One of the most eco-friendly ways to clean a toilet effectively is through the regular use of natural cleaners and elbow grease.
For instance, lemon juice and baking soda, combined with a little bit of rubbing, will do wonders for your porcelain pot!
However, there are more ways of keeping a toilet clean and eco-friendly fresh than covered by this one solution.
So please join me as we journey through various ways to clean the toilet in a fully eco-friendly, ethical, and hygienic way.
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Why Use Natural Products To Clean The Toilet?
The beauty of natural products is that they will begin to act on mold and bacteria upon contact.
Shortly thereafter, their potency will begin to decrease, preventing damage to other organic life further down the system.
The actual potency of these products may vary greatly depending upon many factors such as age, warmth, acidity level, etc.
This is why it is always a good idea to have several cleaning options available to you.
Eco-Friendly Toilet Cleaning Products
There are many natural cleaning products that you can use to clean the toilet. Plus, there are many more possible combinations of them.
However, elbow grease will always be required, and some combinations will be more effective than others depending upon the circumstances.
The key here is not to try one combination and then give up but to try and find the right combination that works for you.
That being said, I have listed below the most common ingredients and tools used to clean a toilet.
- Lemon/Lime or another citrus fruit
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar 5% acidity
- Cleaning vinegar 6% – 10% acidity or higher!
- Hydrogen peroxide, do not mix with vinegar
- Castile soap
- Kosher salt
- Eucalyptus oil
- Commercial – natural/vegan/ organic shop-bought cleaner
- Essential oils – preferably acidic based
- Cloth/organic paper towels
- Toilet brush + holder
- Bottle with sieve top, eg mason jar with holes in the lid
How To Clean A Toilet The Eco-Friendly Way
#1 Baking Soda And Vinegar Method
Step 1 – Turn off the water being supplied to the toilet and flush.
Step 2 – With the seat and lid up, sprinkle baking soda around the inner bowl.
Then put a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda followed by half to one cup of vinegar into the bowl to loosen any scum within it.
Leave for about an hour.
Step 3 – Using neat vinegar, or a vinegar mixture, spray and wipe down the tank, handle, lid, seat, and rim.
Remembering to wipe down both the inner and outer parts. A flushed toilet will spray a mist of water everywhere.
Then spray and wipe the seat bolts, pipes, bidet sprayer, and the exterior of the bowl itself.
Step 4 – If required sprinkle a little more baking soda around the bowl and scrub vigorously.
Scrub especially hard under the rim and around and under the waterline. Any fizzing should have stopped by now.
Step 5 – Put the seat and lid down and turn the water supply back on then flush as you leave.
Step 6 – Once a month put sprinkle a quarter cup of baking soda into the cistern before going to bed.
This will help to clean and deodorize the tank whilst also inhibiting mold growth.
Alternatively, drain the tank and squirt liberally with cleaning vinegar, and leave until the morning.
However, vinegar is a weak acid and will slowly break down rubber seals so don’t do this too often.
How To Clean A Toilet Using Various Eco-Friendly And Ethical Products.
Organic cotton unpaper towels
You can use cloths or rags made from upcycled old clothing or shop-bought eco-friendly alternatives to clean a toilet.
One such alternative, organic unpaper towels, can be used upon the whole toilet and then placed into the wash as detailed below.
Firstly, make a general cleaner such as a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water plus 15 drops of tea-tree essential oil.
Secondly, take the washcloth and fold it in half, and then using your cleaner, spray and wipe the tank, handle, lid, and seat until clean.
Thirdly, fold the washcloth in half again to do the undersides of the above and then clean the rim.
Lastly, repeat the process to clean the base of the toilet and any pipework available.
In this way, you are using a clean section for each part of the process and only one towel.
Vinegar ( Outer Toilet Areas )
The simplest eco-friendly way to clean and sanitize the outer toilet area is to spray the entire toilet with white vinegar.
You don’t need to let it sit for long before wiping it down with a clean non-microfibre cloth.
Vinegar is an effective germ killer on non-porous surfaces but is not as strong as some commercial cleaners.
Check out my article: Can vinegar kill germs
However, by adding other ingredients to vinegar you can increase its effectiveness as a germ-killing agent.
