Removing urine scale: Tips for a clean toilet


A clean toilet is essential for an inviting atmosphere in the bathroom. Urine scale is not just a cosmetic problem: It also provides a breeding ground for bacteria. Our tips will help you remove urine scale – and stop it coming back.

Urine scale and lime: The cause of staining

Yellow-brown stains in the toilet bowl, on the rim and on the U-bend in the toilets: Urine scale can be an unpleasant and stubborn problem. But what actually is urine scale? Urine scale is a mineral compound created by chemical processes: The lime contained in the water used to flush the toilet reacts with substances in urine. A high pH value means that urine scale is as strong as mineral stone.

The high pH value is caused by bacteria which break down the urea in urine. Urine scale develops faster in some toilets – this is due to high lime content in local tap water. Lime develops as a result of rainwater seeping through different rock layers containing lime Before rainwater reaches the groundwater, it absorbs the lime which then accumulates. 

Lime in water is not a problem as such, but it can cause annoying scale build-ups – including in appliances such as coffee makers and washing machines. The severity of the limescale also depends on the hardness of the water. The lime content of tap water varies from region to region. This is explained by different soil compositions. However, regular cleaning and descaling can quickly remove superficial limescale stains.

How can you remove stubborn urine scale?

The longer urine scale is left in the toilet, the more difficult it is to remove: It forms layers and becomes increasingly strong. If you buy an old house, you might find extensive urine scale in the bathroom. To remove stubborn urine scale, you will need acidic cleaning products. The product will need to be left for sufficient time to work properly. For example, you can soak some kitchen roll or toilet paper with the urine scale remover. Place the paper over the urine scale and leave the solution to work overnight. The next day, flush the toilet with water and clean with a brush. If necessary, you can repeat the procedure several times.

Everyday products to tackle urine scale You can buy special urine scale removers in shops, but some everyday household products are very effective too. In comparison with chemical cleaners, these are usually less harmful for health and the environment. Many of them are also staple items in most homes.

Hydrochloric acid Hydrochloric acid removes even ingrained urine scale quickly and effectively. However, it is very aggressive and can damage the surface of the ceramic bowl, making it more vulnerable to staining in future. The corrosive acid can also be harmful for eyes, skin and airways. Despite its excellent cleaning effectiveness, hydrochloric acid is therefore not recommended.

Baking powder Everyday baking powder contains natron. Sprinkle the contents of two or three little packs of baking powder over stains. Leave the natron to work for one hour. If required, use a toilet brush to remove any remaining residue. Baking powder is an effective and environmentally friendly method to treat urine scale.

Citric acid Citric acid is a good and rather more gentle alternative to vinegar acid. It is kind on surfaces and very effective against minor urine scale. Disadvantage: Citric acid is sometimes not enough to tackle stubborn staining.

Dishwasher tabs If you have a dishwasher, you can put two dishwasher tabs in the toilet bowl and leave them to work for a few hours. Then wipe down the toilet, use a toilet brush to remove any residue and flush with clean water. Disadvantage: Conventional dishwasher products use phosphates which can be harmful for the environment. Environmentally friendly dishwasher tabs use salts (soda), protein compounds and plant surfactants. However, they take longer to work.

Vinegar acid In the evening, pour half a bottle of vinegar essence into the toilet bowl and leave it to work overnight. The next morning, you will be able to easily clean off any urine scale. You can also use this method to remove urine scale in the toilet pipe. Vinegar acid is more environmentally friendly than other cleaning agents, but should also be used with caution.

Coca-cola contains phosphates which are also effective against urine scale. In combination with baking powder, coca-cola is a tried-and-tested method for removing staining in the toilet bowl. However, it is important to remember that coca-cola is a food product and this is not its intended use.

Denture cleaners Place two denture cleaning tablets in the toilet bowl and leave them to work overnight. Disadvantage: Denture cleaners usually also contain harsh ingredients and chemicals which can irritate skin and eyes. And they are relatively expensive.

Preventing urine scale

If rainwater is used for sanitary water, no tap water is required to flush the toilet. As there is no limescale in rainwater, this also prevents the formation of urine scale in the toilet. You can also stop urine scale in its tracks by cleaning your toilet regularly and removing limescale.

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