The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners Tested in 2023

Get the chore of cleaning toilets done quickly, easily, and admirably well with the right formula for your household.

By Andreana Lefton and Katie Barton | Updated Jun 1, 2023 7:29 AM

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The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Options

Photo: Katie Barton

Upholding basic sanitary practices to ensure the health of your home calls for regular toilet bowl cleaning. While there are many great products available, the overwhelming number of choices can make it a challenge to choose the right product—so we tested the best toilet bowl cleaners and ranked them by category.

If you don’t want to rely on a household remedy or DIY cleaner, read on to learn how we tested each toilet bowl cleaner and which formulas made the cut.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Bleach & Blue
  3. BEST SCENT: Lysol Click Gel Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  4. BEST TABLETS: Iron Out Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner
  5. BEST NATURAL: 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
The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Options

Photo: Katie Barton

How We Tested the Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners

Before testing, we researched the most sought-after toilet bowl cleaners. We discovered that the best products are determined by their type, ease of use, cleaning power, and longevity.

To test single-use toilet bowl cleaners, like gels, toilet bowl brushes, and wands, we allowed our toilets to build up film for 1 week. We then used each product and rated it on how well it cleaned normal buildup and stains. We repeated this process at least twice for all single-use cleaners.

We tested continuous toilet bowl cleaners per the manufacturers’ instructions, using each for at least 7 days. We tested the products (including tablets, cleaning cartridges, and gel stamps) on three different toilets, using each where best intended. Then we evaluated how well each product prevented buildup and how easy it was to use.

We scored the products on a rubric, noting how well each product cleaned the interior of a toilet. We also considered scents, active ingredients, and ease of use. Our list provides options that tackle limescale, toilet rings, rust, stains, hard-water deposits, and calcium.

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Options

Photo: Katie Barton

Our Top Picks

Choosing the right toilet cleaner depends on the type of water in your home, the form you prefer, and how much time you can devote to cleaning. We tested products for each of these categories; here are our top picks.

Best Overall

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner

With its potent cling gel, Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner breaks down stains and toilet bowl rings, killing 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria without the need for scrubbing. Simply use the angled bottle to squirt under the toilet rim, coating the toilet bowl above and below the water line. Then scrub with a toilet bowl brush before flushing.

For disinfecting, let the cleaner sit for 10 minutes, and for stain removal, coat the problem areas and allow the cling gel to work for 15 minutes. While this gel cleaner is septic-system safe, it can’t be combined with chlorine bleach.

We tested this product on a toilet in a kids’ bathroom. The toilet had a ring from a combination of hard-water buildup and not being flushed enough. During testing, we coated the toilet bowl with the product, waited a couple of minutes, and then cleaned it with a toilet bowl brush. The ring disappeared with only a light scrub, exceeding our expectations.

While this product doesn’t list a scent on its packaging, it has a light, minty smell. It’s easy to use, quickly breaking down weekly buildup and set-in stains. It also works as a disinfectant, making it a great addition to weekly bathroom cleaning.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gel
  • Chemical or natural: Chemical
  • Scent: Yes


  • The cling gel stays in place, allowing users to spot-treat problem areas
  • Powerful formula breaks down stubborn toilet bowl rings and tough stains
  • Sanitizes and disinfects toilet bowls, killing up to 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses


  • Can’t be used with bleach or bleach-containing cleaners
  • Scent is not listed, but it does have a minty smell

Get the Lysol Power toilet bowl cleaner (2-pack) at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner Bleach & Blue

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, where they slowly dispense the product with each flush to continuously clean, prevent stubborn stains, and deodorize.

Each Clorox toilet tablet lasts for 4 months. The product comes in a four-pack, and the packaging claims that these tables have a “fresh” scent.

We tested the Clorox toilet cleaner, and despite bleach being a primary ingredient, the smell wasn’t noticeable. Adding the tablets to the tank was very easy, and they reduced normal weekly buildup. After the tablet had been in the toilet for a week, a quick swipe with a toilet brush got the bowl perfectly clean.
Since these tablets turn the toilet water a vibrant blue, minor blue streaking may appear if the toilet is not flushed at least once a day. Bleach can also accumulate if the toilet isn’t flushed once a day. Overall, however, we felt these were a good automatic toilet bowl cleaner and well worth the price.

Product Specs

  • Type: Automatic
  • Chemical or natural: Chemical
  • Scent: Yes


  • Can deodorize and sanitize a toilet bowl with each flush
  • One box of 4 tablets can last up to 4 months
  • Significantly cuts down on toilet buildup and staining, making cleaning easier
  • Easy to see when they need replacing as the water becomes less blue


  • Not suitable for toilets that don’t get flushed at least once per day

Get the Clorox toilet bowl cleaner at Amazon, Target, or Lowe’s.