This increased potency can be achieved by simply adding lemon juice, kosher salt, or even citric acid-based essential oils.
Dad’s Tip: Neat vinegar is more effective when it is applied warm and is especially good at lifting hard water stains.
Mostly Vinegar ( Inner Bowl Area )
To clean the bowl below the waterline simply turn off the water supply and flush the toilet.
Next, mix half to one cup of vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
This will produce a fizzing reaction between the two as vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base.
Pour this mixture around and into the bowl and let it sit for a short while.
The resulting mixture is just weak carbonic salty water and has few cleaning qualities.
However, the agitation aspect of the fizzy reaction in itself can be useful in physically breaking down stains and dirt.
Next, spray vinegar up under the rim of the toilet bowl and onto a toilet brush, then scrub vigorously.
Once all this is done, leave it for an hour then turn the water supply back on, flush, and leave.
If you don’t have baking soda available then neat vinegar on its own will work.
However, as vinegar is not an abrasive substance, substantial extra elbow grease and time may be required.
Dad’s Tip: The same effect can be achieved with a cheap bottle of coke or lemonade as they are also slightly acidic carbonated water.
Castile soap is great for penetrating and removing those nasty organic stains we don’t like to talk about.
Simply squirt some castile soap onto the stain and around the bowl and let it sit for a while.
Follow this by scrubbing the bowl clean with a toilet brush and flush the gunk away.
Dad’s tip: To quickly clean the toilet brush, hold the brush in the flowing water for a couple of flushes.
Then, for instant hygiene, spray the brush with vinegar before placing it into its holder.
Once a week, sprinkle baking soda into the bowl and use the toilet brush to scrub.
The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive and will clean and whiten the bowl without scratching the porcelain.
For stubborn stains try leaving the baking soda to work overnight and then scrub in the morning.
Dad’s Tip: Baking soda will often leave behind a film of white residue. This can be eliminated with a quick spray of vinegar and a wipe of a cloth.
Baking soda is one of the most effective cleaning ingredients available and has many uses within the bathroom.
It is also known as bicarbonate of soda, pearlash, or saleratus and was even used by the Ancient Egyptians.
Dad’s Tip: To remove unwanted odors simply peel back the lid from a box of baking soda then place it in the bathroom.
Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and will remain effective for many weeks.
Baking Soda To Clean The Toilet Cistern
Once a month sprinkle a quarter of a cup of baking soda into the cistern and leave overnight.
Flush the mixture in the morning and this will keep everything smelling fresh and the pipework clear.
This method to clean the toilet is more eco-friendly than using outrageously chemical-laden toilet blocks.
These blocks are also notorious for producing a thick slime that will clog the cistern over time.
Also, the heavy bleach concentration in the block can seriously damage the rubber flapper in the cistern.
Once this is damaged, the toilet will begin to run constantly and the whole unit may need to be replaced.
Vinegar To Clean The Toilet Cistern
Once a month turn off the water supply and flush the toilet to drain the cistern.
Next, spray a neat cleaning vinegar solution all around the insides of the tank.
Leave this solution to work for a couple of hours or overnight.
Next, scrub the inner tank with an abrasive brush (bamboo ) or similar item then turn the water supply back on.
Flush the system twice in order to clear the gunk from the system and leave.
Dad’s tip: Try alternating the vinegar and baking soda methods each month.
This will combine the odor and mold-killing properties of baking soda with the sanitizing properties of vinegar.
Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are both effective disinfectants but they should never be mixed together.
This is because combining vinegar and hydrogen peroxide will produce peracetic acid which is highly corrosive and a gaseous irritant.
However, hydrogen peroxide IS an effective disinfectant that can be used as an alternative to vinegar in most instances.
Dad’s Tip: Never mix vinegar and bleach together as this produces chlorine gas.
Chlorine gas produces a greenish-yellow cloud that smells of bleach and was used effectively in WW1 to kill enemy troops.
Kosher salt or sea salt can be used in conjunction with other ingredients to form an effective eco-friendly toilet cleaner.
It is not suitable to be used on its own but will amplify the cleaning properties of other products.
A dry mix consisting of equal measures of kosher salt, borax, and baking soda is one example of this.
Such a mixture could be sprinkled in and around the toilet bowl and left to sit for about an hour.
