UPDATED: How to Clean a Toilet. Or… my toilet brush doesn’t work for crap.

I caught myself muttering in the bathroom the other night as I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed the toilet with sadly limited results.

This toilet brush doesn’t work for crap, I mumbled. Which was true and also true.

My toilet needed help. Medication. A special forces team. Euthanasia. Something. Because the toilet brush + gritty cleaning product + pumice stone can only do so much, apparently. And by “only so much” I mean “not close to enough.”

Thanks to the pencil sketch feature in my photo editing software, I’ll show you exactly what I mean without, I hope, grossing either of us out. I still want to be able to make eye contact with you at the grocery store, after all.

For the first time ever on the world wide web, I’d like to introduce you to my toilet, post-scrubbing, complete with water rings and bottom build-up and a hefty dose of ew.

photo 1 (45)

This will either make you feel not so alone or vastly superior, so I figure it’s a win/win. If you just ran gagging from the screen, though, I offer my sincere apologies.


photo 3 (32)

Same toilet, friends! After 15 minutes of quality time with a piece of drywall screen.

photo 2 (51)

Thanks to my friend, Jenn, who dropped this tip at book club the other night, my toilet has a new lease on life.

As for me, I’d like to be put in charge of marketing this miracle product. My campaign will go like this:

Drywall Screen: It Works for Crap


P.S. As Greg likes to point out, drywall screen is just heavy-duty sandpaper minus the paper so it doesn’t get soggy in water, and using sandpaper on porcelain means scratching can occur. I figure we have two options, and we already tried the first, which is protecting the porcelain under layers of gross. Risking a scratched bowl? A worthy alternative, in my opinion. But use at your own risk, K? K.

P.P.S. If you have other unusual, magical cleaning tips, please share! 



I’m not saying I never clean the toilet. I’m just saying my son thought it was an occasion worthy of a homemade card.

photo (45)

Also, my expression while cleaning the toilet? He nailed it.


ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. […] Drywall screen. If you buy some, I will clean the toilet. […]

  2. I swear by The BathStone. We have really hard water and no mater how much I clean we eventually end up with stains. I picked thus up on a whim one day and fell in LOVE.


    I buy mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

  3. Oh my goodness, I LOVE the card! What thoughtful children you have! 🙂

  4. It didn’t chant my life at all, actually, but it totally changed it.

    There you go, click the link that says “toilet grunge getting you down?”

    I bought his Johnny mop and safety
    foam and I actually don’t hate cleaning my toilets anymore. And they get clean in a matter of minutes.

  5. Maybe someone already mentioned this, I’m on my phone so can’t check, but have you seen Don Aslett’s how to clean a toilet video? Chanted my life. Again, too hard to link from my phone but our mutual friend google knows where it is. Basically, those bristle toilet brushes are worthless. You need the soft mop kind (Johnny mop) preferably with a little self squeegee thing on top so no touching thegrossness.

  6. Try using a product called “The Works”disinfectant toilet bowl cleaner. It is around a dollar per bottle. You can find it at any dollar store, Walmart, Target, etc. Squirt about 6 oz in the bowl and under the rim, wait ten minutes, and then lightly scrub with your toilet brush and flush. Viola, you are done! We have horridly hard water here and I was sooo frustrated with icky toilet rings until I found this miracle product. I highly recommend it!

  7. Did you know that a drywall screen also works great on the special spoon used for 3 years like everyday for breakfast, that somehow managed its way into the garbage disposal and made it unsafe to eat with -aka- cut your mouth with every bite? So useful drywall screens are!

  8. We have extremely hard water and I use an industrial pumice stone that I buy at Home Depot for $2. Lasts forever.

  9. I agree with Lemi shine – hands down the best ever!! We have extremely hard water. Rings around the rings. Cleaned off most of the stain, only left a little bit that I could live with. Works wonders on the white residue left on the sinks – just “melt” some of the crystals in a small spray bottle and spritz it on (then I leave it for a bit) and wipe it off. Vinegar does work on some of the residue, but Lemi Shine is way faster, and does work better on the stains.

  10. Oh, I just use a cheap pumice stone from the Dollar Tree (found in the “beauty section”)…works great…but requires actually scrubbing with a pumice stone in water (not fun). I guess I could wear gloves..but who’s perfect?


