How to Clean under Toilet Rim Stains, Rings & Limescale

The underside of your toilet bowl rim might be the dirtiest section of the toilet because it is dark, hidden not easily reachable. Besides, it’s not unlikely to find all forms of discoloration under the rim from black coats of mold, brown discoloration from hard water, and pink stains from bacteria… This is exactly why you should pay more attention to this area, to ensure it’s regularly cleaned to avoid buildup.

To clean under the toilet bowl rim, simply apply bleach or a vinegar solution to the stains, then use a brush to scrub off the dirt. To get rid of the tough aged black stuff/ring and limescale, all you need is a solution of vinegar and baking soda and a scrubbing tool. Pumice stone and commercial bowl cleaners can also help, especially for extra tough stains.

Basically, the type and age of dirt/stains will determine how you will carry out the cleaning. Light dirt will require a brush and regular cleaner while aged and stubborn stains will require deep cleaning; more powerful and specific cleaners. If you’re looking to get this area cleaned up to avoid health hazards as well as maintain high levels of hygiene, following are the cleaning methods with steps, best cleaners and tips to keep it clean.

Bleach/Household Cleaner and Brush for under Rims

The easiest method to clean light dirt, stains, grime, mold, mildew, and other microorganisms under the toilet bowl rim is to use bleach or bleach-based household cleaner and a brush. Bleach acts disinfectant as well an effective cleaner. You can as well use vinegar in place of bleach.

Bleach or vinegar to disinfect and clean under toilet rim
Vinegar and bleach

What you need;

  • Household cleaner/bleach/vinegar
  • Gloves
  • Toilet Brush

Before starting, ensure there’s enough ventilation and put on your safety gear (gloves, goggles, etc.).


  1. Flush first to remove excess dirt and grime while scrubbing with the brush.
  2. If the brush and water do not work, apply bleach/vinegar to stains.
  3. Let it seat for about 20 to 40 minutes
  4. Scrub thoroughly with the brush.
  5. Flush the toilet to rinse.
  6. Repeat until the stains clear out.

Under Rim Toilet Brushes & Kits

Some of the best brushes with holders for cleaninng under the toilet rim include;

Superio Toilet Brush-This brush features a unique lip brush attachment that aids in targeting hard-to-reach dirt, stains and buildup under the rim. It comes with stiff bristles and a comfortable easy-to-grip long rubber handle.

best under toilet rim brushes
Simplehuman and Superio toilet bowl cleaning brushes

Simplehuman Stainless Steel Brush-its crescent-shaped head reaches hard-to-clean areas around the rim. It also comes with stiff outer bristles that are ideal for scrubbing tough stains.

Toilet Bowl scrubber brush, holder and gloves
Temples Pride 3 pack Kit

Temples Pride 3 Pack Toilet Bowl Scrubber Brush and Holder with Free Gloves kit can be helpful

Removing Limescale from Toilet Rim with Vinegar & Baking Soda

A mixture of baking soda and vinegar tends to generate a chemical compound called carbonic acid, which is aggressive on stains and mineral deposits on surfaces. It will be an excellent remedy for this problem.


  1. Measure about a cup of vinegar and pour it inside the toilet bowl. Swish it around so it gets to every area in the bowl.
  2. Let it sink in the bowl for about half an hour to one hour.
  3. After that time, open the box of baking soda and sprinkle it all over the toilet. The vinegar you added previously will entire it sticks on the walls of the bowl.
  4. Add some vinegar to activate a fizzy reaction.
  5. Let it fizz for another 15 minutes, then come back and brush the interior surface of the toilet bowl with precision to under the rim.
  6. Scrub the toilet with a soft hand brush and rinse off by flushing. The toilet should be stain free.

Other than baking soda, you can also combine vinegar with other ingredients like borax, duct tape, etc. Keep on reading for details.

Vinegar and Duct Tape Overnight Soak for Limescale

Materials Needed

  • Vinegar
  • Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Rags
  • Duct tape
  • Brush
  • Mirror


  1. Turn of the water supply to your tank from the main supply line to the bathroom area.
  2. Clean out the toilet by flushing it one last time and getting rid of the water in the bowl. This is to give it space and freedom to really get under the toilet rim.
  3. Confirm that there’s no water trickling down the water tank in an attempt to fill up for the next flush.
  4. When the toilet bowl is dry, tape the area under the toilet bowl so that it remains firm on the porcelain under the rim, covering the water jets.
  5. Fill the water tank with vinegar and flush the toilet. This way water will be sealed by the duct tape allowing the rim to soak in the vinegar for as long as the tape is secured there.
  6. After about an hour to overnight, remove the duct tape to release the vinegar, scrub gently and check to see if the dirt is cleared.
  7. Open the waterline and flush again to allow for clean water to run through the jets.

Borax and Vinegar

Borax is also great at multipurpose cleaning, especially on really tough stains. A mixture with vinegar only makes it better.


  1. Add about a cup of borax into the toilet bowl.
  2. Add some vinegar right over the borax.
  3. Gently scrub the toilet.
  4. Let sit for 15 minutes
  5. Flush the look as you scrub again.

