Does it gross you out to clean toilets? The cocktail of toxic chemicals in the commercial toilet bowl cleaners should gross you out even more. The warnings on the back of the bottles will reveal the risk involved in using and storing these cleaners in your house – go grab yours and read it, you’ll be surprised, and motivated to ditch it for these natural alternatives.

Homemade Toilet Cleaner

One of our missions at DIY Natural is to help you rid your house of chemical cleaners and dangerous toxins. Before we learn about a few natural ingredients to help keep your toilet bowls sparkling clean, let’s take a closer look at the toxic blue enemy, a.k.a. commercial toilet bowl cleaners.

The dangers of commercial toilet bowl cleaners

Most commercial toilet bowl cleaners contain harsh chemicals that can pollute your home’s environment.

Hydrochloric acid is an active ingredient in many toilet bowl cleaners. This corrosive chemical is extremely toxic, posing an alarming risk to children, pets, and especially the unfortunate family member who has the chore of cleaning toilets.

Inhalation of hydrochloric acid fumes is harmful to the nose, throat, and respiratory tract. If it gets on your skin it’s highly corrosive.

Chlorine bleach is another harmful ingredient. Bleach is highly caustic, meaning it can burn, corrode, or destroy living tissue. In addition to burning your eyes, nose, and skin, it can easily aggravate asthma symptoms.

While bleach and hydrochloric acid definitely give germs and stains the 1-2 punch, it’s not necessary to pollute your home and risk the potential health hazards when disinfecting your toilet. There’s a reason you’re not getting this message from large corporations though, they can’t make any money if everyone starts cleaning their toilets with, say, vinegar. {gasp} Heaven forbid we forgo those blue concoctions that Big Business peddles as “the ONLY thing that can kill germs in our bathrooms.”

Yeah right, we know better.

Natural cleaners for toilets

There are several natural ingredients you can use to formulate your own toilet bowl cleaners. Making your own allows you the freedom to use whichever ingredients you feel are safest for your family, are readily available, and will perform the best.

Homemade Toilet Cleaner 2

White vinegar: You’re probably bored of hearing all the hype on green-living websites about how wonderful vinegar is for natural cleaning. But I can’t stop singing its praises. Vinegar is a mild acid. It disinfects, eliminates odors, and is extremely safe. (Find white vinegar here)

Borax: Contrary to inaccurate information on some websites, borax is NOT the same thing as boric acid (which is toxic). It is actually sodium tetraborate, and is only as toxic as regular table salt or baking soda, in very LARGE amounts. Borax is a great multi-purpose cleaner that whitens, deodorizes, and removes stains. (find borax powder here)

Lemon juice or citric acid: Citric acid, also found in lemon juice, binds to minerals in the toilet bowl making them easier to eliminate. It may help diminish tough toilet stains left by hard water. (find citric acid here)

Essential oils: Pure essential oils are some of the best secret weapons to use in DIY cleaners. Many of these plant-based oils boast antibacterial, antiviral, and even antifungal properties. Tea tree oil has been studied more than any other essential oil, and has been found to kill most forms of bacteria when added to cleaners at a 0.5% – 1.0% concentration. (Read more about tea tree oil here.) Other essential oils that possess antibacterial properties, and are beneficial in bathroom cleaners are lavender, citrus oils, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus, among others. (find 100% pure essential oils here)

Baking soda: Baking soda is wonderful for scouring and deodorizing a toilet bowl. It doesn’t possess any germ-fighting benefits, but it will help keep your bowl free of debris, stains, and those ugly rings. (find baking soda here)

Homemade Toilet Cleaner Formulas

Take your pick from these natural toilet bowl cleaners that we use and love.

Tea Tree Toilet Bowl Scrub

This deodorizing formula utilizes the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil to kill germs in your toilet bowl and on toilet surfaces.

  • ½ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon tea tree essential oil

Combine vinegar and essential oil in a small spray bottle. Spray vinegar mixture inside bowl, and also on toilet seat, lid, and handle. Allow cleaner to sit for several minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside toilet bowl and scrub inside of bowl with a toilet brush. Use a clean dry cloth to wipe vinegar solution off seat, lid, and handle.

