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Cleaning Hard Water Toilet Stains

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At what time in life did I reach the point in which I knew I would be excited to post on the internet how I clean my toilets? I know while I was in college I would not have sat around a table and dished with my friends about scrubbing nastiness off the john. In fact, I don’t even think I cleaned my john in college…except when moving in and moving out. I was too busy. But friends – when I finally got the hard water stains cleaned off my toilet, I had to rejoice!

The first thing that entered my mind was “Oh my gosh! I have to blog about this!” See…that’s how my life rolls now. If I do something exciting, I have to blog about it. So, I apologize in advance if you’re not totally excited about this like I am…just shake your head and chalk it up to the fact that Stacy is just bored and nuts.

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So, here they are. I’m not sure how they got there. I feel like they popped up overnight. They were driving me crazy. When I would use the potty, I would attempt to not look directly in the bowl. I’d already tried scrubbing them off with my usual toilet cleaner, Borax. That didn’t work. I’ll even tell you that I tried scratching them off with my fingernails. Nothing.

Did you know that the water in a toilet bowl is really cold? It’s like there is ice in there or something. BRRRRR!!! Don’t try sticking your hand down in that water unless you want a shock. But anyway, I digress. So, of course I had to dig out my awesome book, The Big Book of Hints From Heloise. I got this book when we got married and I use it all the time. It’s a gold mine, y’all. Buy one and save your sanity.

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So, what does Heloise say? Scrub those puppies with a pumice stone! Yes, you heard me…do you know that I had to go out and buy one? I didn’t have one. I don’t have time to scrub the bottom of my feet with a pumice stone to make them all nice and soft – because folks, I’ll be honest – if I get a bath and use some soap, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something.

I found a blue one at the Dollar Tree for…$1. In hind sight, I would rather have had one without the blue tint, because then I had to clean the blue tint off too…but things that are $1 usually make me happy enough to deal with it.

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Now, wet the stone down and start scrubbing. It won’t take much pressure, but you will have to use a scrubbing motion. Some stains will take more work than others, but keep rubbing and they’ll eventually come off. Try not to think about the fact that you’re sitting in the floor, scrubbing your toilet with your head almost in there…..or else you might get a little bit nauseated and you might think about vomiting…or so I’ve heard from OTHER PEOPLE. *Cough*

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TA DA!!! Aren’t you as astonished as I am?! Do you know why it works? I do…because I had to look it up. Pumice is a stone that’s softer than porcelain….so it gets rid of the stain without harming the toilet. Now, make sure you have a porcelain toilet. As far as I know, most toilets are porcelain…..but I know there has to be an exception to that rule. Someone somewhere has a toilet that is not porcelain – so this is my disclaimer.

I cannot believe I took a picture of my toilet and posted it on the internet for the whole free world to see. I’ve really changed from my college days. Please tell me I’m not the only one excited about this?

*This post is linked at Simple Lives Thursday on GNOWFGLINS, at Barn Hop #50 at Homestead Revival, at Works for Me Wednesday on We Are That Family, at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable,  and at Weekend Whatever on Your Thriving Family.

Comment Policy: I love hearing your thoughts and input on what I write. Since I write about what works at my house, what pleases my handsome hubby and darling children; I'm sure we'll disagree sometimes. In those cases, do what's right for you and yours. As with any form of communication, please only post comments that move the discussion in a positive direction.

About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. I hope you used throw away plastic gloves for this job. Yes I said the nasty word “plastic”, but sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns. I enjoy your blog and the fact that you are consistent and have a blog every day.

  2. Once I got my stains off (the Works toilet bowl cleaner works well, but I hate the chemicals and smell), I got a FlyLady toilet brush, which works better than anything to KEEP those stains gone! And yes, I found myself raving about my new toilet brush at a social gathering. Lots of odd looks. Need a better filter on my conversation topic generator! Thanks for the tip, I’ll be watching for a cheap pumice for the next time…

  3. Mary Beth Floyd says:

    I’m excited! Were we separated at birth?

  4. I cannot tell you how happy I was to see this post this morning!! Really and truly! I was just telling hubby yesterday that I needed to find a way to clean the hard water stains. Then Voila! There was your post in my inbox this morning!! It was a Godsend! lol We have hard water and there is buildup at the bottom of our toilet and it drives me CRAZY!!!!! It’s embarassing when we have company because it looks dirty, even though it’s not. And I have tried many things (I also do not like to use lots of chemicals in my cleaning supplies), and nothing has worked. So I guess I will be getting myself a pumice stone and giving it a whirl! Thanks again!! :)

  5. Pumice does work great. It worked for me after nothing else did.

  6. I have used those stones before for cleaning the oven and I just found out very recently that they also work for toilets. They even make them in stick shapes so that you don’t actually have to put your hand in the toilet water! But I don’t think those ones cost $1. Now that I know they work on toilets too, I will have to invest in some more!

  7. Kimberly Parry says:

    We moved to a new house a few months ago. This place has well waater. That means the toilets are always nasty looking. So are the sinks and the tub. I have tried all I know. I am VERY excited to try this!


