Clean Toilet Tanks without Scrubbing! (How to Use Citric Acid) (2023)


Because it's covered and out of sight, it's so easy to overlook cleaning the inside of the toilet tank. Worse, it's harder to clean than it looks because typical methods, like scrubbing, simply aren't enough. In this video, I show you how to clean a toilet tank (no scrubbing) and get rid of stains, germs and rust, using citric acid powder as a surface cleaner.

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Citric Acid Powder (Food Grade)

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Due to its function, the bathroom is one of the most, if not the most damp and humid areas in your house and if nature is left unchecked to run its course.

The bathroom not only becomes a breeding ground for germs, like bacteria viruses and fungi, but also a catalyst for rust, grind and gunk buildup, all of which can lead infections, sickness and accidents to your family.

But the good thing is like many other responsible homeowners.

You clean your bathroom on a regular basis right, and this could involve a range of activities such as sweeping or mopping the floor, to keep it dry, washing the sink to get rid of those toothpaste and soap, stains, scrubbing the walls and disinfecting the surfaces and cleaning your toilet, which brings us to the focus of this video, because there's this one part of the toilet, that's often overlooked and seldom cleaned or has never even been cleaned before, and I'm not talking about the areas under the seat nor under the rim.

What I'm talking about is the inside of the toilet tank because it's covered and out of sight, it's so easy to overlook cleaning the inside of the tank, and this is what happens when it's been ignored far too long worse, it's harder to actually clean than it looks because typical methods like scrubbing, simply aren't enough.

So I'm here to share with you the secret of getting rid of this.

Let's go.

We begin by shutting off the toilet, tank's water, inlet valve and holding down the flush handle until as much water from the tank has drained out, then remove the refill tube from the overflow tube wrap a piece of plastic at least three times bigger than the diameter of the overflow tube over its opening.

Then we secure the plastic in place with two to three rubber bands.

We now have created a water tight seal, which I will explain further in a minute, but first this is food grade citric acid and I bought it online for 185 pesos per kilogram.

Citric acid was first derived from lemon juice by a swedish researcher back in 1784, but today it's mass produced from a specific type of mold.

This is an odorless and colorless compound which almost looks like sugar, but don't let the word acid intimidate you.

While it is stronger than acetic, acid or vinegar, it is way milder than hydrochloric, acid or moriatic acid, and because of its acidic and sour tasting property.

Citric acid is a versatile additive for food beverages, medicines and dietary supplements, as well as cleaning and disinfecting products, and it's that cleaning and disinfecting application we're going to explore today.

In fact, did you know that citric acid is the active ingredient in some bathroom and kitchen cleaning solutions? Now going back to our tank, I pour about a cup of citric acid down to the bottom and don't worry about being super accurate with the measurement.

This isn't a science experiment and with an old tank as huge as this, I would even go as far as pouring two to three cups, just to be sure that the citric acid isn't diluted too much to a point where its cleaning power is weakened.

Then I follow through with a bucket of lukewarm water directly on top of it try to pour forcefully so that the water itself agitates and scatters the citric acid all around.

It's essentially like stirring the solution, as you pour now, some do suggest using heated water because it dissolves and activates the citric acid crystals better.

It's definitely a good option, especially if you live in an area with cold climate, just don't use boiling water or you might damage and warp your toilet tank fittings.

Ok, unlike other videos, you might have seen, I fill up the tank all the way to the brim, because I want this cleaning solution to get in contact with every square inch of the tank's inner walls.

Remember what this solution doesn't touch.

It cannot clean and we don't have to worry about the water level going down too fast, because we already plugged the overfill tube with plastic.

Remember, yes, water might seep out to the flush handle hole, but it would only be minimal so at this point, there's nothing left to do, but let this sit for at least an hour, I'm going to speed up the video and tell me in the comments below if you noticed any change over time.

Okay, I felt like there's too much water in this bag for a cup of citric acid to be effective.

