10 Tips for Cleaning Your Toilet Tank

A toilet tank opened, ready to begin cleaning or repair.

Most people never think about their toilet tank until there’s a problem with it. In general, people certainly don't consider cleaning a toilet tank, but it’s something you need to do on a regular basis. Dirt and germs build up inside the toilet tank so cleaning it is vital, twice a year being ideal. It’s not a particularly difficult task and regular cleaning is great for the overall sanitation in your house. Here are some tips for getting it as clean as possible.

1. Drain Water for Access

To be able to access the inside of the toilet properly, turn off the water to the toilet at the valve located below that tank and flush. The tank will then drain so you can clean it properly.

2. Use Disinfectant for Ease of Cleaning

You’ll achieve a more thorough cleaning if you start by spraying the inside of the tank with disinfectant. Before you start to actually clean, let the disinfectant stand for 10 to 15 minutes. This will dislodge much of the dirt, making your job easier. Adding a disinfectant will also help kill most of the germs.

3. Use a Toilet Brush

Use a clean toilet brush to scrub inside the tank, rather than a cloth. The handle is long enough to provide an extended reach and the shape of the brush means it can reach into the corners for optimized cleaning. It’s also thin enough to clean around the flushing apparatus.

4. Keep It Clean

When you’ve cleaned your toilet, you can help to keep it clean and germ-free by using a bleach tablet in the tank.

5. Replace Damaged Parts

While cleaning, check the parts inside the tank for wear and tear. If any need any replacements, the best time to do it is with the tank empty and clean. You can also take the opportunity to oil any necessary parts in the flushing apparatus. This will help it operate more smoothly.

6. Clean Mineral Deposits

There’s a simple way to clean nasty mineral deposits off the inside of your toilet tank. With the tank drained, refill to just below the top over the overflow tube with vinegar (you can also use regular cola (not diet) if you wish). Leave it overnight and then flush the liquid away. Finally, use the toilet brush to scrub away any remaining deposits. Both substances contain acid that will loosen the mineral deposits in your toilet tank.

7. Use a Pumice Stone

You can use a pumice stone on your toilet tank to scrub away deposits as long as your toilet is made of vitreous china. You should not use a pumice stone for cleaning on any other type of toilet.

8. What Not to Use

Don’t use the automatic toilet bowl cleaners that can be dropped in the toilet tank. The chemicals on these can rot the rubber flapper valve and cause a leak.

9. Remove Mildew

If you have mildew in your toilet tank, you can clean it out and use bleach tablets to minimize it, but this won’t eliminate the problem completely. You might need to purchase a water purification system to be rid of the mildew altogether.

10. Remove Rust

When there’s rust in your toilet tank, the easiest way to remove it is by using a rust remover for laundry and toilets, either from the supermarket (in the detergent section) or from the hardware store.