We have all heard of the term,”bathroom humor.” But there’s nothing funny about a filthy bathroom. And one of the biggest eyesores is a toilet with rust stains around the bowl.

Even if the rest of the bathroom is sparkling-clean, rusty streaks can be off-putting for household members and guests alike.

What Causes Rust Stains on Toilets?

Rust stains in the toilet bowl typically indicate that there are higher amounts of iron from the water source. This may not pose a health risk, but the iron particles can oxidize and turn into a distinct red-brown color. If you have an older home, the iron may be arriving from older pipes that are deteriorating.

How to Clean Rust Stains

Unless you have an especially queasy stomach, rust stains are not that difficult to remove from a toilet bowl. The secret is using appropriate cleaning products.

  • Do not use bleach, as it can make the rust stain even worse
  • Avoid having an abrasive scrubber that could scratch the porcelain surface
  • Try a homemade cleaning solution — either 1-part vinegar and 1-part water as a spray; or 3-parts baking soda and 1-part vinegar as a paste
  • Use a toilet brush or non-abrasive scouring brush to wash the bowl
  • Don’t forget to wear appropriate safety gear such as rubber gloves and goggles
  • Turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to eliminate most of the water from the bowl
  • For extra stubborn rust stains, attempt commercial cleaning products such as Borax or Bar Keepers Friend

Upgrading Your Plumbing

Cleaning is important for keeping your bathroom rust-free, however it doesn’t fix the issue of iron from the water. To prevent stains from appearing in the first place, you may have to upgrade parts of your plumbing system.

  • Replacing old iron pipes with new copper or PEX piping
  • Adding a water filtration system to filter iron and other particles from the incoming water supply
  • Installing a water softener system to remove a variety of minerals