  11. My tip doesn’t involve toilets, but my glass shower doors. 🙂 I was having the absolute hardest time getting those stupid water spots and soap scum streaks off. I tried EVERTYTHING and I mean everything, things that came with a toxic warning to rubbing shampoo on the glass and spraying it off. (Whomever came up with that is an idiot) Anyway the one thing that worked was Shaklee at ease scour scrub and Shaklee basic H. I made a thickish paste and out it all over the glass waited about 15 minutes and then rinsed it off. Viola! You can see through my shower doors again. It’s magical. The at ease scrub also works like butter in your bath tubs to get the stinky teenage boy grime off, or stinky teenage girl, or even stinky teenager at heart husbands grime. Hope this helps. 🙂

  12. I work at a large orange box store and many people have similiar issues. If you use something abrasive to remove stains on porcelain, apply Gel Gloss afterwards, it’s like a lasting layer that acts like cooking spray in a cake pan. It provides a thin coating covering the porous scratches and doesn’t allow stains to “stick”

  13. My least favorite chore, but one I’m not willing to relegate as I am afraid of the spread of fecal contamination to the rest of the house. Have you ever tried the Clorox bleach tabs? You just dump (for lack of a better word) into the tank of the toilet and viola! Your toilet stays beautifully pristine for much longer and you have less to clean. I like how eco friendly your idea is, but I prefer getting as little hands on as possible.

  14. My least favorite chore, but one I cannot relegate to anyone else as I am more afraid of fecal contamination spreading through out the house. Do you use the clorox bleach tabs that you can dump (for lack of a better word) into the tank of the toilet? These work beautifully and keep the inside of your toilet pristine for much longer. I love them!

  15. Vinegar is my friend! We have lots of calcium in our water and nothing stays clean. Dump in a cup, let it sit overnight, wipe clean. Awesome! However, I still haven’t managed to get the stuff out of the very bottom because it’s hard to wipe in there… and our toilet is only a year and a half old. Bummer.

  16. Bicarb of Soda and Vinegar Volcano. Fun for all the family.

    Dump baking soda/ bicarb into bowl (you can drain it first for best results if you can workout how to) then add in vinegar and watch it fizz! I use it on on the drains as well.

    1. Yes! Great fun and works wonders on a stained toilet.

      1. PS Your “after” toilet looks beautiful! You’ve inspired me to go and clean mine now 😀

  17. My toilet looks EXACTLY like this! Thanks for the tip. Home Depot, here I come!

  18. Well, couldn’t find a decent link, but it’s called “Stearns industrial strength bowl cleaner” and we got it at a farm supply store. It took off stuff in a matter of minutes that even the “extra strength rust remover” lysol kind couldn’t touch. Just dump in a big bucket of water to drain the water out of the bowl first, then squirt in this stuff.

    It’s acid-based though, so if not putting that into the environment is more important to you than a clean bowl, it may not be for you. 😉

    1. But what if not putting that in the environment is more important to ME than YOU having a clean bowl is important to ME? LOL Just playing devil’s advocate here, and pointing out that if some of us are already flushing acid into our water system, then it doesn’t really matter if others of us refrain, since we all share the same water system…

  19. I used to have this problem. boys who NEVER remember to flush + hard water.

    Don’t scour. There’s an industrial toilet bowl cleaner that gets out EVERYTHING. I’ll see if I can find a link.

    Also once it’s clean throw one of those bleach tablets in the tank. No more problem.

  20. I have that same stubborn ring that looks nasty even after I have just scrubbed the toilet. The scientist in me took a Magic Eraser sponge to half of it one day. It did not get the ring completely gone, but did a very good job. 2 weeks later, the Magic Eraser-ed side was still mostly ring-free, while the other side had added even more gross to itself. I now cut the Magic Erasers into quarters and scrub the toilet, then just flush the sponge without even taking it out of the bowl. It is not perfect, but it is much better and does not damage the porcelain.

    1. But is it safe to flush the magic eraser? Does it disintegrate? Or will it hang out in your pipes waiting for its friends to help it make a clog?

  21. I love me some bleach. I keep a water/bleach mix in a spray bottle in my bathroom so I can spray down the shower/bathtub every once in awhile. Living in FL, with our high temps and humidity, bleach is my best friend.

  22. It’s basically just citric acid, so it’s completely harmless, too 🙂

  23. Cool. I used to have some product that looked exactly like the drywall screens marketed toward getting rid of hard water. It always gave me the heebees to clean with it, though. Kind of like scratching fingernails on a blackboard for me. I’ll try the LemiShine for sure. 🙂

  24. Ooh! Ooh! Pick me! Pick me! (*raises hand, jumps up and down*)

    I live in southern Arizona, which if you are not familiar has RIDICULOUSLY hard water. How to get impossible hard water stains and buildup out of our toilet WITH NO SCRUBBING? LemiShine. It s a dishwasher cleaner (and also pure magic in a bottle). I just sprinkle it in at night, and in the morning, run a regular toilet brush around once and flush. My toilet looks like new.

    1. I, also, live in Southern, AZ. Are you guys getting snow?? It was practically a white out here earlier!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.