A loose toilet seat is a common problem caused by the constant opening, closing, and sitting that eventually loosens the bolts securing the seat to the body of the toilet. It can be uncomfortable because a loose toilet seat slides around. It's also a potential danger: you could unexpectedly fall off and hurt yourself, so don't delay tightening it. As DIY home repair projects go, it is about as easy as it comes—all that's required, usually, is a screwdriver. On rare occasions, you might need pliers, a ratchet wrench with a deep socket, an adjustable wrench, or a specialty tool that comes with a toilet seat tightening kit (see below).
You won't be able to fix a loose toilet seat if the holes in the toilet bowl rim are too large for the bolts holding the seat. No matter how much you tighten them, they will quickly loosen. If your seat is still in good condition, you'll need a tightening kit or simple inexpensive rubber bushings to add to the bolts to stabilize the seat.
Equipment / Tools
- Pliers (optional)
- Ratchet wrench with a deep socket (optional)
- Adjustable wrench (optional)
- Hacksaw blade (optional)
- Toilet seat tightening kit (optional)
How to Tighten a Loose Toilet Seat With a Screwdriver
A few minutes with some basic tools can keep your toilet seat from wobbling. However, if the seat itself is in poor condition, this is a good time to purchase and install a new seat.
Find the Bolts
Some toilet seat bolts are exposed, but most just have a plastic flap that snaps closed to cover them. Use a screwdriver to gently pry these plastic covers open (you don't want to snap them off) to expose the bolts that secure the seat to the top of the toilet bowl.
Tighten the Bolts
If the bolts have slotted heads, then tighten them by turning clockwise with a screwdriver until they are tight. Tighten the bolts evenly on each side, so that the toilet seat sits level.
If the bolt just spins without tightening, then use pliers to grip the nut threaded onto the mounting bolt from below the toilet as you tighten the bolt from above with a screwdriver. Most toilet seats use steel screws, but on cheaper seats with plastic bolts, be careful not to break the bolts or strip the threads.
Do not over-tighten the bolts or you could potentially crack the toilet.
Tighten From Below
If necessary, you can tighten the mounting nut from underneath. From under the bowl, turn the toilet seat nuts clockwise until they are tight. A ratchet wrench with a deep socket is usually the easiest way to tighten these bolts, but an adjustable wrench can also be used.
Replace the Bolts (Optional)
If the toilet seat bolts break or refuse to tighten, you can purchase replacement bolts at a hardware or home improvement store. Bolts that are frozen may have to be cut off with a hacksaw blade. Use only the blade (not the hacksaw), because it is very thin and will fit under the head of the bolt; it can usually cut the bolt without scraping the porcelain on the bowl. There are also short-handle or mini-hacksaws that are a good choice for working in tight spaces.
How to Use a Toilet Seat Tightening Kit
Several versions of a toilet seat tightening kit are available at home improvement centers and online retailers. The kits include rubbers washers that fit under the bolts to remove extra space that causes the seat to wiggle. A small specialty wrench that will fit most mounting nuts is also included.
Remove the nuts from the mounting bolts and slip the rubber washers onto the bolts from underneath the toilet bowl. Loosely thread the nuts back onto the bolts.
Tighten the Nuts and Bolts
Carefully align the seat, then tighten the nuts fully by hand. Use the specialty tool to tighten the bolts another 1/4 turn to make sure it is snug.
How Often to Replace a Toilet Seat
There's no rule on how often you should replace a toilet seat. In a perfect world, a toilet seat should be fully functional for five to 10 years. But the life of a toilet seat depends on factors such as frequency of use and material. For example, padded ones generally last the shortest amount of time since they crack and discolor faster than wood or plastic.
There are two typical toilet bowl shapes: elongated (more oval shape) and round (shorter than elongated and better for smaller bathrooms). Note which one you have before buying a new toilet seat. If you're looking for an upgrade, consider splurging on a bidet seat for an elongated bowl. Before you buy a new seat, take these steps to ensure your replacement fits:
- Measure your old seat.
- Measure your toilet bowl minus the seat (back to front and side to side).
- Contact the manufacturer of your toilet if it is a specialty size or shape (such as square) for a replacement.