How to clean and descale a toilet cistern

Not sure how to descale or clean a toilet cistern? Keep your toilet in tip-top condition with our handy guide.

Updated 2 October 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time2 minutes

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When it comes to cleaning your toilet, the cistern often gets overlooked. That’s largely because not a lot of attention goes towards limescale in a toilet cistern, as opposed keeping the pan and exterior clean. But it’s always good practice to regularly descale a toilet cistern so that it works efficiently. Here’s how to clean a toilet tank.

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  • Removing limescale in a toilet cistern

    In the long run, knowing how to descale a toilet cistern can extend the life and efficiency of your toilet, so it’s well worth doing. And once you’ve learned how to remove limescale from a toilet cistern it’ll be easier the next time you do it. Follow this step-by-step guide for great results.

    1. 1

      Wear protective gloves and old clothing

      Put on protective gloves and old clothing before you start to protect yourself.

    2. 2

      Remove the lid from your toilet cistern

      Remove the lid from the toilet cistern to beginning cleaning.

    3. 3

      Lower the level of water

      Lower the level of water – either by turning off the water supply to the toilet or adjusting the float height valve.

    4. 4

      Pour cleaning solution into your cistern and leave for at least half an hour

      You can use a specialist cleaner like citric acid, or try vinegar if you want a more natural approach. Make sure the solution covers the limescale, and leave for at least half an hour (or longer if you can).

    5. 5

      Scrub thoroughly with a brush

      Scrub thoroughly, rinse and repeat as necessary.

      It’s a good idea to descale a toilet cistern on a weekly basis to prevent limescale from building back up.
  • How to clean a toilet cistern after descaling

    Once you’ve got rid of the limescale you can move onto cleaning the cistern itself. This will help get rid of bacteria and remove nasty odours. Cleaning your cistern follows a similar plan to descaling, but shouldn’t take as long.

    1. 1

      Create a vinegar/water solution

      Make a mix of three parts vinegar to one part water.

    2. 2

      Scrub the marked areas before applying the solution

      Pour into a spray bottle and aim at marked areas. Scrub them first before working on the rest of the toilet tank.

    3. 3

      For stubborn stains, fill the tank and let the solution sit for 10 minutes

      If you encounter really stubborn stains, you can fill the tank. Let the solution sit for around 10 minutes before scrubbing to remove dirt and grime.

    4. 4

      Flush out the solution and fill with cold water

      Flush the solution through and then fill with cold water.

    5. 5

      Rinse everything and refill the cistern

      Flush again to rinse everything off and then refill the cistern.

There you have it, an easy-to-follow guide to how to clean and descale a toilet cistern. Once you’ve done it the first time, the next time will be really straightforward. With regular cleaning you can keep your toilet in great shape and make sure it works well long term.

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