What Causes Brown Stains In Toilet Bowls?

The bathroom is among the top areas in your home that spread germs. Toilets, particularly, can get pretty gross very quickly, which is unsurprising given all the events that transpire behind shut water-closet doors. That’s why you should clean your toilet frequently to stay in excellent condition. If not, you could have to deal with the bothersome brown stains in the bowl. But what causes brown stains in toilet bowls, and how can you remove them once they develop?

As per Reader’s Digest, the flooring in your restroom is the filthiest spot, and towels, doorknobs, faucet handles, and toothbrushes are all potential sites for germs and bacteria. Every moment you flush your toilet, microorganisms are sent into the atmosphere and land on this surface, which is not sanitized as regularly as in other places. So, besides the toilet bowl, you should clean other areas of your bathroom regularly, including walls and flooring.

What Causes Brown Stains in Toilet Bowls?

If you discover brown stains in your toilet bowl, the culprit is hardly to do with anything you did while seated on that toilet bowl. High concentrations of naturally occurring minerals such as manganese, calcium, and iron can gradually build up inside your bowl and result in brown stains. The primary source of these brown stains is often corrosion. Brown stains will ultimately form and worsen if you don’t regularly clean your toilet bowl.

These difficult-to-remove stains may also come from the contents of the water in your home. Iron, sulfur, and manganese are common contaminants that are notorious for triggering brown stains in toilets. Moreover, these pollutants can give birth to iron bacteria, sulfur bacteria, and manganese bacteria, which also produce brown stains.

1. Iron, Sulfur, and Manganese 

Iron, manganese, and sulfur comprise an important part of the earth’s crust. It’s not surprising that water flowing across the earth will gather many of these elements. Even water containing more than 0.3 parts per million (ppm) iron or more than 0.05 ppm manganese can cause a yellowish tint to a surface. Manganese stains are usually darker than iron stains because iron stains tend to be whiter.

Brown mineral stains
Brown mineral stains

2. Iron Bacteria, Sulfur Bacteria, and Manganese Bacteria 

Brown traces can also be caused by iron, manganese, or sulfur. These bacteria live in soil or aquifers with high iron or sulfur concentrations. Using water contaminated with these bacteria can cause slimy brown rust to form on plumbing fixtures and toilets.

3. City Water Contaminants

Since city water is treated and cleaned, you would think that it wouldn’t contain any of these contaminants. Some people think that iron and manganese are completely lacking in the city water, but that is not the case. Some people believe that city water contains fewer contaminants than other water. Iron is actually found in many city water supplies. Iron is a very common building material that can cause problems for people who have city water. It’s also a common problem for sewer sludge to be left behind in homes by iron pipes that are crumbling.

Iron is the most likely cause of toilet stains in homes that use city water. Iron, manganese, and sulfur bacteria are less common in city water because they don’t have a significant chance to grow as they do in wells that people have drilled for themselves.

4. Well Water Contaminants

Towns such as Hawthorn Woods, IL, and Fox River Grove, IL, that receive water from other people’s wells can have these pollutants in high levels. Well water does not even have the chance to pass through the city water system and into the house. Iron, manganese, or sulfur can easily penetrate a private well and into your home. And as long as these elements sit in the well, more bacteria will have the opportunity to grow. This is why the spores found in well water are more prevalent than in city water.

Other Causes of Brown Water Stains

Besides creating unsightly brown stains in toilet bowls, iron and manganese can cause many other headaches in your home. Here are other problems these minerals can cause:

  • Restricted water flow and low water pressure
  • Poor smelling and tasting water
  • Damaging residue buildup in water softeners and water heaters 
  • Black, sludgy material when combined with tea or coffee 
  • Stained and faded clothing

Common Toilet Cleaning Mistakes that Trigger Brown Stains

Cleaning your bathroom is not one of the most attractive household chores, but you must get it done properly. It is not only unattractive to look at a dirty bathroom, but it is also a health hazard. Even though your toilet seat may not be the dirtiest in your home, it’s still a place where germs can thrive. Apparently, most toilet seats contain yeast and mold, which could trigger a myriad of health issues for you and your family. 

You must also consider the aerosol effect: Whenever you flush your toilet, and its lid is still up, bacteria in your toilet bowl may spray out to other bathroom surfaces – including your sink, toothbrush, and other things you frequently use within the bathroom. So you must ensure that you always have a clean toilet (and close the lid when you flush it).

It may look like a simple task to clean a toilet, but there are several common mistakes homeowners make while at it. Avoid these mistakes when cleaning your throne to ensure that your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

1. Avoid Corrosive Cleaning Agents

For anybody who wants to clean their toilet more naturally, lemon juice is perfect, thanks to Its acidic content and fresh scent that will spread all over your bathroom. However, lemon juice isn’t mostly recommended as anything acidic can wear out the rubber material in your toilet parts or other bathroom fixtures like the sink. 

