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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 By Cleanipedia Team

top of a toilet cistern with toilet paper and a plant
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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.

The best way to remove limescale in a toilet cistern is to let the solution sit for up to 12 hours. That will give it plenty of time to break down deposits and make it easier to clean.

You will need:

  • Protective gloves
  • Old clothes
  • Brush
  • Cleaning solution (citric acid or vinegar)
  • Water
  • Vinegar
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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. Wear protective gloves and old clothing

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

  2. Remove the lid from your toilet cistern

    Remove the lid from the toilet cistern to beginning cleaning.

  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. 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. 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. Create a vinegar/water solution

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

  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. 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. Flush out the solution and fill with cold water

    Flush the solution through and then fill with cold water.

  5. Rinse everything and refill the cistern

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

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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.

Originally published