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Nestor_Kelebay 07-03-2010 12:13 PM

How to clean a toilet well
There was a thread in here asking how to remove reddish brown stains from a toilet bowl. I suspected the stain was iron oxide from the houses's water supply plumbing, and so I told the poster to use a hydrochloric acid based toilet bowl cleaner.

But, I got this tip from a website that caters to the janitorial industry ( and I thought it was a good one, so I wanted to pass it on. Restaurants use this to prevent their toilet bowls from smelling if someone doesn't flush:

After cleaning the toilet, what's really good practice is to kill the bacteria in the part of the bowl you can't get to with toilet bowl cleaner. After cleaning the toilet and rinsing out the cleaner, empty the bowl and pour bleach straight out of the jug into the bowl to the normal height the water level in the bowl. (Any additional bleach you pour in will simply pour out of the toilet into your drain piping, so pouring more in is just wasting bleach.) Allow the bleach to sit in the toilet bowl for at least 15 minutes, and then save that bleach for the next bowl cleaning.

The bleach will kill all of the bacteria in the toilet bowl that feed on human waste so that the bacteria don't start to multiply if someone uses the toilet without flushing. And, of course, preventing the bacteria from growing and multiplying is how to prevent your toilet from smelling.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-22-2010 09:38 AM


I do this whenever a long term tenant vacates, and I do use the same bleach over and over.

I just scoop out the old bleach with a pair of empty cans (one big, one small) and pour it back into the jug with a funnel. You'll only get 95% of the bleach, but it's not expensive stuff. You can buy a gallon of it for less than a gallon of gasoline, so there will inevitably be some bleach lost.

If the toilet has been cleaned beforehand, then there won't be any bacteria to kill in the main part of the bowl because those will already have been killed by the acidic toilet bowl cleaner. The intent of using bleach as described is to kill the bacteria in the upstream end of the discharge channel (which is the channel through which the water flows when you flush). You really can't clean that area any other way. Filling the bowl with bleach will allow you to kill the bacteria there as well.

So, the bleach in the main part of the bowl will be clean as you scoop it out and can be used again. As you scoop the bleach out, however, you will encounter dirty bleach right at the end with a lot of foam and stuff in it, and you just flush that dirty stuff.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-23-2010 09:35 AM

In the discharge channel of a toilet bowl there will be something called a "weir". Water spills over that weir and goes down the discharge channel into the toilet's drain piping.

You can see in the above diagram that the water level in the bowl is the same as it is in the discharge channel, and that pouring more water into that bowl will simply result in that additional water spilling over the weir and ending up in the toilet's drain piping.

The water level in the bowl can be lower than that weir, but the only time it will ever be higher is while the toilet is flushing and water is spilling over the top of that weir.

So, just add water to your toilet bowl until you can see that it's not filling up any more. At that point, all the water you add to the bowl is simply spilling over top of the weir, and so the water level in the bowl isn't changing. Use a tape measure to measure the elevation of the water below the top of the bowl rim or mark the side of the bowl with a piece of Scotch tape or any way that you can mark that level is fair game.

Then, empty the water out of the bowl and add bleach until it's at that same level as the water was. Adding more bleach once it's already at the level of the weir is, quite literally, pouring bleach down the toilet. The additional bleach will just spill over that weir and end up in your house's drain piping.

granite-girl 07-23-2010 10:15 AM

How do you empty the water out of the bowl ? Without it just coming back from the tank ? Did you mean to link that phrase to something ? I don't think it worked.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-23-2010 05:09 PM

Granite Girl:

No, that "empty the water out of the bowl" was not meant to be a link.

Jasdou said in his/her previous post:


Just one more question, as you pour the bleach in the bowl, how do you know when all the water is gone and the bowl is only holding bleach?
Which made it sound like he was intending to leave the water in the bowl and just keep pouring in bleach until the bleach displaces all the water.

Obviously, if you do that, the bleach isn't going to DISPLACE the water, but merely mix with it.

So, I wanted to ensure that he/she understood that you remove the water from the bowl first, then pour bleach into the bowl. To get that point across, I bolded, underlined and used a red font for the words: "empty the water out of the bowl"

The water in the tank SHOULD NOT drain into the bowl unless you flush the toilet using the tank trip lever. If water is coming into the bowl from the tank, then the flapper on your flush valve is leaking.

You should be able to do everything we're discussing without even shutting the water off to the toilet. Just empty the bowl, clean it with bowl cleaner, flush the toilet, empty the water out again, pour the bleach in, then after 20 minutes or so, scoop the bleach out with an old soup can or whatever.

Blue Jay 07-23-2010 06:50 PM

If you are on a septic tank be VERY careful in not letting too much bleach down the drain as it will kill the action in the tank. That is something nobody wants.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-25-2010 12:22 PM


Originally Posted by lovelydecor (Post 46965)
Well let me tell you, I spent a fortune on cleaning items.

Probably woulda been better just to buy a new toilet bowl. You can buy the tanks and bowls separately.


I tried every cleaning product suggested on all of the cleaning tip websites--pumice, The Works, Magic Eraser, Iron Works, Wet/Dry sandpaper, some super strong chemicals that hurt my lungs, and dozens more--but nothing worked until today.
Two things:

1. The wet/dry sandpaper woulda done more harm than good. It woulda scratched up the smooth porcelain so that mold would be able to grip the otherwise smooth surface of the bowl and hang on during a flush.

2. The problem with SO MANY TRADES is that none of them are actually taught anywhere. So, young painters learn from experienced painters. Young carpet installers learn from experienced carpet installers. Young janitors learn from experienced janitors.

