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How to Clean Your Toilet With a Steamer or Boiling Water

Updated on January 9, 2012

Before you begin, you will need...

  • a bucket or large-capacity pitcher full of water
  • a scrub brush or toothbrush
  • vinegar
  • a pumice (if you have water stains)
  • several rags or cloths
  • possibly a wrench and/or screwdriver
  • a steamer or boiling water
  • gloves

The coolest part!

Dump your bucket of water into the toilet bowl. This will push all of the other water down and leave you with an empty bowl to work with. Just leave the bowl empty for now.

If you have water stains in your bowl, start using the pumice to take them off. Most toilets are porcelain so they won't scratch, but you may want to test in an inconspicuous spot to begin with. If you have hard water, you may want to spray a little vinegar on the stains before beginning.

The floor around the toilet

Use your cloth and vinegar to wipe all around the base of the toilet. This includes around where it is bolted to the floor. If it is particularly bad, try to jimmy your brush under the bolt covers, or even pry off the bolt covers to clean under them. We're being thorough! Eliminating germs, thereby eliminating the odors associated with those germs.

Now if you have a steamer, heat that baby up and run the most powerful beam of steam you can under the toilet. There is that little gap between the toilet and floor (or at least there should be!). This is the area I'm talking about. (Some people have caulked this area. Where it is good that now you don't have to clean it, you better hope there are no leaks since it will rot the floor out before you discover it.) After you have steamed everything out, put on your gloves and wipe it all up with your cloth or rag.

If you don't have a steamer, pour your boiling water very slowly down the outside front of the bowl. Does that make sense? This will cause the boiling water to flow down into that crevice between the floor and the toilet. Put on your gloves. Now use the edge of your cloth to "floss the toilet." Hold it by two corners of the same edge, pull it taut, and get it under there by moving it back and forth. You may need to do this on several edges of your cloth to get it clean. Do the front and the corners - basically anywhere you can get the cloth.

The gross part is behind us!

Now that the floor around the toilet is so clean that you can eat off of it, now you can scooch right up to the toilet to get the rest of it done without worrying about getting any kind of funky stuff on you.

Spray the whole outside of the toilet bowl with vinegar spray. Let it sit just a few moments, then wipe it to a nice shine with a clean cloth. Do the same for the bowl rim.


Time to flush the toilet.  By now, there should be no more water stains in there.  Pour a little more vinegar into the bowl and give it a nice swish with your cloth.  You will also want to take your scrub brush, get it nice and wet with the vinegar water, and scrub under the lid.  

Don't worry if water drips onto your nice and shiny bowl.  Since there is nothing on there to cause discolorations at this point, it shouldn't leave a single mark!

Use your cloth and scrub brush to clean your toilet seat and the lid, making sure to use lots of vinegar on the seat and around the bolts where the seat/lid is bolted down.

If you are not confident that you are able to get all of the germs from around the bolts, you can use your wrench and take the seat off.  This can be disturbing if you are just moving into a home and are cleaning the toilet.  Do wear your gloves.  Do not get sick in your clean toilet.  It's okay.  You're going to take care of it and it never has to be this way again!

Once you have used lots of vinegar to clean around the bolt area (make sure you check the underside of the toilet in the same area), dry it well and bolt your seat back on.  

Finish up!

Spray the tank and lid with vinegar spray, paying close attention to the handle (or flusher, as I call it). Germs are all over that handle. When you really start thinking about it, you may want to run out and get an automatic flushing toilet - but resist! Good hand-washing gets rid of those toilet-handle germs very well!

If at any point you start seeing cracks in your toilet seat - whether in the sealant, on a cushioned one, any kind of cracks - buy a new one.  These are places that germs LOVE to live.  And if you do get so grossed out that you buy a self-flushing toilet, let me know how that works out!


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    • profile image

      queenieof5 6 years ago

      I want a steamer!!! - but I can settle for the hot water.

      thanks for the info... very helpful in cleaning the nasty toilet that ALL the boys dirty!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Ah, that was a trick my father taught me - to dump a bucket of water in the toilet to push the water out - so smart. It came in handy when I had to change the o-ring underneath.

      I really need to do some serious cleaning in this old toilet and I read that a pumice stone will clean the water stains so I see it was true based on your suggestions.

      OK - so one fine day I am just going to have to do this. I even have a steamer. Sigh.

      Thanks for such a useful hub - and I like that toilet diagram - so cool.

      Rated up!

    • wannabwestern profile image

      Carolyn Augustine 6 years ago from The Land of Tractors

      You made me think about cleaning toilets a whole new way! Now where did I put my vinegar?

    • cheapsk8chick profile image

      cheapsk8chick 6 years ago

      Thanks for the comment stars!

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Great information. GBY