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cleaning toilets organically

 
master steward
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First, I have to admit that when it comes to cleanliness, I am freaky tidy by some standards and an unacceptable slob by other standards.  I have always favored housemate situations and usually hire a housekeeper to come in and cover for me because I apparently cannot see the dirt that my housemates can see. 

When it comes to cleaning the toilet, my strategy has always been to spend fifteen seconds with a toilet scrubber once in a while.  That seems to always do the trick.  I never understood the notion of toilet cleaning gick.  But then, maybe others are cleaning away stuff and I never know.

I saw something on reddit today about spitting your toothpaste into the toilet and it will clean your toilet as well as toilet cleaners.  I just thought I would pass this on here:  http://www.reddit.com/r/Frugal/comments/ef4po/frugalr_i_found_a_way_to_clean_toilets_cheap_spit/

 
pollinator
Posts: 491
Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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Don't see why toothpaste wouldn't work. Personally, I use dish detergent. And, if there's a water ring, a bit of cleanser.
 
master pollinator
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I use pickling vinegar or Bar Keepers friend.

 
                    
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I've heard of using effective microbes to clean anything around the house.  Actually improves the life at the end of the pipe rather than destroying it entirely. 

Especially helpful for people with living grey water systems or septic tanks they'd rather not pump every year. 

...........I'm going to say this only half-snarkily: 

Ya know what helps with toilet cleaning?  Getting rid of the porcelain throne entirely!  We squat over a hole cut in the floor of our outhouse.  I haven't cleaned a toilet in two years and I do NOT miss it. 

Also, squatting is the way our bowels are "supposed" to be emptied, according to some.  I certainly prefer it to the sitting posture that toilets dictate.  But anyway, back to the topic at hand. 
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
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Still -off topic!    You're right, Marina, the sitting posture is a very recent and "unnatural" one for humans (or anyone).  Squatting and crouching are more what humans are adapted to. 
 
jacque greenleaf
pollinator
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Location: Burton, WA (USDA zone 8, Sunset zone 5) - old hippie heaven
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"Ya know what helps with toilet cleaning?  Getting rid of the porcelain throne entirely! "

YOu said it!

Our winter quarters is a regular house in the southern california mountains. Our real place has very makeshift housing, and a sawdust bucket. I much prefer the bucket!
 
Mother Tree
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I'll concur with the sawdust bucket instead of the porcelain throne - for some reason they just don't need the same level of cleaning.  Rinse and brush, tip water on heap, rinse again.  I don't even use soap and they seem to come up like new each time. 
 
gardener
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For cleaning the toilet here I use vinegar and baking soda. It's effective, non-toxic, cheap, and about as fun as you can make such a task.

We do also have a humanure outhouse-bucket system but I'm not hard core enough to use it during a Canadian winter.
 
pollinator
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white vinegar generally works well for most toilet messes..for some you might need something stronger.
 
Posts: 66
Location: Spokane and near Diamond Lake, WA
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For rock-hard rings of mineral deposits, I've had great success scrubbing with a pumice stone.
 
                            
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OT---My vote is for the outie. It has distinct advantages. I can answer the phone when it rings and no one ever hears me flush, there's none of what I imagine to be that aerosolized water, bacteria and... stuff that occurs as a result of flushing. I never have to worry about the pipes freezing or paying the water bill... or the septic backing up. If you drop something you shouldn't, I imagine it would be pretty easy to reobtain (haven't had this happen... yet).
There's room for a crowd (poodles of course!), the view is better.

Back when I was still civilized, I liked to use vinegar, except that I had to be careful as if I inhaled the fumes it makes me wheeze. My next favorite thing to you (not very permaculturistic) was denture tabs.
 
                            
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Location: Abilene, KS
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Hey, I admit it!  I'd rather have the porcelin throne!  Rather chilly in the winter to be dropping my drawers outside, and my knees aren't what they used to be.
White vinegar is my choice for cleaning, just a couple quick sprays every few days.  Going to whiz in a bucket for the compost pile, but not til it warms up a bit.  I think I have a spare toilet seat around here somewhere....plenty of 5 gallon buckets so I'll be good to go.
 
