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You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who looks forward to the day they have to clean out their icky toilet bowl. Yet, the task is an essential element on your bathroom cleaning checklist so you can avoid an unsightly, smelly, and unhygienic situation.
Fortunately, there are plenty of toilet cleaners available to make the task easier—there are gels and sprays you can apply, as well as disposable wands, and more automatic options, like tablets for more of a “set it and forget it” type clean. There are even more natural options for those who rely on a more delicate septic system.
No matter what you’re on the hunt for, one thing’s for sure: These are the best toilet cleaners to keep your bathroom in tip-top shape.
Best Overall: Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Bleach
Liquid is light and hard to see
Because this toilet bowl cleaner contains bleach, it’s super tough on everything—stains, odors, and bacteria. In fact, it kills 99.9% of germs and viruses, so as long as you follow the package instructions about how long the solution has to sit, you can be sure you’re getting the most thorough and powerful clean possible.
The packaging is also designed with a special ergonomic nozzle that’ll help you reach all the most hard to reach nooks and crannies—like the area at the top of the bowl. Just note: Since the solution is a light color, you’ll need to pay particular attention to where you’re squirting the liquid to ensure full and ample coverage.
Amount: 24 fluid ounces | Type: Gel | Scent: Rain clean | Weight: 1.5 pounds
Best Budget: Clorox Disinfecting Bleach
Powerful disinfecting and brightening properties
Very strong smell
If you’re trying to stick to a budget, bleach is a great alternative to a traditional toilet cleaner, since it’s a relatively inexpensive—and highly versatile—cleaning product.
This particular bleach is highly concentrated, so you don’t have to use as much liquid, granting you more bang for your buck. Still, it’s just about as powerful as you can get—when you follow package instructions, this disinfecting product kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. It’s also highly brightening to keep your porcelain throne sparkling white—even if its prone to rust or water rings.
Amount: 121 fluid ounces | Type: Liquid | Scent: Unscented | Weight: Not listed
Best Eco-Friendly: Grove Co. Toilet Brush with Replaceable Head
Made of recycled materials
Mold- and bacteria-resistant
Heads are replaceable
Not a substitute for deep cleaning
Even though you undoubtedly need some sort of solution or table to give your toilet a regular deep clean, it’s a good idea to have a brush on hand for quick refreshes in between. This toilet brush is a great option, since it’s much more eco-friendly than other traditional plastic versions of the utilitarian item.
This germ-resistant brush is made from recycled aluminum and plastic, plus features a replaceable brush head, so you can easily swap out that dirty brush without sending the whole thing to a landfill somewhere.
The whole thing comes with a convenient stand that’s filled with diatomaceous earth. Sounds fancy, right? It is—the natural rock absorbs excess water, plus resists mold and bacteria to help extend the usable life of the brush.
Type: Brush | Scent: Unscented | Weight: Not listed
Best for Septic Systems: Method Cleaning Products Antibacterial Toilet Bowl Cleaner Spearmint
Requires a little more elbow grease than some products
If you have a septic system, you know the last thing you want to do is flush something down your toilet that can cause costly damage—no matter how effective it may be. That’s why it’s imperative to stick to septic-safe household cleaning products—products that are free from petroleum-based solvents—including toilet cleaners.
This toilet bowl cleaner, like all Method products, is safe for use with septic systems. But you won’t sacrifice cleaning prowess to the benefit of your plumbing system. The formula uses citric acid and proprietary “powergreen” technology to eliminate germs and clean stains off of your toilet bowl. Doing so is easy—just squirt the product in the bowl, let it sit, and then scrub before flushing to remove the cleanser and any grime.
Amount: 24 fluid ounces | Type: Liquid | Scent: Spearmint | Weight: Not listed
Best Tablets: Vacplus Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Tablets
Helps keep the toilet clean longer
Water is always blue
Not a substitute for deep cleanings
If you're looking for an easy solution to cleaning your bowl without having to use a brush, try these tablets from Vacplus. The more automated solution doesn’t take much–all you’ll need to do is drop a tablet into the tank of your toilet.
Each tablet lasts for 5 to 7 days (or 20 flushes daily), helping to eradicate bacteria and leaving your toilet bowl cleaned of grime build-up, disinfected, and free from unpleasant odors. You’ll know it’s time to put in a new tablet when the original one has dissolved in the tank and the blue fades.
Amount: 20 tablets | Type: Gel tablets | Scent: Lemon | Weight: 1 pound
Best Wand: Clorox Toilet Wand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System
Kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses
Not as eco-friendly as some other options
You may be a little grossed out by the brush at the end of your toilet bowl wand—and for good reason. This cleaning device spends a lot of time swishing around all that gunk in the toilet bowl and then sits in a wet container that houses it. Instead of the traditional toilet brush, you may want to opt for a more disposable option, like this one from Clorox.
Here’s how it works: Attach a disposable pad to the wand, then use it to clean out the bowl. Each pad is cleverly designed, so that it fits nicely even in the small, tight areas like the space on the underside of the bowl. Once you’ve completed that task, simply hit a button on the wand to release the pad into the bowl, and pop it off and into the trash.
Amount: 16 pads | Type: Disposable brush | Scent: Rainforest Rush | Weight: 1.2 pounds
Best for Rust: Iron OUT Automatic Bowl, Repel Rust and Hard Water Stains with Every Flush Household Toilet Cleaner
Continuous cleaning solution
Not a substitute for deep cleaning
If your toilet bowl is plagued with rust stains, don’t tire yourself out trying to scrub, and scrub, and scrub. Instead, give the throne a thorough clean to tackle any existing stains. Then, make your life easier by dropping a tablet of Iron Out into the tank of your toilet.
