Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing.
How can I get rid of a scratch in my toilet bowl?
Summary of the thread: The most frequently recommended product, and readily available is Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Several other products were found effective as well. And next time, use a Toilet Auger [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], not a snake or coat hanger :-)
A discussion started in 2003 and continuing through 2017 . . .(2003)
Q. Recently, I was flushing the toilet and suddenly the water was rising instead of draining out. The nearest available remedy was a coat hanger, which I used to clear the blockage. Now I am left with a scratch on the inside of the toilet bowl and need some ideas on how I can get rid of the scratch and restore the toilet bowl to it's original colour.
Thank you !REUBEN O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- KAMLOOPS, BC, CANADA
What is the bowl made from?
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
This is a response to Trevor Crichton who asked me what the toilet bowl is made of...I checked and it is made from Vitreous china. I guess the best way to describe the scratch is that it is just as though someone wrote with a pencil except I cannot erase it.Reuben O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Kamloops, BC, Canada
An earlier letter suggested a Pumice Stick [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] as the answer to getting "pencil-like" scratches off porcelain. You might try that.
As a plumber's helper and son of a plumber, let me warn the readers "for next time". You don't use a "snake" for a toilet because, yes indeed, it will badly scratch it as Reuben discovered. Rather, you use a "Toilet Auger [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]" which is the same idea as a snake, but is enclosed and rigid and plastic-covered down to where the water starts flowing up again--out of the line of vision.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
First of all, why don't you go to your local plumber and ask him?
Secondly, don't use sharp metal gouging things on enamel.
Thirdly, get some touch up paint ... as most of the toilet bowls in Canada are ceramic and white, get some high quality touch up paint not a latex, that's fersure! Preferably a lacquer paint ... and after drying the scratch, DON'T put in any water after painting for a good 24 hours. OK?
Our kitchen sinks happen to be white enamel and a dent/scratch is now no longer visible after being painted.
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada
(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).
You can use a slurry of calcium carbonate (chalk) and try to polish the mark out. Alternatively, use dental chalk - the type that is sold to smokers to remove the stains from their teeth. You may find it easier to drain the toilet down before you do it. If the mark is very resilient you may have to use a fine grinding paste or even pumice, but the more aggressive the polishing, the more likely the area will be damaged. Your local hardware store may also be able to offer some advice.
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK
August 8, 2009
Many thanks Trevor! I scratched the bowl with a metal topped brush and my wife said 'We'll need to get a new bowl!' Picture her delight when the pumice stone worked a treat! Thank you!Charlie Johnston
- Newcastle Upon Tyne UK
Drain Bowl to below scratch
Scrub with "Scotch Brite" and "Ajax [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]" cleanser.
The bleach, abrasive and cleaner always clean out the pot and pan marks in my sink so I suspect that it will do the same with the iron mark from the hanger.
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
From your description the scratch sounds like what is commonly known as a 'metal mark'. These are often seen in kitchen sinks. The easiest way I've found to remove them is with a cleanser containing Oxalic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Rockler], such as Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Don't use with a sponge, they dissolve! Use paper towels or a rag. Sprinkle it on the wet surface, spread it around, let it set 30 to 60 seconds, then scrub the mark off. Works every time! It does dry out the hands pretty well, so you may want to wear rubber gloves.Tom Gallant
- Torrance, California
I got my toilet bowl scratched badly today when trying to unclog it with a metal snake, and thought my toilet was ruined. Then I read the post from Tom about the Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], and Tom. . . I am eternally grateful! This worked perfectly! I can't believe it! THANK YOU!Elin [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Port St. Lucie, Florida
I read these posts and bought some of that Bar Keepers Friend. Man. I don't know if there are similar home or commercial equivalents, but that stuff works. I scratched my wife's precious toilet hacksawing off rusty bolts trying to change the toilet seat. Actually not scratched, rather the metal shavings from the old blade and bolt were ground into the porcelain and looked like big scratches. I contemplated touch up paint, but tried this stuff first. Voila! She threatened to buy a new (expensive!) replacement toilet... not now!Dennis C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Westboro, Massachusetts
I read this forum a week ago. I was looking for something to get scratches off my cousin's toilet bowl. Long story short, we had a plumber come out to fix her toilet because the flush was not powerful. He used a snake to flush everything down. His snake got stuck. So he scratched the heck out of her toilet. I was freaking out, because it's not like it was my house. Tried a whole bunch of cleaners she had at her house and nothing worked. So after reading this form I went out and got some Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. And it was like a magic. I poured it in, and cleaned it with a brush. The scratches came right off. This stuff is the best. And it only cost me $2.99. Not a $100 - $300 for a new toilet bowl.Neda L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Washington DC
Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] is excellent at removing gray marks from porcelain. If you don't want to order it on-line you can find it at Williams-Sonoma.Lisa Roark
- Indianapolis, Indiana
I had the same problem today, Finally I removed all the marks with HARPIC - POWER PLUS from Reckitt Benckiser.
