12 Household Items You Didn't Know Could Fix a Toilet

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated October 13, 2021
closed toilet in neat bathroom
New Africa - stock.adobe.com

A common household item just might be the tool you're looking for

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Coca-Cola. Vinegar. Boiling water. No, this isn't the ingredient list for the weirdest cake ever—it's your toilet repair toolkit.

Now, for major plumbing problems—like malfunctioning parts or large leaks —it's best to call a professional plumber to fix the issue before it causes long-term damage. But, if your toilet troubles are minor and running to the hardware store isn’t an option, a common household item might do the trick. In fact, you probably have most of these items in your pantry right now.

Here are 12 easy fixes for finicky toilet issues:

1. Clean a Dirty Toilet With Cola

It’s everyone’s most hated job for a reason, so take a toilet cleaning shortcut. Pop open a can of cola and pour it along the edges of the toilet bowl to coat. Then, walk away.

The carbonation in the soda breaks down the stains and does all the heavy scrubbing for you. Simply come back after a few hours and give it a flush to reveal a sparkly clean commode.

2. Remove Mineral Deposits With Vinegar

Mineral deposits from hard water aren't dangerous, but they’re most definitely unsightly. To clean your toilet bowl, simply soak toilet paper in white vinegar and then set the wet paper directly on the hard water stain. Let the vinegar-soaked toilet paper sit overnight and flush the next morning.

3. Freshen up the Toilet Tank With Mouthwash

Just like you swish before a date for fresh breath, mouthwash can also freshen up your toilet. Simply pour a capful in the tank every month or so. It’ll swish around the toilet bowl each time you flush.

4. Break Up Clogs With Epsom Salts

The magnesium in epsom salts helps reduce inflammation and ease pain in our bodies. Epsom salts can also break up toilet clogs without ever having to touch your plunger. Pour about a cup of epsom salt in the toilet bowl and let it sit for 20 minutes while it gets fizzy. Then give it a flush to clear your toilet.

5. Pull Out a Clog With a Wire Hanger

You can remove a toilet clog with a plunger, but if you don’t have one handy, the next best thing is a wire hanger. (Either option isn’t particularly glamorous, so you may want to grab a pair of gloves for this job.)

Untwist the hanger to make the wire as long as possible and bend a paperclip-size hook at the end. Slowly feed the hooked end down the toilet drain (be careful not to scratch the porcelain). Guide the hanger down the pipe until you feel resistance—you’ve probably found the clog. Push and twist the wire to break up the clog, then pull the wire out. You might have to reach a (gloved) hand in to pull out whatever clogged the toilet, but otherwise, a flush or two should finish the job.

6. Stop Condensation With Bubble Wrap

Prolonged condensation in your toilet tank can drip onto the floor and cause mold growth, moisture damage, or a slippery floor. A layer of insulation in your toilet will keep the outside of the tank from getting cold and “sweating” as the cold water meets the humid bathroom environment . Your secret weapon? Bubble wrap! 

To apply the bubble wrap, shut off the water valve underneath the tank and flush the toilet. Allow the water to drain out of the tank. Secure a layer of bubble wrap along the walls of the toilet tank with a silicone sealant. Once sealed, turn on the water to refill the newly insulated tank that doesn’t sweat.

7. Prevent Rusty Screws With Nail Polish

Loose toilet screws can lead to hidden water leaks. To keep your toilet seat screws from rusting, paint over them with clear nail polish—just make sure they dry before you sit down. Not only will the nail polish safeguard against rust, it will also help hold the screws in place and prevent the seat from wobbling.

8. Reduce Water Use With an Old Soda Bottle

You can buy products designed to take up space in your toilet tank, but why spend money on something no one will see? Instead, pull a soda bottle out of your recycling bin, fill it with water, and drop it in the toilet tank. This bottle will cut down on the water used with each flush, which can save you money on your water bill.

9. Remove Rust With a Pumice Stone

If there's unattractive rust on your throne, scrub the ring with a pumice stone in light, even strokes. Be careful to keep both the pumice stone and the toilet wet, otherwise you might permanently scratch the porcelain.

10. Temporarily Fix a Leak With Tape

Duct tape, Teflon tape, and electrical tape can all provide a quick fix for a pipe leak. Carefully dry the area and press the tape on flat to get a good seal void of air pockets that can fill up with water. Unfortunately, adhesive can only hold water back for so long, so tape should only be a temporary fix while you buy a repair kit or call in a local plumber.

11. Polish Porcelain With Baby Oil

If the porcelain has seen better days, restore some shine with baby oil. Simply apply a few drops of baby oil onto a clean, soft cloth. Buff the exterior of the toilet tank and toilet bowl until the porcelain looks dry and glassy.

12. Disinfect With Hydrogen Peroxide

To kick bacteria to the curb, just grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Disinfect your toilet by pouring 0.5cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl. Let it sit for half an hour, and then flush.

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