10 Tips For Cleaning and Maintaining Your Toilet

No one likes cleaning a toilet, but these maintenance tips will at least make the process a little easier — and less gross.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

1 / 10

anonymous person draining water from a toilet using a squirt gun
Family Handyman

Squirt-Gun Toilet Drainer

When you’re repairing or replacing a toilet, you need to remove all the water. Simply shutting off the water supply and flushing won’t do it. A sponge works, but it’s slow. So I use an old squirt gun to suck the water out and squirt it into a bucket, leaving just the last few drops to sponge out. — Dale Conklin

2 / 10

hand pointing to pennies next to a Toilet and a tube of caulk
family handyman

Use Coins for Toilet Shims

When leveling a toilet, I often use coins or washers as toilet shims. Coins or washers provide a firm seat and come in different thicknesses. Simply slide as many coins as necessary under the toilet until it’s completely level. Then caulk along the floor as you normally would to hide the coin shims. — Les Zell

3 / 10

vacuuming the base of a toilet on a tile floor
family handyman

Vacuum First, Then Scrub

When you wipe up bathroom surfaces with a wet sponge or rag, you may notice all the accumulated dust and hair turns into a big wet mess. Make the whole process easier by using the vacuum first. Vacuum everything from dusty light fixtures, countertops, even around the toilet. Then continue as usual with your favorite bathroom cleaner and sponge. A soft-bristle upholstery brush works best.

4 / 10

close up of a hand holding an orange mirror and a hanger to fix a toilet
family handyman

Clean a Sluggish Toilet

If your toilet flushes slowly, the rinse holes under the rim may be clogged with mineral deposits. Use a hand mirror to see the holes under the rim of the toilet. Bend a coat hanger flat and probe the tip into the holes to poke out any deposits. You can clean out those clogged holes without ever getting your hands dirty.

5 / 10

Cutting off corroded bolts from a toilet with an oscillating tool
family handyman

Remove a Toilet

Trying to pull out an old toilet? Cutting off corroded hold-down bolts with an oscillating tool is a lot faster than trying to unscrew them. Ditto for the bolts that fasten the tank to the bowl. And if the bowl is caulked to the floor, you can switch to a scraper blade and slice right through the joint.

6 / 10

Jvedit Fh22d Toilet Tips 02 10 001 Tips For Cleaning And Maintaining Your Toilet Flush Without Hang Ups
Family Handyman

Flush Without Hang-Ups

Here’s a quick way to avoid a running toilet caused by a kinked toilet chain. Remove the chain from the arm attachment, and slide a plastic straw over the flapper chain, covering about two-thirds of the chain. Then reattach it to the arm. It’s that simple, and you’ll never have a running toilet caused by a kinked chain again.

7 / 10

cleaning toilet with blue dish soap
family handyman

Unclog a Toilet With Dish Soap

If the toilet plunger doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, try this solution before you reach for the snake. Squirt about 1/2 cup of liquid soap in and let it sit for a while. The liquid soap reduces friction and allows the contents of the bowl to slide on through.

8 / 10

yellow gloved hands Install Detachable Toilet Seat
family handyman

Install a Detachable Toilet Seat

It seems like no matter how hard you try, you can never get the hinges on the toilet seat clean. There’s always a bit of cleaning solution that seeps underneath and creeps out later. Installing a detachable toilet seat solves the problem. Then you have easy access to clean under the hinges.

9 / 10

cleaning a toilet brush with yellow bottle of cleaner
family handyman

Toilet Brush Freshener

To keep your toilet brush as fresh as possible, put a splash of pine-scented cleaner in the bottom of the brush holder. This will disinfect the brush and keep your bathroom smelling clean. — Bri Aitchison

10 / 10

Acid Foam Brush Cleaning Fh13jun Cleaba 05 Jv Tips For Cleaning And Maintaining Your Toilet
Family Handyman

Remove Stubborn Rust Stains with Acid Magic

If you have iron in your water and struggle with rust stains in your toilet or bathtub, here’s a perfect solution. Acid Magic dissolves rust. It’s as powerful as muriatic acid but safer and more pleasant to use. You should still take all the precautions you would with any strong cleaning solution, like wearing gloves and safety glasses when you’re using it. But it’s better than regular acid because there are no noxious fumes, and it won’t burn your skin.

To clean rust from toilets and other porcelain surfaces, add one part Acid Magic to three parts water. Apply the mixture to the rust stains with a sprayer, brush or rub with a foam pad and watch the stain dissolve. Rinse with clear water. You can also full strength for stubborn stains. Avoid getting the acid on metal parts because they can discolor.

Alex Shoemaker
Alex Shoemaker is a Florida-based journalist and  handyman who has extensive experience in home remodeling and house flipping. He has worked for numerous print and digital publications and has won awards for writing, photography and pagination.