How to Remove Rust Stains from a Toilet

  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Pumice stone
Rubber gloves
Oxalic acid/Zud Cleanser (optional)
Lemon juice (optional)
Coca-Cola (optional)
Citric acid/Tang (optional)

To make your toilet bowl look like new you need to remove rust stains that can ruin the entire look of your bathroom. They are ugly and make the toilet look as if you never clean it. These are caused by minerals in well water usually and can be very difficult to remove. It will take a bit of work and patience to do this project.

Step 1 - Pumice Stone

One of the most common remedies is one of the best, use pumice stone. These can be found in most hardware and home improvement stores and are inexpensive. It will require a bit of 'elbow grease' to use this method but it is environmentally friendly and non caustic. Wear rubber gloves to do this. Turn off the water to the toilet then flush it a couple of times until the bowl is empty. You will need a container of water to wet the pumice stone to use it. Just rub it into the stain as if you were sanding it. This will form a paste. Continue until all the stains are gone, turn the water back on and flush the toilet.

Step 2 - Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid, or commercially known as Zud Cleanser is a good cleaner for rust stains but it is caustic and can cause illness if ingested. It is also not environmentally friendly. If you have a septic tank do not use it as it will kill all of the good bacteria in your tank. It is made up of tiny particles of quartz and pumice stone and is available in powder or liquid form.

Step 3 - Citric Acid

Powdered drink mixes such as Tang or lemonade contain citric acid. You can flush the toilet, sprinkle in heavily and let it sit. The acid will gradually eat away the rust. Cheaper yet is to purchase citric acid from a pharmacy or Mid Eastern grocery store and use it full strength. It may require a bit of scouring also, but it is effective and environmentally sound. Its also relatively easy to use and inexpensive.

Step 4 - The Works

Another commercial cleaner that works on rust stains is The Works. It is 20% hydrochloric acid so it is not environmentally safe and the fumes bother a lot of people. You should use gloves if you are handling it as it will irritate your hands and possibly give you chemical burns.

Step 5 - Creative Remedies

There are a few creative remedies for rust stains. One is to use Coca-Cola full strength and pour into a toilet bowl that has no water in the bowl. Let it sit several hours or overnight and in the morning use a toilet bowl brush to scour it a bit, then flush. This will not harm your septic tank either.

Another remedy is lemon juice and soda or salt mixed into a paste then applied onto the rust stains. Let it sit a while then use fine steel wool to scour the rust away. Flush the toilet and it should be clean. This isn't harmful for septic tanks.