- Calicut, Kerala, India
The baking soda [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] idea was great. It helped the scratches in my toilet bowl. Some dumb contractors have been dumping white cement into the toilet after their work. This has caused it to settle and stick to my toilet as its a apartment building and I'm the first floor.
I had no choice but to turn off the water, dry the toilet and to scrape it off but in the process I scratched the toilet pretty badly. Your baking soda idea worked it took most of it off. I'll try again as my baking soda was expired.
Anyone out there know how to dissolve white cement that is stuck in a toilet. Its going to happen again, so if there is some mixture or something I can use in to make it dissolve please tell me. I'll really appreciate it.
- Melbourne, Australia
Complain to the landlord, Sarah. That is the wrong disposal method and could become very costly to him.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
I have tried telling he doesn't seem to care. So any ideas as to what will dissolve white cement that is in water. It somehow lines the bottom of the toilet and no matter how hard you try to scrub it won't budge. My toilet is fairly new the water saving kind without the very powerful force like old toilets.
Help me please! if you know what'll dissolve it tell me I'll buy and keep it so when it does happen again. I'll know what to do.
- Melbourne, Australia
July 18, 2009
i moved into a new apartment last week. the previous tenants poured white cement into the toilet bowl and I can't get it out. it looks quite awful. someone else too has the same problem but no one seems to have given an answer. kindly help.
ps. tried telling the landlord but he says now that's my problem.
education - bahrain
July 22, 2009
Hi, Hazel. I tried to give you the answer that tenants must not consider it their responsibility to repair damage of this type, particularly because it may include extensive hidden damage. The landlord may face many thousands of dollars in repairs if the cement blocks a low spot in the pipes. Put it in writing that it was there when you moved in.
Muriatic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] will probably dissolve the cement, but it is dangerous enough that it should be done by an experienced plumber, not someone who has never used it. And you will be accepting financial responsibility for consequential damage if the landlord claims the acid rather than the cement hurt the system. I think you'd be better off replacing the toilet than doing that.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
HI! TODAY I WAS CLEANED MY TOILET BOWL WITH A X SCRUB FREE DETERGENT, AND WHEN I RINSE I SEE THAT THE BOWL TURNED GREY, CAN YOU PLEASE HELP ME TO FIND ANY PRODUCT TO BRING BACK AGAIN THE WHITE COLOR?
- MASTIC, New York
Would you believe I used a toilet auger tonight and I still managed to scratch my toilet? I never used one before and the instructions were wrong or way too vague. The instructions read: 1. Pull handle to upward to position boring head at the end of tube. 2. Carefully insert end into toilet bowl so as not to scratch porcelain. Rotate handle clockwise while gently pushing handle downward. 3. Pull handle back to original position, remove tube slowly and flush toilet.
When first reading these instructions, I mistakenly thought "end of tube" meant the top end; if you would see picture along with instructions, you would understand why I thought this. After a couple of tries, but after the damage had already been done, I understood what I was doing wrong - a little too late!
I'm just glad there are some suggestions here; going to try a couple.
- Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
April 30, 2008
Like others, our toilet bowl was scratched considerably whilst being unblocked with a metal snake auger. I tried Barkeepers Friend as recommended on this site, and it was amazing. The toilet looks like new again! Thanks.Sharon Jones
- San Jose, California
May 8, 2008
I had scratches on my toilet bowl resulting from using a plumbing snake. From this forum, it looks like Barkeepers Friend works miracles. Since I had some Barkeepers Friend liquid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] around, I tried it out. I poured 1/2 cup in the toilet and let it sit for 2-3 hours. I didn't do anything else, just pour it in. Later, I simply flushed and voila, the scratches are totally gone. It is indeed a miracle.Bart Leeson
- Santa Clara, California
August 11, 2008
A couple months ago, I had a relative, who was trying to be helpful, pour some 'comet' down our toilet bowl and unfortunately they let it sit there for at least half an hour. When I finally saw this and flushed the toilet, the paint on the porcelain appeared to be chipped. My toilet is white and I can actually see the underlying beige color of the chip marks. It really looks bad, and I would like to paint it. Considering the chip marks are actually in the bowl itself is there any paint that anyone can suggest that can stand the continuous water immersion? I heard that Rustoleum does not work if water is consistently in contact with the surface.
- Laval, Quebec, Canada
Hi, Julie. Unless toilet bowls in Quebec are very different than in the USA, I find this very strange. My mom, my wife, and I have used Comet in toilet bowls as long as the product has existed. My suspicion is that your toilet was already painted, and that the comet attacked the paint, revealing the beige color porcelain.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
September 15, 2008
I totally scratched the whole interior of my toilet bowl with the "snake". the original bowl was porcelain cream color, which turned dark grey after I scratched it... I couldn't tell at the time because the water was dirty. This $1.75 Target product worked wonders! Thanks for the advise... I won't be buying a new $300+ toilet bowl, and I never have to tell my fiance what happened while he was away!Stefanie Dew
- Sicklerville, New Jersey
November 19, 2008
Listen, people are talking about some barkeeper something.... I am foolish, yes I know, I used a snake in my toilet when I should have used an auger, but in my defense.... I'm not a plumber, just a mommy. Now back to my response. USE ANYTHING LIKE: Ajax [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or whatever is like it. Usually you can find it at the dollar store or at Walmart for like 88 cents. Dry the spot pour it on and scrub the sh*t out of it. It won't take out really, really deep scratches but it takes out most of them due to a snake screw up...lol.Katrina Ryan
- Rochester, New York
January 6, 2009
BARKEEPER'S FRIEND - W O W !
Thanks for the tips everyone, I scratched a toilet in a rented place with a hanger, was stressing until I tried the recommendation, and voila! Gone, completely, after an hour of soaking.
- Los Angeles, California
July 1, 2009
Just scratched my Mom's toilet. Barkeepers Friend is definitely the way to go!Jason Land
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
August 1, 2009
Well, I stumbled upon this site searching for an answer to the scratches my father-in-law made in our toilet unclogging it with a wire coat-hanger. As with the other testimonials, thanks for the posts about Barkeepers Friend. I emptied about a 1/3 of a can into the bowl, mixed it up well with a toilet brush, let it sit over-night, then scrubbed again with the toilet brush in the morning before flushing to reveal - the scratches were gone. OK, my method maybe was overkill, but it worked and peace in the family has been restored. Thanks Barkeepers Friend and thanks to all the previous positive posts about this product.Don Kirk
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada
August 5, 2009
Hi I'm from the UK & have had the same problem with the scratches in the toilet bowl..and to make matters worse it's not my toilet; I'm renting and landlady is due her 4 monthly visits so need to get it removed quick.
I used a knife to remove caked in lime scale (coz at her last visit she had me about that and nothing I tried would get rid, grr).
Anyway this has resulted to my horror pencil type scratches eeek.