So I'm pouring a bit more citric acid here by the way I already used the initial content of this bag on our other toilet tank.

Let's go there now and we'll come back to this one later so we're here in our second bathroom, where I have already filled up the second toilet tank with citric acid solution.

Basically, I followed the same steps.

I showed you earlier even down to plugging this overflow tube with plastic and rubber bands.

Now water seeping through this flush handle is a bit stronger and why the citric acid solution is now a few inches below the brim.

After a couple of minutes in a previous video, I had dismantled this very same toilet tank brought it outside and tried to clean it before replacing all the fittings, but even after using a pressure, washer and sandpaper, I still failed to clean it to a point where I was satisfied.

So today is round two and I'm hoping citric acid will do a better job.

Unlike the first tank, I'm gonna, let this sit for at least two hours so that we can compare how time factors in to the end results.

Meanwhile, back to our first tank, it's been 45 minutes and so far I can already see the walls of the tank having a much lighter shade.

In contrast, the citric acid solution has turned murky, probably because of all that grime it has dissolved from the tank walls and flooring.

Let's wait a few more minutes until we're closer to one hour.

Ok, it's been almost an hour, so let me flush this now for us to have a better look.

What I will say is compared to when we started off.

This is a much cleaner, looking tank, while there are still obvious light brown stains all over, I'm actually surprised and impressed with how much more grime was still removed, I'm almost tempted to scrub the stains off, but I did promise in this video no scrubbing, but we're not yet done here.

I need to rinse the walls into fittings with water to wash off any residual citric acid and do a second flush to drain out most of the sediments that settled at the bottom of the tank.


Is it just me or did the stains and the walls look even lighter after that? Second flush? Okay, at this point, let me open the water inlet valve and, as the tank is refilling, we can now remove our makeshift drain, plug and remount the refill hose.

So this is what a citric acid solution can do in about an hour with no scrubbing it might not look much, but just to remind you.

This is the before, and this is after.

Okay, are you curious to see what citric acid can do in two and a half hours me too? So, let's head back to our second toilet tank, and I can tell you right now- things here are looking way better, but let's still explore.

If we can take this farther by doing the same steps I did with the first toilet tank here goes, and this is one heck of an improvement remember.

This is what it looked like after already using pressure, washer and sandpaper in my previous video- and this is what it looks like now, after using citric acid and with no scrubbing so, if you have the same situation at home and physics simply doesn't work as a cleaning approach, you now know that there's a better option, chemistry and time.


Clean Toilet Tanks without Scrubbing! (How to Use Citric Acid)? ›

Often hailed as one of the most diverse natural cleaning agents, citric acid is the perfect addition for cleaning your toilet. Its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, de-greasing and whitening power has been used by thousands of people across the globe.

Can you put citric acid in toilet tank? ›

Often hailed as one of the most diverse natural cleaning agents, citric acid is the perfect addition for cleaning your toilet. Its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, de-greasing and whitening power has been used by thousands of people across the globe.

How long do you leave citric acid in the toilet bowl? ›

We know a number of ways to get rid of that stubborn toilet bowl ring and dissolving it with citric acid is one of the easiest. Pour 1 tablespoon of the powder into the toilet bowl, swish it around with a toilet brush, and then let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

How do you use citric acid in the bathroom? ›

To clean your toilet (or sink, shower — anything with stubborn stains and limescale), Kate recommends dropping a spoonful of citric acid onto the problem area, then adding hot (not boiling!) water. “Leave overnight and your toilet is sparkling!” Kate says in her post.

Will citric acid harm toilet tank parts? ›

Some areas where a Citric Acid solution may be useful are: bathrooms, toilets, toilet tanks, kitchens, coffee machines, kettles, dehumidifiers, etc. Since it is a natural product that is relatively mild and safe to use, it may be preferred over more aggressive chemicals for cleaning.

