If you’re enjoying breakfast or lunch right now, I recommend waiting to read this post until after you finish your meal. Today we’re going to get really personal and to talk about the toilet. Not only are we going to talk about the humble toilet, we’re also going to visit my bathroom and look at pictures of my toilet bowl. Our online friendship is about to go to a whole new level! From drinking lattes to cleaning toilets…oh yeah!
Cleaning Versus Disinfecting
To begin our toilet talk, let’s talk about cleaning versus disinfecting, since these are actually two different cleaning actions performed with very different cleaning products.
In my humble cleaning opinion, most of us just need to clean regularly, not disinfect. Cleaning consists of regular home maintenance: dusting, wiping surfaces, using soap to wash our hands, washing and sweeping the floor with hot water and possibly soap, vacuuming, spraying and wiping mirrors and glass, etc. These cleaning tasks are usually performed with water and a natural soap or detergent, like castile soap or Sal Suds, which keep a home from harboring unwanted dust and dirt. Regular cleaning maintenance encourages that “put together” look so many of us desire (a subjective term when you have young children…the struggle is real).
Disinfecting is an activity that’s (generally) done after cleaning and, in my cleaning opinion, needs to be done much less often in the average home. “Disinfecting…refers to killing a high percentage of the germs on a surface or rendering them incapable of reproducing.” (source)
Disinfecting takes care of more than just dirt, grease, or dust. Disinfecting knocks-out the bad germs that can make us ill. I don’t believe disinfecting every surface on a regular basis is essential in the modern-day home. Now when the stomach virus comes knocking, or I cut raw meat on my favorite cutting board, I’m all about using a homemade disinfectant spray.
All that being said, there is one area of the home that I personally believe should be regularly disinfected (and this is where we get all personal with toilet talk and pictures, brace yourself): the hard-working toilet bowl!
How to Clean and Disinfect a Toilet Bowl, Naturally
I have two favorite recipes for cleaning the toilet bowls in my home: a liquid cleaner and a powder cleaner. Both cleaners clean the toilet bowl very well. My choice between which cleaner to make and use is usually just a matter of which ingredients I have on hand, and if I want a long-term storage powder or a short-term storage liquid cleaner. Right now, I’m using the powder cleaner. PS: I’m going to share this recipe, which is from the DIY Natural Cleaning Challenge, below.
Cleaning the toilet bowl with one of my homemade cleaners is as simple as mixing the powder or liquid ingredients, squirting or sprinkling the cleaner on the sides of the toilet bowl, and then letting the cleaner rest in the toilet for a few minutes. Easy peasy! Just think, a homemade cleaner that’s just as easy to use as a store-bought cleaner, but without the mystery ingredients.
Once the cleaner rests for a few minutes, it’s time to scrub! You’re going to need a handy toilet bowl brush to complete this next step. Scrub the cleaner against the toilet bowl sides. Then, flush the toilet. The toilet bowl is now clean (AKA: the dirt and well, you know what else has been removed).
Now it’s time to disinfect. When it comes to naturally disinfecting surfaces, two ingredients work very well: hydrogen peroxide and/or vinegar. In the kitchen, these two disinfectants are a powerhouse when used back to back to disinfect a surface (you should NEVER combine the two ingredients into one cleaner). When it comes to toilet bowl disinfecting, I only use one ingredient: hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Simply attach a spray nozzle on the hydrogen peroxide bottle or vinegar bottle (if your vinegar bottle is bulk-size, just pour the vinegar into the toilet bowl or pour the vinegar into a separate spray bottle). Then, spray or pour the disinfectant on the sides of the toilet bowl. Let the disinfectant rest for 30 minutes so it can work against germs, then flush!
If you want use vinegar to disinfect your toilet bowl, but hate the smell of vinegar, use the citrus-infused vinegar we made last week (just don’t dilute the vinegar concentrate before pouring or spraying it in the toilet bowl).
Now your toilet bowl is naturally clean and disinfected!
Powder Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup borax
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt or kosher, You can find an inexpensive 3lb box at most grocery stores. Don’t waste money and use expensive mineral-rich salt like Himalayan salt, in this recipe.
- 15 drops grapefruit essential oil or favorite cleaning essential oil
- 1 lid with holes such as: a mason jar drink top, or a Parmesan cheese topper. Only use this lid when the powder is needed. The top used to store the powder shouldn’t expose the powder to the air.
- Combine the ingredients in a storage container.
- Clean the toilet bowl: Sprinkle the sides of the toilet bowl. Let the powder rest for 15 minutes, then scrub the toilet with a toilet bowl brush, and flush.
- Disinfect the toilet bowl: Spray hydrogen peroxide or vinegar on the sides of the toilet bowl, let the spray rest for 30 minutes, then flush.
Free PDF cheatsheet
How to Make Your Own Homemade Bathroom Cleaners
7 All-Time Favorite Recipes
I think that vinegar is not good idea. Vinegar destroy the toilet. Is it true?
Vinegar will not ruin your toilet.
