No one wants to have to talk about toilet bowl cleaners. Okay, maybe some people do. After all, you are on this page! Moreover, if you are a professional custodian, find that your time on the porcelain throne is your favorite part of the day, or just have a weird sense of flush toilet humor (Danny Tanner), you will find value in learning about the best toilet bowl cleaner! That said, there are some particular things that you need to keep in mind when searching for cleaning supplies, especially the ideal toilet cleaner to use in your situation.
Dealing with Hard Water
If you have well water, you know better than anyone how important it is to keep your toilet clean to prevent a build-up of minerals that naturally occur in your water. There are lots of great bathroom cleaners out there, but not all of them will work well on removing hard-water stains. If you are dealing with a build-up right now and need to get rid of it before company arrives, you may need to get something that is specially formulated and introduce a regular regimen with bathroom cleaners that are specifically designed to not only keep your toilet clean and disinfected, but also prevent a future build-up from occurring.
Cleaning Septic Systems
If you have a septic system, one thing that you want to avoid at all costs is anything – and I mean anything – that might damage the septic tank. When you are looking for a toilet cleaner, make sure that the one you select is safe for a septic system. You could also supplement your regular toilet bowl cleaner with something that has “good bacteria” to help keep the system running healthily.
Types of Toilet Cleaners
Most toilet bowl cleaners are one of two types: gel or tablet. Many people prefer to use both to ensure that their toilets stay sparkly clean and free of germs in-between regular scrubbings.
Gel. Gel toilet cleaners are made of viscous liquids that you squirt directly under the rim of the toilet bowl. They slowly drip down the sides of the bowl, and then you scrub the inside of the bowl before flushing the cleaner down the toilet.
Tablet. Tablets are either placed inside the toilet bowl (in a special compartment designed for the tablet) or inside the toilet tank. Every time the toilet is flushed, the chemical cleaning agent is released to help the toilet stay clean in-between scrubbings. If you use a tablet, keep in mind that it is not an alternative to scrubbing your toilet regularly with bathroom cleaners.
The Difference Between Toilet Cleaner and Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Yes, we use the terms “toilet cleaner” and “toilet bowl cleaner” interchangeably throughout here. However, be aware that the two are not necessarily the same thing. Strictly speaking, a toilet bowl cleaner is designed to get the inside of the toilet bowl clean. A regular toilet cleaner will clean all of the other surfaces, such as the lid, the tank, and the base that is secured to the ground. Ideally, you want to have a bathroom cleaner and a toilet bowl cleaner that both complement each other with a clean, fresh scent.
Other Considerations to Keep in Mind
Disinfectant. Your toilet is one of the dirtiest surfaces in your house. No matter how often you clean it, every time you use it, you are introducing lots of new germs into it. You want to make sure that you regularly disinfect your toilet, not just the bowl but the entire thing (especially if you have children or pets, both of whom are great at finding germs, wherever they may be hiding). Not all toilet cleaners are disinfectants; some are specially designed to get rid of certain types of stains. You will want to supplement these with a disinfecting cleaner regularly. If you are wary of chemical disinfectants, there are products on the market that use essential oils as natural disinfectants. In addition, you can make your own toilet cleaner that is a disinfectant (recipe below!).
Abrasives. As much as you want to scrub at your toilet to get it squeaky clean, you want to be careful of abrasives. They can actually cause micro-cuts to the surface of the porcelain, which can harbor germs and make killing them much more difficult. Some toilets are made with materials that are especially sensitive to abrasives. Make sure that you are aware of chemical abrasives in your cleaning product, which can be as dangerous, if not more so, than your scrubbing brush. Pumice scrubbers, made from the volcanic rock, are very powerful but have minimal abrasive action.
Bleach. If your goal is solely to keep your toilet disinfected and sparkling, then you want to make sure that you use bleach. Although bleach does not give a necessarily fresh scent, it does have a potent clean smell. However, some people are concerned about the harmful effects of bleach, including the damage it can cause to marine ecosystems when it enters the waterways. Also, it can mask the stains that are building up inside your toilet bowl; if left untreated, they can build up to the point that they clog the toilet. Bleach can actually be caustic on pipes, especially older pipes, as well as kill off the good bacteria in a septic system. If you want to avoid bleach in your cleaner, make sure to look for a label that specifically uses another active ingredient, such as baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.
Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner for a Septic System
Kaboom Continuous Clean
If you have a septic system, you already know that you need to be careful about whatever goes down the drain because the last thing that you want is for the septic tank to have an accident. Those bills can quickly run into the thousands of dollars, and you can kiss your weekends goodbye until the problem is resolved. Make sure you use a toilet bowl cleaner that is safe for a septic system, and for that, we recommend Kaboom Continuous Clean. It uses bleach to ensure that your toilet and all of the pipes going down to the septic tank are clean and free from obstructions. You install the device inside the toilet’s tank, and the cleaning agent is released every time you flush toilet.
