What Causes Toilet Bowl Ring And How To Prevent It?

One of the most common bathroom issues is that nasty toilet bowl ring. No matter what you do to it, sometimes it seems like it just won’t go away! Most homeowners don’t know what causes toilet bowl ring, and what they can do to prevent it.

Luckily, there are ways to get rid of this stubborn stain. However, to fully understand the problem, there are some things you need to learn. So, what causes toilet bowl ring, and what are some prevention methods? If you’re one of those people that want to have a sparkly-clean toilet, you’re on the right spot.

What Is a Toilet Bowl Ring?


Do you sometimes see the dirty ring on the edge of the water level of your toilet bowl? That is called a toilet bowl ring. Toilet bowl rings come in several colors, such as:

The color of the ring depends on what’s causing it. The same goes for its texture. Some toilet bowl rings look like you have dirt collecting in the water. Others look like your toilet bowl is stained.

Having a toilet bowl ring doesn’t necessarily mean a toilet is dirty. Still, noticing it is never pleasant, especially if you’re expecting guests who might see it in a recent time. Knowing what causes toilet bowl ring is essential for its prevention.

What Causes Toilet Bowl Ring?

There are many different causes of toilet bowl ring. One thing they all have in common is that the constant shift between dry and wet conditions helps their creation. You can typically know what’s causing them by their color and texture. Here are of most common causes of toilet bowl rings.

  • Fungus

Microorganisms love wet conditions, and bathrooms are like a heaven for them. This includes bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungi alike. Also, this is one of those reasons why it’s never okay to allow pets to drink water from the toilet. Microorganisms reproduce in moist areas, where they can cling to something and stay in large groups. The standing water of your toilet bowl is a perfect example of the conditions they love.

Also, this is why they love collecting in the shape of a ring around your bowl. They will cling on the edge of the toilet, forming a round shape. The edge of toilet water serves as a perfect environment for their reproduction and multiplying.

If you notice a dark green ring that goes all around the edge of the toilet water, chances are you have a problem with mold. Dark grey rings are typically other types of fungus and bacteria.

If you look closely at this kind of ring, you can notice how it is a bit fuzzy and irregular. This is proof of fungus growth. If you let it be for a week, you could see a rapid increase in growth and fuzziness. The longer you leave it like this, the faster it will grow.

  • Bacteria

Some rings can even be colored. What causes toilet bowl ring in color pink or bright red, another commonly seen stain? While many would guess it’s caused by iron, this usually isn’t the case. In fact, bacteria called Serratia marcescens, also known as pink slime, is the culprit behind the pink toilet ring. This bacteria lives in showers, bathtubs, and even toilets. It leaves pink stains, which is noticeable in the toilet bowl as well. People confuse this with iron stains, which are more orange in color.

Another way to know that the ring is caused by Serratia marcescens is to flush the water. If the pink ring doesn’t disappear, then you know what the culprit is. This bacteria can be very hard to remove from the toilet, and it’s always better to prevent it altogether.

  • Mineral Deposits

Calcium deposits in toilet can also result in toilet bowl rings. These mineral deposits appear as all of us have hard water to a certain extent. Calcium isn’t the only mineral found in hard water. There is also a concentration of iron and magnesium dissolved in water. This buildup can make your toilet bowl very difficult to clean after some time passes. As the water from the toilet bowl slowly evaporates, these minerals have nowhere to go. Instead, they build upon the bowl, creating these rings.

Calcium and magnesium look like grey to black stains surrounding the water in the bowl. Iron, on the other hand, leaves distinguishable orange to red stains. The same mineral can also cause a brown stain in bottom of toilet bowl.

The harder the water in your household, the faster the toilet rings will appear. Believe it or not, most people that use well water have more minerals in their water compared to city residents. This is because most people from urban areas use some kind of water softener.

Water softeners do a great job of removing a big amount of minerals from the water. However, even they can’t remove everything. If you don’t clean or use your toilet regularly, stains can appear no matter what you do.

How to Get Rid of Toilet Bowl Ring?


Now that you know what causes toilet bowl ring, you need to know how to get rid of them. While prevention is the key, if you already have a stain it’s too late to talk about that. You also have to know some methods for removing toilet rings once they appear.

