How to Properly Clean Your Toilet

by emilysmaids - November 11, 2020

Ah yes, the porcelain throne. Although it is not often mentioned in polite company, the toilet is arguably the most civilizing invention. We usually take it for granted, but as any camper can tell you: you miss it when it’s gone.

Now, given the nature of its use, keeping it clean is imperative. Toilet cleaning is a task where procrastination should be out of the question. If you’re doing it right, your toilet should be generally cleaner than your toothbrush.

This statement may seem strange, but a recent study finds that our toothbrush containers have the largest concentration of germs, bacteria, mold, and germs. Still, an improperly cleaned toilet can easily take the number one spot from the toothbrush container.

A disturbing percentage of toilet seats and handles in that study were also found to be viral, bacteria, and fungal hotspots. This pathogen density indicates that people are not cleaning their toilets properly, and they are just wiping them down.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to clean and disinfect your toilet properly:

Read the label

Not many of us read the labels of our cleaning products, especially those we have been using for years. And this omission causes us to incorrectly use these solutions while cleaning our house.

According to Carolyn Forte, a consumer products expert, most people do not realize that the disinfectant solution used to clean the toilet must be left to soak and linger for a few minutes. It is not enough to simply apply it then immediately rinse it away. This method leaves many pathogens unharmed, although the brief application makes the bowl looking and smelling cleaner.

Of course, this information is often available on the cleaning product’s label, which admittedly most of us do not bother to read.

Get the proper cleaning equipment

Cleaning out your toilet isn’t a high-tech endeavor, so that you won’t need much for a job well done. You will need:

  • A typical toilet brush with bristles
  • 2-3 scrubbing sponges
  • Rubber gloves
  • Septic wipes
  • Toilet cleaning bleach-based solution, or a gallon of pure bleach
  • Lysol spray bathroom cleaner or equivalent

Now that we have our cleaning supplies:

First, you should start with the bowl itself. Take the toilet bowl cleaner solution and coat the inside of the bowl. Start at the top, just underneath the rim. As you progress downward, use the brush to spread and cover the entire interior of the bowl. Scrub it rigorously.

As previously mentioned, don’t just rinse it away immediately. Leave the solution to work its magic for about 5-10 minutes, then flush a couple of times.

It should be mentioned that if you haven’t cleaned your toilet in a while, a fine film of water-resistant scum will form over the bowl’s surface. This layer will protect the underlying bacteria, even if you use disinfectant solutions. Given this situation, be sure to wipe the bowl in order to remove the scum-like deposit before you start cleaning. The scrubbing sponges and septic wipes will do just fine.

While waiting for the solution to soak, you can move on to the rest of the commode. Use a Lysol spray cleaner ( or equivalent) and wet the tank and the toilet seat’s underside. Just as you did with the toilet cleaning solution, leave it alone for 10-20 minutes for it to work its magic.

After the wait, rinse the bowl, the tank, and the toilet seat using a combination of hot water and the sponges, wiping off any excess moisture using paper towels.

As a special mention, be sure to pay extra attention to areas that gather bacteria quickly. Risk areas include under the bowl’s rim and the flush handle or button. An NSF study confirms that the handle can get even more contaminated than the inside of the bowl itself.


Overall, cleaning your toilet is not hard; it only requires a small amount of patience and attention to detail. The cleaning supplies are often very cheap, so there’s no excuse for not doing it often.

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