Borax Paste

For those really stubborn stains, a borax paste should do the trick. Here’s how you can do that;

Borax cleaner


  1. Wipe down the toilet bowl to get a clear view of where the mold is.
  2. Make a paste in a dish using borax and water. Ensure the paste is thick enough to stick on the walls of the bowl.
  3. Apply the paste over the hard stained areas and scrub gently with the hand brush to make sure the paste all over the bowl.
  4. Leave it on for half an hour.
  5. Once back, scrub again gently to scrape off the brown stains.
  6. Flush the toilet to finish up.

You can replace the water with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide in case you want a more reactive solution. Just ensure you add only a little amount so the borax can still mount on the wall.

How to Clean the Black Ring/Stuff under the Toilet Rim

What is the black stuff under your toilet bowl rim? The black lining under the rim can be mold, bacteria buildup or mineral deposits.

How to clean black stuff/ring under toilet rim
Black stuff under rim

Following is how to deal with the black stuff.

Mold – with over 90% likelihood, mold spores look to bred in the darkness. The fungus also likes moist undisturbed areas such as these hence very unlikely for you to see mold or mildew underneath the rim. To clean mold and mildew simply use bleach and scrubbing brush. Check the first method above for steps. Automatic chlorinated liquids can easily sanitize, disinfect, and clean up

Bacteria buildup – the most prevalent bacteria found in toilets or generally moist regions such as the washroom is the Serratia Marcescens. It causes pink residue that eventually turns black after a while. To clean bacteria buildup, use citric acid in lemons, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and borax/ borax paste with a scrubbing brush

Mineral deposits – hard water stains appear as brown, bronze, grey, and black stains which either form rings or settle on the base of the toilet. Appearing under the rim is most likely due to the siphoned jets found there. To clean the black ring resulting from hard deposits, use vinegar and baking soda and a scrubbing brush. A commercial discalers can also be used.

Bowl Rim Cleaners…When Everything Fails

If the above DIY methods fail to work, you can try commercially available cleaners that are specifically formulated to clean toilet bowl stains.

Note that some of these products may end up damaging your toilet…they are not meant for all types of toilet bowl surfaces. Be sure to go through the manufacturer’s instructions before use.


This is a reusable rubbing stone that rids toilets of rust and lime buildup when DIY options and industrial chemicals fail. Pumice cleaning stone is safe on porcelain bowls. Shapes to fit curved or flat surface. Safe for hands. Safe around children and pets.

Pumice can be used to clean toilet bowl

If the stains or black stuff feels like it is permanent, pumice is the way to go. Do not overuse. Only use it once in a while with a lot of care to avoid damage to the bowl surface.

Iron Out Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

This is one of the best rated automatic toilet bowl cleaner for stubborn hardwater stains and heavy iron deposits. Iron out cleaner

Iron out automatic toilet cleaner tablets & Powder
Iron out

It does not only get rid of heavy-duty stains but it is also formulated to prevent rust stains from forming in your bowl for up to 45 days!

All you need is to clean your bowl with the powder or liquid form of this cleaner then insert the tablet in the tank. Iron out is safe for all toilets, plumbing and septic systems

Bio Clean-Eco Friendly Hard Water Stain Remove

If you are looking for an eco-friendly option, Bio Clean Hard Water Stain Remover cream is what should get. It is biodegradable and generally safe for yourself and your home.

Bioclean hard water stains remover
Bio clean

You do not water when using this clean. Straight from the bottle, simply apply directly to the surface with stains.

Use a clean dry cloth to remove the product after you have used the included brushes or brushes of your own. Then, wash or rinse with water.

Clorox ToiletWand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System

Clorox toiletwand toilet bowl cleaning system
Clorox Toiletwand

The Clorox cleaning system comprises of a toilet wand, a storage caddy and original disposable refills plus 10 Rainforest rush scented refills that kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in your bowl.

The hexagon shaped sponge heads clean in hard-to-reach places under the bowl rim and drain for a deeper and faster clean to remove rust, calcium and lime stains.

It is an all-in-one bathroom household cleaner. No need for scrubbing brushes and other cleaning items.

Power Drill Brush Scrubber

Another not-so-common way to easily clean underneath your bowl rim like a boss is to use a drill brush.

Bathroom Power Drill Brush
Drill Scrubber

These bathroom cleaning accessories are relatively recent but it will definitely fun to try them out. Check price and reviews

Recurring Stains Under Rim

If the discoloration keeps on appearing in the bowl after cleaning, there’s a good chance it’s mildew growing in the tank.
To find out simply lift the toilet tank lid and check. If you see black deposits, clean it up with vinegar or bleach.

If you want to go a step ahead, that is, to clean not only underneath the rim but also the openings are located here, we’ve done an article on how you can cleanout and unclog the flush holes around the rim of your toilet.

Tips to Keep under the Toilet Bowl Rim Dirt Free

Following are tips to prevent buildup of dirt under the rim and other parts of your toilet.

  • Clean regularly, at least once a week to prevent the accumulation of heavy stains
  • Ensure there’s enough ventilation in your bathroom to avoid dampness.
  • If your toilet bowl is old, damaged, or worn, make a point of replacing it since worn and damaged surfaces make it easier for stains and debris to build up.
  • Another tip from users around the internet is to leave the toilet lid up. Mold is known to develop when there is too much moisture build-up over extended periods. The toilet lid traps sufficient moistures under it and at the same time enough of the same moisture to evaporate from the bowl…

Further Reading

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