Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner & All Purpose Cleaning Spray

I really hesitated to do a post about this…because to be honestthe hubster does most of the toilet bowl cleaning around here. But when you think about it…since I am currently the only “girl” in the house…living with 3 menfolk…I think it’s only appropriate. :-) Cuz we all know boys make the toilet area of the bathroom much messier than the girls.

So, at the risk of being hypocritical…and since I have had several people request a Toilet Bowl Cleaner alternative to the store-bought nonsense….here is what I found to be effective.

Baking Soda and Vinegar.
That’s it. 
End of post.
Not really.

While that IS all there is to it…I think when cleaning the loo, the METHOD is just as important as the ingredients. I’ve always thought it was counter-productive to pour toilet bowl cleaner into toilet water and then brush it around. Doesn’t that just dilute the cleaning solution? Not to mention that the BOTTOM of the toilet bowl probably barely even gets TOUCHED by any cleaning solution at all.

So it makes more sense to me to remove the toilet water FIRST, then scrub the bowl. Of course who wants to be scooping TOILET WATER out of the toilet?? Not me!! No thank you! Well, luckily there is no need for that.

Here is a simple way to remove the water in the toilet bowl (without having to touch it), and give it a GOOD CLEANING.

Here is what you’re going to need:

1 cup baking soda (cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours)
1 cup white vinegar (cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up)

spray bottle (optional)

toilet brush

Step 1:  Turn the shutoff valve found under the toilet clockwise until it will no longer turn. The toilet’s water now is shut off.

Step 2:  Flush the toilet and continue to flush, until the bowl no longer fills.

Step 3:  Sprinkle 1 cup of baking soda all around the inside of the bowl, then either SPRAY or POUR white distilled vinegar into the toilet. (There will be some bubbling reaction which is perfectly safe!) I prefer to SPRAY the vinegar, because then I can spray up under the rim. I like to use one of those heavy duty spray bottles sold near the cleaning supplies at the grocery store. They provide a strong spray stream.

Step 4:  When the bubbling has subsided, scrub the toilet with a toilet brush. Leave the vinegar and baking soda in the toilet for a few hours or even overnight.

Step 5:  Scrub the the toilet one more time. Turn the shutoff valve back on, and flush the toilet.

You have just cleaned your toilet bowl for PENNIES and without ANY chemicals.

I have also found that for tough STAINS…THE very best solution is a PUMICE STONE. Seriously, if you don’t have one, you need to get one.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

If you are looking for a good ALL PURPOSE SPRAY for the outside of the toilet…I found this one on AmyBayliss.com that I’m definitely going to make up.  Sounds like a good one.

Ingredients (one bottle):

1/2 tsp of liquid castile soap (I would omit this tiny amount of castile soap after reading this article)
1 tsp Borax
1 tsp of washing soda
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 cups hot water
25-30 drops of essential oil (Tea Tree, Grapefruit, or Eucalyptus would be good.)
24 oz spray bottle

Mix the castile soap, Borax, washing soda, and vinegar in a large bowl or measuring cup. Slowly add the water and stir. Allow it to cool and then add some essential oils. Using a funnel pour it into the spray bottle.

Now you are ARMED AND READY to attack that most dreaded household chore.
The toilet.
But be honest…..aren’t you glad you HAVE ONE to clean? ;-)



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  1. Anonymous says

    you can just SHOVE the water back down into the hole…it really works…I was a skeptic, and now I am a BELIEVER!!
    JUst use a brush like this one(any brand)http://www.cleanreport.com/p1177-Johnny-Mop-Toilet-Bowl-Swab.html

  2. Gumbo Lily says

    For a dry scrub cleaner I use a mix of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part borax and mix it in a cheese shaker. Use it for scrubbing toilets or kitchen sinks and etc.

    I do an all-purpose cleaner too. In a quart spray bottle add 1/4 c. vinegar and a few drops of dish washing liquid. I like to add a few drops of lavender essential oil to it. Fill with water and use to clean anything.

