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Have you ever needed to use the bathroom at someone’s house and found yourself scowling in disgust at the brown stains coating the toilet bowl? Believe it or not, this sight might not directly be anyone’s fault. Luckily, there are quite a few solutions to this problem.

However, knowing what causes brown stains in a toilet bowl is essential in order to successfully get rid of them. If you’re curious to know what causes brown stains in a toilet bowl and how to remove them, reading this blog will give you the answers. You will also have the opportunity to learn some preventative maintenance to avoid them in the future.

What Causes Brown Stains In A Toilet Bowl?

There are quite a few contributing factors to the appearance of brown stains in a toilet bowl. The major causes to be aware of include the following:

Excessive Mineral Buildup

Before the water softener works its magic, the water is considered hard due to the presence of the following minerals: iron, manganese, sulfur, and various bacteria. It is through a water softener that those particles are eliminated. However, sometimes, the mineral buildup can be too overwhelming for the water softener’s technology to tackle successfully.


If you have rusty pipes in your plumbing, the visible corrosion could soon make its presence known via your toilet bowl. This happens because water starts to carry the rust particles, allowing them to spread to other parts of your plumbing system, including your toilet. Letting cold water run for 15 minutes will allow you to flush out those particles, after which a plumber will be able to handle the rest.

Lack Of Cleaning

Falling off your toilet cleaning schedule can allow lots of bacteria to accumulate. The longer you go without cleaning your toilet, the more present the bacteria will become in the form of brown stains. Even mold can form in severe cases.

Removing Brown Stains In A Toilet Bowl

Now that you’re familiar with what causes brown stains in a toilet bowl, it’s time to learn some removal methods. Both of these methods are DIY-friendly, so just pick the one that works best for you. Please note, however, that these solutions are for mild to moderate stains, and severe ones should be handled with substances like bleach.

Vinegar And Baking Soda

The first method for removing brown toilet bowl stains involves the classic combination of vinegar and baking soda. After pouring two cups of vinegar into the toilet bowl, you will use a toilet brush to tackle the stains, then let it sit for a minute before adding a single cup of baking soda, followed by an additional cup of vinegar. Once the solution has fizzed, you can stir it with a toilet brush again, let it sit again, and then do one final scrub before flushing.

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Lemon Juice And Borax

Another DIY solution to brown stains in a toilet bowl involves lemon juice, or citric acid, and borax. You will start by pouring enough lemon juice or citric acid into the toilet bowl to reach the stained spots, as the acidity helps break down the mineral buildup. You can scrub the stains away with a toilet brush after letting it sit. For more stubborn stains, you can sprinkle borax, let that sit for an hour, and repeat the same process. Don’t forget to flush away the substances whenever you are done.

Say Goodbye To Toilet Bowl Stains With ASAP Plumbing Experts!

Aside from using the tips above, you can also perform preventative maintenance, which can include a regular cleaning schedule for your toilet, installing a water softener, and keeping an eye out for leaks or rust in your plumbing system. That said, knowing what causes brown stains in a toilet bowl has definitely enlightened you on what to do differently. But who do you call when dealing with especially stubborn stains? In that case, just contact us at ASAP Plumbing Experts.