What is the best thing to clean the inside of a toilet tank? ›

Vinegar is a great toilet cleaning solution. Not only is it free of chemicals and naturally antibacterial, it's also an acid, so it will remove minor lime and calcium deposits. All you need to do is pour a couple cups of vinegar in your tank and let it sit for an hour or so, then scrub and flush to rinse.

What is the safest way to clean a toilet tank? ›

Vinegar and Baking Soda Scrub
  1. Drain the water out of the tank.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of Dawn, a cup of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda.
  3. Use the toilet brush to swish it around.
  4. Scrub down the sides and bottom.
  5. Let it sit for about an hour.
  6. Give it another good scrub to get any new stuck-on sediment, algae, rust, and mold.
Feb 25, 2020

What can I put in my toilet tank to keep the water clean? ›

To keep a toilet tank clean over time, some people like to add a cup or two of white distilled vinegar once a month to the toilet tank at night—topping it off to about an inch from the top rim, then flushing it in the morning.

Will citric acid damage porcelain? ›

Not too long, however, because the citric acid naturally contained in lemon juice can damage your tiles and glazed finishes. Then just rub with a scraping sponge and you're usually done. White vinegar is an excellent remedy for lime scale.

What shouldn't you mix citric acid with? ›

Don't use with: Avoid using citric acid at the same time as any retinoid, as this can lead to irritation and redness, says Rodney. If you want to use them both in one day, use the citric acid in the morning and the retinoid at night, she adds.

What not to clean with citric acid? ›

Whilst citric acid is a bit of a natural cleaning wonder there are some things that should never be cleaned using it. Citric acid can etch stone, granite, marble, and quartz surfaces so it should never be used to clean natural stone surfaces. Citric acid also isn't a friend of coated wood.

When should you not use citric acid? ›

Citric acid has corrosive properties and should not be used on natural stone or marble. The acid can break down the coating and leave a cloudy appearance.

Can you pour citric acid down the drain? ›

Before you begin the process of cleaning a clogged drain, get rid of excess water from the sink or washbasin; Afterward, pour into a clogged drain half a glass of citric acid and the same amount of baking soda; Pour warm water over a thin stream for about an hour.

What happens if you put citric acid in water? ›

Mixed with water, citric acid powder makes a homemade miracle solution for most of your tough stains. It is an excellent all-purpose cleaner powerful enough to kill mold, remove soap scum and even tackle rust. It's not dangerous or toxic, although, as with lemon juice, you don't want to get it in your eyes.

How much citric acid do I use to clean my toilet? ›

Citric acid is very commonly used to clean toilets. This is because It smells pleasantly fresh and is less pungent than vinegar. Mix two to three tablespoons of citric acid powder with one litre of water – always add the water to the bucket before the citric acid to avoid splashes.

Can citric acid damage rubber? ›

Unfortunately, this isn't a good idea. Citric acid isn't recommended for cleaning your washing machine because it degrades the rubber parts of the machine.

Is citric acid better than vinegar? ›

Is citric acid stronger than vinegar? No, citric acid isn't stronger than vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar is a lot more aggressive and corrosive when it comes in contact with certain surfaces. But, there are many types of mineral deposits that citric acid can better deal with.

Does citric acid remove limescale in toilet? ›

It's true. To remove limescale from your toilet, simply add some citric acid to your toilet, wait a few hours, and give it a little scrub with a toilet brush for a gleaming finish.

Does citric acid dissolve limescale? ›

Citric acid – (C₆H ₈O₇) pH 2 – is a great addition to your list of natural cleaning ingredients as it's low pH means it is very acidic which means it's very good for removing things like calcium (limescale), rust, and other minerals. It's also useful for killing mould and mildew and can be used as a preservative.

What is the brown gunk in my toilet tank? ›

If there are brown stains, it is probably from iron in your water. If you discover a thick, slimy mess, it is likely from iron bacteria growing in your toilet tank. Iron bacteria is a bacteria that fixes to iron particles in the water.