                                    
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Has anyone tried using bio-char to scrub down the bowl? Charcoal used to be used as a tooth paste by the Romans (along with mint flavored pumice powder). The bio-char should cut down on smell and speed up composting for the humanure people as well. I use a thunder mug myself and with well water that is more red than clear, mineral build up has become a real problem. I just thought of using bio-char a couple of minuets ago and wonted to see if anyone had tried it yet...
 
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They should resurrect the WPA and give all us rural folks a brand new WPA two-seater like they did when dad was a kid.

Seriously though, I've been wondering about this stuff. At the farm I generally take a leak outside - in fact I always take a leak outside. But for everything else it's all going directly into the septic tank, and I can only imagine that the Comet cleaner and the fact that we're not yet recycling our greywater is all combining to do a number on the system and the surrounding earth. Dad buys Tide detergent as well. I chuckled when I read that it's "safe" for septic systems. I can't believe that's true.

I think the vinegar and baking soda solution sounds effective enough, since we're both bachelors and don't entertain folks out on the river. I'd be fine with an outhouse or a composting toilet. I'm not sure if dad could get up and down with one of those; he can barely walk across the room.

This entire forum is such a wonderful thing.
 
Frank Turrentine
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I still don't get the whole two-seater bit though. I mean, that's what I always hated about jail. There are just some things that cry out for alone time.

Dad's aunts used to go through the Sears Roebuck catalog and tear out all the pages with women's undergarments before they'd allow the paper to be used in the outhouse. No, seriously.
 
Frank Turrentine
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The company I work for manufactures heavy-duty soap for printers and mechanics. I'm the sales department. It is a non-solvent, heavy-duty hand cleaner that is highly effective for getting anything off your hands that isn't just absolutely tattooed on the skin. We talk about how "green" it is, and compared to the stuff that was widely available back in the 70s when it was formulated, it really is. It's also highly effective against poison oak and poison ivy and any kind of urushiol toxicity. But it's far from green. The reason it is effective against the plant oils - from what I understand anyway - is that it has spermacide in it - nonoxynol-9 or something like that. We also make an "organic" hand scrub that uses granulated corn-cob instead of the poly-bead scrubbers employed in the regular soap. But the organic contains traces of formaldehyde used to keep the corn-cob from developing mold or fungus. I sometimes think I'm part of the real problem and that I should quit my job. I'm not kidding. I dream of being able to pay whatever incidental bills may arise at the farm by selling surplus produce and clover hay, and that is my fantasy now.

All that aside, we manufacture and sell a holding tank treatment for RV's and boats. It's microbe-based and should be good for septic tanks as well. But I'm now wondering what sort of Franken-bugs are actually in it and what the long-term effects are on the system and the land-base generally. I've poured it down the toilet a few times at the farm, but not on any regular basis. And I don't imagine it's any worse than the bleaches and detergents already going down the drain at the farm and elsewhere in the area. Not to mention that Parker County, Texas has a great deal of fracking going on, though not close to us. Yet.
 
Posts: 73
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I use a squirt bottle of vinegar for the outside and wipe it down with toilet paper which I flush; for the inside, I use backing soda for the scrub value; I do not like spending much time on this odious chore....hey that reminds me...it's about time to do it again.
 
Posts: 631
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Vinegar. I keep white vinegar in a spray bottle - for bucket or urinal rinse with rain water and if smell remains then spray vinegar in and smell is gone. For common flush toilet - use a bucket of water to flush (the bowl won't fill back up) spray toilet with vinegar and add a cup to the little water that remains - use toilet brush.  If you have extra stuck on stains - leave the vinegar on and spray more vinegar on several times. For septic systems - after you use the vinegar and clean the stain, add baking soda to the liquid to buffer the acid of the vinegar.
 
master pollinator
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Toilet cleaning seems to be a great place for people who like to go through various processes. It can be done with vinegar, or harsh chemicals, or soap or just about anything. You can make it as ritualized as you choose.