There is no problem to combine acetic acid with hydrigen peroxide. The final product – peracetic acid, is very safe disinfectant. No toxic fumes or something like that. There is another reaction which is dangerous : Never combine acetic acid (or any kind of acid) with bleach! (Sodium hypochlorite ). This reaction is producing toxic fumes – chlorine gas! But combining acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide is safe. Anyhow, thank you for very nice and informative page.
Thanks for sharing, Andrea. Enjoy the toilet bowl cleaner!
Could I use epsom salt? Also would you recommend subbing washing soda for borax?
Hey Pearl, You probably could use epsom salt. I would just add more baking soda. The washing soda doesn’t work well in this application as it will stick to the toilet if left for any amount of time.
I’ve just discovered your website, it’s fantastic! Just tried out this toilet cleaner it’s great and also made the laundry liquid which has separated so do you just shake each time you use it?
Thanks for all your great tips!
Hey Meagan, Thank you! Welcome to Live Simply. I usually just stir the laundry soap with a long spoon before use.
Hello there! Where can I buy
four monks vinegar? They don’t sell it in their website. Thanks!
Hey Sofia, I recommend picking up any white vinegar sold in your local store :). I’m not sure where Four Monk’s is being sold these days–possibly Walmart?
Thank you Kristine!! I love your recipes, and your honesty when it comes to answering questions. I really enjoy reading the comments, questions and your answers.
Thank you, Elba!
Hello Kristine, can I use this powder to clean my tub? Thank you in advanced
Hey Elba, You should be able to clean a tub with the powder :). I’ve used this on my white ceramic tub and sinks.
Can this scrub be used in place of your DIY soft scrub on the tub? If so, how would you use it to cut the soap scum? Or, do you recommend keeping both on hand? I love your remedies.
Hey Ash, Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes. This scrub can definitely be used in place of the soft scrub. I also use this in my sinks: https://livesimply.me/2016/05/22/naturally-clean-sink-homemade-recipes/. If you need more of a paste for soap scrum, you could use a bit of this powder with water to create a paste–just mix it up on the spot. Then scrub the area with soap scum. You could probably add a squirt of Sal Suds or castile soap, too.
I’m switching to DIY natural products (bc why pay $1x for cleaner when you can make it!).
I’m curious, could you use epsom salts as opposed to sea salt? This is for the abrasiveness? It’s all I have on hand and I would prefer not to purchase more 🙂
Hey Genevieve, I haven’t tried using epsom salts, but I think they would work. They will definitely be more abrasive, so I would just be careful with scrubbing against the toilet.
Hi, were did you get the cute mason jar shaker top? Love it!
Hey Grace, It came from the dollar section at Target last year. It’s designed for a straw and mason jar. I just saw a few at Michael’s Craft Store and on Amazon.
Love the peroxide idea! Such a cute shower curtain on the picture. Where did you buy it?
Thank you, Diana! It’s from IKEA.
My kiddos are actually helping me scrub toilets this afternoon! They are excited for the “science” side of these products… Thank you!!!
Hey Heather, That’s awesome!! I love it!
This post was super helpful! What do you recommend for cleaning/disinfecting the outside of the toilet?
Hey Tawny, I’m so glad the post was helpful! I clean my bathroom (and around the toilet) with a bathroom spray: https://livesimply.me/2014/09/28/diy-homemade-bathroom-cleaner/. You could follow-up with a vinegar or hydrogen peroxide spray as a disinfectant.
I just ran out of purchased cleaner and will try this now! Thank you so much!
Awesome, Stefanie! Enjoy!!
Is there any substitute for borax? I can’t get it in my area here.
Hey Michelle, In this recipe, I think skipping the Borax is okay. You could replace the Borax with washing soda, since it’s pH is higher and it will help fit against stains (if your toilet bowl needs the extra cleaning boost).
I was hoping you were also about to explain WHY to disinfect a toilet. This has oddly enough been on my mind, wondering if there was any point to disinfecting it, as surely only 10 minutes later it would promptly be “infected” again. It’s not like we use the toilet bowl for anything else… (no dogs in our house, lol). I generally save disinfecting for only cleaning up after raw meat and rather contagious illnesses, as you mentioned.
Although with natural cleaners so far I’ve noticed the bowl gets nasty much quicker. Maybe the disinfecting is like hitting “reset” and gives me longer with a clean-ish looking bowl. And being safe ingredients, I suppose I’ll give it a try! Thanks for tackling this topic.
Hey Angela, The toilet bowl really gets a lot of “abuse” in our home–four people using two toilet bowls to pee and poop in daily (sorry for TMI, but that’s the fact of the matter). The fact that fecal matter is regularly passed in the toilet bowl is reason enough for me to disinfect our toilet bowl. I don’t disinfect daily, but at least two times a month just to keep it sanitary. I’m sure it’s a personal decision depending on how often your toilets are used, etc.
Ok this is actually so helpful. Adding all of these things to my grocery list. I love disinfecting/cleaning with natural products just in case my dog goes nuts and gets to the cleaning products somehow. Really great, thanks.
Thank you, Marina! I’m so glad the post was helpful. Enjoy!!