Can I put CLR in my toilet tank? ›

Over time your toilet water can cause an unsightly rainbow of stains and mineral build up in your toilet bowl. CLR® Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover helps you flush the filth away.

Will vinegar damage toilet tank? ›

Vinegar will not damage your toilet in any way if it's left in your toilet overnight. Regardless of your toilet's material, the vinegar is not strong enough to damage the toilet or the toilet's plumbing. So, you can leave the vinegar in your toilets overnight without worry.

Can I leave vinegar in toilet overnight? ›

You can use straight or a diluted vinegar cleaning solution for the bathroom to clean bacteria, especially around the toilet. Cleaning with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar in the bathroom can work really well. To clean your toilet with vinegar, pour a cup of vinegar in the toilet bowl and let sit overnight.

How do you clean and deodorize a toilet tank? ›

White vinegar and baking soda in equal parts is a cost-efficient and effective means of getting rid odors in a toilet. Add them to the tank, mix them in and then use the toilet brush to gently scrub the tank. Let it sit for a few hours, scrub the tank again and flush.

Can I leave vinegar and baking soda in toilet overnight? ›

For extra-stubborn clogs, you can let the fizz mixture sit overnight or combine this method with plunging. If your toilet remains clogged or continues to get clogged, this may be an indication of plumbing problems such as mineral buildup or pressure issues.

Can I put vinegar and baking soda in my toilet tank? ›

Baking soda and vinegar, when mixed together, can form a chemical reaction that looks sort of like an eruption. This chemical reaction can help clear your toilet and any pipe clogs that you might have.

Can citric acid corrosive? ›

Citric acid LOVES iron. This is why it is so good at passivation of stainless steel and other alloys. But, this also makes it very corrosive to mild steel or "carbon steel". It will, however, never corrode stainless steels in normal situations.

How to use citric acid? ›

Citric acid can be added to your favorite lemon dinner recipe such as lemon pasta or ceviche. It's also a great addition to tomato soup, compound butters, margaritas and more. It will add a kick of acidity to any dish or drink without adding liquid, making it a great replacement for vinegar or lemon juice.

What is a substitute for citric acid in cleaning? ›

However, if you are unable to obtain citric acid, you can use baking soda/powder instead of citric acid but we have not performed any test using baking soda/powder. Kindly make sure that the baking powder is completely dissolved to avoid pipe clogging due to undissolved powder.

What are the risks of citric acid? ›

Ingestion: May cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Excessive intake of citric acid may cause erosion of the teeth. Inhalation: Causes respiratory tract irritation. Chronic: Repeated exposure may cause sensitization dermatitis.

Can you touch citric acid with bare hands? ›

Citric acid is also an eye irritant. Do not handle the solids with bare hands.

What happens if you use too much citric acid? ›

In a 2018 study published in Toxicology Reports, researchers found that citric acid may be linked to inflammatory symptoms, such as swelling, stiffness and abdominal pain.

Is citric acid bad for septic tanks? ›

A: When done with moderation, it is perfectly safe.

Can you clean a shower with citric acid? ›

Citric acid also dissolves stubborn limescale
  1. Citric acid is corrosive. ...
  2. Put the unscrewed shower head in a bowl of water. ...
  3. Dissolve a level teaspoonful of citric acid into some cold water and add the mixture to the bowl.
  4. Move the shower head around in the water so that the acid can get to every part of it.

Is it safe to touch citric acid? ›

Citric acid may cause: Skin irritation. When it touches your skin for long periods of time, it can cause stinging, swelling, or hives.

Can you use citric acid on plastic? ›

Usually, all you need is two to five tablespoons of citric acid per litre of warm water. Brush this solution on the surface you want to wash and rinse well with clean water. For example: It can be used to clean chrome, stainless steel, ceramic or plastic surfaces.

Does citric acid react with anything? ›

CITRIC ACID reacts with oxidizing agents, bases, reducing agents and metal nitrates (NTP, 1992). Reactions with metal nitrates are potentially explosive. Heating to the point of decomposition causes emission of acrid smoke and fumes [Lewis].