  8. LOL!! Love you Stacy Myers! Thanks for t his tip! I’d never heard of using pumice on my toilet. but I HAD wondered if you had the same problem and if so, how you took care of it.. I was, however, “reluctant’ to ask! Thanks for sharing.. Now.. about the well water (which I love but is hard water) how do you get the stains off when the
    shower isn’t porcelain? I’ve tried LOTS of things… but most are so time consuming…Thanks ladybug! You rock!!

    • I would think a paste made from baking soda and water might work if you let it stay on there a while….or if it’s low enough, you can just soak it in white vinegar and see if it will wipe off.
      I like scrubbing stuff with baking soda…it relieves any stress I might have. 😉

  9. I am extremely excited! Just had an iron trap installed to catch all of the nasty stain causing hard water. Your blog could not have been more timely, since now I have to clean those stains from not 1 but 3 toilets. Thanks so much. Love your site (found it yesterday while looking for Kefir info).

  10. *panic* Where are your cleaning gloves? Your hand is almost touching the bowl! *barf*

    • :-) I hate wearing cleaning gloves…I just wash my hands. Something about having a child and getting poop on my hands regularly made me think different about stuff. 😉

  11. Oh lordy, honey, you need gloves when you clean the pot! Lowe’s has non-latex ones (I have to wear those because I don’t enjoy rashes) and they’re not tight-fitting at all. Get some, woman!

  12. I’ve heard of that handy trick, too. We have hard water in my area as well. One of my older lady friends in my women’s Bible study using a combination of baking soda/apple cider vinegar in the toilet…I’m not sure how she does it, but the apple cider vingear, in general, is the perfect foil for hard water, whether it be the toilet bowl, washing machine, dishwasher etc :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

    • I’ve heard that too….but it didn’t work in my toilet. Maybe I was just too impatient. LOL The pumice stone works FAST.

  13. I love kefir too, and I’m headed to the bathroom with my pumice thingie. :)

  14. K Lunsford says:

    Just a thought, we kept getting hard water stains in the toilet, but no where else. Turns out the parts inside the tank had some rusted parts. Once they were replaced, the ‘hard water’ stains went away for good (after one last scrubbing).

    • That is GENIUS!!! I think I want to hug you.

      • K Lunsford says:

        Hugs ALWAYS welcome! :) I am SO glad you taped your last local seminar. I’m in JC. Each time one came up, so did other obligations. I was always unable to attend. You are so cute and quirky! Very likable!

        Couponing has never really worked for me. For some reason I’d felt bad about it before, but you gave me a giant dose of validation. You teach so many things I’ve already figured out even though it took some years – buy/grow real foods, do from scratch as much as possible, get rid of disposables for items with a much longer life… For a long time I’ve felt like a very odd duck. Several friends have lovingly kidded me for trying to live somewhat like Laura Ingalls Wilder during modern times. When you began the stewardship portion, I started smiling and nodding my head like crazy! I just wanted to say an extra special thank you!

        Btw, I’ve done my own yogurt, after seeing your posts on Kefir, I’m really interested. That’s next on my list of kitchen experiments to try!

  15. Thanks for the tip! I think I have a pumice stone already and I know I have orange lines in my toilets. I think I will have to get the two of them together. I had actually been planning to check about using the stone in my tub-I probably had better not as it is not porcelain, but I would like to!

  16. Three things here, Girl:
    1) I also use pumice stones on my hard water stains in the toidy. I thought I was weird, but it turns out I’m awesome.
    2) I also get really excited about getting rid of stains in my toidy. I thought I was weird, but it turns out I’m awesome.
    3) I also don’t use gloves when I clean natural dirt with natural products. I thought I was weird, but, you guessed it, it turns out I’m awesome.

    How do I know I’m awesome? Because, you, Girl, are awesome, and we’re totally on the same toidy wavelength! Keep being awesome!

    • You know, I’m so glad you posted that. I was starting to think I was the only awesome person in the world who cleaned the toilet without gloves. Whew! :-)

  17. Oh wow, I am so excited about this! We moved to Louisiana about a year and a half ago and the hard water marks in the toilet having been driving me crazy. I wash my toilets like every other day so they are clean because of these hard water marks. I have tried so many cleaners and nothing has worked.

    I am off to find a pumice stone at the store to I can finally have the clean toilets I love…LOL, does that sound weird? Can you tell I am excited? I may even blog about it and expose my toilet to the net too. : )

  18. Faaaantastic. Thanks so much! You are NOT the only one to be excited about clean toilets… nor the only one to clean said toilets without gloves. I hate gloves!!

  19. I use Bon Ami and that works well, but I do scrub regularly, so I don’t have to use a pumice stone..although that method works FANTASTIC!!!