    Love your blog.

  3. Chris says

    I also just push the water out of the bowl to clean while empty. Just use a a rag type plunger and plunge…the water goes down and you can clean, saves water too! Love all of your ideas!

  4. says

    Hi there, i just needed to drop you a line to say that i thoroughly enjoyed this detailed post of yours, I have subscribed to your RSS feeds and have skimmed a few of your posts before but this one really stood out for me. I know that I am just a stranger to you but I figured you might appreciate the admiration Take care and keep blogging.

  5. mamabug says

    My grandma taught me to use a pumice stone on the toilets about 35 years ago. I used to think they were made specifically for cleaning toilets. I was shocked the first time I found one in the health and beauty aisle and was told it was for your feet. LOL

  6. Lisa says

    Reading the article it says that castile soap cancels out the vinegar because one is an acid and one is a base. Borax is a base too. So is washing soda. I use almost an identical spray as you posted for my cleaning (with the castile soap) and I’ve had no problems.

    • Anne says

      It’s true that borax and washing soda are basic while vinegar is acidic. Any of the home cleaning recipes that combine a base and an acid are basically making water (and a salt). It’s better to use just one or the other, not both.

      • BobbieSue says

        The fact that you get a salt is not a big issue. Salts are excellent cleaners. I use salt to clean my cast iron pans and our coffee pot. Chemically speaking soap is a salt, it is the result of a a reaction of a strong base (lye) and fatty acids. Recipes use differing amounts of lye for each oil- based on their fatty acid profile. This is called saponification.

        I make a powder cleanser for toilets, tubs, etc. that uses washing soda and citric acid (base and acid) it works wonders. It reminds me of Comet or Spic n Span that my mother used to use. I also make a laundry soap similar to Jillee’s but with vinegar in the solution. It is amazing. Makes more of a creamy gel than a liquid, kinda like shower gel. I use handmade soap with no surfacants, foaming agents or detergents. The vinegar does not un-saponify the soap. And it does not cause a volcano or weird fumes. I have found that the best soap for the laundry gel is the most basic, a simple lard or coconut oil soap. They clean like crazy and don’t have any of the humectrants or conditioners that are great for your skin but you don’t want for your laundry. I also use the same soap as a “stain stick”. Treat the stain, throw it in the hamper and forget it. My 3 kids have found that it works on just about everything… red grape juice, chocolate, coffee, blackberry juice, blood, grass stains, gravy, mystery “stuff” from the farm that we volunteer at, whatever. Hubby’s industrial/construction stains are another story but no commercial cleaners could handle them either, they are simply part of our life. But we have found that his clothes seem “fresher” than with the commercial detergents, not talking about the scent but the clean. With the regular detergents, his work clothes often needed rewashed because they came out smelling or feeling dirty as well as stained. With the homemade soap they rarely get rewashed, they come out stained but clean smelling and feeling.

  7. says

    Hi, Jill. Thank you so much for featuring my post here. I’m honored. I wanted to point out to that I am writing a book about this and I do have some bio chemical engineers from our local college working with me to make sure the recipes are effective all the way around. I’ve used the original recipe (with castile and vinegar) for years and never had a problem with clumping and it cleans better than anything else I’ve ever tried. However, the acetic acid with soap question is one I have them working on. Their short answer was that some acids and bases actually become more effective when combined. Also, a couple of the other ingredients in the recipe help to balance out the PH levels. That could explain why I have never had the clumping problem. Initial tests at the lab did show that the cleaner (after sitting dormant and mixed for more than 30 days) is very effective for degreasing, removing dirt, and bacteria so the base/acid combination definitely did not effect that.

