The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners of 2022

Get this bathroom chore done quickly, easily, and admirably well with the right formula for your household.

By Andréana Lefton | Updated Jun 8, 2022 2:13 PM

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Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner, According to Happy Homeowners

Photo: istockphoto.com

Upholding basic sanitary practices to ensure the health of your home calls for regular toilet bowl cleaning. While there are many great products available to help you tackle the job, the overwhelming number of choices can make it quite a challenge to choose the right formula—especially if you’re looking to avoid harsh chemicals like bleach.

Rather than relying on a household remedy or DIY cleaner, read on to learn the key factors to consider when selecting the best toilet bowl cleaner for your household’s needs, and to see our favorites among the best options available today. Each of the top picks below was selected after an in-depth review of the market and thorough product vetting.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Lysol Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  2. BEST BUDGET: Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Tablet 6 Pack
  3. BEST CARTRIDGE: Fluidmaster Flush ‘n Sparkle Cleaning System
  4. BEST CAPSULES: Iron OUT Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  5. BEST GEL: Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  6. BEST CLEANING SYSTEM: Clorox ToiletWand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System
  7. BEST BRUSH: simplehuman Toilet Brush With Caddy
  8. BEST FOR STAINS: CLR PRO Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover
Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Form

There are several types of toilet bowl cleaners: gels, capsules, and cartridges.

  • Capsules offer a less labor-intensive cleaning agent: Simply drop in the tank or adhere to the toilet rim to clean and disinfect. Note that tank tablets often contain caustic chemicals (like bleach), capable of damaging the rubber seals inside your toilet over time. A better option is a gel-based capsule that adheres to the inside lip of the bowl.
  • Gel cleaners demand some elbow-grease, as well as a toilet brush, which also must be sanitized regularly. Today’s reformulated gels are less harsh but just as effective as always (see the section on formulas below for more details).
  • Automatic cleaners attach to the toilet bowl with an applicator for continuous cleaning with every flush. While convenient, most require reapplication after their intended duration period, which is usually every 8-12 weeks.
  • Liquids, the most traditional form of toilet bowl cleaner, typically use a chemical solution available as concentrates and ready-to-use sprays. Unlike other toilet bowl cleaners, these concentrates must be diluted with water first, then added to a spray bottle. The cleaner is sprayed directly to the bowl and toilet rim to dissolve tough stains, then removed with a scrubbing brush.
  • Toilet cleaning systems are convenient all-in-one products that contain cleaner, brush, and storage. The toilet cleaner is integrated into the wand or brush, so there’s no separate powder or spray to use before scrubbing.
  • Brushes are more hand-on tools for scrubbing away tough stains and germs. The shape of the scrubbing head matters just as much as the quality of the bristles. Many standard toilet brush designs can’t get into all the nooks and crannies of a toilet bowl, requiring multiple tools to get it fully clean. Having a brush that’s sturdy and well designed is the best bet for a cleaning tool investment.
  • Newer cartridge technology attaches directly to the flushing system and flow pipe. Installation is simple and there are many benefits, including less risk of damage, a deeper clean, and environmentally friendly ingredients.

Ingredients

Toilet cleaners often arouse the concerns of homeowners who wish to limit their exposure to harsh chemicals. Take bleach, for example. Bleach is a common ingredient used in liquid and capsule toilet cleaners, and though it can kill germs and remove stains, it’s by no means a gentle cleanser. Alternatives to bleach include lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide (oxygen bleach).

Toilet cleaners contain ingredients that disinfect and dissolve stains, destroy bacteria, and reduce sewage odor. These ingredients can be natural or synthetic, and there are pros and cons to each type of toilet cleaner.

  • Chemical cleaners use synthetic ingredients like hydrochloric acid and chlorine bleach. Hydrochloric acid possesses corrosive properties that help power off tough stains. Chlorine bleach is a whitening and disinfecting agent that helps prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Both ingredients can irritate the skin, lungs, and eyes, so if you choose to use them, do so in a well-ventilated area with gloves and eye protection.
  • Natural cleaners typically employ citric acid, baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils to clean toilet stains. Citric acid and baking soda have scouring abilities and properties that help dissolve some stains. Vinegar and some essential oils are used to disinfect. If you are sensitive to harsh chemicals or simply want an environmentally friendly cleaning option, a natural toilet cleaner is the way to go.

