How to Get a Sparkling, Germ-free Toilet Naturally
Are you trying to live a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle? Eliminating chemical cleaners from your home is a great place to start. In this article, we're going to tackle the toilet!
Big brands advertise their blue concoctions as the “ONLY way to kill the nasty germs in our bathrooms.” What they leave out is that the toxic chemicals in most commercial toilet cleaners not only pollute your home’s environment, they pose serious potential health hazards, as well.
Hydrochloric acid, the active ingredient in many cleaners, is highly corrosive. If it comes in contact with the skin, eyes, or internal organs, the damage can be irreversible or even fatal. Inhalation of hydrochloric acid fumes is harmful to the nose, throat, and respiratory tract.
Chlorine bleach, another harmful ingredient is highly caustic, meaning it can burn, corrode, or destroy living tissue. In addition to burning your eyes, nose, and skin, it can easily aggravate asthma symptoms.
Suppose you want to clean your toilet without toxic chemicals? Using natural cleaners can produces a better clean, is better for the environment, won’t aggravate your senses, and will never burn or destroy living tissue.
With regular cleaning and a few natural toilet cleaning hacks, your porcelain throne will always shine.
Sparkling & Disinfecting Toilet Supplies
Did you know there's a difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning is your basic home maintenance tasks such as dusting, wiping surfaces, washing and sweeping the floor, vacuuming, etc. These cleaning tasks are usually performed with water and a natural soap or detergent, like castile soap or Sal Suds.
Disinfecting is an activity that’s (generally) done after cleaning and is typically needed less frequently than cleaning. These are big guns you bring in to kill the highest percentages of the germs on a surface.
Many people reach for the bleach to obliterate toilet germs and stains, but there are non-toxic alternatives that are also powerhouses.
- White Vinegar: There’s a reason for all the hype on green-living websites about how wonderful vinegar is for natural cleaning. It works like a charm! Vinegar is a mild acid. It disinfects, eliminates odors, can dissolve hard water stains on porcelain and is extremely safe.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: An incredible disinfectant (post cleaning). Hydrogen peroxide is active against a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores!
Quick Tip: Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide do not play nice together – mixing them together creates peracetic acid that, in high concentrations, can be as harmful as bleach or hydrochloric acid.
Whichever you choose, simply attach a spray nozzle to the bottle and spray the disinfectant on the sides of the toilet bowl. Let the disinfectant rest for 30 minutes so it can work against germs, then flush! Do NOT combine.
Now, your options for regular, run of the mill, cleaning:
- Borax: Sodium tetraborate, aka Borax, is non-toxic in small amounts. It works as a multi-purpose cleaner with powerful whitening and deodorizing powers. It is NOT the same thing as boric acid (which is toxic).
- Lemon Juice or Citric Acid: Citric acid binds to minerals in the toilet bowl making them easier to eliminate. It may help diminish tough toilet stains left by hard water (more on this later).
- Essential Oils: Pure essential oils are some of the best weapons to use in natural cleaners. Many of these plant-based oils boast antibacterial, antiviral, and even antifungal properties.
- Tea tree oil has been studied more than any other essential oil and has been found to kill most forms of bacteria when added to cleaners at a 0.5% – 1.0% concentration.
- Lavender, grapefruit, rosemary, and eucalyptus possess antibacterial properties and are beneficial in bathroom cleaners are l, among others. (find 100% pure essential oils here)
- Citronella, geranium, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and peppermint, among others, have been tested specifically against fungi and found to be effective antimicrobials.
- Baking Soda: Scours and deodorizes a toilet bowl naturally and will help keep your bowl free of debris, stains, and those ugly rings.
- Coca-Cola: Yep, coke. The carbonation and acids in the soda can dissolve rings, buildup, and stains in your toilet bowl. Pour a full can around the rim of your toilet to fully coats the whole bowl. Let it sit for a few hours, then scrub with a toilet brush to scrub away the stains!
Toilet Cleaning Tips & Tricks
Now that we’ve covered the what and why, let’s get to the tips and tricks!
- Every Inch: When cleaning the toilet, most people tend to focus on the bowl's interior—but every inch deserves attention, says Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and author at Unclutter.com. Full-strength vinegar works great on grout and caulk. Use a spray bottle to saturate the area and let it soak in for at least an hour before rinsing.
- Not too fast: “So many people spray and then immediately wipe away, but you have to give the cleaners time to do their thing,” says Maker. While you're waiting, move on to another section of the toilet.
- Stains: Toilet bowl rings and stains are the result of hard water and mineral deposits that develop from standing water in the bowl. Skip the scrubbing and try one of these tricks:
- Place toilet paper soaked in vinegar directly on top of the stain and let the vinegar-soaked paper sit overnight. The next morning, flush to rinse and the stains should be gone.
- Add Epsom salt to the vinegar. While a lot of the salt dissolves, some remains which works as a mild abrasive when you scrub the toilet bowl.
- Bring in a pumice, volcanic rock, for those particularly bad stains Simply rub the pumice around the interior of your toilet bowl where the ring is and that’s it! It couldn’t be much easier and it turns out, some stones come with a handle to get the job done from a safe distance. Make sure to dampen both the pumice stone and toilet bowl itself before scrubbing to prevent scratches.
- Inside the tank: Foul odors sometimes result from brown rust stains, mineral deposits, bacteria, and grime in the toilet tank. Keep a clean toilet tank by cleaning twice per year using vinegar.
Safe & Simple Toilet Cleaner Recipes
The best part of making your own cleaners is the freedom to use whichever ingredients you feel are safest for your family. There are lots of fancy DIY options out there if you're so inspired, but if you're looking for the simplest way to get started with a “safe and green” clean try these first.
DIY Hard Water Stain Remover Recipe
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup Epsom salt
- 2 tablespoons natural liquid dish soap (learn how to make liquid soap or find a good natural brand here)
- optional antibacterial essential oils (find pure essential oils here)
Heavy Duty Bowl Cleaner
- Combine all ingredients in a large mason jar.
- Stir and cap tightly. Shake well until most of the Epsom salts have dissolved.
- Pour ⅓ of the mixture into the toilet bowl and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Scrub and flush away.
- ¾ cup borax
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl or squirt bottle.
- Swish water around inside of the toilet bowl with a toilet brush, or simply flush to wet the inside of the bowl.
- Pour the entire mixture into the toilet bowl, and allow it to sit for several hours or overnight. Make sure family members do not use the toilet during this time.
- Scrub the bowl and flush the toilet to rinse.
Tea Tree Toilet Bowl Scrub
- ½ cup baking soda
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- ½ teaspoon tea tree essential oil
- Combine vinegar and essential oil in a small spray bottle.
- Spray vinegar mixture inside the bowl, and also on the toilet seat, lid, and handle.
- Allow the cleaner to sit for several minutes.
- Sprinkle baking soda inside the toilet bowl and scrub inside of the bowl with a toilet brush.
- Use a clean dry cloth to wipe vinegar solution off seat, lid, and handle.
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