    However, I am still heavily leaning toward eliminating the vinegar from the recipe and using a straight vinegar spray afterwards as a rinse just because it will eliminate more germs and bacteria that way. I am still awaiting the results to see if that if that will be as effective. I am big fans of Bronner’s and respect Lisa greatly but she does not have all of the factors for each recipe to make a judgement that they are ineffective. I’m sure she would agree. They are good people. Either way, the original recipe cleaner works wonders to clean and if germs are an issue the vinegar rinse afterwards would lay that to rest. I’m all for improvement though so I’ll be sure to share when I discover the results of lab tests. They are testing the ingredients in a variety of ways that I asked for so we’ll see! :)

  8. Niki says

    I’m sure pumice stones do a wonderful job, but if you’re a gardener, like me, you can use what you have lying around. Broken terra cotta pots are my go to for bad toilet stains. They don’t scratch the porcelain and do an amazing job!

    • says

      Mary…..there are no stupid questions on this blog. :-) I didn’t know what it was the first time I read about it either. It is a laundry additive that you can find in the laundry soap/cleaning products aisle at the grocery store. It comes in a yellow box, made by Arm & Hammer. Baking soda will work…but it’s a lot less effective. Washing soda has a pH of 11 (with 7 being neutral), while Baking soda has a pH of around 8.1.
      Hope this helps. :-)

  9. C. Brooks says

    Hydrogen Peroxide is good for disinfectant. I have a friend that is chemical sensitive and she has used it cleaning and disinfecting all bathroom and kitchen surfaces. They even sell it in spray bottles now. Wear rubber gloves.

  10. LDG says

    I use plain white vinegar in a spray bottle as an all purpose cleaner in the kitchen & bathroom. I have also used 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. I prefer the white vinegar. It is inexpensive & it cleans well. The smell subsides in a couple of minutes.

  11. says

    Wonderful post! This is very similar to how I clean my toilet. I have a small spray bottle with vinegar and some essential oils in it (tea tree to disinfect and peppermint for a yummy smell). I spray that in the bowl and then sprinkle with baking soda. I let that sit for about 5 minutes (usually while cleaning something else). Then scrub and flush. DONE! No chemicals, no yucky smell :)
    Also, to save water, you can just plunge the toilet and the water will all go down the drain without the hassle of turning off the valve or the waste of water.
    Happy cleaning!

  12. Cheri says

    So I gather no one here has heard of the alternative to a pumice stone which is a scouring screen called Hannah’s Helper. Used to be able to find it at Albertsons but in ours they no longer carry it or it is always sold out. I work as a custodian and so I have a lot of toilets to clean the rings out of and this works better than a pumice stone.

    • Deborah says

      Cheri, The company that made HH is no longer in business. Katy Industry purchased Wilen in 1998. I searched Amazon & several other sites that usually have things you can’t find elsewhere, but couldn’t find where HH could be purchased. So, maybe KI isn’t making them anymore. Even though I couldn’t find HH, instead, I found the following review for you that mentions an alternative.

      “I discovered something called “Hannah’s Helper” made by a company called “Wilen, A Katy Company. Hannah’s Helper” is (was) an abrasive pad — a “mesh” sandpaper and the packaging suggested that purchasers use it to abrade (or sand) the ring in toilet bowls left by hard water, rusty pipes, poor hygiene, or a combination of all of these factors. Toilets are constructed, in many cases, by manufacturers who label their china product ‘vitreous china.’ As I understand it, toilets are not made of porcelain-covered cast iron but are cast and fired out of special clay and are consequently much more delicate than, say, a bathtub (of the non-fiberglass variety). This “Wilen Company, A Katy Company” produced Hannah’s Helper stapled to a card with an amateur drawing of a toilet and a sailboat along with the lawyer inspired warning in three languages that users should be careful — Hannah’s Helper was so abrasive that it might scratch a delicate surface, like my $750.00 new Toto one-piece toilet in “Bone” color to match the sink and the rest of the tiled bathroom. I sure as hell wasn’t going anywhere near my expensive toilet with Hannah’s Helper, but I could sure think of many other uses for this oddball sandpaper. I purchased all of the Hannah’s Helper that this Lucky store had in December, 2003. I have looked for Hannah’s Helper ever since.

