Will bleach clean toilet stains?

While popular sites like Goodhousekeeping.com may encourage the use of bleach for disinfecting and cleaning the toilet, there are many reasons why you may want to avoid it.

Rust Stains

Avoid using bleach if your toilet has rust stains caused by hard water. This is because bleach will set the hard water stains instead of removing them. Remove rust by applying ½ cup of baking soda to the spot and spraying it with white vinegar. Let it sit for about half an hour before flushing. 

Unsafe for your Toilet

You’ll need to contact the manufacturer to determine if it’s safe to flush bleach down the toilet since many toilets are made with materials that are easily damaged by bleach.

Adverse Environmental Effects

When bleach is poured in our waters it mixes with minerals and elements and create dangerous toxins that can take many years to dissolve.  

Bleach is also a contributor polluting our air.  It releases toxins into the air during the ventilation and exhaust processes.   Airborne chlorine bleach by-products eventually reach Earth’s atmosphere and the ozone layer. According to Audubon Magazine, chlorine bleach is linked to ozone depletion, which has far-reaching environmental effects in terms of global warming.

Unsafe for your Toilet Tank

"The biggest don't when it comes to toilet tanks is bleach — do not use bleach or products containing bleach inside the tank, as it can corrode the internal parts of your toilet," says Patty Stoffelen, a bath fixtures merchant for The Home Depot to Martha Stewart.

Adverse Health Effects

Bleach fumes can accumulate and linger in poorly-ventilated homes. Indoor air becomes polluted with toxins, endangering the health of all those who breathe it in.

As parents, we try to provide our kids with a safe and healthy environment.  However when children and pets are exposed to bleach and bleach fumes they can become very susceptible to the adverse health effects because their immune systems cannot fight off the harsh chemicals and their lungs are smaller and can fill with the toxic fumes. Even the passive or indirect exposure to bleach can cause childhood respiratory illness and other infections.

Chlorine bleach inhalation can cause discomfort, coughing, and can lead to acute, or long-term chronic chemical pneumonitis. The inflammation that stems from pneumonitis can progress into stiffness of the lungs. If untreated, effects can result in respiratory failure.

It can also cause skin rash, extreme headaches, migraines, muscle weakness, abdominal discomfort, esophageal perforation, nausea and vomiting. In addition, it can damage the nervous system.

People that have a respiratory problem, especially people suffering from asthma and allergies, should avoid the use of bleach. Other symptoms may occur such as stinging sensation in the eyes and nose, coughing and breath shortness.   

 How to properly use Bleach

If you still wish to use bleach for cleaning your bathroom, follow the below tips

Use a Low Concentration

Bleach is both a cleaning agent and a disinfectant, although it won't remove mineral stains caused by hard water.

It can be dangerous if used in high concentrations.  The recommended concentration for cleaning in the bathroom is 500 parts per million, which amounts to 2 1/2 tablespoons of regular 5.25 percent household bleach per gallon of water. This may seem like a low concentration, but it's one that will do the job without causing damage to your skin, eyes or lungs. 

Always use bleach by itself

If you mix it with other cleaning agents, especially ammonia, it can produce poisonous fumes and cause serious skin burns.

Ventilate the bathroom

To clean your toilet with bleach, start by putting on rubber gloves and opening the window to ventilate the bathroom.

Cleaning the Bowl with Bleach

Fill a spray bottle with water and add enough household bleach to produce a solution of 500 parts per million. You need a toilet brush free of bacteria, so immerse the brush in the same bleach solution before using it. Flush the toilet, then spray the sides of the bowl and the underside and top of the rim and seat and scrub. Rinse the areas you scrubbed with clean water, then spray the rim and underside of the seat and wipe them with a sponge. Give everything a final rinse with clean water.

 An Alternative to Bleach

White vinegar disinfects as well as bleach and it's safer to use.. Besides disinfecting, the acetic acid in vinegar can dissolve mineral stains on the sides of the bowl, but it has to remain in contact for an hour or two. One way to keep it in contact is to make a paste with vinegar and borax. Spread the wet paste generously on the inside of the bowl and spray it periodically with vinegar to keep it wet. When you wash the paste and stains away, scrub the bowl with vinegar and rinse it with clear water.