Anyway done some research trying to find a D-I-Y rather then fork out for a professional to come & do it (yes I'm that desperate). I came across your bar keepers friend..however they don't sell all the products in the UK and USA sites won't ship here..I'm after the one that is shown in the links for amazon but no do here but they do other ones and they have read not to use on enamel .. I have no idea what the toilet is made off for a start plus can anyone recommend another bar keepers product I can use instead of the one in the link or is all of them ok to use in the loo?
- Rugby, UK
September 13, 2009
Ok. Y'all have been talking toilets. I googled for something that would get the gray marks off of vintage ceramic dishes and your forum popped up. So I am going to get Barkeeper's Friend and try it on a dish. If it works, I will be back on here to post my results.Kathy Conner
- Ventura, California
November 21, 2009
After looking up Barkeeper's Helper, the chemistry of removing a metal mark with acid made so much sense to me that I tried the old standby, a paste of table salt and white vinegar on my coathanger-scratched toilet bowl. This, with a little bit of effort, worked very well.Dr Matt Fields
- Ann Arbor, Michigan
December 29, 2009
I followed this post and got a can of Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. I just put the powder in toilet bowl and didn't have to drain the water out and just used the toilet brush to spread the powder at the low end of the bowl. Let it sit for 30 min and flushed.. Wow! .. the scratches are gone!...
This is great product and Thanks! a ton for the advice..
- Fort collins, Colorado
April 3, 2010
Thanks for the tip on Barkeepers Friend. I scratched up my toilet unplugging it. It worked like a charm and saved me buying a new toilet.Chris Cascio
- Orlando, Florida
June 17, 2010
No abrasives, no pumice stone! Just had my toilet get the snake bite. I closed the water valve drained remaining water with a sponge and used a product called CLR (stands for Calcium, Lime, Rust remover). Let it sit in there for a few minutes and just wiped it off with a paper towel. Looks like brand new.
Just my 2 cents.
- St. Lazare Quebec Canada
August 16, 2010
Great tips here. Thanks!
Tried both a slurry of vinegar and table salt, and baking soda and water. Both worked well and did the job. Nothing like putting on a pair of gloves and good old elbow grease.
- Orlando, Florida, USA
November 14, 2010
If you live somewhere where you cannot obtain Bar Keeper's Friend or other branded products mentioned here , oxalic acid crystals are readily available in pharmacies or (in Europe) drogueries. Just pour a generous amount in the toilet bowl, let sit for a few hours and wipe with a sponge or cloth. The scratch marks will disappear like magic.Paul Vitalis
- Brussels, Belgium
April 29, 2011
Awesome post. I was cleaning lime away on my porcelain toilet bowl with CLR and a metal brush and scratched the cr*p out of the toilet. I was freaking out about painting it to fix it but then read about how the barkeeper's friend was working so I just tried pure baking soda and a wet paper towel and all the dark scratches went away! Now the toilet looks brand new! Thanks!timea mester
- san marcos, Texas
June 27, 2011
You can buy Bar Keeper's Friend off the shelf. Can't wait to go home and try it on my toilet I "wrecked" last night.Tim Kaczmarek
- Charlottesville, Virginia
August 4, 2011
Thank you!!!! The Barkeepers Friend =>
really worked!!! My husband will be so surprised when he gets home! He really thought he had done permanent damage and he'd have to buy a new toilet. :-)
- Lebanon, Ohio
August 20, 2011
I really can not stress enough how good Barkeepers Friend is.
I damaged the toilet of a couple hosting me whilst unblocking it pretty badly but this worked a treat.
For future reference - never touch porcelain with anything metal but if to late Barkeepers Friend will save the day.
- norwich, Connecticut
August 29, 2011
I bought a toilet auger and thought I could unblock my toilet myself without he help of a professional. I was so proud to show my husband how handy and thrifty I could be until I noticed the scratches on the toilet which the hardware store warned me not to do. I have to say unless you are a professional even using a toilet auger this is difficult NOT to do. As this site suggested I used barkeepers and it worked magic on my brand new toilet in my newly purchased home. Crisis averted with a very angry hubby!!Jackie Owen
- Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA
October 28, 2011
A toilet in our office clogged with toilet paper. I called a neighbor who brought over a rusty snake. I asked the question, will the snake damage the toilet bowl? The reply was no. The result was yes. I was prepared to purchase another toilet because the stain was so bad that there was no way we could keep the toilet in the condition it was in.