      “Then, on a lark — I searched Google and got a “hit” for Wilen, A Katy Company and then discovered a link to a Texas company called “Birdwell” who manufactures all manner of cleaning products (mainly brushes and brooms) — but they also make something they call “Ring Away” — again with the intent that it be used to clean toilet bowls of rusty rings. Again in the required several languages, there are other suggested uses like swimming pool cleaning, barbecue rack cleaning, and paint removal. The mesh construction appears to prevent or discourage the “loading” of the abrasive pad, so it lasts a lot longer than an equivalent size and grit sandpaper. Yeah — I like it — also the claims that it is proudly manufactured in The US — but I sure as hell won’t go anywhere near my expensive toilet with it!”

      Hope this helps

  13. Linda says

    I love to make my own homemade cleaners. The reason I started this was not only to save money, but as Respiratory Therapist who also suffers from asthma, I think the natural ingredients are much better for you. One thing that still concerns me is the number of recipes that tell you to put the cleaner in a “spray” bottle. A recycled “squirt-type” bottle (think dish soap) is much safer for your eyes, nose and lungs. A spray bottle creates a mist that is easily inhaled. Use a wet cleaning cloth and squirt the cleaner onto the cloth and wipe away.

  14. Angie says

    I have a question. what is the difference between baking soda and washing soda? I have seen several articles that says one or the other. I am a new follower but I love your blog already. Thanks for helping us save money while keeping our house clean.

  15. Kimberly :) says

    Ugh. I hate hard water. I’ve tried this on my toilet bowl and it didn’t help. (But I was amazed and had a little fun trying Karen’s “bucket of water” trick!) I’ve resorted to scrubbing with the pumice stone…again. There just HAS to be something out there that works without poisoning the occupants of our home! I’ve used peroxide, baking soda, vinegar, washing soda, borax, comet, bleach, CLR, Clorox tablets, and Mr. Clean magic sponges. grrrr.

  16. C.W. says

    Great blog! Just want to suggest that you close and reopen your supply water line valves once or twice a year so that when you DO need to shut the water off, you will be able to. I’ve done a few plumbing repairs, and some of these valves have not been moved in years, making them VERY hard to close due to the sediment buildup in the pipes and valves. You may have to work the valve back and forth several times to get it to fully close and fully reopen. Include the ones under the sink, too. Before reopening sink valves, you may want to remove the aerator first, so that it doesn’t get clogged with the sediment (or rust) that may be set free in the water lines by doing this (It will clear out in just a few seconds after water is turned on). A lot of aerators need to be cleaned anyway, and you may be surprised how much smoother the water comes out of the spout after you clean this. Thanks again for the recipe.

  17. Melissa says

    Let me just say that I am a freak about cleaning supplies, that stuff has always been some of my favorite things to get. However, having to buy 1 cleaner for 1 specific thing and so on it gets VERY expensive & cluttering. I LOVE all of these homemade cleansers. I find that I can use them for multiple areas & it’s WAYYYY cheaper than buying them. My sister & I have found that we’ll get together on a specific day and make all of our cleaners (baby wipes, makeup wipes, bleach wipes, laundry detergent, bathroom cleaners, carpet cleaners, the list is endless). And it’s so much safer than store bought cleaners, including the “green” ones. Thanks so much Jillee for all of the tips & recipes.

  18. RuthAnn says

    Thank you for all the cleaning tips!

    For Kimberly with the hard water stains: I know this may not be the most natural, but have you tried denture cleaning tablets? I am in the south of Texas and after hurricane Rita water stayed in my three toilets for a week! Talk about a ring! I plopped in four denture cleaning tablets and let them do their thing. After about ten minutes I scrubbed away my Rita ring.

