Keeping your toilet tank clean is an essential part of maintaining your bathroom. Allowing buildup and stains to accumulate can reduce flushing power, unpleasant odors, and potential leaks.
This article will walk through the steps for effectively cleaning your toilet tank.
Benefits of cleaning toilet tank:
- Prevent mineral deposits and hard water stains
- Reduce foul odors from bacteria growth
- Improve flushing power by removing sediment
- Make toilet parts last longer
What you’ll learn:
- When and how often to clean the toilet tank
- What supplies you’ll need
- How to fully clean the tank, valves, and parts
- Tips to prevent future buildup
Cleaning the toilet tank is often overlooked, but consistent maintenance keeps all the inner working parts in optimal condition for years to come!
When to Clean Your Toilet Tank
It is recommended to clean your toilet tank every 3-6 months.
For humid environments or homes with hard water, increase the frequency to every 3 months to prevent excessive buildup.
Regular cleaning helps prevent the accumulation of:
- Mineral deposits
- Unpleasant odors
If you live in a scorching, humid climate, aim to clean the tank at least every three months. The air’s moisture can accelerate mold and mildew growth, which leads to staining and foul odors if allowed to fester.
For those with hard water, mineral deposits like limescale can rapidly form. Hard water contains a high amount of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium, which cling to surfaces when the water evaporates.
For most households, a biannual cleaning is sufficient. Add it to your list when doing seasonal cleaning routines.
Signs Your Toilet Tank Needs Cleaning:
- Whitish/yellowish mineral deposits on walls and floor
- Staining and slimy growth
- Musty, mildew smell
- Reduced flushing power
- Rust forming on metal parts
Stay on top of regular cleaning to prevent major buildup and keep your toilet tank functioning properly.
To access the inside of the tank:
- Locate the water valve and turn it off. This stops new water from entering the tank.
- Flush the toilet multiple times to empty the tank.
- Once drained, remove the tank lid to expose the inner components.
- Rubber gloves
- Old toothbrush
- Mild abrasive cleaner
- Distilled white vinegar
The rubber gloves help protect your hands from harsh cleaning chemicals and bacteria.
You’ll need a toothbrush to scrub away grime in difficult-to-reach spots and crevices.
For mineral deposits, distilled white vinegar is highly effective at dissolving them. For more laborious cleaning, an abrasive cleaner with grit helps scrub away grime.
Have a bucket on hand to dilute cleaners or vinegar solutions as needed. Use towels for wiping down surfaces and soaking up excess liquids.
Assessing Cleaning Needs:
Examine the interior of the tank and determine the appropriate cleaner:
- If there are mineral deposits or hard water stains, use distilled white vinegar to dissolve them.
- For mildew or grime buildup, use bleach-free disinfectant or abrasive cleaner.
- For general cleaning, an all-purpose bathroom disinfectant spray works well.
Gather your supplies accordingly before starting to clean.
Cleaning the Toilet Tank
Now comes the fun part—it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get your hands dirty cleaning this puppy!
Here are the critical steps for conquering the inside of the toilet tank:
Assess the Situation
First, take a good look at what you’re dealing with here. Are there just some light mineral deposits and basic grime? Or are we talking about layers of scaled-on hard water stains and even some mildew action happening?
Pro Tip: Inspect along the seams, nooks, and crannies for grime buildup.
Choose your cleaning solutions accordingly:
- For tackling hard water stains or mineral buildup, you’ll need good ol’ distilled white vinegar to dissolve the deposits.
- Got grime and mildew? Grab a bleach-free, disinfecting cleaner or one with some abrasive action. This will scrub away the gunk.
- A standard all-purpose bathroom cleaner will do the trick for routine cleaning or mild buildup.
Always avoid bleach-based cleaners in the tank—they can damage the rubber and metal parts over time.
Apply the Cleaner
For heavy-duty mineral deposits, you’ll want to let the vinegar work its magic:
- Fill the tank up with vinegar just below the overflow tube.
- Let it soak for 12 hours so the vinegar can dissolve the scale.
For disinfectants and mild cleaning, spray the product liberally over all surfaces. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing.
Safety Warning: Don protective gloves before handling any cleaning chemicals. Also, work in a well-ventilated area.
Scrub, Scrub, Scrub
Now, here comes the elbow grease portion! Grab your scrub brush or old toothbrush and work that cleaner into the surfaces and grooves.
Getting into those tight corners is vital—use a toothbrush to target them. Scrub the tank walls, floor, and all inner parts thoroughly.
Apply some muscle to lift stubborn stains or gunk. Take your time and do this right.
Flush Away the Grime
Once scrubbing is complete, flush the tank several times to rinse away all the lifted grime and cleaning residue. I like to flush it 2-3 times to ensure a thorough rinse.
Cleaning the Toilet Tank Parts
Now that the tank is sparkling, let’s shift gears and tidy up the inner workings.
Here are some tips for cleaning the toilet parts:
Remove Parts for Better Access
Detach removable parts like the flapper, float ball, and flush handle to give them a good scrubbing. Also, remove the tank lid if it’s especially grimy.
Taking them out lets you get into all the nooks and crannies better.
Pro Tip: Lay down an old towel and place parts on it to avoid losing small pieces.