    I smiled big when you mentioned Heloise’ book. I remember seeing her give her household hints/tips on tv for many years…and if I remember correctly, her mother (also a Heloise) also wrote helpful household hint books in the 1960s. I found some in my library :) :) Now I’m thinking I’ll have to look for those books again :)
    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  20. says:

    YIPPEE. Indiana has the hardest well water known to humanity. My toilets are ORANGE and my tub too. Thankfully…the tub is very old and definitely porcelain. I have a date with a pumice stone tonight. SO excited. now if I can just get it off the corian sinks! If not…I might replace the countertop and sinks in that bathroom…it is worth killing my cheap instincts dead as a doornail to stop having sinks that look filthy. I HATE our water, by the way. It is free, though, which is nice.
    Baking soda works well on ceramic tile shower walls…that is the only example of these stains that I am able to remove and it isn’t even hard. The grout too.

    • What could be more fun than spending the evening getting rid of yucky stains with a pumice stone? I can’t think of much! :-) Have a fabulous time and I hope it works great for you!

  21. THANK YOU! This has just happened to us recently, too. I am going to go and grab my pumice stone and give it a “whirl!” Love thos Heloise Hints, too. Blessings! J. Smith

  22. Worked like a charm! Thanks :)

  23. I just looked in the back of my toilet (the place I hate most) and eek – it is GROSS!!!!! So I turned off the water, flushed and dumped in about half a gallon of apple cider vinegar (old toilet = big tank). Then I let the tank fill up. In a couple of hours I will go flush and see what happens. I will even donate my pumice stone to the toilet if need be :-( More people do see my toilet than my feet at this time of year so it’s a kindness to mankind to make the trade. I will let you know how it goes.

  24. The back tank is a new color! Cream with a nasty rim! I need my hubby to drain the toilet this weekend so I can really tackle the job though. The pumice stone has found a better place to help out – my toilet! It rocks (pun intended). Due to the fact that I let the nasty stuff build up so bad it will take an afternoon to get it all done but it WILL get done now. Thanks so much for the tips. I am thinking it’s time to invest in a water softener :-) or :-(, I don’t know which.

  25. I just discovered the pumice stone trick a few weeks ago! However, I wore gloves (I’m weird like that… 😉 ) and used a “Pumie”. It’s this pumice stone on a plastic handle that I found at Kroger. It was $7.99, but it’s not blue (or any color really) and I really liked having a handle to hold on to while scrubbing. If I ever need another one, I’ll have to look at the dollar store for a less expensive version!
    Congratulations on being debt free! (I was just reading your “debt free story”; what a great birthday present.)

  26. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I live in an area that the water is as hard as nails and we went away for a month and the water sat in the toilet not being used. I clean my toilets regularly but those rim stains wouldn’t come off, until I tried your pumice stone method. Now I have beautiful toilets without those ugly stains. Thanks again your site is very informative and well worth reading, I am going to tell all my friends.

  27. I am excited… but hey I can get excited on many things…

  28. I cannot thank you enough for posting!!!!!! What did we do without the internet. We have a pool and use a pumice sponge to clean the tile around the water line to remove the buildup from hard water and it never dawned on me that it could be used on porcelain. I tried every cleaning agent and home remedy I could find (vinegar and backing soda with lemon juice) and they did not do anything but this works and with very little effort. Also you can get a pumice sponge from any pool supply store.

  29. O. Munroe says:

    I am so greatful for this post. I live on an Island and the water is so hard! I only clean with naturaI product(Vinegar etc.) I refuse to put anything toxic in my toilet and add to the woes of the planet. So I have lived with it . Not anymore!! I will try this today!
    Thanks again.

  30. I tried all the liquids, Comet, etc. I soaked paper towels with Clorox and put them over the ring. Nothing. I was off to the store to buy a pumice stone when I decided to try an Emory board. So I put on gloves, got rid of the water in the toilet, cut the emory board in small pieces to fit the tip of my finger and scrubbed. It worked!! It didn’t scratch. So if you’ve got an old Emory board- try it!!

  31. Silkartist says:

    Seems like I stumbled on your gold mine of goodies! We have well water full of iron, occasionally the de-ironizer fails and everything turns rusty. With time tubs, toilets & sinks are yuck. I am excited to try the pumice trick on the toidies soon. Thanks!!!
    P.S. Sitting in tub, wondering how to remove these long-awaited removal I tried a river rock (an added tub decor from son when he was very young) to rub off rust stain on inside of tub…unbelievably, it took off the rust stains!

  32. I pour a good portion of vinegar in, slosh it around and let it sit a couple hours, if possible and srcub lightly. It works like a charm for me! No serious scrubbing. It amy take a few sessions, but it gets it clean!

  33. Our toilets were ruined by pumice stones. Apparently if you don’t keep it wet enough or if you scrub too hard it scratches. My teenagers scratched ours so badly that we eventually bought new toilets (they were 25yo anyway). I think we just need to let our vinegar and baking soda sit a lot longer to get our stains out.

  34. Marta Ford says:

    I have really tough hard water. The kind that can turn the water orange.
    Even with an efficient filtration system, hard water always builds up.My
    solution…a pumice stone!! One can find them in most any store cleaning
    department, near the mops and brooms!!!

    web site

  35. deborasmith says:

    By mixing vinegar and baking soda you can make a green version of a foaming toilet cleaner.

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