If you live in a house with hard water, it is not unusual for stains to form in your fixtures like toilets, sinks and bathtubs. The two minerals most notorious for causing these stains are calcium and iron.
Iron forms brown stains in fixtures since it combines with oxygen to form iron oxide which is reddish-brown in color. Calcium on the other hand is the one responsible for causing limescale in the fixtures.
Although there are several ways to clean a toilet and remove the hard water stains, I find a pumice stone to be one of the best tools for the job.
A pumice stone is a light and porous volcanic rock that is rough on all sides, which is what makes it perfect for cleaning porcelain/ceramic surfaces. It is formed when gas-rich froth of glassy lava solidifies rapidly.
A pumice stone is quite effective in removing hard water stains from a toilet. It is harder than the minerals causing the stains yet softer than the porcelain and is hence able to get rid of the stains without scratching the toilet.
If used correctly, a pumice stone will not scratch a toilet. A pumice stone will however scratch toilet if it is hard (not softened with water) or if the toilet is made from marble, fiberglass, laminate or even plastic.
Pumice stones are available in physical stores like Walmart or e-commerce sites like Amazon. Given their application in the beauty industry, you can also buy them from spa/beauty shops.
The advantage of using a pumice stone to clean a toilet is that it is cheap, ecofriendly and gets the job done. It involves a bit of manual work but the end result is well worth it.
There are people who prefer using chemicals like bleach or hydrochloric acid instead. While these chemicals will without a doubt clean the toilet, they have adverse effects on the environment, your health and your plumbing.
You should especially not use the chemicals if you are on a septic system. They kill all the good bacteria in the septic system and as a result you will have a lot of sludge in the tank, some of which may backup to your house or clog the leach filed.
Why Toilet Rings Form
Although all the fixtures in your house are affected by hard water stains, toilets are the most affected. That is why you will have a very conspicuous ring around the toilet bowl’s waterline which is known as a toilet ring.
Why is this though? How and why does a toilet ring form?
As I have already mentioned, brown stains in a toilet are caused by presence of iron minerals in the water supplied to your house.
Now the way a toilet is designed, it should have water at the bottom of the bowl at all times. That is the same water that contains iron. Even if it is flushed, it is replaced with more water with iron ions as well.
The reason the ring forms around the water line is because that is where the iron in the water reacts with the readily available oxygen in the surrounding to form iron oxide. That iron oxide (brown) sticks on the toilet bowl over a period of time resulting in a brown ring.
Removing a toilet ring even with chemicals is not easy. And that is where a pumice stone comes in.
What I however need you to understand is that a pumice stone will not permanently remove hard water stains from a toilet or any other fixture. As long as hard water flows to your house toilet rings and other stains will recur after being removed.
The only way to prevent hard water stains from forming on toilets and other fixtures is by installing a water softener. In a water softener, hard water minerals are removed through an ion exchange process therefore ensuring the water flowing to the house is soft.
How to Clean a Toilet with a Pumice Stone
Follow these steps to clean a toilet using a pumice stone:
1. Soak the pumice stone in water
As I have mentioned already, you want to clean your toilet without scratching off its finish. To do that, you will first need to make sure that the pumice stone is soft.
Pumice stones are softened by soaking them in water and leaving them there for about 15 minutes. Due to their high porosity, they take in a lot of water fast and soften in the process.
You can put it inside a bucket full of water or even drop it inside the toilet bowl since there is always water in the bowl.
Apart from the pumice stone, the surface of the toilet also needs to be wet. Be sure to splash some water on the spot you are cleaning to prevent scratches.
It is important to ensure that you are wearing rubber gloves no matte how much you think your toilet is to prevent diseases. You will also get a good grip of the pumice stone while scrubbing off the stains.
2. Start Scrubbing
When your pumice stone has taken in enough water and the toilet bowl is wet, it is time to start scrubbing. Where you start scrubbing the toilet matters a lot.
I would recommend that you start with the front side of the toilet bowl. I will tell you why that is important.
If you start scrubbing the toilet bowl and you notice that the pumice stone is scratching the bowl, you can always stop and nobody will notice. That would however not be the case with the back of the toilet bowl which is always directly opposite from the toilet user.
To scrub a toilet bowl properly, pick a spot and begin to scrub back and forth. With time, the pumice stone will start to wear out and form a gray paste.
Do not rinse off the paste yet. Instead, use it together with the pumice stone to scrub the entire toilet bowl and only then can you rinse it off.
When you have cleaned the whole toilet, flush it a few times and check if there are spots that are still stained. Repeat the cleaning process until all the stains are removed.
Alternatives to Pumice Stones for Toilet Cleaning
One decent alternative to pumice stone as a toilet cleaner is a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Here is how you use them to clean a stained toilet:
- Use a toilet plunger to forces as much water as possible out of the toilet bowl then soak the rest using old rags or a sponge.
- Make a baking soda and vinegar paste. Mix baking soda and vinegar to form a paste with a thick consistency. The amount will depend on the severity of the stains.
- Use a sponge to apply the paste all over the toilet bowl.
- Wait for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Use a toilet brush to scrub the toilet bowl till all the stains are removed.
- Repeat the process if necessary.
Another method you can use to get rid of hard water stains from a toilet is scrubbing them off using Shaw’s Pads.
Shaw’s pads are cheap, ecofriendly and most important effective. You can easily get them from the manufacturer’s website or online on Amazon.