  19. Chelsey says

    just found this blog, my boyfriend and I just moved into a new apartment (new to us) it’s a nice little place but the tennent before was a male who I don’t think even knew what a toilet brush was. Out toilet had SO much build up I was skeptical it would even be able o be cleaned so today after three weeks of using different cleaners I tried this. I emptied the toilet with a bucket of water and sprinkled on the baking soda then I sprayed on the vinegar and let it bubble away after a few minutes I scrubbed away and almost ALL the buildup is GONE!!! I cant wait to scrub again later(I’m letting the mixture hang out in there for a few hours) I’m so happy, thank you SO much for this!

  20. says

    omg. i ran out of this spray recipe yesterday but of course i didn’t write the recipe down or even bookmark this page, so i have just spent over an hour searching the net for this page. I found heaps of other recipes with similar ingredients and measurements but i was ridiculously stubborn and wouldn’t give up till i found this one. i guess i like this recipe.

  21. karyl says

    hello, just found your blog, do plan on making some of the cleaning items, but 1 that i was interested in is the homemade oxyclean. is the ingredients per a load or how much does it make and how much do u use. thank you

  22. Laile says

    To empty your toilet without turning off the water simply pour about a gallon of water into the toilet; it will empty almost completely. A trick I learned from a professional cleaning service!

  23. JULIE HOLM says

    Thank you so much for the wonderful information–and all the great comments from the rest of the readers.
    I have been sort of stressing over removing stains–wondering what toxic store bought remedy to try–and it
    dawned on me to take advantage of the internet–I forget sometimes that all we have to do is “ask” and
    someone has help.
    I can’t wait to go scrub–and cleaning isn’t my favorite task–as well as using the awful products we’re supplied commercially–so this is a pleasure.
    I, too, have a septic and well water–I am very careful with the septic; never use additives and it only had to be pumped once in 13 years–and only then because I had a new house put on my place. Using these good product will keep that going and be much less expensive.
    Again, thanks to all for the good information.

  24. Megan says

    Sounds great! Looking for homemade cleaning products. Love your website! Have to say just tried (literally today) the baking soda and water “shampoo”….I will NEVER buy shampoo again!! I feel liberated! My hair is soft, manageable. It actual styles better than before! I guess I’ll have to keep one bottle of shampoo handy for guests who forget theirs…:) or I could just make them”poo free” too….haha. I’m working on converting my husband and I’m definitely going to use it on my girls. Thanks!

  25. laura says

    Please help! I have old soap scum on the glass shower doors. nothing we have used has helped
    I continue to spray it with a daily cleaner to prevent more but would love to make the doors
    clear again.

    Do you have a recipe? I heard lemon oil and baking soda but nothing specific.

    Thanks so very much

  26. Ali says

    HI Jillee

    I am worried that the pumice stone would take the ‘finish’ off the interior of the toilet bowl… scratch it… Can you tell me more about how this works?

    we just moved into our current home 6 months ago and I cannot get the rings out of the toilets :S

    Thank you!

  27. Cindy says

    I’ve had problems in the past with pumice stones scratching the toilet, it may be the brand I’m not sure, but I finally found the best thing and it never scratches. You can use very fine drywall screen(sandpaper). It isn’t like regular sandpaper since in drywall you want smooth without digging in. This stuff is like a plastic screen and works wonders; it’s also faster than pumice. You can find it in the sandpaper section of paint at the home improvement stores. Also, I found out later the professional cleaning people use it too.

  28. Grammie says

    I’m new to the computer in general..learning something new from you every day!!Needless to say, I am older than you.been cleaning for years…but you have some of the best ideas on your site! THANK YOU so very much for teaching this “old” lady YOUR “TRICKS”!! kEEP UP THE FANTASTIC JOB YOUR DOING!!!

  29. says

    s queries, especially in regard to cleaning charges, prices of the varied carpet cleaning packages on offer, the solutions and chemicals that they use, how each and every one of their cleaning techniques is done,
    and the qualifications and credentials of their technicians who carry out the actual
    carpet cleaning procedures. This professional carpet cleaning company
    assesses the composition of your carpet to see exactly what
    services are needed. The bottle includes cleaning instructions for different types of stains.


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