Cleaning Power

Toilet cleaners typically have disinfectant and whitening properties, with some ingredients being more powerful than others. Chlorine bleach is a highly effective disinfectant and whitening agent but it can be harsh on the skin, lungs, and eyes and must be used in a well-ventilated area.

Natural and synthetic acids may also be present in toilet cleaners to dissolve stains. Many cleaning products use a combination of acids. The stronger the acid, the more effective the bowl cleaner—but also the more corrosive. So reserve cleaners with potent acids for surfaces with built-up stains and grime.

Lifespan

A gel cleaner is effective and thorough but must be used weekly to keep your toilet germ-free. Capsules minimize labor time, keeping toilet water sanitized for up to 12 weeks. Installing a cartridge system can keep your toilet germ-free and smelling sweet for up to three months.

Scent

Although a cosmetic attribute, scent can make a toilet bowl cleaner more pleasant with which to work. Fragrances such as floral, woody, and citrus are added to enhance the bowl cleaner and also impart that scent to the cleaned toilet. Those who are asthmatic or allergic to these substances should opt for natural alternatives or fragrance-free options.

Ease of Use

Toilet cleaning is one of the least desirable housekeeping chores, so choose a product that’s easy to use to get the job done fast and efficiently. Liquid cleaners are the easiest to apply via a spray or squeeze bottle. Toilet cleaning systems with disposable scouring pads simplify the process too. Powders and gel discs take more time to apply.

Our Top Picks

Choosing the right toilet cleaner will ultimately depend on the type of water in your home, the form you prefer, and how much time you can devote to cleaning. Fortunately, you should be able to find the best toilet bowl cleaner among the following top picks.

Best Overall

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Lysol Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Simply affix the applicator inside the bowl and the Lysol Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner dispenses continuous refreshing action for up to a month. Lysol claims this bleach-free product kills 99.9 percent of germs and viruses.

EWG gives it a B grade for health and environmental factors, noting such concerns as artificial fragrance and the presence of sodium laureth sulfate, which poses certain health and safety risks if overused. The results speak for themselves, however. This easy-to-use toilet bowl cleaner does its job effectively, and its effects are long lasting.

Product Specs

  • Type: Automatic
  • Formula: Chemical
  • Odorless: No

Pros

  • Bleach-free formula
  • Kills 99.9 percent of germs
  • Lasts for 8 weeks
  • B grade from EWG

Cons

  • Presents health risks if overused

Get the Lysol toilet bowl cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Budget

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Tablet 6 Pack
Photo: amazon.com

The Clorox name is virtually synonymous with bleach, so it’s no surprise that the company’s affordable toilet tablets rely on bleach as an effective disinfectant and whitening agent. The automatic-action tablets are dropped into the toilet’s tank, slowly dispensing the product with each flush to continuously clean,  prevent stubborn stains, and deodorize.

Each Clorox toilet tablet lasts for 3 months, available in a 6-pack. The product claims to have a “fresh” scent, but with bleach as the primary ingredient, the smell may be overpowering to some.

Product Specs

  • Type: Automatic
  • Formula: Chemical
  • Odorless: No

Pros

  • Infused with bleach; kills 99.9 percent of bacteria
  • Deodorizing and stain-removing
  • Lasts for 3 months
  • Comes with 6 tablets

Cons

  • Strong bleach smell

Get the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Cartridge

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Fluidmaster Flush 'n Sparkle Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaning System
Photo: amazon.com

Combining the latest technology with environmental friendliness, Fluidmaster’s toilet cleaning system is a winner on all fronts. Its easy-to-install cartridge injects cleaning solution directly into the overflow tube of the flush valve—a process that can prevent the sort of damage that bleach tablets can cause to toilet parts and septic systems.

