Although most people clean their toilet bowls regularly, the inside of the toilet tank is often neglected. Mineral deposits, mildew, bacteria and dirt can accumulate inside the tank, sometimes building up until your toilet smells a bit funky. Fortunately, cleaning the tank with inexpensive, natural products you probably already have in your house can help keep your toilet smelling fresh without releasing potentially hazardous chemicals into your home.

Contemporary Bathroom
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Clean toilet tanks once or twice a year to keep them odor-free.

Preparing to Clean

Step 1

Turn the knob at the base of the toilet clockwise until the water shuts off. Flush the toilet once to empty the tank.

Step 2

Spread a small tarp or an old, large towel next to the toilet or inside the tub. Remove the toilet tank lid and place it on the tarp or towel where it will be out of your way.

Step 3

Put on protective eyewear, rubber gloves and a face mask. Even natural cleaning products can cause eye or skin irritation on contact.

Cleaning Dirt and Bacteria

Step 4

Spray the inside of the tank with a disinfectant cleanser, making sure you thoroughly cover all four sides. Allow the solution to sit for about 30 minutes so it effectively loosens caked-on debris and removes any bacteria.

Step 5

Scrub the inside of the tank using a clean, long-handled toilet brush or a soft-bristled scrub brush, getting into all the little corners and crevices. Use a rag or sponge to gently remove gunk or debris stuck on the rubber stopper and the plastic or metal chain attached to it. Do not alter the fit of the stopper.

Step 6

Wipe off cleanser residue with a damp rag or sponge. Turn the water knob counterclockwise and wait for the toilet tank to fill. Flush the toilet to wash away all cleanser residue.

Removing Slime or Scum

Step 7

Pour undiluted chlorine bleach into a small spray bottle. Squirt the solution directly on slime or scum and allow the bleach to stand for about 15 minutes.

Step 8

Scrub the treated areas with your toilet brush or scrub brush. Pour a pitcher of cold water over the cleaned sections to clear away any loosened scum or slime. Repeat this process until the problem areas look clean.

Step 9

Turn the water supply back on and wait for the tank to refill. Flush the toilet to remove any leftover bleach.

Removing Mineral Deposits and Mildew

Step 10

Pour undiluted distilled white vinegar into your toilet tank until all mineral deposits or mildew stains are covered. Put the lid back on the tank and allow the vinegar to sit for at least 12 hours. This gives the acetic acid in the vinegar time to penetrate and dissolve the minerals or mildew spores.

Step 11

Scrub the mineral or mildew stains with a scrub brush or toilet brush. Rinse your brush frequently and occasionally wipe down the inside of the tank with paper towels to check on your progress. Repeat until the stains are removed.

Step 12

Turn the knob back on so the water starts flowing. Once the tank fills, flush the toilet to remove all vinegar residue.