegar just as effectively. Read our top tips to learn more about how to remove limescale from your toilet. How to clean a very stained toilet bowl: Removing brown toilet stains

Those unsightly brown stains in your toilet bowl are caused by mineral compounds in hard water, notably iron oxide or rust. As acid-based cleaners dissolve rust, a really good and natural cleaner is vinegar.

  1. 1

    To treat stains at the bottom of the bowl, pour in two litres of vinegar and leave for a good few hours before flushing.   

  2. 2

    If the stains are near the rim, mix some vinegar and borax (or salt if you don’t have any) into a paste and apply to the marks with an old toothbrush.   

  3. 3

    Leave it on to work for at least a few hours or overnight if you can, before flushing away. 

Use a water-soaked pumice stone to gently remove any stubborn stains in your toilet bowl.

Maintaining a Clean Toilet Routine

Maintaining a clean toilet routine is crucial for a hygienic and pleasant bathroom experience. A well-kept toilet not only looks inviting but also helps prevent the spread of germs and unpleasant odors. To establish an effective routine, start with daily tasks like wiping down the toilet seat and handle with disinfectant wipes. This removes surface bacteria and prevents the buildup of grime.

Weekly, focus on a more thorough cleaning, targeting stains, mineral deposits, and hidden areas like the rim and tank. Utilize a toilet bowl cleaner and a toilet brush to tackle these issues effectively. Monthly maintenance might involve checking for leaks, inspecting the tank components, and cleaning the exterior.

By adhering to a clean toilet routine, you not only ensure a more sanitary bathroom but also extend the lifespan of your toilet fixtures, saving you time and money in the long run.

Answers to your top toilet cleaning questions

How to clean a dirty toilet brush

The best way to clean toilet brushes and other tools you may have used is to rinse them, and any holders, in a hot water and bleach solution for one hour. This should be done at least once a week to avoid any bacteria build-up, and before you use the brush to scrub the bowl. For more information, check out our handy guide on how to clean a toilet brush and toilet brush holder.

How to keep the toilet bowl clean

As with most household chores, cleaning the toilet is easiest if you maintain it as part of a routine. A deep clean can be done once every two weeks and a regular clean weekly.

Make sure you have clean apparatus (toilet brush and cloths) and give the bowl a quick scrub on a regular basis or wipe down the seat every couple of days with antibacterial wipes. Using a rim block will help keep your toilet clean, fresh, and hygienic in between more thorough cleans.

How to clean a toilet with natural ingredients

If you prefer to limit the number of chemicals you use around your home, then there are several natural alternatives available.

For more tips on how to disinfect a toilet naturally, check out our article on eco-friendly bathroom cleaning ideas.

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