Once you’ve dropped that tablet in, it’ll repel any new rust stains from forming in your toilet bowl, springing into action every time you flush. Each tablet lasts for around 45 days and can be used safely, even if you have a septic system.
Amount: 6 tablets | Type: Tablets | Scent: Unscented | Weight: 6.7 ounces
Best for Hard Water: Lemi Shine Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Tough on water stains and limescale buildup
If you have hard water in your home, you know what a toll it can take on all of your appliances, including your toilets. When you have this type of water, your toilet will be more prone to limescale buildup and stains like water rings. And you’ll need something tougher than your average toilet bowl cleaner to keep your throne in tip-top condition.
The Lemi Shine Toilet Bowl Cleaner will do just the trick, since it’s formulated with citric acid to wash away tough stains and eliminate gunk. And though an all-natural product, that citric acid leaves a very pleasing and fresh lemon scent behind to help eliminate odors in what’s surely your stinkiest room in the house.
Amount: 24 fluid ounces | Type: Liquid | Scent: Lemon | Weight: 1.75 pounds
Best Automatic: Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Bowl Cleaning Gel Starter Kit
Automatic and continuous cleaning
Helps prevent rings and limescale buildup
Not a substitute for deep cleans
Each stamp in this "set it and forget it" toilet bowl cleaning set will keep your toilet bowl clean for up to 12 days. You simply “stamp” a single disc onto the inside of your toilet bowl. Then, with each flush, the solution will help to clean and deodorize the toilet bowl, eventually dissolving altogether. That’s when you know it’s time for a new stamp.
In addition to cleaning and deodorizing, the product helps keep toilet rings and limescale build-up away, so you can extend the time between your regular deep cleans. Just note: The stamps don’t disinfect, so you definitely don’t want to skip those cleanings altogether.
Amount: 6 stamps | Type: Gel | Scent: Rainshower | Weight: 1.34 ounces
Go with Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Bleach (view at Amazon) for a highly-effective way to keep your toilet cleaned, disinfected, and deodorized. But if you’re looking for a more versatile cleaning product that won’t break the bank, a single jug of Clorox Disinfecting Bleach (view at Target) will do the job—and others, like laundry or cleaning your kitchen sink—just as well.
What to Look for in a Toilet Cleaner
There are several types of toilet bowl cleaners, each of which requires a varying level of effort on your part. First, there are traditional cleaners—liquids or gels that you apply to the bowl then scrub with a toilet brush. There are also toilet bowl wands that come with disposable cleaning heads, eliminating the need for a brush—particularly nice if you’re skeeved out by storing a used wand. Finally, there are pods or discs that work in your toilet's tank every time you flush for hands-off cleaning that’s still effective enough for standard messes (i.e. weekly cleaning).
Though scent doesn’t have any influence on efficacy, a pleasing aroma can make the dirty job a little more enjoyable. Toilet cleaners come in all types of fragrances, from more florals to citrus. Just remember: If you’re sensitive to synthetic fragrance, you may want to opt for an unscented cleaner.
The best toilet bowl cleaners are all effective for everyday cleaning, but if your toilet has hard water build-up or rust stains, you may need a specialty product that will target the root cause of the issue. Look for a cleaner that’s marketed toward your particular need. Just note: These types of toilet bowl cleaners tend to be stronger and have harsh ingredients like bleach that help remove the tough stains and kill bacteria. These chemicals can be dangerous if you have pets, kids, or a septic system. If that’s the case, you may want a gentler, more natural product that requires a little more elbow grease.
How often should you use a toilet cleaner?
It’s always a good idea to clean your toilet any time it’s visibly dirty, but as a general rule of thumb, you should schedule bi-weekly, or twice per week, cleaning, since this plumbing fixture harbors the most bacteria and germs, says Kathy Cohoon, director of franchise operations of Two Maids & A Mop.
How do you use a toilet cleaner?
Before you do anything, pay attention to how your toilet brush looks, says Umberto Griccino, a commercial plumber. If it's anything but white, toss it and get another one. And if possible, choose something that can be thrown away or washed after each use, he recommends. Once you have the right brush within arm’s reach, begin by applying the toilet cleaner to the bowl as close to the top as you can get it. Then allow it to soak for a few minutes. While it's soaking, clean the outside of the toilet with a disinfectant. Next, use a scrub sponge to clean the outside of the toilet. Once the outside is clean, use a toilet brush to clean the bowl. If you have hard water stains, a pumice stone can help remove them, he adds.
Are toilet bowl cleaners safe for septic tanks?
If you have a septic tank, toilet bowl cleaners and bleach- or chlorine-based cleaners should be avoided or seldom used, says Griccino. If you use them too often, they can cause your septic tank to back up. “Look for chlorine bleach or chemical sodium hypochlorite on product labels. Using these can cause septic tank backups, contaminate your drinking water, and cause foul odors.”
Why Trust The Spruce
Madeleine Burry has written for the Spruce since 2019, covering crafting, home, and pets. You’ll find her writing elsewhere online at Livestrong.com, Health.com, Apartment Therapy, and other outlets.
This article was later fully updated by Brigitt Earley with new product picks to reflect the latest and greatest toilet cleaners on the market. Brigitt has been writing for The Spruce since 2018, but has over 12 years experience writing for a wide range of publications including Real Simple and Good Housekeeping. She’s written and edited hundreds of articles in the cleaning space and made her final selection of products based on her own experience, expert recommendations, and bestseller lists across multiple retailers.