Heavy Duty Toilet Formula

This toilet bowl formula can take care of nasty rings in your commode, or any other tough toilet cleaning. It leaves a sparkling bowl and eliminates stale toilet odors.

  • 3/4 cup borax
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or squirt bottle. Swish water around inside of toilet bowl with toilet brush, or simply flush to wet the inside of the bowl. Pour the entire mixture into the toilet bowl, and allow to sit for several hours or overnight. Make sure family members do not use the toilet during this time. Scrub the bowl and flush toilet to rinse.

Lazy Day Toilet Scrub

For no fuss toilet cleaning, keep a spray bottle of vinegar and a shaker-top bottle of baking soda in your bathroom. When toilets need cleaning, spritz thoroughly with vinegar and allow to sit for several minutes. Sprinkle baking soda inside the bowl, scrub the inside of the bowl, and flush toilet. To clean the outside surfaces just spray with vinegar, let stand a few minutes, and wipe clean.

A naturally clean home

Adopt one of the easy recipes above for cleaning your toilets, or experiment with the natural ingredients discussed in this article to make your own formula.

If you’re on a journey to living a healthier , more sustainable lifestyle – eliminating chemical cleaners from your home is probably already on your list. If you haven’t completely switched over to natural cleaners, we challenge you to take small steps until all your cleaners are natural and homemade.

Need help? We wrote a book that walks you through making all your own natural household cleaners. You can find it here.


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DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. says

    Thanks for the new ‘recipe’. I use my own laundry detergent, foaming handsoap and general cleansers, and just made some dishwasher detergent last night. I will definitely be trying out your toilet bowl cleaner. In the article, you mentioned using rosemary oil, which I have on hand. Was it suggested because of its smell, or does it have disinfecting – and other – properties good for cleaning germy surfaces? Thanks for your series on diy cleansers. What an easy way to save a wad of money!

  2. Leah says

    I would be afraid that the soda or borax would counteract the acid in the vinegar and make it uneffective.Should I worry?

    • Megan Bazzett says

      Any metal hydroxide (like baking soda) neutralizes acid, like vinegar. Maybe try using them separately…?

  3. says

    I have purchased your book and use this recipe on my toilet that my 4 boys use- the toilet comes out great! Thank you for sharing this info. I’m very happy to now be cleaning my home without toxic chemicals!

  4. says

    I had a friend who used a pumice stone bought from the local hardware store to scrub off the toilet rings that had accumulated. She had to wrap her hand in a dishtowel to use it, but doggone it if it didn’t work!

    (I just use baking soda and a scrub brush. I’m not pumice stone hardcore yet.)

  5. Ford Twintee says

    Love the article, do you think I could take my employer to court for making me use store bought chemicals to cleanse our restrooms?

    Thanks – Ford Twintee

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Interesting question! I have no idea if this one would stand up in court, especially since a large percentage of the country is still using chemical cleaners.

  6. says

    Keep in mind also never to mix ammonia with clorine bleach as the combination of the two creates toxic fumes in large quantities.

  7. Rosemarie says

    I am wondering about the effect of the borax or the baking soda and vinegar on my septic tank??? I just dumped the recommended enzyme treatment down there two nights ago to maintain the septic tank. Would any of this counteract or interfere with the enzymes? Can you give me a reference I can check? Thanks.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      The vinegar mixed with essential oils will keep for quite some time. (It’s hard to give exact exp. dates with homemade formulas.) I would recommend storing the solution in a dark cupboard so the essential oil isn’t constantly exposed to light (which causes it to degrade).

  8. sage_brush says

    I’ve tried every kind of natural thing for toilets. Nothing works on rust stains except Bar Keepers Friend. We have some rust even with an iron filter and water softener. BKF gets rid of ALL kinds of stains on my old white porcelain.

  9. Noah says

    Are you positive about HCL (hydrochloric acid)? In my research, HCL is akin to salt or even sea salt. I’m not sure why you think salt (HCL) is so toxic. please inform me if I am mistaken. Thanks.

  10. Paula Saville says

    I love using vinegar and baking soda for cleaning, but for toilets I use store brand denture tabs. Just drop one in and wait a few minutes then swish. There is something about the blue or green color and the fizzing that I like.