Your weekly housecleaning list likely includes cleaning the toilet. You dutifully clean the bowl, the seat and even the base. But did you forget inside the tank? It's an easy spot to overlook since it's clean water going into the tank. But mineral deposits from that water or excess iron can cause staining and rust within the tank.
It's not hard to clean a tank even when these stains set in. But the best cleaning method depends on what caused the stains.
Ordinary Water Stains: Use Vinegar
How can you tell if the staining is just ordinary water stains? Simple – it doesn't' look like rust. In this case, you can skip all of the expensive bleach-based cleaners on the store shelves. Instead, head straight to the kitchen for some white vinegar.
You want to fill up the tank with enough vinegar to cover the stain. "Whoa," you might think, "That's going to be a lot of vinegar!" You can lessen the amount you need to use by filling up a gallon water bottle and sitting it first in the empty tank then filling up the vinegar until the stain is covered. The bottle will help the vinegar raise higher, which means you don't need to use as much vinegar.
Notice the words "empty tank" in the above paragraph? That's because you need to get all the water out of there before you do the vinegar soak. Turn off your water shut-off valve – a twist knob behind your toilet by the floor. Flush the toilet and wait for the water to leave the bowl and the tank to then fill the bowl. Keep flushing until that replacement water is gone.
Pour in your vinegar and allow it to sit overnight before flushing it out of the tank. Turn the water shut-off valve back on and you should be good to go. If stains or buildup keep recurring, you might want to have your water tested for hardness. A water softener from providers, such as Optimum Plumbing LLC, could prevent the staining from happening so often.
Rust Stains: Commercial Cleaner
Minor rust stains might come off with the vinegar trick but longstanding rust will require a commercial rust remover. Make sure you buy a rust remover that specifically states it is safe for toilet use. This means it won't damage the interior of your tank, any of the mechanics in there, or corrode your bowl or pipes when flushed through.
Follow the package directions on the rust remover. You will likely still need to do the tank drain described above. Then you might need to squirt the cleaner around on the rust, allow it to soak for a while, and then try to remove it with a stiff scrubber.