I immediately went to the internet in search of possible hope in salvaging the expensive toilet. First thing I read was DO NOT SNAKE TOILET. I went through the comments and found TOM 'S OF CALIFORNIA which seemed the most effortless method because does not require draining the water out. TOM suggested using BARKEEPERS FRIEND. went to hardware store in Takoma Park, went back to office and was stunned at how it made the scrapes, or stains or whatever it was disappear in 60 seconds.
I began to use the same compound on the porcelain wash bowls and stainless steel bowls as well. Got all the scrapes off. thanks TOM.
- Washington D.C. U.S.A.
December 31, 2011
The Barkeeepers Friend really worked. Unfortunately I ruined my upper toilet seat with bleach before reading this.Lee New
- Port St. Lucie, Florida
February 16, 2012
Q. I had a tan line at the water line on my light colored toilet.
I let bleach sit in it for a bit which helped but I then decided to scrub with stainless scrubbing pad-- instantly all of the area under the water turned gray . . . oops
repeated flushing and scrubbing has not helped get rid of the stain
- Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
February 23, 2012
Toilet bowl got scratched up badly with a toilet augur. Read suggestions. Going to go out and buy some of that Beekeepers stuff, but in meantime, poured in a can of Sprite soda - right into the water. A couple hours later, scratches were disappearing! Unbelievable! Poured in another can of Sprite. Within hours, every trace of those black scratches were gone! Flushed toilet and all is well! Now just think what that soda does to your stomach! Inexpensive result!Sue Eastford
- Hadlyme, Connecticut USA
Uhh, does it remove black scratches from your stomach inexpensively? Am I getting warmer or colder? :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
February 25, 2012
I too followed this post and got a can of Barkeepers Friend to tackle my toilet auger scratches. I just vacuumed the water out, sprinkled the magic dust, wiped with a wet paper towel (while wearing gloves) and woooosh...scratches gone. Awesome product. Highly recommended for this application.N Baird
- Chicago, Illinois
January 1, 2013
Q. We have a badly scratched up toilet bowl due to a snake. Awhile back, my husband drained and painted it. I'm not sure what kind of paint he used but the areas he painted have since turned a yellowish color - YUCK! It is a Toto bowl - and runs about 300. I'm about to replace unless there is an alternative. Not sure if I should bother trying barkeeper since it was already painted?
Any advice is appreciated.
- San Diego, California, USA
January 3, 2013
Q. Thanks, the barkeepers friend worked wonderfully. A different issue I have is that we had rust in another toilet tank, trying to get rid of it, I wiped the sediment, stirring it up, and when I flushed, the bowl became rusty. I tried to clean the rust with bleach and now have a pale blue tint where the water is. I cant find anything to get rid of this. Any ideas? thanks in advance. debbieDebbie Giannuzzi
- Tampa, Florida, USA
January 4, 2013
I found this site while looking for a way to re-glaze the inside of my OLD toilet bowl.
My toilet is a "Standard" which came with the house in 1956. At some point I realized that there was a build up of calcium at the bottom of the bowl that was hindering a complete and smooth flush. After attempts to clean it with Comet failed, I emptied and dried the bowl. I got a pumice stone and worked on it... far too long... so I got a knife and scraped it, having more success.
Now, the larger problem I'm having is with the sides of the bowl, where I also used the pumice. They will not come clean. It's as though I have a permanent stain which gets really bad between weekly cleanings with Comet. I believe the pumice put hair-line scratches in the finish that were not apparent until time allowed for the stain to develop.
So I don't believe any of the remedies will help my situation, because I don't have surface scratches from an auger or a coat hanger.
I don't like the new toilets, how can I salvage/restore this old one? I know someone with a kiln, is there some way to patch this problem? Or would the whole bowl need to be re-glazed with a specific process?