With septic systems, there is a bit of a catch that you should be aware of. You need good bacteria eating away at the sewage inside the tank, and bleach can quickly kill them all off. For that reason, you should also use a cleaner periodically that helps to restore the good bacteria in your septic system.
• Each pouch lasts for three months, longer than other self-cleaning systems
• Helps prevent the build up of hard water stains
• Minimal effort keeps the toilet clean in between scrubbings
• You have to install the device inside your toilet tank
• You still need to do regular toilet scrubbings (just not as often)
Best Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Baking Soda with Essential Oils
Some people are quite vigilant about the chemicals that they allow in their homes. If you want to make a DIY toilet bowl cleaner, so that you can be sure of what is in it, we recommend this safe, chemical-free toilet cleaner.
It would be best if you had ½ cup of baking soda, 1 cup of white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon of tea tree oil. The baking soda reacts with the vinegar to create a powerful cleaning action, and the tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic. You can mix the ingredients and then spray them into the toilet bowl, but I prefer to combine them directly in the toilet bowl to get the most from the reaction between the baking soda and vinegar. I also prefer to scrub the toilet bowl once the ingredients are in there, leave the concoction to work its magic for a few hours, then scrub it again before flushing. This cleaner is perfectly safe for septic systems. For an extra boost to your system, add in some “good bacteria.”
If you need some extra heavy-duty stain-fighting power, then instead of baking soda, substitute ¾ cup of borax. The borax is much more powerful and will remove just about anything. If necessary, let it sit overnight in the toilet bowl before you flush it (you may need a backup plan for a late-night bathroom trip).
• Cheaper to make than the cost of buying regular toilet cleaners
• No harsh chemicals
• May not be strong enough to get rid of tough water stains
Best Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Tablets
Let’s face it, cleaning a toilet is dirty work. I mean, really, really dirty work! Just think about what kind of ick is on your toilet bowl scrubber, and you are spreading it around every time you scrub. If you want to minimize the “ick factor,” then you may want an automatic toilet bowl cleaner. For that, we recommend Clorox Automatic Tablets. You drop one tablet into the toilet tank, and with every flush, it releases chemicals – including bleach – that clean the toilet and kill bacteria for a solid two months. Whenever you do need to get in there and do a good scrubbing, the chore will be much cleaner.
• Both disinfectant and powerful cleaner in one
• Water in the toilet is clear, rather than blue or green
• Regular use may prevent the build-up of hard water stains
• Have a cleaner toilet in between regular scrubbings
• You will get a chemical smell, especially after first applying a new tablet
• May damage toilet flappers (check your flapper label before using)
• Doesn’t remove hard water stains
• You still have to scrub your toilet (though far less often)
Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner for Stains
Scotch-Brite Disposable Toilet Scrubber
If you have well water, you know how difficulty cleaning stains can be. If you let them build up for even a day, you can spend lots of time and elbow grease trying to get them away. For that particular challenge, we recommend the Scotch-Brite disposable toilet scrubber. The abrasive pad is excellent for getting the hard-water stains to go away. It doesn’t just cover them up; it makes them go away completely so they won’t ever build up and clog a drain. Its shape allows you to get under the toilet rim, and pumice helps to eliminate stains at the source. Once you’re done, you can dispose of the cleaning pad, which is great if you’re worried about ick sitting around (though admittedly not ideal if you’re trying to reduce trash).
• Abrasive action without bleach
• Removes hard water stains
• Ergonomic design gets into hard-to-reach areas
• The wand can be a bit flimsy
• The chemical smell can be hard on people with breathing problems
Best Bleach Free Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Green Works Toilet Gel Cleaner
Bleach is a powerful cleaning agent, but some are concerned about how harsh it is on surfaces and its potential caustic effects on plumbing. They may want a powerful toilet bowl cleaner that doesn’t have harsh bleach in it, but they don’t have time or energy to make it themselves. If you are one of those people, try Green Works toilet gel cleaner. The thick gel formula has a high viscosity, so it will travel slowly down the inside of the toilet bowl and catch the harmful bacteria and clear the stains on the way. You can apply it under the toilet rim, wait for it to make its way down, and then scrub the stains away. When you flush it down, you’ll know that you have a clean toilet with less harm to the environment (and your pipes) than with bleach-based cleaners.