How do you make citric acid bathroom cleaner? ›

Mix a Cleaning Solution

Add one tablespoon of citric acid powder per one cup of hot water to a spray bottle. Shake well to mix.

How long does citric acid in water last? ›

Use a funnel to pour the solution into the container(s). Store the solution in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard or closet. When stored properly, the solution can last for up to two years.

Does citric acid dissolve in cold water? ›

Solubility: soluble in Water (1174g/L at 10°C, 1809g/L at 30°C, 3825g/L at 80°C).

How much citric acid to mix with water? ›

Making your own citric solution:

MISC recommends mixing citric at a 1 16% solution or 1.28lb of anhydrous citric acid per gallon of water. The best method is to mix the solution by weight it but if you mix by volume use approximately 2 1/2 cups per gallon.

What happens when you mix citric acid and baking soda? ›

When citric acid and baking soda react with one another, they change chemi- cally and form sodium ions, citric acid ions, carbon dioxide gas, and water. Carbon dioxide gas is a normal component in our air.

How much citric acid does it take to dissolve in water? ›

[dissolve] 2 tablespoons fine citric acid in 1 pint (2 cups) of boiled water; or, if you want to be metric, dissolv[e] 30 ml of fine citric acid crystals in ½ litre (500 ml) of boiled water.

How much citric acid do I put in my toilet bowl? ›

Add around 125 grams of citric acid to your toilet bowl. It doesn't have to be an exact amount, so don't worry about weighing it out. Leave the citric acid in the toilet bowl, without flushing, for at least one hour.

What can I put in my toilet tank to keep the bowl clean? ›

What I recommend, that works well is distilled white vinegar. As far as your toilet to keep it clean inside the bowl. Use 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and poor inside your toilet tank, also pour half of that cup in to the overflow, which is the small, round pipe that stands up in the middle of the tank .

What should you not put in a toilet tank? ›

"The biggest don't when it comes to toilet tanks is bleach—do not use bleach or products containing bleach inside the tank, as it can corrode the internal parts of your toilet. If you are aiming to remove tough stains from the tank, I also recommend white vinegar diluted with water."

What can I pour in my toilet tank to clean it? ›

Vinegar and Borax

Mix 1 cup of borax with 4 cups of vinegar. Leave a couple of inches of water in the tank. Add the mixture to the tank. Take your toilet brush and scrub the inside of the tank.

Can you use too much citric acid? ›

In a 2018 study published in Toxicology Reports, researchers found that citric acid may be linked to inflammatory symptoms, such as swelling, stiffness and abdominal pain. There have been several case reports of patients exhibiting symptoms within two to 12 hours of ingesting foods containing manufactured citric acid.

What is the best homemade toilet bowl cleaner? ›

Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the toilet bowl, let stand a few minutes, brush, and flush. If you have hard water, let the vinegar sit for an hour, and you may have to do some light scrubbing. To remove stains, add 1/2 cup borax to the water, swish it around, and let it soak overnight.

What is the brown stuff in my toilet tank? ›

If there are brown stains, it is probably from iron in your water. If you discover a thick, slimy mess, it is likely from iron bacteria growing in your toilet tank. Iron bacteria is a bacteria that fixes to iron particles in the water.

What are 2 things you should never flush down a toilet? ›

Never flush the following items down the toilet or pour them down a drain:
  • Automotive fluids*
  • Bandages and bandage wrappings.
  • Cleaning wipes of any kind.
  • Condoms.
  • Contact lenses.
  • Cotton balls and swabs.
  • Dental floss.
  • Disposable diapers.

Does vinegar damage toilet tank? ›

Vinegar will not damage your toilet in any way if it's left in your toilet overnight. Regardless of your toilet's material, the vinegar is not strong enough to damage the toilet or the toilet's plumbing. So, you can leave the vinegar in your toilets overnight without worry.

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