Scrub Valves, Siphon & Lever
Use a toothbrush dipped in a cleaner to scrub gently:
- The fill valve where water enters
- The flush valve and overflow tube
- The flapper seal and any chains
- The flush lever or handle
Focus on eliminating any built-up gunk or mineral deposits.
Handle With Care
These inner components are delicate, so no aggressive scouring!
Be very gentle cleaning rubber pieces like the flapper valve seal. Aggressive scouring can lead to cracks and tearing.
Use a non-abrasive cleaner and soft brush to avoid scratching metal parts like the handle and chain.
Rinse all parts with clean water to remove any cleaning residue. Wipe dry with a clean towel.
Check components for wear and damage. Replace any pieces like the flapper that appear cracked or malformed.
Reattach Parts Securely
Once all parts are cleaned up, reattach them securely in the proper positions.
Double-check that valve seals, flappers, and lids are snugly fitted before turning the water back on.
Final Steps to a Fresh Tank
You’re in the home stretch now! Just a few more steps to button things up:
Reattach Tank Lid
With all cleaned parts appropriately reattached, replace the tank lid. Make sure it sits flush and snug.
Pro Tip: Don’t tighten it down fully if it’s designed to rest on top.
Turn the Water Back On
Locate the water valve and turn it back on to allow water to flow back into the tank. Listen for that welcome hissing sound!
As the tank fills, check around bolts and connections for any leaks. Tighten as needed.
Flush Away Residue
Once full, flush the toilet a couple of times. This rinses away any remaining cleaning product residue.
While at it, give the toilet exterior a nice disinfecting wipe-down. Clean the seat, lid, tank, base, and behind the bowl.
Keeping Your Toilet Tank Trouble-Free
You did such a fantastic job getting your toilet tank spick and span. Now, let’s talk about keeping it that way!
Follow these tips to prevent buildup and keep your tank in tip-top shape:
Stick to a Cleaning Schedule
- Most households aim to clean the tank every 3-6 months.
- Increase frequency to quarterly for humid areas or hard water.
Do Light Cleanings In Between
- Wipe down the inner parts monthly to prevent significant grime buildup.
- Use a toothbrush and vinegar to descale valves as needed gently.
Use Vinegar to Prevent Stains
- Pour 1-2 cups of vinegar into the tank monthly overnight to prevent hard water stains. Flush in the morning.
Inspect Parts Regularly
- Check washers, seals, and valves monthly for cracks and wear.
- Replace parts like flappers immediately if damaged.
Improve Bathroom Ventilation
- Increase air circulation to prevent mildew growth.
Know When to Call a Pro
- Call a plumber if you have recurring toilet bowl mold or overflow issues.
Stay vigilant with easy monthly maintenance to keep your tank in optimal shape for years of reliable flushing action!
Expert Tips for Toilet Tank Cleaning
Let’s wrap things up with some pro tips to make toilet tank cleaning even easier:
Use Homemade Cleaning Solutions
- For mineral deposits, straight distilled white vinegar works great.
- Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water for an effective all-purpose cleaner.
- Baking soda also works to scrub away grime.
Avoid Toilet Cleaning Tablets
- Drop-in cleaner tablets often contain bleach, which can damage tank parts over time.
- Tablets are unnecessary if you clean the tank regularly.
Know When to Call a Professional
- Call a pro if you have recurring mold near the base or under the tank.
- Leaks, cracked tanks, or overflow issues may require a plumber.
- Increase air circulation in humid bathrooms to prevent mold growth.
- Run the fan during and after showering.
Make It Easy
- Tackle cleaning when the tank is emptied, like replacing a flapper.
- Set phone reminders to clean every 3-6 months.
Best Automatic Toilet Tank Cleaners-No Scrubbing
While the solutions offered above are DIY projects, you can have an automatic toilet tank cleaner that cleans without scrubbing. The best of this kind include the following:
1. Instant Power 1806 Toilet Tank Cleaner
This toilet tank cleaner with great features needs minimal effort on your end. You only need to pour a little of it into the toilet tank and let it do the work.
Instant Power Tank Cleaner removes any build-up of hard water deposits, rust, and calcium. It cleans the sides of the toilet tank and the individual parts in it as well. In this way, it prolongs the life of the parts of the toilet tank and keeps it smelling fresh.
2. HurriClean Automatic Toilet and Tank Cleaner
Next up is the HurriClean Automatic Cleaner for the toilet and toilet tank. Once put into the tank, it’ll clean away bacteria, mold, mildew, and other dirt without scrubbing the tank. Best of all, it doesn’t harm the parts of the toilet and will clean the tank and bowl of your bathroom each time you flush it.
3. Soft Scrub In-Tank Cleaner Duo-Cubes
Another easy-to-use solution is this cleaner from Soft Scrub. The cubes need only be dropped into the toilet tank, and that’s it. As they sit in the toilet tank, they clean the parts up each time you flush the toilet, especially against calcium and other mineral deposits. They also make the bathroom smell nice, thanks to the added fragrance.
4. Lysol Automatic Toilet Cleaning Click Gel
While this gel is advertised as a cleaning solution for the toilet bowl, it’s just as efficient in cleaning the toilet tank as it is for the toilet bowl. Just like in the toilet bowl, you smear the gel around the edge of the toilet tank such that it’s in constant contact with the water. This way, it dissolves with time and cleans the tank. It’s also added a fragrance to make it smell nice.
Picking one of these will make your toilet cleaning process effortless but with excellent results.
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