• Products are not tested on animals
• Safe to use on septic systems
• Smell is not overpowering
• Helps remove hard water stains
• No abrasives
• The bottle is more eco-friendly than other bottles
• Still contains some harsh chemicals
• Does not disinfect (you may need to use a disinfectant in addition to this product)
Best Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
It’s no secret that our water sources are becoming increasingly polluted, not so much with sewage but with industrial chemicals, including the ones that we use to clean our toilets, sinks, and other household objects. If you are trying to reduce your environmental impact regarding keeping waterways clean, consider the line of Better Life cleaning products, including the toilet cleaner. Nearly all of the ingredients are derived from plants, and it is entirely free of bleach, chlorine, petroleum solvents, dyes, synthetic fragrances, and phosphates. All of the scents come from essential oils, which provide the added benefit of being natural disinfectants. You’ll get a clean, disinfected toilet without causing harm to our waterways and marine ecosystems.
• Safe for use on septic systems
• No abrasives
• No chemical scents
• Free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
• Gets rid of stains and prevents hard water buildup
• The lid can be difficult to open
• May not be effective on removing hard water stains
Best Eco-Friendly Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Eco-Me Natural Powerful Toilet Cleaner
Lots of products nowadays claim to be eco-friendly, but there are very few regulations for companies regarding placing a label of “eco-friendly” on a product. If you want to use products that are truly good for the environment, you need to read the labels, including the ingredients list carefully. Eco-Me is a line of cleaning products that were designed by two sisters after one of them was diagnosed with breast cancer. They set about to create cleaning products that didn’t use any industrial chemicals that can harm both human health and the environment, but that also clean as well as, if not better than, traditional products. Eco-Me toilet cleaner is free from things like sulfates, preservatives, phthalates, allergens, and dyes. It is made with coconut-based soap, naturally disinfecting essential oils, and baking soda to give your toilet a squeaky-free shine while not introducing any harmful chemicals into our water systems.
• Safe for septic systems
• Completely non-toxic
• Regular use helps prevent the build-up of hard water stains
• Deodorizes, disinfects, and cleans
• May require some elbow grease while scrubbing to get stains to go away
• Pressure can build up inside the bottle so it may leak upon opening
Best Disinfecting Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Lysol Power & Fresh Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Bathrooms are disgusting places. Even the cleanest, shiniest sites are full of germs. If you have kids, you are probably extra concerned about those germs, because young children have a way of finding germs wherever they may be lurking. For getting rid of germs while ensuring the best clean, try Lysol Power & Fresh. Lysol has a reputation for killing bacteria, especially those that cause illnesses, while also boosting the cleaning power that you want for your toilet. The high-viscosity gel fights germs and stains even before you scrub, and you will get a squeaky, shiny clean that is also sanitary.
• Regular use prevents staining
• Can be used on septic systems
• Minimal scrubbing required for excellent results
• Both disinfectant and cleaner in one
• The active chemical odor may take a few hours to go away (may be problematic with people with breathing problems)
• May not remove hard-water stains
• May stain the bowl if you don’t scrub immediately after applying
• A child-proof cap may be difficult to remove
Best Discount Toilet Bowl Cleaner
2000 Flushes Blue Plus Bleach Antibacterial Automatic Toilet Cleaner
Sure, you use much stock by having a squeaky clean, disinfected toilet. Who doesn’t? However, sometimes, you have to really tighten your waistband and be prepared to cut corners, even when it comes to something as important as keeping your toilet happy and healthy. Whenever you do find yourself in that position, try 2000 Flushes automatic toilet cleaner. This product is a tablet that you place inside the toilet tank. It releases chemical cleaning agents that disinfect and clean your toilet for, well, 2000 flushes. If you flush five times per day, one tablet should last for a solid year. If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford a cleaner to scrub with in addition to these tablets, you can scrub regularly without using another cleaner.
• Cleans and disinfects
• Minimal effort to obtain maximal cleanliness
• The light fragrance is not overpowering
• Toilet water will be orange at first, then become blue
• Need to use in conjunction with a non-chlorine, non-bleach cleaner
• May take a few flushes before the tablets work fully
Best Leave In Toilet Bowl Cleaner
NeverScrub Automatic Toilet Cleaning System
If all you want out of a toilet cleaner is not to have to think about it – ever – then you may want to take a look at NeverScrub. The system hooks up easily into your toilet tank, and chemical cleaning agents are released every time you flush. You won’t have to scrub your toilet for a full three months! Once you get the system installed, keeping your toilet clean is effortless. You won’t have to think about it at all for three months.
• Safe for septic systems
• No overpowering chemical odor
• The system can be modified to work on a dual-flush toilet
• Won’t remove hard-water stains (but may prevent them from building up)
• Depending on your water, may require occasional scrubbing