Before you begin, you should always protect your hands with rubber gloves. Toilet water contains many bacteria even right after you’ve flushed. Also, in case you’re using bleach, never mix it with anything other than water. If you do so, you’re risking dangerous chemical reactions that can ruin your toilet bowl or even hurt you.

Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are harmless items that are a part of most kitchens. However, when used in combination, they make a powerful cleaning tool. They are a great solution for toilet bowl rings.

  • First, pour one cup of white vinegar inside the toilet bowl. Swish it around with a toilet brush, then let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda inside the toilet bowl, then pour two more cups of vinegar. This will create frizzing, so don’t get scared. Leave everything for around ten minutes. Swish it once again with the toilet brush, as you want the solution to get everywhere.
  • Let everything sit for around half an hour. Swish it with the brush from time to time, cleaning as many stains as you can. If anything remains after this, use a scrubby sponge.
  • Finally, flush the toilet to rinse everything.

Borax and vinegar

Borax is a cleaning product that is stronger than baking soda. Because of this, it’s a great solution for those persistent stains that just won’t go away.

  • Sprinkle a quarter of a cup of borax inside the toilet bowl, then use a toilet brush to swish it around.
  • Add a cup of vinegar, swish it again, then let everything sit for around 20 minutes.
  • Finish by swishing the toilet brush once again. Remove any remaining stains either with a brush or with a sponge.
  • Flush the toilet to rinse everything.


Bleach is a very strong substance that you have to be careful with. As we’ve mentioned, be careful not to allow it to come in contact with other chemicals. Also, this is not a good method if your toilet bowl is made from sensitive materials, such as porcelain. And remember to use pure bleach, not cleaners that contain it. Believe it or not, these cleaners can make mold and bacteria stains permanent.

  • Pour one cup of liquid chlorine bleach inside the toilet bowl and let it sit for around half an hour.
  • Scrub the toilet bowl with a toilet brush.
  • Flush the toilet and make sure all of bleach is rinsed off.

How To Prevent Toilet Bowl Ring


No matter what causes toilet bowl ring, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes, these stains can become permanent, so it’s better to prevent them from appearing altogether. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a stain that keeps reappearing.

First off, good toilet hygiene is the key. Don’t do anything that can cause clogs, such as flushing paper towels or throwing things inside the bowl. Clogs can prevent you from flushing the toilet regularly, which means more stagnant water. This will result in more microorganisms that create a toilet bowl ring.

Other than using and flushing your toilet regularly, there are a few more things you can do. The goal of prevention is to stop any buildup and any microorganisms from growing inside the bowl. The best way to do so is to apply a small amount of cleaning agent whenever you use the bathroom. The cleaning agent will stay inside between uses, preventing anything from growing.

If this is too much for you, try using it once a week. While this isn’t as effective, it’ll likely still kill any microbes before they get out of control. You can use liquid bleach for this part, as well. Liquid bleach can stay in your toilet for several hours, even after you’ve flushed it.

Another good method is to find a good automatic toilet bowl cleaner or dual flush toilet. You simply apply these products onto your toilet bowl and forget that they’re there. Automatic toilet bowl cleaners will pour liquid bleach or other solution after every flush.

There is no need to remember to pour it automatically every time you use the bathroom. Just make sure your toilet bowl can handle the chemicals the cleaner is using.

Lastly, you can clean your toilet bowl with borax once a week. This is similar to the cleaning method we’ve explained. Pour a cup of borax inside the toilet bowl right before you go to bed. Using a toilet brush, ensure it gets everywhere. This includes the bowl itself, all its sides, as well as under the rim.

Let it stay overnight. In the morning, use a brush to scrub everything. You don’t have to go overboard. A quick scrub will do. Flush the water to rinse everything. This will clean your bowl from not just toilet bowl rings, but from any stains and odors, as well. It’s an effortless method to keep your toilet sparkly clean all the time.

Bottom Line

No matter what causes toilet bowl ring in your toilet, this is never a pretty sight. Not just that, but these stains can be very hard to remove. Using natural methods is always better compared to cleaning with harsh chemicals.

However, sometimes there’s nothing else you can do. Because of this, you should always prevent the problem instead of waiting for it to happen. Maintaining your toilet bowl regularly will keep your toilet looking good all the time. At the same time, it can be beneficial for your health.