Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cheap green tip: toilet cleaning

I have mentioned before that one of the drawbacks to the "yellow, let it mellow" method of saving water (in other words, not flushing after #1, unless the bowl is filling up with paper or we have guests) is that your toilet bowl gets dirty pretty quickly and needs to be cleaned every couple of days.

I had heard about the method of using baking soda and vinegar to clean a toilet bowl. As anyone who has ever made a "volcano" in fourth grade science class knows, mixing these two items together produces quite a reaction.

I was skeptical, however, because I have found the mix of these two to be less than effective in another often-recommended green household tip: freeing clogged drains. The idea is to add one cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda to the drain, wait 15 minutes, and then pour in a kettle of boiling water. When I've tried this, water may begin to trickle down what had been impassable pipes, but the drain never completely clears. This method might be good as a way to regularly maintain your drains and prevent clogs, but clearing already existing ones? Not so much.

So, how to clean my toilet? I've tried several homemade tricks: using baking soda alone, using vinegar alone, and using a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mix. None of these works very well. I read a list of the best "green" toilet cleaners, and Clorox Greenworks was recommended. I've tried it, and it does work. However, with every other day cleaning, you can go through a bottle very quickly, so it's not very cost effective.

This week, I found myself out of Clorox Greenworks toilet bowl cleaner and a dirty bowl, so I thought, why not try the baking soda and vinegar method? It couldn't be any worse than anything else I'd tried. Here's the method: add 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda to your toilet bowl. Wait about 10 minutes until the two stop reacting, and then scrub your bowl with a toilet brush.

It worked! My toilet bowl was sparkling afterward. My guess is that the chemical reaction between the two helps scrub the stains, in a way that vinegar alone or baking soda alone can't do. Best of all, this method is cheap!

Update: The baking soda and vinegar method even cleaned the ring around the toilet bowl in our second bathroom. This ring had been there since before we lived there, I think because my in-laws rarely used that toilet. And now it's gone! The natural method strikes again!


  1. Toilet cleaning is important.
    This way is useful and cheap.^^
    Great info. Thank you.

  2. have to love baking soda & vinegar!!!