How To Clean a Toilet in 5 Steps

Updated: Apr. 13, 2024

Kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses weekly with this cleaning method.

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A few minutes






Nobody likes to clean a toilet. Then again, there's nothing worse than a dirty, nasty, germ-filled toilet. Do these five quick and easy steps weekly for a bacteria-free bathroom.

Tools Required

  • Rubber gloves
  • Toilet brush

Materials Required

  • All-purpose cleaner/disinfectant
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet bowl cleaner

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Before you begin

  • Remove anything in your way of cleaning the entire toilet: candles, tissue box, room deodorizer, etc.
  • Remove all fabric toilet lid covers and toilet rugs. We’re going to show you how to clean all of the toilet parts, so it’s important that there’s nothing blocking the way.

removing clutter from the back of the toiletJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

Step 2

Clean the toilet tank and flush handle

  • With an all-purpose cleaner/disinfectant, start at the top and spray the tank lid, flush handle and exterior of the entire tank. Wipe all surfaces dry with a paper towel.

spraying the toilet handle with clorox toilet cleaning sprayJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

Step 3

Clean the toilet seat

  • Spray the top of the toilet seat lid, then open the lid and spray the inside of the lid as well as the top and bottom of the seat. Spray the area between the seat and the tank, too.

spraying the toilet seat with clorox cleaning sprayJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

  • Wipe all surfaces dry with paper towels.

cleaning the underneath of toilet seatJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

Step 4

Clean the bowl rim and pedestal

  • With the toilet seat up, spray the rim of the toilet bowl and the outside of the pedestal with cleaner/disinfectant.
  • Wipe all surfaces dry with paper towels. (Do not discard paper towels in the toilet.)

cleaning the toilet seatJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

Step 5

Clean the toilet bowl

  • Before you start cleaning the bowl, flush the toilet.
  • Turn the toilet bowl cleaner upside-down and point the nozzle to the underside of the rim. Squeeze the bottle coating the underside of the entire rim of the toilet bowl with cleaner. Let the cleaner sit in the bowl at least 30 seconds. Here are a few tips to adjust the water level in a toilet bowl.

cleaning the toilet bowl with clorox toilet bowl cleanerJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

  • With a toilet brush, scrub the entire bowl including the underside of the rim. Flush the toilet and repeat if necessary.
  • Let the water drip off the toilet brush and return the brush to its holder. Dry off the rim of the toilet with a paper towel and close the seat.

cleaning the toilet bowl with a toilet brushJoe Cruz/Family Handyman

Step 6

Frequently asked questions

How often should you clean the toilet? 

We recommend giving your toilets a basic cleaning like this once a week. If it’s a toilet that doesn’t get used very often, you might be able to get by cleaning it every two weeks. It’s important to do it regularly so stains and odors don’t build up.

How to clean a stained toilet?

The easiest way is to let the toilet cleaner/disinfectant sit in the bowl for 10 minutes. That will help breakup the stain, making it easier to clean. Another popular method is to use cleaning vinegar. Pour a half cup into the bowl and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before coming back to clean it with the toilet brush.

What causes toilet bowl stains?

Often times it’s minerals in the water, stuff like limescale and others that are found in hard water, that create yellow or brownish stains. You might also notices red stains in the toilet caused by rust from the pipes.

What if there’s mold on the toilet?

If you notice greenish or black spots on the toilet, it’s most likely mold. Cleaning your toilet regularly is the best way to prevent mold from growing in the bowl, pedestal or other parts. If you do have mold in or on your toilet, it’s going to require a deeper cleaning to get rid of it.

Ventilation is the best way to prevent mold in your bathroom, so make sure that you have an exhaust fan that works. If mold in your bathroom is a persistent problem, you should contact a pro.