For a long time, toilet bowl cleaner was the only commercially-produced cleaner I consistently purchased. Because I have a little boy and because the bathroom can be quite a mess, I always just bought one instead of even thinking to look about making my own.
Recently, I found a natural toilet bowl cleaner that was on sale that I knew had been reviewed on another green blog and gotten a thumbs up. I just happened to turn it over and look at the ingredients on the back.
Distilled Water, Organic Citric Acid, Organic Acetic Acid, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Organic Glycerin.
Water, acid, acid, yet more acid, thickener and something to make it cling to the sides of the bowl.
Seriously? That’s it??
Yes, apparently so. And just let me say that I was more than a little insulted that a company has been charging $5 a bottle for such super-cheap and easily available ingredients.
I’ve got water, that’s cheap and easy. I’ve got acid in the form of vinegar, that’s also cheap and easy. Xantham gum is to thicken and glycerine is for cling. Is that really necessary?
So I decided to try an experiment. Every night before bed, I’d flush the toilet and then pour in a little vinegar, swish it around and allow it to sit overnight. Then finish cleaning the toilet the next morning
It’s been six months, and so far I haven’t had to go back to a commercial cleaner in order to remove a ring or clean any other stubborn spots.
But I Want to Scrub…
HOWEVER, for those of you who do need some scrubbing action to feel like the toilet is completely clean, I’ve found that a little borax or baking soda in a shaker jar sprinkled on the walls and then brushed will work with no problems.
… and I Prefer Cling
You don’t think it’s clean unless blue gel is glued to the walls for ten minutes? OK, I get it. So here’s how you can make it yourself. And if you’re really desperate, you can dye it blue, too.
Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp glycerin
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until combined. I promise you, it does cling well enough to clean.
But Does It Work?
I decided to not subject you to before and after pictures, since this is a food blog. However, with my level of water hardness, three toilets in the house and two children including one little boy, it has not only worked, it has worked well.
I had one friend with very hard water try out this recipe. She wasn’t able to use it to get a really bad toilet back to visibly pristine, BUT once she had used a commercial cleaner specifically meant to remove the mineral staining to get it cleaned up, daily or every-other-day use of this cleaner did keep it clean. She’s been using it for three weeks and she hasn’t had to return to a commercial product yet.
So, worse case scinario, if you don’t clean your toilet for a week and you have hard water, you might have to use a commercial cleaner to get it back to baseline then you can go back to the natural cleaners. Either way, this will save you money if you only use it when you don’t have a large amount of visible grime clinging to the walls.
Commercial toilet bowl cleaner: $3.50 a bottle, 12 bottles (24 ounces each) a year = $42
Glycerin- 8 ounces for $6.99 = 48 tsp = 15 cents (cheaper if you buy a larger bottle, mine cost 7 cents an ounce)
Xanthan gum- $8 for 8 ounces = 25 Tbs = 6 cents
Vinegar- $3.10 for 2 gallons = 5 cents
water- a penny
Total cost for 1-1/2 cups of toilet bowl cleaner = 27 cents
Total cost to replace one 24-ounce bottle of toilet bowl cleaner = 54 cents
Savings per bottle replaced $2.96.
Total yearly savings: $35.52 if you go through one bottle of toilet bowl cleaner a month.
And If I Just Use the Vinegar?
Vinegar- $3.10 for 2 gallons = $6.20 for four gallons of vinegar a year
Total yearly savings: $35.80 a year if you were going through one bottle of toilet bowl cleaner a month.
As an added bonus, you can now turn this daily chore over to an older child, because you no longer have to worry about the chemicals they could be exposed to. Every morning, whoever potties last flushes the toilet and pours in the mixture. Later, go behind them and swish and flush again to make sure it’s clean and done. However, the chore could be turned over to an older child completely with just periodic inspection by mom.
Yet Another Added Bonus
I grew up in a household with good water- so long as we cleaned the toilets once a week, everything was fine. Then I moved away from that nice, soft water and I found out that many people aren’t that lucky.
I’ve found that so long as we do a quick swish and swipe every day or every other day using the vinegar or the homemade toilet bowl cleaner above, I don’t have to break out the gloves and a brush. To me, that’s a good trade-off. I’m happy with ANY remedy that doesn’t require scrubbing a toilet with gloves and a pumice stone. To me, that’s worth the couple of minutes a day and $5-7 a year for the homemade cleaner.
My Mother in law taught me to train the boys to clean the toilets (actually their father to) because there will be very little mess when they have to clean area! Otherwise the young fellas think it’s funny to have to make someone else do it. From age 6 on they took their turn cleaning.
Will this kill the bugs in a septic tank?
No, vinegar will not kill them unless you’re dumping gallons down the drain at a time, enough to acidify the pH in your septic tank, and that would take a LOT of vinegar! Small amounts of vinegar are completely acceptable.
We have quite hard water and vinegar overnight usually does the trick. If it has been a long stretch between cleanings a pumice stick takes off mineral scale with just a little elbow grease. No way am I going to EVER buy toxic chemical cleaners to clean anything. Besides the assault on my septic system it’s also my dollars helping to support a corporate system of profits above people and unethical practices. Nope. Not gettin’ my dollars.
Julie Sunne says
This post is so helpful, KerryAnn. Thanks for sharing. I will be trying it.
I just keep my toilet bowl cleaner bowl filled with some cheap shampoo – may not be strictly non-toxic but sure is cheap!
I’d like to try the recipe you recommended, but how do you apply it? I don’t have an old toilet bowl cleaner container to put it in, and I’d rather not have to go out and buy a commercially prepared cocktail just for the bottle in which to put my own mix. Do you have any suggestions on how to apply the cling recipe to the sides of the bowl without a commercial application bottle? Thanks!
Tia, I keep it in a container and pour it over the brush, then brush the walls of the toilet. That gets it to where it needs to go without the fancy container.
Is this a one batch recipe or will this be okay in a container? And for how long?
I’ve left it in a container for a couple of weeks with no problem. I think it’s fine to leave, I don’t believe you’d use the whole amount in one use.