February 26, 2012

Cleaning Week - Day 5 - Toilets

Please clean me!
Today is day five of Cleaning Week and is about cleaning toilets.  Although cleaning toilets isn't a glamorous job, it is certainly a necessary one.


Many toilet cleaners utilize bleach as an ingredient to help with whitening / cleaning, and to kill bacteria that may be present.  According to WebMD bleach is also a dangerous thing to have at home, especially if children are p


  1. Because it's used so frequently, chlorine bleach is the most common cleaner that children accidentally swallow. 
  2. When mixed with ammonia, another common ingredient of cleaning products, and acidic cleaners, such as toilet bowl cleaners, the mixture releases poisonous gasses. 
    1. This is compounded by the difficulty in learning what ingredients are included in commercial cleaners since they're not typically listed on the label. 
If you want to avoid bleach in your home, like we did, you can use safer items that have similar properties to bleach.
  1. For getting rid of mold and bacteria, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide are effective.  (I haven't used hydrogen peroxide since vinegar has worked very well for me.)
  2. To clean and whiten I've had good success with a simple combination of vinegar and baking soda which I mentioned in a post on sinks and tubs, and utilize for many purposes.
In addition to being a health risk if inhaled or swallowed, bleach can also be absorbed through the skin.  Bleach is sometimes utilized to change skin coloration, with potentially disastrous results, as noted in this article from Ghana.  If you've cleaned with bleach before and not used gloves you've probably noticed the rough effect it can have on your skin.

Suggested action steps:
  1. Put baking soda and / or vinegar into bowl.  (We have also used the Seventh Generation Emerald Cypress & Fir before if you want a pleasant odor after cleaning, but I think going forward we'll stick with the vinegar and baking soda.)
    1. For stubborn stains try leaving vinegar in the bowl for a few hours or overnight.
    2. Here are some more detailed instructions and options if my method doesn't work for you.
  2. Scrub with toilet brush
  3. Clean outside of tank with a rag and vinegar
  4. Wait about an hour for vinegar smell to dissipate

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