The problem is that in most cases, those old painters, carpet installers and janitors never learned any theory whatsoever. There were no books on the subject, and they didn't have access to the internet to reasearch subjects the way we do now. What little they knew was pieced together from observations and assumptions, and the conclusions they came to were often just plain wrong. I once had an experienced painter tell me that bathrooms are a hostile environment for paint because of the high humidity. The notion that there are different kinds of latex paints and that some latex paints are more resistant to humidity than others never even crossed his mind. And so, he's been telling people that bathrooms are inherantly difficult on paint rather than telling them that they need to use a paint specifically meant to be used in bathrooms.

So, forget "household tips" and "home remedies". Open your yellow pages to "Janitorial Equipment & Supplies" and buy your cleaning supplies from a company that sells janitorial equipment. The cost will be similar to what you'd pay in a grocery store, but the advantage is that you get all the free tech support you want or need tossed in for nothing. That's because if you locate a small family run business that sells janitorial supplies, you're buying from someone who's spent a career hearing about and helping to solve difficult cleaning problems and dealing with the sales representatives of various companies like Lever Brothers, Johnson Diversey, Baneclene, all of which have had scientific training on how their cleaners work. So, you have someone to turn to for help. If you buy your cleaning supplies in a grocery or hardware store, then the only one you can turn to for help is the 17 year old that stocks the shelves, or the voice at the end of a 1-800 customer service phone number that usually doesn't know any more about cleaning or the product you bought than what they were told to tell customers in a two hour "training program".

When it comes to cleaning, what to use on what and how to use it is 99% of the battle. The people working in janitorial supply stores have the knowledge and experience you need and will give it to you free of charge. It's just that it simply doesn't occur to most people to buy their cleaning supplies from a janitorial supply store to get that free tech support.

Here's a perfect example:
Most people think a carpet shampooer will get a carpet cleaner than a vaccuum cleaner. Not true. That's like saying a car is better than a truck. They're different machines meant for different purposes. You use a vaccuum cleaner to remove SOLID soils (like sand and dried mud) from a carpet. You use a carpet shampooer to remove LIQUID SPILLS (dried or not) from a carpet. A carpet shampooer is LOUSY at removing solid soils from carpets because as soon as you get the carpet wet, then the surface tension of the water helps hold onto those solid particles. Next time you're at the beach, try cleaning sand off of wet feet and dry feet, and see which one works better. And, a vaccuum cleaner won't lift dried tomato juice out of a carpet. I rest my case.

So, if your dog barfs on your carpet, most people think the only solution is to clean up what they can as best they can, and then rent a carpet shampooer to remove what's left from the carpet pile. Some people will even go out and spend $400 on a mini carpet shampoo'er like those made by Bissell, Eureka and Hoover for this purpose. And, here again, a little knowledge goes a lot further than a lot of money.

Better answer: Use your own wet/dry "shop" style vaccuum cleaner and save your money. You can buy a decent quality wet/dry vaccuum cleaner from Sears with a two stage vaccuum motor for less than $100, and you can use it for many other jobs. Or borrow one. Just spray some water onto the spot and apply the suction hose of the wet/dry vaccuum cleaner directly to the carpet pile to lift the soiled water out of the carpet. Repeat as necessary. Problem solved.

But, what happens if it's a more difficult stain and you want to do as good a job as a professional carpet cleaning contractor would at removing it cuz it's a brand new carpet? Simple. Just go down to any place listed under Janitorial Equipment & Supplies in your yellow pages and ask for a "spotter" for dog barf (or whatever). A "spotter" is a bottle of "spotting solution". Janitorial supply stores will sell "spotting kits" that consist of various kinds of cleaners for various kinds of stains. Those kits will contain anywhere from 4 to 22 different kinds of cleaners, and each one can also be purchased separately (which is what carpet cleaning contractors do because they use some kinds of cleaners more often than others). You simply buy the kind of "spotter" or cleaning solution that you need for your kind of stain, and use your wet/dry vaccuum cleaner as a poor man's carpet shampooer to remove the soiled cleaner and soiled rinse water from your carpet or upholstery.

Here's a typical example of a carpet cleaning kit that a janitorial supply store would sell or a professional carpet cleaning contractor would have in his truck to remove carpet stains:

This one contains 10 cleaning solutions, a small brush, a dabbing towel, some pH test strips, an instruction booklet and some other stuff. You don't need all of that. If you just explain what kind of stain you're dealing with to the nice man at the counter, he'll sell you only what you need to clean it up. And, then if you can read and comprehend the instructions written in plain English on the bottle, you'll be able to remove any stain from carpeting or upholstery as well as any carpet cleaning company can. That's because you'll be using the same cleaners as the pros would, but you'll be using a $79 wet/dry vaccuum cleaner for the suction you need instead of a $1500 carpet shampooer. You certainly can't shampoo a whole living room carpet with a 2 1/2 inch diameter suction hose, but you certainly can remove stains from your carpet with one.

So, use a GOOD quality vaccuum cleaner for removing solid soils from carpet and a wet/dry vaccuum cleaner to remove liquid spills (dried or not) from carpets and upholstery and you'll maintain your carpets better and save the money you otherwise mighta spent on a useless piece of junk called a "miniature carpet shampooer".

And to top it off, the guy at the janitorial supply store will think you're smart for using your wet/dry vaccuum cleaner to clean stains outta your carpet cuz lotsa people wouldn't think of that.

So, next time you have a difficult cleaning problem, drop in and talk to someone at a janitorial supply store. You'll probably get very good advice and ideas that you never thought of. But, be careful. Some of these places eek out a living selling toilet paper and light bulbs to community centers where no one in the entire chain of events knows anything about, or even cares if they do, about cleaning. Best to avoid these places. Try to find a family owned business because these people will make the effort to learn as much as they can because they know it'll help their business in the long run. In those other places, everyone gets paid the same regardless of how lousy advice they give you, so no one makes any effort to learn anything.

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