Best Scent

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Lysol Click Gel Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Simply affix the applicator inside the bowl and the Lysol Click Gel 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.

The Environmental Working Group (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.

For users looking for a scented toilet bowl cleaner, this one smells pleasant right out of the box. The downside is that after the first day, the smell starts to dissipate. During testing, we found the stamp applicator was easy to use and sanitary for applying the gel stamp—all that was needed was for us to push it onto the side of the toilet bowl and pull it away.

Each box comes with six gel stamps. While the packaging states that each stamp can last up to 2 weeks, we used this in a main bathroom, and about two-thirds of it was gone after the first week. While it didn’t completely eliminate normal buildup, it did a good job of reducing it.

Product Specs

  • Type: Automatic
  • Chemical or natural: Chemical
  • Scent: Yes


  • Reduces weekly buildup and sanitizes without bleach
  • Gel stamps have a strong but pleasant mango-hibiscus smell
  • Sanitary application allows users to apply the gel stamps without touching the toilet bowl


  • Requires frequent replacement in busy bathrooms
  • Pleasant smell starts to fade after the first day of use

Get the Lysol toilet bowl cleaner at Amazon.

Best Tablets

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Iron Out Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

With six 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 a toilet every 45 days and let it do all of the cleaning. This method is also odor-free. The only downside is that this cleaner cannot be used with bleach for added cleaning power.
We tested these toilet bowl tablets in an over-20-year-old toilet with rust stains. We added a tablet to the tank and, after about a week, scrubbed the rust with a toilet bowl brush. To our surprise, much of the existing rust came off. It also did an excellent job of preventing normal buildup.

The Iron Out Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaning tablets are a good choice for those who have hard water and deal with mineral deposits or rust stains.

Product Specs

  • Type: Capsules
  • Chemical or natural: Chemical
  • Scent: No


  • Easy-to-install tablets remove rust, mold, and hard-water stains
  • A single tablet works for up to 45 days for long-lasting cleaning power
  • Significantly reduces normal weekly toilet buildup


  • Doesn’t have a scent so it does not mask bathroom smells
  • Should not be used with bleach or bleach-containing toilet bowl cleaners

Get the Iron Out toilet bowl cleaner at Amazon or Lowe’s.

Best Natural

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: 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 its ingredients, which include lactic acid as a dirt buster and tea tree oil for its disinfectant properties; EWG scientists give this toilet cleaner an A grade for health and safety. All that’s necessary is to squirt it around the bowl and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before using a brush.

We used the Better Life Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner on a toilet with a week’s worth of buildup. We coated under the rim, let the cleaner sit for a couple of minutes, and used a toilet bowl brush to work through the grime. It took minimal effort to get the bowl squeaky clean.

This product has a great scent—noticeable without being overpowering or smelling like chemicals. Although it did a great job at cleaning, its clear formula made it hard to tell which areas of the toilet bowl were coated and which weren’t. Also, the packaging doesn’t state that this cleaner can disinfect, which may be a drawback for some.

Product Specs

  • Type: Gel
  • Chemical or natural: Natural
  • Scent: Yes


  • Doesn’t contain any synthetic chemicals, fragrances, petroleum solvents, or phosphates
  • Effective at cleaning weekly buildup and staining
  • Has a pleasant scent that makes the bathroom smell fresh


  • The cling gel is clear, making it hard to tell which areas of the toilet are coated
  • Not labeled as a disinfectant; may be unsuitable for killing viruses and bacteria

Get the Better Life toilet bowl cleaner (2-pack) at Amazon or Better Life.

Best Cleaning System

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Clorox ToiletWand Disposable Toilet Cleaning System

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 the user has finished cleaning, all that’s needed is to 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.

During testing, we appreciated the design of the Clorox ToiletWand. Using it was easy and felt the most hygienic of the options we tested. The cleaning pads click right in place, and it’s convenient to toss them in the trash afterward.

While the Clorox ToiletWand did a great job cleaning regular buildup, it did little for stains. Those who want to use this product will need to get rid of toilet bowl rings and staining first. Afterward, this is a suitable product for keeping a toilet clean.

Product Specs

  • Type: Cleaning system
  • Chemical or natural: Chemical
  • Scented: No


  • Comes with a wand, 16 disposable scrubbing pads, and a storage caddy
  • Infused with a bleach cleaning solution that easily removes weekly buildup
  • The scrubbing pads click into and out of place for more hygienic toilet cleaning


  • Does little to remove tough stains
  • The pads get very sudsy if dipped below the water line during cleaning
  • Not eco-friendly; scrubbing brushes produce waste, and the cost can add up

Get the Clorox ToiletWand with 16 refill heads at Amazon, or with 6 refill heads at The Home Depot, Target, or Lowe’s.

