10 Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners of 2023, Tested by Experts

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10 Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners of 2023, Tested by Experts

You think laundry day is bad? Try cleaning the toilet. It's no surprise this kind of scrubbing action is an overwhelmingly despised task, but it's a necessary evil to keep your home clean and your family healthy. And thankfully, having an effective, fast-working arsenal of toilet bowl cleaners on hand can make the dirty job a lot easier and quicker, not to mention more sanitary.

In the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, we know a lot about bathroom cleaning, including what ingredients dissolve the tough soils and stains most common on bathroom surfaces — like mold and mildew and hard water stains. We test hundreds of cleaning products each year to find the best for cleaning the bathroom. In fact, we recently spent weeks testing 27 different toilet cleaning products to find which ones require minimal effort and yield maximum results.

When we test toilet bowl cleaners, we go right to the source — home and office toilets. We enlist both Lab experts and consumer testers to assess how easy each cleaner is to use, how well it removes fresh and existing stains and how clean it leaves the bowl overall. We also review the ingredients, packaging and more.

For best results overall, consider stocking an assortment that includes a cleaner for stains inside the bowl, like one of our picks below, a sturdy, effective toilet bowl brush and disinfecting wipes for the seat, rim, tank, handle and outer base. Below, you'll find more details about our toilet bowl cleaner recommendations along with specifics about how we test and what to consider when buying a toilet bowl cleaner.

In our tests, toilet grime disappeared within minutes of applying Clorox with Bleach toilet bowl cleaner, which meant very little scrubbing was necessary to tackle tough stains. This cleaner contains bleach, so it whitens, kills 99.9% of germs and deodorizes the toilet, too, when used according to label directions. To sanitize, apply the product, brush the bowl and let the whole thing sit for 5 minutes. To disinfect, let it set a bit longer — approximately 10 minutes.

Because the liquid is light in color, we found it a bit hard to see where the solution was applied and often ended up adding more to make sure the entire toilet bowl was covered. This may lead you to go through the product faster than necessary. Also worth noting: Bleach isn't effective on rust stains, so if that's your issue, it's best to select a cleaner that is formulated to remove rust.

Unlike our top overall pick, you’ll never have to wonder where you poured the Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner. This budget-friendly gel cleaner clung to the bowl and its dark blue color made it easy to see where it was applied.

On the downside, you'll need to do a bit of scrubbing, but it with a little bit of elbow grease, the solution removed tough stains and left the toilet bowl sparkling. Plus, it kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and has an angled neck for easy application under the toilet rim — an area that's prone to buildup, but easy to miss.

In-tank toilet bowl cleaners work by dissolving in the water in the tank and automatically filling the bowl with cleaner after every flush for continuous freshness and to help keep stains from sticking to the sides of the bowl. We found these tablets were easy to drop in the tank, but it did take a few flushes to start to see them working. While these tablets were not a substitute for regular deeper cleanings in our tests, they will help cut down on the number of cleanings your toilet needs.

Importantly, the manufacturer claims that the toilet water with these drop-in tablets added is not harmful to kids or pets and that the tablets won’t damage plumbing or septic systems, but we recommend exercising caution. Prevent pets from drinking from any toilets where tablets are used and only place tablets in toilets that are flushed regularly so the concentration of cleaner doesn’t build up in the tank and potentially damage the parts.

In our tests, the curved neck on the bottle made it a cinch to apply this liquid cleaner under the toilet rim and tackle those hard-to-see stains. And for those who tend to second guess their efforts, you’ll know the Scrubbing Bubbles Power Stain Destroyer is working when it changes from green to blue as it gets rid of limescale and rust.

After letting the cleaner sit for 15 minutes, the marks scrubbed away with ease. Our tests did suggest that stubborn stains may require longer treatment time or re-application. On the bright side, it’s safe to let the product sit overnight if needed, plus the product is especially budget-friendly.