Flush ‘n Sparkle cartridges last up to three months and while the new product is not yet graded by EWG for environmental standards, this automatic toilet bowl cleaner does come in a non-bleach version.

Product Specs

  • Type: Automatic/cartridge
  • Formula: Chemical
  • Odorless: Yes

Pros

  • Eco-friendly and easy to use
  • Lasts for 3 months
  • Comes in a non-bleach version

Cons

  • Not EWG-rated
  • Replacement cartridge sold separately

Get the Fluidmaster toilet bowl cleaner at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best Capsules

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Iron OUT Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

With over 6 tablets included per pack, this Iron Out Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner packs a punch for rust, mold, and hard water stains. Though powerful, this automatic toilet bowl cleaner protects the internal workings of toilets as well as septic systems.

Simply drop a capsule into your toilet every 45 days and let it do all of the cleaning for you, hands-free. This method is also odor-free and does not produce a perfumed odor. This pack also comes in a 2-pack and 24-pack depending on your needs. The only downside is that this cleaner cannot be used with bleach for added cleaning power.

Product Specs

  • Type: Capsules
  • Formula: Chemical
  • Odorless: Yes

Pros

  • Removes rust, mold, and hard water stains
  • Safe for toilet and septic systems
  • Lasts for 45 days
  • Comes with 6 tablets; 2-pack and 24-pack also available

Cons

  • Not meant for odor control
  • Should not be used with bleach

Get the Iron OUT toilet bowl cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Gel

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Photo: amazon.com

Created by two dads, Better Life eschews synthetic fragrances, bleach, dyes, petroleum solvents, and phosphates. Even the containers are sustainably designed, using solar energy and biodegradable material.

Unlike many brands, Better Life lists their ingredients, which include lactic acid as a dirt buster and tea tree oil for its disinfectant properties. Squirt it around the bowl and let it set for 10 to 15 minutes before using a brush. EWG scientists give this toilet cleaner an A grade for health and safety.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gel
  • Formula: Natural
  • Odorless: No

Pros

  • No synthetic chemicals, fragrances, petroleum solvents, or phosphates
  • Biodegradable packaging
  • Disinfecting ingredients
  • A grade from EWG

Cons

  • Must soak and be brushed rigorously after applying

Get the Better Life toilet bowl cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Cleaning System

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Clorox ToiletWand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System
Photo: amazon.com

One of the worst aspects of toilet cleaning is dealing with a wet, germ-ridden scrub brush. To the rescue comes the Clorox ToiletWand cleaning system, which eliminates the need to use and store a dirty toilet brush. The system includes a toilet wand, storage caddy, and disposable scrub pads infused with bleach-based cleaners. Each scrub pad refill clicks conveniently onto the wand without the need to touch them.

The hexagon-shaped sponge heads reach under the bowl rim and into the drain for a deep clean, removing rust, calcium, and lime stains as they disinfect with bleach. When done, dispose of the scrub pad in the trash with a click of the button on the wand. The system comes with 16 scrub pads and extra pads are sold separately.

Product Specs

  • Type: Cleaning system
  • Formula: Chemical
  • Odorless: Yes

Pros

  • Comes with a wand, scrubbing pads, and a storage caddy
  • Infused with bleach cleaning solution
  • Wide range of reach
  • Comes with 16 scrubbing pads

Cons

  • Not eco-friendly; scrubbing brushes produce waste

Get the Clorox ToiletWand at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.

Best Brush

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: simplehuman Toilet Brush With Caddy
Photo: walmart.com

The design of the simplehuman features a slender profile that is open at the back for proper air ventilation. The design also allows for you to replace the brush head when necessary—a welcome feature. Based on your personal preference, the use of a brush does not require chemicals to keep your toilet clean, making it harmless for septic systems and the inner workings of toilets.

A great option if you’re short on bathroom space, this toilet brush features stiff bristles to get stubborn stains out of the entire toilet bowl and has a magnetic strip around the collar of the caddy to ensure the toilet brush stays secure when carrying. One con to this design is that the brush might not reach the main drain hole at the bottom of the bowl.

