How to clean limescale from toilets - Expert tricks for a sparkling toilet without using harsh chemicals

5 foolproof (and natural) ways to banish limescale for good

White tiled bathroom with white ladder shelf with plants and circle hanging mirror
(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

If you’re wondering how to clean limescale from toilets, we can sympathise. Just like you, limescale is the bane of our existence. And no matter how many times we clean our bathroom, this limescale just keeps coming back to bite us in the back.

Of course, hard water is almost always the culprit. The curse of hard water can not only increase your water bill, but it can also turn your once-sparkling toilet bowl into a limescale-ridden eyesore that's full of this chalky substance.

But if you want to see your toilet bowl sparkling again, you’ll be happy to know that there are so many ways to clean limescale from toilets. You don’t have to use harsh chemicals, either. Using ingredients you probably already have in your utility room, you can rid your toilet of limescale once and for all. 

How to clean limescale from toilets

‘Whilst bleach is great for cleaning bathroom surfaces, it isn’t great at removing limescale. So, leave your bleach to one side,’ explains Brenna Ryan, Design Expert at Victorian Plumbing. And if you want to save some money (and the environment), these eco-friendly options will definitely get the job done.

1. Use white vinegar and water

White vinegar bottle with a measuring jug

(Image credit: Future PLC/Phil Barker)

Using vinegar to clean the bathroom is a train that you really need to get on. And while there are some things that you should never clean with white vinegar, your toilet bowl is not one of them. In fact, white vinegar can be mixed with a few different ingredients while achieving the same glistening effect.

‘Vinegar is great for removing limescale from a toilet because it’s acidic. The acid in vinegar breaks down the calcium carbonate that makes up limescale, as well as killing bacteria in the process,’ explains Brenna.

Perhaps the easiest way to use this ingredient is to mix equal parts water and white vinegar. You could then pour it straight down the toilet bowl or into a spray bottle before spraying it onto the affected areas. Ideally, let it sit overnight. 

When you wake up in the morning, give your toilet a good scrub with your toilet brush to remove any leftover limescale deposits. Finish by flushing your toilet. 

2. Use Coke

Green bathroom with artwork

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One thing you might not know about this popular fizzy drink is that it’s full of carbonic acid - which (accidentally) makes it a great cleaning product. But we love an accidental cleaning hack at Ideal Home, especially when it cleans a burnt pan.

‘Yes, believe it or not, this fizzy drink actually gets rid of limescale,’ says Nicola Rodriguez, AKA @essexhousedolly. ‘The acid in the product dissolves the limescale - which is why I also use it in my kettle! You can pour a large bottle into the base of your loo and leave it overnight.’ 

You can also give it a little scrub to loosen any remaining deposits before flushing the toilet clean. 

3. Use vinegar and baking soda

White vinegar, lemons and bicarb for cleaning

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You might typically use baking soda when you’re baking up a storm, but this popular pantry ingredient can be used in the bathroom, too. In fact, baking soda is a great option if you want to know how to clean a shower screen. It’ll clean the limescale from your toilet, as well!

‘Using baking soda along with white vinegar will give you double the cleaning power,’ explains cleaning expert Joyce French at ‘The combination of the acidic vinegar and alkaline baking soda work together to dissolve the limescale. As baking soda is also a mild abrasive, this adds to its effectiveness as a cleaning agent.’

By using equal parts of baking soda and vinegar, you should have a clean toilet bowl in under 30 minutes. And if your limescale build-up has affected the rim of the toilet bowl, use your toilet brush to brush the vinegar and baking soda into the affected areas before leaving to sit once again.  

4. Use a dishwasher tablet

Blue bathroom with storage and black toilet seat

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re lucky enough to have one of the best dishwashers in your house, there’s a high chance that you have a whole stack of dishwasher tablets on hand. And while it makes sense to use these dishwasher tablets in your dishwasher, did you know that you could also use them to clean the limescale from your toilet?

All you have to do is drop a dishwasher tablet into your toilet bowl and let the magical product work its magic. You don’t need to scrub, you don’t need to pour anything, and you don’t even have to mix anything together. Simply wait, and that’s it.

After around two hours, you should return to a limescale-free toilet bowl. But it's always give it a good flush before you use your toilet again. 

5. Use vinegar and lemon juice

Metal bowl of lemons on stack of chopping boards

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Although you probably love splashing lemon juice over your pancakes or into your cocktails, there are also so many lemon cleaning hacks out there. And one of the best ways to clean limescale from toilets is to use a mixture of lemon juice mixed with another common ingredient.

‘By adding it to white vinegar, you can create a potent cleaning agent for removing the build-up of limescale,’ says Joyce.

This combination creates a natural cleaning agent that will break down the limescale and leave your toilet looking shiny and new. Simply pour equal parts white vinegar and lemon juice into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a minimum of one hour (of course, keep it on longer if you have particularly stubborn limescale).


How do you remove tough limescale from a toilet?

While it’s possible to use harsh chemicals and supermarket-bought products to remove tough limescale from a toilet, that doesn’t mean that you have to.

There are so many natural alternatives that will do the job without filling your home with fumes, and many of these alternatives can be made using ingredients you should already have at home. 

In fact, white vinegar is often considered to be the most effective limescale remover. You could use this on its own or mix it with lemon juice or baking soda. Then, all you have to do is pour it down the toilet and let it sit. Finish by flushing the toilet and loosening any remaining deposits.

How do you prevent limescale build-up in a toilet?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to keep the calcium carbonate away from your toilet bowl - especially if you have hard water. But the best way to keep on top of it and to stop it from getting worse is to pour a cup of vinegar down the toilet every month. 

This will break down the limescale and stop it from settling around the U-bend or even around the rim. Ideally, you should leave it overnight to really let it get to work. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.