How to Clean a Toilet With Vinegar

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This may seem like a bit of a strange topic to write about, but if you’re wondering how I get by without commercial cleaners, then here’s how we clean the loo – naturally.

To clean the toilet, firstly, I pour a little undiluted white vinegar in the bowl and let it sit for a while. Then I sprinkle some bicarb soda around the bowl. I have a cheap plastic kitchen shaker that I store the bicarb in. Bicarb is a wonderful cleaning agent and a quick scrub with the brush gets rid of any stains in the toilet bowl.

There’s an ad on television at the moment for toilet cleaner which states that bleach doesn’t get rid of all the germs in the inside of the bowl. While I used to use bleach, I didn’t feel good about washing it into our waterways. I’m not worried about bacteria in the toilet because we don’t put our hands in it, and vinegar is an antibacterial – it will kill most germs anyway.

Once the inside is clean, I use my homemade spray and wipe for the rim, seat, lid, everywhere else. The spray has tea tree oil in it, which is also an anti-bacterial, along with the vinegar.

Finally I add a drop of pure essential oil in the bowl, the bin and on the inside of the toilet roll for a fresh smell. I like Manuka oil from New Zealand, which is a kind of woody, foresty smell and is also anti-bacterial. I imagine it’s probably not going to be everyone’s favourite smell. With three drops, the scent isn’t too strong and usually lasts almost a week.

As far as toilet spray goes, I do use it although I haven’t always. Of course, I make my own toilet spray. It’s very easy, just fill a spray bottle with water, add a drop or two of biodegradable detergent, and a few drops of your favourite essential oil, shake and use. I estimate it to be about 50c or less a bottle. I assume that the detergent acts as an emulsifier for the oil and water to mix, but I’m just guessing and you can leave it out.

I really enjoy nice smelly stuff, but am allergic to artificial fragrances and to me they all smell like fly spray anyway. The essential oil combination I use for my air freshener is 10 drops each of lime, grapefruit and orange and 5 drops of patchouli which is a woody smell also. The patchouli gives a nice undertone to the citrus. Citrus oils are among the cheapest, so I generally buy those as well as lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus. The great thing about making your own, is that you can customise it to exactly the smell that you like.

The upside to using homemade cleaners is that it’s really cheap, it’s environmentally friendly, it reduces waste, it’s non-toxic and it’s effective. If you use natural cleaners, I’d love to hear your methods for cleaning.

Imaged by Arthaey, used under the creative commons licence.


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  1. Great tips. I’ve been using bleach and haven’t felt great about it either, so I’m keen to give your method a try. I use vinegar and bicarb already for the sinks and drains.

    1. Thanks. Yes, I’m a big fan of vinegar and bicarb – I use it on everything with a little tea tree oil thrown in. It gives a ‘clean’ smell which gives you that psychological satisfaction that the place is clean.
      Thanks for the comment! :)

  2. I’m working in community nursing and trying to “encourage” a move away from chemicals when we go in to clean our client’s homes.

    We are talking SERIOUSLY horrible living conditions here, i.e. toilets that haven’t been cleaned since the 1960s, yellow walls from years of nicotine build up.

    Wondering if you have a super strength cleaning formulation? Or just change the ratio of vinegar to water (more vinegar).

    1. Hi Wendy,

      I would try a stronger solution of vinegar. Nicotine build up might come off with bi-carb, but after years of build up, it may not. Still bi carb and vinegar will probably do just as good a job if not better than your usual chemicals (in my opinion anyway) tea tree oil or eucalyptus or similar as an anti-bacterial (also air freshening as well).

      Sounds terrible, I can only imagine. It’s so great that you’re helping with these living conditions and you want to move away from chemicals!! And of course vinegar is cheaper and therefore more affordable, although I’m guessing that’s not the real issue in this case.

  3. Mixing bicarbonate with salt hand water to make a paste will create a scrub that can move just about any grime (like in the bath and shower) then spraying with vinegar leaves it sparkley