Toilet Troubles? Learn How to Effectively Remove Rust Stains in Toilets

What Causes Rust Stains in Toilets?

Dealing with unsightly rust stains on your toilet can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. Not only do they make your bathroom look dingy and unkempt, but they can also be difficult to remove if you don’t have the right tools or techniques. Fortunately, there are several effective methods for removing rust stains from your toilet that you can try at home. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of rust stains in toilets and provide step-by-step instructions for removing them using simple household items. Whether you’re dealing with a minor rust stain or a more stubborn buildup, these tips will help you restore your toilet to its former sparkling glory.

half cleaned toilet bowl with heavy iron stain

So, if you’re tired of dealing with toilet troubles, read on to learn how to effectively remove rust stains and keep your bathroom looking clean and fresh.

Rust stains in toilets can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Hard Water

Hard water is water that contains high levels of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. When hard water is used to flush the toilet, it can leave behind mineral deposits that can eventually lead to rust stains. Although hard water and iron are separate issues to deal with in household water, the calcium/magnesium combination tends to attract ferrous iron in the water and adopt some of its characteristics, such as the brown/red colour left behind in the toilet. To learn more about the causes, effects and solutions to hard water problems….. CLICK HERE.

Old Pipes

If your home has old pipes, they may begin to corrode over time, which can result in rust being deposited into the toilet bowl. Usually, this source of iron is usually precipitated into ferric iron and shows up as particles floating suspended in the water. 

Iron in the Water

rust stains in toilet bowl

If your water supply contains high levels of iron, it can cause rust stains in your toilet. And iron can be complicated to remove.

There are several types of iron found in household water supplies.  Ferric iron, which are rust-like particles floating suspended in water will sink if left quiet in a glass. When dissolved,  iron often remains invisible to the eye but when exposed to oxygen it begins to oxidize and show up on surfaces or as rust stains in toilet bowl or colour in the water. Different technologies are used to remove the various types of iron from the water. For information on iron removal technologies follow THIS LINK TO IRON REMOVAL...CLICK HERE.

Chemical Reactions

Certain cleaning products, such as bleach and ammonia, can react with the metal in your toilet bowl and cause rust stains to form. Neither of these actually caused the rust. But both of them are oxidizing agents which bring the iron in your water out of solution which in turn causes the rust buildup.

While rust stains can be unsightly, they generally don’t pose any health risks. However, if you have concerns about the safety of your drinking water, it’s important to have your water tested for contaminants.

The Dangers of Rust Stains

While rust stains themselves are generally harmless, they can indicate more serious problems with your plumbing system. If you notice rust stains in your toilet bowl, it’s possible that your pipes are corroding and may need to be replaced. Additionally, rust stains can be a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful microorganisms, which can pose a health risk to you and your family.

It’s important to address rust stains in toilet bowl as soon as possible to prevent them from spreading and potentially causing more serious problems down the line.

Common Household Remedies for Rust Stains

If you’re dealing with a minor rust stain in toilet bowl, there are several common household items that you can use to remove it. Here are a few effective remedies to try:

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Mix vinegar and baking soda in equal parts to create a paste. Apply the paste to the rust stain and let it sit for several hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

Lemon Juice and Borax

Mix lemon juice and borax to create a paste. Apply the paste to the rust stain and let it sit for several hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.


Pour cola directly into the toilet bowl and let it sit for several hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

While these household remedies can be effective for minor rust stains, they may not be enough to remove more stubborn buildup. If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn rust stain, you may need to use a commercial rust remover.

Commercial Rust Removers

If household remedies aren’t enough to remove a stubborn rust stain, you may need to use a commercial rust remover. These products are designed specifically to dissolve rust and can be effective for more severe rust stains.

When using a commercial rust remover, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and wear protective gloves and eyewear. Additionally, you should never mix different types of rust removers or use them in combination with other cleaning products, as this can create dangerous chemical reactions.

My Secret Iron & Rust Eliminator! Better Than All the Rest! 

In my 25 years as a water treatment professional, I have used this myself and advised this solution to others dozens of times. FAST ORANGE Mechanics Hand Cleaner w/ Pumice.


You can also get it without pumice, but you will need to use more “elbow grease”.  With pumice, it is a fairly easy wash to remove the iron. HOWEVER, I would test a small section first and look for etching of the glass. A non pummice version called Fast Orange Smooth would be safer on glass shower walls. I wish I had kept the before and after pictures that one lady sent me years ago. Truly impressed by how it saved her the expense of a bathroom remodel. Don’t buy any other brand than Fast Orange. Here is a link to the exact product I have used many times…CLICK HERE.

I have included instructions below on how to use this wonder product so roll up your sleeves, get down on your knees, and it will clean like a breeze! LOL.

How to Remove Rust Stains from the Toilet Bowl

Now that you know what causes rust stains and I have provided you with links to resources for how to prevent them in the future, let’s take a look at how to remove them from the toilet bowl.

Step 1: Turn off the Water Supply

Before you begin, turn off the water supply to the toilet to prevent the tank from refilling. Flush the toilet twice. Once to drain the tank and once to empty the toilet bowl.

Step 2: Add the Cleaning Solution

Apply Fast Orange to a 12 in square damp rag and apply the paste to the rust stain in small circular motions and let it sit for several minutes.  

Step 3: Scrub the Stain

Do not let it dry. Perhaps another light rub with the applicator rag.  You will see the effect of your work quickl;y.  Then turn on the water to the tank and flush the toilet. You will need to brush or wipe the toilet bowl to remove any Fast Orange residual. 

Step 4: Flush the Toilet

Once the stain has been removed, and with the water supply back on, flush the toilet to remove any remaining debris.

Step 5: Repeat as Necessary

If the stain is particularly stubborn, you may need to repeat the cleaning process again before it is completely gone. But I am sure you will appreciate the effect that even the preliminary cleaning had on the toilet bowl.

How to Prevent Rust Stains from Forming

Preventing rust stains from forming in the first place is the best way to keep your toilet looking clean and fresh. Here are a few tips to help prevent rust stains:


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