The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners for the Bathroom
Get this bathroom chore done quickly, easily, and admirably well with the right formula for your household.
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.
Read on to learn the key factors to consider when selecting a toilet bowl cleaner for your household’s needs, and to see our favorites among the best options available today.
- BEST CARTRIDGE: Fluidmaster Flush ‘n Sparkle Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaning System
- BEST CAPSULES: Lysol Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- BEST GEL: Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
What Makes a Great Toilet Bowl Cleaner?
There are three main types of toilet bowl cleaners: gels, capsules, and cartridges.
- Gel formulas 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).
- Capsules offer a less labor-intensive cleaning agent: Simply drop in the tank or adhere to the rim of the toilet 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.
- 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.
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).
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.
Our Top Picks
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. Flush ‘n Sparkle cartridges last up to three months and while the new product is not yet graded by EWG for environmental standards, the product does come in a non-bleach version.
BEST CAPSULES: Lysol Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
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.
BEST GEL: Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
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.