Product Specs

  • Type: Brush
  • Formula: Natural
  • Odorless: Yes

Pros

  • Replaceable brush head
  • Compact design
  • Stiff bristles and stainless steel construction
  • Caddy included

Cons

  • Some users report that this model stains over time
  • Handle may not be very ergonomic

Get the simplehuman toilet bowl cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best for Stains

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: CLR PRO Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover
Photo: amazon.com

Hard water can create unsightly stains that are challenging to clean, but CLR is specially formulated to meet the challenge. It quickly removes a host of toilet offenders including calcium, lime, hard water deposits, soap scum, discoloration, and dirt. The main active ingredients are lactic acid and gluconic acid. However, with no phosphates, ammonia, or bleach, it does not disinfect, so use this product in tandem with a disinfectant for a thorough clean.

Though great for tackling toilets, CLR can also safely be used on such surfaces as plastic, ceramic tile, glass, stainless steel, faucet and shower fixtures, shower doors, fiberglass, and sinks. It’s part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice Program for its effective cleaning power without harsh chemical ingredients.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Formula: Chemical
  • Odorless: No

Pros

  • Removes stains, calcium, hard water deposits, lime, soap scum, and more
  • Versatile; suitable for multiple surfaces
  • Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice Program
  • No harsh chemical ingredients

Cons

  • Harsh smell
  • No disinfecting qualities

Get the CLR PRO toilet bowl cleaner on Amazon and at Walmart.

Our Verdict

With so many toilet cleaning products on the market, it can be hard to know which one is best for your needs. One of the best options overall is the automatic Lysol toilet bowl cleaner which lasts for 8 weeks and is a bleach-free formula that kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. Alternatively, for a budget-friendly option, the Clorox toilet bowl capsules last for 3 months, deodorizes, removes stains, and comes with 6 tablets per pack.

How We Chose the Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners

We researched the most sought-after toilet bowl cleaners in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, ease of use, cleaning power, and longevity.

In researching the best options available, automatic toilet bowl cleaners were among the most popular for their ease of use, while liquids, gels, cleaning systems, and brushes were also viable alternatives. While all of the above top picks are effective at cleaning the interior of a toilet, each also requires limited labour or maintenance to work correctly.

Whether getting hands-on in the cleaning process or allowing the product to work for you, this list provides options that tackle limescale, soap scum, rust, stains, hard water deposits, and calcium based on your cleaning needs. Finally, the toilet bowl cleaners included are meant to last for weeks at a time, with some keeping your toilet clean for over 12 weeks.

FAQs

If you still want more information about buying and using the best toilet cleaner, consider the answers to these commonly asked questions.

Q: Are toilet bowl cleaners safe?

When cleaners are properly used, they are safe. However, before using any cleaner, make sure it’s suitable for the toilet’s surface and your plumbing system. Read labels to see if the product contains chemical ingredients to which you may be allergic or sensitive. When using a bleach-based cleaner, ventilate the area and wear appropriate protective cleaning gear or opt for a natural alternative.

Q: How do I keep my toilet clean naturally?

There are many effective toilet cleaners on the market made from natural ingredients. Cleaners such as Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner uses citric and lactic acid derived from plants and essential oils to remove stains.

Q: What is lime buildup?

Lime is a white, chalky, hard substance composed of calcium and carbonate ions found in hard water. It’s commonly found on and around toilet bowls, sinks, taps, bathroom tiles, and inside washing machines and kettles.

Q: How do I get rid of limescale and soap scum?

A cleaner designed to remove hard water stains such as CLR PRO Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover will effectively remove limescale and soap scum. Apply the cleaner directly to the stain with a brush, cloth, or sponge and let soak for two minutes. Rinse promptly with cold water.

Q: Can I use toilet cleaner for other applications?

Toilet cleaner should only be used for cleaning toilets and not as a general purpose bathroom cleaner. Most of them contain bleach or other disinfecting ingredients and acids that dissolve limescale and soap scum. These ingredients are harmless in your toilet but can damage the finish on other surfaces.