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How to Clean a Toilet Tank in 5 Steps + Maintenance Tips!

white porcelain toilet next to lime coloured wall

If you thought the shower drain or the underneath of the sink was one of the most neglected areas of bathroom cleaning, think again! There is one place that almost everyone overlooks, and that is the toilet tank! In fact, no one even considers lifting the lid to take a peek inside until something goes wrong with the functioning of the flush. That’s typically when you find the inside of your toilet tank in a very sorry state!

From dirt and grime buildup to mineral deposits and rusting; the components of your flush tank, as well as the interiors, are prone to such contamination and buildup which, collectively, emit a peculiar odour over time. Even worse, they cause internal parts to deteriorate quickly and therefore, require frequent repairs. 

So, to keep your flush tank hygienic, running smoothly, and smelling good, open it up and give it a good clean at least once in six months. Here is a stepwise guide on how to clean your toilet tank, along with a few tips to maintain better hygiene and functioning of the flush. Read on!

What You’ll Need

assorted bathroom cleaning products in a blue bucket

To clean inside your toilet tank, round up the following items:

  • (Non-bleach) Disinfectant spray
  • White distilled vinegar
  • (Non-bleach) All-purpose cleaner
  • Cleaning brush (with a long arm)
  • Sponge/soft scrubber
  • Rubber gloves

Now, let’s move on to the cleaning process.

Step 1: Drain the Tank

man draining water from dirty toilet tank

Before you pull the flush to empty out the toilet tank, you need to shut off the water supply that refills the tank. This valve is typically situated on the wall behind the toilet bowl or beside it. Once the water is shut off, take off the tank lid, and pull the flush. It’s important to flush out all the water so you might have to do this 2-3 times before the tank is empty. If needed, use a sponge or absorbent cloth to soak up any remaining water at the bottom of the tank.

Step 2: Assess the Inside of the Tank

person wearing yellow gloves lifting up lid of toilet tank

For a routine clean up that basically deals with mild dirt and grime, all you need to do is scrub and rinse each component and wall inside the toilet tank using a multipurpose cleaner and scrubber. On the other hand, if you are dealing with hard water stains, mould, or discolouration, you will require a cleaning approach that effectively kills bacteria. For this, vinegar is the recommended cleaning agent as it helps dissolve mineral deposits and combat mould spores. All you need to do is fill the toilet tank with equal parts water and white vinegar, and allow it to sit overnight. 

NOTE: You will not be able to use the toilet during this time so plan your cleaning time accordingly. 

Step 3: Scrub Inside

Before and after contrast of a toilet tank that has been thorougly cleaned

Drain out the vinegar and proceed to clean the inside of the toilet tank. Begin by spraying the components and walls with an all-purpose cleaner, followed by a scrub-down using a cleaning brush (for the walls and bottom of the tank), and a sponge or soft scrubber for the flapper, ball float, and other internal components. As you go about the scrubbing process, rinse off the cleaning tools under running water when they begin to get dirty, and the interior surfaces with mugs of water before continuing to scrub them until you are satisfied with the results. Flush out the dirty water as the level rises and resume the cleaning process. 

Step 4: Rinse Thoroughly

contrast of a toilet tank being rinsed with detergent and water

Before you refill the tank, rinse off the inside thoroughly with a hand shower or mugs of water, and pull the flush to drain it. You might need to do this a few times until all the dirty water has been flushed out of your toilet tank. Avoid filling the tank from the water supply as this will only take longer, and won’t be as effective as manually rinsing off each internal part and interior wall of the toilet tank. 

Step 5: Disinfect the Toilet Tank

cross section of a dirty toilet tank being cleaned

Lastly, spray the inside with a disinfectant to ensure that there are no traces of harmful bacteria left. Check the label for the product’s recommended dwelling time; after the disinfectant has had enough time to actively kill bacteria, you can then proceed to place the lid back on and open the valve to the main water supply for the toilet tank to fill up. 

NOTE: Don’t forget to clean the lid of the tank with your chosen multipurpose cleaner and a scrubber before placing it back. 

Tips to Keep Your Toilet Tank Clean

man placing cleaning tablet in white porcelain toilet tank

Depending on the amount of usage, type of water (hard or soft), and other factors such as mould and mildew, there are few measures you can take to maintain a clean and sanitary toilet tank. Take a look below:

  • Purchase toilet tablets for the tank to prevent the buildup of minerals and fungus such as mould. Be sure to look for tank tablets that are bleach-free as anything containing bleach will corrode metal components inside the tank overtime. 
  • Drain the flush tank every two months and allow it to soak in a water-vinegar solution overnight (refer to ‘step 2’). Rinse the inside thoroughly before refilling the tank to use again. Vinegar will help kill bacteria and neutralise peculiar or foul odours.
  • Deep clean the toilet tank using the guide above at least twice a year, or as and when the tank is grimy/dirty upon inspection.

The sooner you get that initial deep clean of your toilet tank over with, the easier it will be to maintain! Don’t be discouraged if you find the inside of the tank looking heavily discoloured and dirty; just follow the cleaning guide above and by the end of it, your toilet tank will look as good as new, function better, and smell great!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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