Besides ensuring you’ve got a clean toilet seat and bowl, it’s also critical to ensure that your toilet’s exterior is clean. It helps prevent bacteria from growing at locations such as inside your toilet tank, on the handles, lids, toilet base, and even on your toilet brush.

Avoid returning a wet toilet brush to its holder as you are establishing a room for the growth of molds and other bacteria. Once you’re done using it, give it time to air dry before placing it back in its holder. If you lack the patience to wait for your toilet brush to dry, you can buy a modern design that features a replaceable head. 

2. Don’t Forget Other Areas of Your Bathroom

Bathrooms are often the hardest-working spaces in your home. The private room’s constant moisture and the persistent introduction of human waste create perfect conditions for germs to grow and live— on towels, surfaces, your bathroom floor — pretty much everywhere, particularly if you keep your toilet seat up. Every time you flush the toilet, you spray a layer of toxic waste, water, and other microbes and germs on your bathroom surfaces. That should be a good reason to get a weekly mop.

You must learn a few tricks to clean your bathroom in a nick of a second. That includes using a shower vacuum and power drilling to scrub the tub. However, there are a few things that you shouldn’t do when it comes to cleaning and polishing — and, more critically, sanitizing — your bathroom.

3. Quit Applying Harsh Disinfectants to Cleanse Your Bathroom

Customers appreciate the convenience that comes with using a disinfectant wipe to cleanse their toilets. But even if you think you’re killing germs by wiping down the bathroom with a single disinfectant wipe, think again. When you use the same wipe to clean multiple surfaces, you will end up putting more grime on the next one, defeating the job’s purpose. And secondly, in order for a cleaning product to thoroughly disinfect a surface, it takes time to stay on that surface for a long time — often about 5 – 10 minutes — before it can be wiped clean.

The label on disinfecting wipes says that you should wipe the area with enough wipes and let it remain wet for four minutes before it dries. The problem with wipes that disinfect surfaces is that they’ve to be used exactly as the label directs. But if you don’t use them precisely as instructed, you’ll be wasting your time and money.

If you use bathroom wipes, you should toss them in the trash after cleaning the surface, which can be costly. You can save money by taking the time to scrub and clean your bathroom with a sponge. Plus, you will be able to sleep peacefully at night knowing that you did everything the right way.

How to Get Rid of Brown Stains In Toilet Bowl

Toilets are where everyone goes to do their business — and waking up-close-and-personal with a stained toilet bowl is not what you want. Microban conducted a study looking at the insides of five different toilet bowls in five homes and found that the inside of the toilet bowls is contaminated with the most bacteria. Results showed that there were 1,500 bacteria colonies per square inch. 

Microban points to research showing that the porcelain surface in toilet bowls accumulates viruses and bacteria. Imagine those icky liquids are released when you flush the toilet, and they travel six feet up into the air, landing on things like your sink, face towel, or toothbrush. Fortunately for you, we have a simple trick that will make cleaning your toilets a breeze.

There is no doubt you have the ingredient you need in that fridge right now: Coca-Cola. Coke is full of carbonation, making it effective as a toilet bowl cleaner. Pour some Coke down the sides of your toilet bowl and let it sit overnight. When you open the lid in the morning, simply scrub the bowl with a toilet brush and flush the toilet. You’ll notice that your toilet bowl is shiny and clean. So, you don’t have to use harsh chemicals to clean your toilet or deal with brown stains in your toilet bowl.


How frequently should you clean the toilet bowl?

Cleaning your toilet bowl once a week is adequate, but if you can, make it an everyday chore. However, if there are kids who may be doing some dirty work, you should do it more often. 

Is it right to put bleach in my toilet tank?

Never use harsh bleach when cleaning your toilet tank. Bleach will cause severe damage to the inner parts of your cistern. We recommend cleaning the toilet with white vinegar, which you can mix with some water to remove tough stains.

How long should you leave the vinegar in your toilet?

Pour a good amount of vinegar and a pinch of baking soda into your toilet bowls and let them soak for 30 minutes before you flush. When the vinegar is bubbling, get in and scrub the bowl. Put some baking soda and water in the bowl if the lining is dirty. Leave the vinegar on the inside of the bowl for a minimum of 30 minutes, then flush. That’s all you need to do.

Final Verdict

Now you know the most notorious contaminants responsible for those brown stains on your porcelain. Fortunately, cleaning brown toilet stains is not difficult. You simply need a bottle of coke, vinegar, and baking soda to get the job done, especially if the stains haven’t clung on for long. That’s it!


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