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How To Remove Limescale From a Toilet Below the Waterline

Everyone’s toilet is sometimes plagued by limescale. While it is certainly an unseemly sight, it does in no way mean that you don’t clean your toilet often enough, or that you have poor habits in general. 

When you do notice that annoying buildup below the waterline, you may find yourself wondering what the simplest way to remove it will be, one that won’t take up all day, and that won’t damage your toilet bowl either. 

Here’s everything you need to know about this common but irritating household chore.

How to Remove Limescale from a Toilet Below the Waterline?

You can remove limescale from a toilet bowl below the waterline either by using a natural ingredient, such as baking soda or vinegar, or with a commercial limescale remover. 

Depending on the state of your toilet and the amount and thickness of the limescale, you may also need to use a special toilet brush or even a sanding sponge, to get rid of the most persistent stains. 

What Is Limescale?

Limescale is a chalky mineral deposit, consisting of mostly calcium carbonate. It most often occurs in areas with hard water, anywhere water stands for a prolonged period of time. 

Limescale is most often brownish or orange, but it can also be grey and off-white. Its colour will depend on the minerals present in the water. For example, iron causes reddish stains. 

While limescale buildup isn’t easy on the eyes, the worst part about it isn’t its appearance though, but the damage it can cause. When left untreated, it can clog up pipes and impair the functioning of all kinds of appliances, from kettles to washing machines.

Why Does Limescale Build up in the Toilet?

There are two main factors that contribute to the buildup of limescale in a toilet. 

The type of water running through your pipes is one culprit. If it’s rich in minerals, especially calcium carbonate (which happens to act as a pH stabiliser), the water will be hard, and limescale will build up over time. 

The age of your toilet also plays its role. New toilets usually come with a protective enamel layer that does a semi-decent job of preventing limescale formation. As using and scrubbing the toilet naturally damages it, limescale will begin to appear over time, especially along the areas where your toilet’s flush power is the strongest. 

Older toilets are usually more severely plagued by limescale, as their protective layers have been washed away ages ago. They may have accumulated stains that will now be virtually impossible to remove without damaging the bowl. 

How to Remove Thick Limescale?

In order to remove a thick layer of limescale, you will need to employ a strong scale remover. 

Luckily, there are plenty of different products on the market, so you will be able to find a solution that works on your specific type of limescale. Don’t worry if not all of it is removed in the first go – you may just need to try a different product. You should also try repeating the process a couple of times with the same product, just to give it a chance to reach all the various layers of that thick limescale buildup. 

Before you use your limescale remover, make sure to empty the toilet bowl, if you are to remove those stains below the waterline. If you don’t, the product will get diluted and it won’t be nearly as effective. 

If you are using scale remover tablets on the other hand, you will still need the water to dissolve them in. 

To drain the toilet, you will first need to turn off the water supply to the tank. Flush your toilet, so the tank is emptied, and then fill a large bucket with water. Pour that water into the toilet bowl, and watch as most of it drains away. Then just use a sponge or a towel to scoop up what’s left. 

The drier your toilet bowl is, the better the scale remover will work, so wipe your bowl clean, ideally after you have given it a bit of a scrub with your usual toilet cleaner, to get rid of any non-limescale stains. Then just follow the instructions that come with your limescale remover. 

You will need to apply the product and let it sit for a while – sometimes even overnight. You should then also use a brush with a D-shaped head to get into all those curves and edges. The stains may go away without the scrubbing, but thick stains usually require some elbow grease. 

How to Remove Limescale from Toilet with Baking Soda?

Baking soda is a natural product you can use to remove limescale below the waterline. 

You will first need to empty your toilet bowl, and then apply a mixture of 6 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water. The paste should be on the thick side, and applied directly to the stains. 

Let it dry and then use a brush to scrub away the limescale. You can also try a sanding scrubber, if a regular brush doesn’t get the job done. 

More stubborn stains will require several rounds of scrubbing, and you may also need to turn to another limescale removing agent. 

How to Remove Limescale from Toilet Using Vinegar?

Vinegar is another popular natural cleaning agent that can help you remove limescale from a toilet bowl below the waterline. 

Empty your toilet bowl first, and then pour a bottle of undiluted white vinegar right in there. Let it sit for at least 4 hours (or longer). You should note that you will most likely need to keep the bathroom door closed, as some of the smell will seep through, even with the toilet seat down. 

You will then again need to apply some elbow grease and use a special brush or scrubber to get rid of any stubborn stains. You can also throw some lemon juice in there, as its acidic properties will help dissolve the stains too. 

Flush the toilet when you are done, and you’ll hopefully be stain-free. If not, repeat the process, or turn to a more aggressive scale remover.

Wrapping It Up 

Limescale is an inevitable part of life, and it is simply bound to build up at one point or another. By regularly scrubbing it away below the waterline of your toilet, and cleaning your toilet regularly in general, you should be able to keep it at bay, and in general, spend less time removing it, than if you were to allow it to reign unchecked for a long period of time. 


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