Thanks for any advise to restore it.
- Houston, Texas, USA
A. Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]! Works on tubs too.....James Cullen
- St.Louis, Missouri
October 18, 2013
Q. I was scrubbing my toilet bowl in my apartment and evidently overdid it and scrubbed too much in one area. This area near the waterline is now grayed rather than white. There are no scratches, though.
Will this much mentioned Barkeepers Friend solve this issue for me? I hope so.
- Burbank, California
November 23, 2013
A. Metal marks in your toilet bowl?
Salt and vinegar, baby! Works like a charm.
Make a paste of salt and vinegar (lots of salt), just enough to cover the marks. Let the paste sit on the marks for a while (5-10 minutes). Scrub with a scrubbing sponge like hell. Marks will be gone in no time.
Note: this is very environmentally friendly and cheap!
- Montreal, Canada
June 17, 2014
A. Baking soda and water worked perfectly. I drained the bowl using a combination of plunging the brush down it then getting the rest out with a sponge then I went at it with the baking soda and water paste.
No need for any fancy product. That's on a porcelain bowl.
- Peckham London United Kingdom
July 31, 2014
TOM: Can't thank you enough for your post. You turned a 4 day problem into a 10 minute job.David Reckard
- Highland Beach, Florida USA
August 8, 2014
we had lots of metal scratches on our old enamel bath ~ I read your wonderful thread ~ bought some Barkeepers Friend from Leighton Buzzard for £4.99 ~ a little elbow grease and WOW what a difference!!!
It looks like a new Bath!!
Thank you all for the Great advice and fabulous recommendation!
Kindest Regards, a very happy,
- mentmore Bucks United Kingdom
November 28, 2014
The Barkeepers Friend worked for me as well.John Schreiner
- St Charles Missouri USA
Scratched the toilet with pumice stoneDecember 21, 2014
Q. While using a pumice stone to clean a toilet in the basement apt my brother-in-law has kindly let us stay in for free while remodeling our new home we bought on auction. I have scratched it. Can someone give me advice? We can't afford a new toilet, but can't leave this either. It's an expensive one!Kim Grantham
- Lillington North Carolina us
February 4, 2015
Our plumber came and 'snaked' our toilet. Removed the blockage but left tons of scratches. I tried Barkeeper's Friend based on the many recommendations. This product worked like a charm. All scratches are GONE. This product saved my marriage and maybe $300 for a new toilet.Jim Neal
- Litchfield, Connecticut
July 31, 2015
Just used the Bar Keepers Friend as recommended. It worked great. All the scratches that happened when a toilet was snaked are gone. Thanks for reminding me of this great cleaner.Bob Hamm
- Fitchburg, Wisconsin USA
August 19, 2015
I don't know about the other products but Bar Keepers Friend solved my problem. Thank you.
My toilet was almost black because I used a home depot metal brush to clean it.
In the first try I didn't notice any change but I tried again and yes! black color was disappearing ... next try the black was out.
- Houston, Texas, USA
May 24, 2016
Just wanted to add weight to the bar keeper's friend band wagon, completely got the scratches off my toilet bowl after a plumber knocked his toilet snake down there. Brilliant, thank you guys for your help!Benjamin Phua
- Melbourne, VIC, Australia
September 10, 2016
A. Scratched toilet bowl as I incorrectly used a snake rather than toilet auger with protective sheath. VIM Cream (with micro-particles cleanser) found at grocery stores works beautifully and scratches all were removed.W Chew
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
March 19, 2017
A. LIME-A-WAY, toilet bowl cleaner, thick gel formula works without having to drain bowl etc. This is a thick green gel cleaner distributed by Reckit Benckiser and i bought it at Dollar General for a couple of bucks. Just put it around bowl under rim as you would when cleaning toilet. Let sit for about 3 hours and the scratches disappeared. I also used toilet brush before flushing and there are no signs of scratches left and there were plenty because I used a regular snake without plastic protection.Andrea Brown
- Lawton, Oklahoma