I do the 15 seconds scrubbing thing, with nothing added and get the same results as others who have a complex process that they truly enjoy.
..........
I think the fascination with toilet cleaning, has to do with an aversion to poop. Somebody pooped in this thing, therefore I must scrub the porcelain off, to get rid of the horrible thing that has happened. I might do the same thing if somebody pooped in the punch bowl. But, since somebody is likely to poop in it again, I'm happy getting rid of just 99.9% of everything from a toilet.
 
Posts: 39
Location: Wichita, Kansas, United States
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Vinegar for hard water deposits.

The house we live in had massive hard water deposits in the bowl when we moved in.
I poured a quart of vinegar in the bowl right before leaving for work each morning.
Each evening I would do a quick brush.
Each time a layer of calcium build up disappeared.
It isn't an instant solution, but, it is a low effort one.  Also, vinegar is pretty safe.  You can neutralize it with a couple spoonfuls of baking soda before flushing if you like.
 
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Finally found a good use for soda - cola to be specific. Pour a 2 litre into the toilet and leave it for 12 - 24 hours. Swish and flush. It'll rot teeth, not just remove tarter. Phosphoric acid. I imagine the microbes in the cesspool or composter would love the sugar and potentially work faster on the caffeine.  :)

And let's not forget Rid-X, a bunch of microbes to assist in breaking down solid waste, poop and paper. Pour some in the bowl, outhouse, 5 gallon bucket - and let is do what it does.

Some one earlier mentioned Bar Keeper's Friend, great stuff, and to the non toxic list I would like to add Bon Ami, also non toxic.

In the professional kitchen I use vinegar for disinfecting EVERYTHING. Bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus. Depending upon the job equal parts vinegar/water to a higher dilution. Add essential oils like thyme, oregano, tea tree, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, lavender and basil to name a few. Mix combinations together for a potentiating effect.

Happy decomposing, dissolving and disinfecting.

PS - "Healthy" poop isn't so bad. For people who are really dysbiotic they are doing fecal implants - seriously, taking poop from healthy individuals and implanting it into their intestines.
 
Posts: 49
Location: New Hampshire, USA zone 5/6
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I keep a pretty clean house. I often wonder about just how clean of a person I am, until I visit someone else’s house. I definitely have a low tolerance for grime.

That said I only use a good toilet brush, nothing else. And I always do it just before going to the bathroom to save the extra flush. Our toilet seems to get as clean as can be. I think if we had hard water it would be a different story, but we don’t.

I would challenge others to try cleaning the toilet without any product, just a good scrub brush see if it looks just as good when you’re done. You could save some money, reduce your trash, reduce the chance of ill effects down stream wether you have septic or city sewage, and reduce your overall carbon footprint. To me that’s all worth a try.
 
master steward
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I took the advice of Erica Strauss in The Hands-On Home and use citric acid to clean my toilets. Our toilets get stained yellow by the nitrites (or something that's not iron that stains toilets/glasses yellow) and just scrubbing with a bare brush won't take the yellow off. If I sprinkle some citric acid on the toilet, wait a few minutes, and then come back to scrub, the yellow stain comes right off.  I'd tried other things, like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, but it didn't do nearly as good of a job as the citric acid!
 
pioneer
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Re cleaning products for toilets - in our case it stems from having incredibly hard water. All the water in our area is pumped ground water from the chalk which has huge amounts of dissolved calcium carbonate.

Periodically we need to pour some hydrochloride acid down the toilet to break up the caked on limescale. Typical “cleaning” doesn’t touch it.

As “harsh” as straight hydrochloride is I still prefer it as it is very effective and is neutralised quickly into harmless compounds.
 
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