Follow this with a hearty scrub using a toilet brush and simply flush the gunk away.
Dad’s Tip: For a fresh bathroom smell try adding some essential oils to the dry mix.
Kosher salt and vinegar will create hydrogen chloride which is good at dissolving metals so be careful with this mixture.
Eucalyptus oil is highly flammable but contains compounds that are very effective natural disinfectants and pest deterrents.
This makes eucalyptus oil a very popular and widely used natural cleaner ingredient in Australia.
To make a general disinfectant for toilets, as an alternative to vinegar, simply make the following recipe.
Mix 50 ml (1.6 oz) of eucalyptus oil with a liter (quart) of water. That’s all there is to it. Store the mixture as you would a normal disinfectant but keep it away from sunlight.
Eucalyptus oil can be used neat but I would still recommend gloves.
Amazon sells eucalyptus oil in 16 oz bottles for approximately $23.00
Lemons are high in citric acid and make very effective cleaners when combined with other ingredients.
Try cutting a lemon in half and dipping it in baking soda to clean chrome and then wipe clean with a damp cloth.
To clean a toilet, cut a lemon in half, then wipe the lemon around the toilet.
Sprinkle kosher salt or baking soda over the lemon so that it acts like a scourer for any stubborn stains or bits of dirt.
Finally, use a non-microfiber damp cloth to wipe away any residue and buff to a shine.
Dad’s tip: Limes are also high in citric acid so if you prefer the fresh smell of limes then choose these instead.
Alternatively, to save time, choose a grapefruit for those larger areas.
Eco-Friendly Toilet Brush
Regular use of a toilet brush (natural or plastic) prevents the build-up of questionable stains, slime, and gunk.
All of which are breeding grounds for unsightly bacteria and the associated unhealthy aromas.
Scrubbing with a toilet brush only takes a few seconds to do each day.
And is arguably the best and most eco-friendly way to keep your toilet looking clean.
No chemicals required!
Moreover, toilet brushes are now made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo, coconut, and wood.
Plastic-free holders for toilet brushes are also widely available.
Try making yours from an old metal container or glass vase.
It must be recognized however that plastic brushes are in most homes and in a reasonable condition.
It would therefore not be environmentally friendly to discard a perfectly good brush.
Even if it is made from an unfriendly material!
Commercial ( Natural/Vegan/Organic ) Shop-Bought Toilet Cleaner
Eco-friendly commercially produced products that are designed to, “clean the toilet,” should list their ingredients.
Although, by law, they are not forced to list all of them!
They list them to satisfy their eco-savvy customers but not all green products are actually what they purport to be.
To some companies Eco means Economy, but they don’t have to tell you that.
My advice is to always read the ingredients list and if the label is vague, don’t buy it.
Also, try to find products that use recycled material as their packaging as non-recyclable packaging is a dangerous sign.
Companies do like to greenwash and if it’s not transparent, it’s probably not natural.
My Final Words
Why choose to clean a toilet in an eco-friendly way?
Many commercial toilet cleaners have a pretty toxic list of ingredients within their chemical makeup.
All of these ingredients will ultimately be flushed down your loo and find their way into the water system.
Unfortunately, not all of these chemicals will be neutralized by the water treatment works and this is disastrous for the environment.
Moreover, these products emit odors and fine mists of chemicals that are dangerous to YOUR health.
Here are just a few of the chemicals that can be found listed in the ingredients of toilet cleaning products.
- Formaldehyde – a carcinogenic shown to cause mutations in animals.
- Diethylene glycol monobutyl ether – volatile organic compounds harmful to aquatic organisms.
- Chlorinated phenols – respiratory and circulatory toxins.
- Sodium dichloroisocyanurate – very toxic to aquatic organisms – may cause long-term damage to the environment.
- Triclosan – a cumulative toxin, primarily used for antibacterial purposes, but can also damage plant, animal, and aquatic life.
In addition to the toxic chemical consideration, there is also a packaging problem.
Many of these products are packaged in plastic or non-recyclable packaging which are dumped into a landfill.
This packaging may take thousands of years to break down and will leach dangerous chemicals, thus damaging the environment.
So please do your bit. Learn to use nature’s natural cleaners and keep the world alive through love and caring.