Best Brush

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: Simplehuman Toilet Brush With Caddy

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

A great option for small bathrooms, 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 carried. One con to this design is that the brush might not reach the main drain hole at the bottom of the bowl.

We used the Simplehuman toilet brush several times, cleaning regular sludge, set-in stains, and toilet rings. Its stiff bristles break away grime without the use of an accompanying cleaner. Paired with a toilet bowl cleaner, the cleaning process is even easier.

While we loved the cleaning power, another standout feature is the design. Rather than the brush sitting in stagnant water like most others, it sits above the bottom of the holder so it can drip dry. This brush is a great buy for anyone needing to remove toilet stains or thick toilet bowl rings.

Product Specs

  • Type: Brush
  • Chemical or natural: Natural
  • Scent: No


  • The stiff bristles can remove stains and thick toilet bowl rings
  • Safe for septic systems, as it cleans well without using a liquid or gel cleaner
  • Magnetic caddy allows the brush to drip dry and ventilate
  • Replacement brush heads can be purchased separately


  • Some users report that this model develops stains over time

Get the Simplehuman toilet bowl cleaner at Amazon, Wayfair, or Target.

Best for Stains

The Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner Option: CLR Pro Calcium Lime and Rust Remover

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 users will want to put this product to work 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 (EPA) Safer Choice Program for its effective cleaning power without harsh chemical ingredients.

In our testing, we used this product to tackle some under-the-rim rust that other cleaners didn’t clear away. We used the product at full strength, coating a toilet bowl brush in the CLR and then applying it to the stain. After letting it sit for a couple of minutes, we scrubbed, and small chunks of rust fell into the toilet bowl.

One of the best things about this cleaner is that since it’s concentrated, users can determine the best dilution ratio. While we used this product at full strength, the package also gives dilution ratios for light and medium-strength cleaning.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Chemical or natural: Chemical
  • Scent: Yes


  • Removes stains, calcium, hard-water deposits, lime, soap scum, and more
  • Can be diluted for lighter cleaning needs
  • Approved by the EPA’s Safer Choice Program


  • This cleaner comes in a gallon jug and may need to be diluted, making it less convenient

Get the CLR Pro toilet bowl cleaner at Amazon.


Fluidmaster 8100 Toilet Bowl Cleaning System – Blue

We also tested the Fluidmaster 8100 Toilet Bowl Cleaning System, and while it worked well for the first couple of days, it didn’t make our list. First, the installation was more difficult than that of other toilet bowl cleaners, requiring the removal of a hose in the toilet tank. But the biggest issue was its effectiveness. While the toilet looked clean where the water sat in the bowl, the sides of the toilet bowl had noticeable buildup. The difference between these two areas was very apparent, making the toilet appear dirty.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Toilet Bowl Cleaner


There are several types of toilet bowl cleaners. Here are several buyers may see when searching for the best toilet bowl cleaner.

  • Tablets and capsules offer a less labor-intensive cleaning option. Users can simply drop one in the tank or adhere one 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 the 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 ingredients 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 to 12 weeks.
  • Liquids, the most traditional form of toilet bowl cleaner, are available as concentrates and ready-to-use sprays. Unlike other toilet bowl cleaners, liquid concentrates must be diluted with water first, then added to a spray bottle. The cleaner is sprayed directly on 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 a cleaner, a 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 hands-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, making it necessary to use multiple tools to get it fully clean. Having a brush that’s sturdy and well designed is the best bet for the best cleaning.
  • 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, 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 tablet 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 (chemical), 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 for those who choose to use them, it’s important to 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. Those who are sensitive to harsh chemicals or simply want an environmentally friendly cleaning option will find that a natural toilet cleaner is the way to go.

Cleaning Power

Toilet cleaners typically have disinfectant and whitening properties, with some ingredients being more potent 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 users will want to reserve cleaners with potent acids for surfaces with built-up stains and grime.


A gel cleaner is effective and thorough but must be used weekly to keep toilets germ-free. Tablets minimize labor time, keeping toilet water sanitized for up to 12 weeks. Installing a cartridge system can keep toilets germ-free and smelling sweet for up to 3 months.


Although a cosmetic attribute, scent can make a toilet bowl cleaner more pleasant to use. Floral, woodsy, and citrus fragrances are added to enhance the bowl cleaner and also impart that scent onto the cleaned toilet. Those who are asthmatic or allergic to these substances will want to opt for natural alternatives or fragrance-free options.

Ease of Use

Toilet cleaning is one of the least desirable housekeeping chores, so it’s important to 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, while powders and gel discs take more time to apply.


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 use 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 can effectively remove limescale and soap scum. Apply the cleaner directly to the stain with a brush, cloth, or sponge and let soak for 2 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 these products 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.

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