If you don’t like the idea of a used toilet bowl cleaning brush sitting around, then this Clorox Toilet Wand System is for you. It’s an all-in-one toilet brush pre-loaded with cleaner — no extra product required. In our tests, it was easy to dip the scrub pad in the toilet water to activate the solution and start cleaning. After cleaning it was easy to dispose of the scrub pad by simply pressing the button on the handle and releasing it into the trash. We love that it’s a hands-free disposal, but on occasion the cleaning pad stuck to the handle when pushing the button, requiring some extra effort to get it off.

You do pay for the convenience of it all. This toilet bowl cleaner is more expensive than others, plus, you will have to purchase refills. Ultimately, though, this product is cleaner and neater than storing a drippy toilet brush — especially if you have curious kiddos around the house.

This gel cleaner was simple to use and comes in individually wrapped packets to make application and disposal neat and easy. Simply dispense one dose of gel so it clings to the inside surface of the bowl where it dissolves slowly to help clean and freshen with each flush. One application lasts up to two weeks.

Unfortunately, Click Gels can’t replace the need for a good scrubbing in a toilet that’s already badly stained, and it's more likely to help delay the formation of rings rather than prevent any new stains. They will help reduce the number of cleanings needed and help keep the toilet smelling fresh. Our testers liked the scent, too — the Atlantic Fresh fragrance was pleasant but not overpowering.

Though we haven't formally tested this toilet bowl cleaner, we've tested others like it. These kinds of tools work well to remove the really tough hard water and calcium buildup that forms around the water line in the toilet. It also effectively tackles other problem areas in badly stained toilets without scratching the bowl. You will, however, need to stock other cleaning supplies to fully clean, sanitize and disinfect.

It's easy to use. Just hold the tool by the handle and wet the pumice, then scrub lightly until the buildup is removed. We love that this particular pumice comes with a storage case, keeping a potentially icky surface away from the rest of the other items you regularly reach for.

After testing EC30's alternative laundry detergent swatches, we had high hopes for the brand's toilet pouches. Each pouch is filled with toilet cleaner that foams up and dissolves to give the bowl a thorough clean. All you have to do is drop it in, wait for it to foam up and scrub and flush.

The product is pricey and doesn't disinfect, but it turned out to be an innovative alternative to traditional toilet bowl cleaners. We thought it was better than any other new toilet cleaner tested this year and the convenience can't be beaten. There are no messy bottles to store, it's plastic-free and it's highly effective on tough stains — what more could you want? The manufacturer also claims it's safe for septic systems.

Not only does this brush leave your toilet sparkling clean, but it also has angled bristles that are specifically designed to clean under the rim, making the job easier. During testing, it took a few tries to get the hang of using the angled bristles correctly, but the bristles on the head were strong enough to scrub away tough build-up.

After cleaning, the brush was easy to put back in the caddy where the built-in drip tray caught the excess water. It also has ventilated slots for quick drying, so you’re not left with a wet, messy caddy or brush.

There's more to cleaning a toilet than just cleaning inside the bowl and under the rim. The tank, seat, exterior and handle all need attention, too — and sometimes more frequently, like when someone in the family is sick. The easiest, quickest way to accomplish this is with a cleaning and disinfecting wipe. Clorox's Scentiva Wipes not only sanitize and disinfect hard non-porous surfaces — including killing the Covid-19 virus — but they do so while leaving a fresh, pleasant scent behind.

We like Clorox wipes for their ample size and effective cleaning without leaving heavy, surface-dulling residue behind. They kill viruses in 15 to 30 seconds and bacteria in 4 minutes. They can even help keep bacteria from growing on treated surfaces for up to 24 hours, a real plus for toilet bowl flush handles.

The best way to test toilet bowl cleaners is to evaluate them on frequently used and naturally soiled toilet bowl surfaces. To do that, we enlist our Lab experts and consumer testers to take the test products home and scrub away. We ask for feedback about how well and how quickly they worked, how easy they were to use and the types of stains they removed. We also want to know where they fell short. And, when necessary, we've even been known to test products in our office restrooms. In the Lab, we also review the clarity and completeness of the label directions, the need for any safety warnings based on the ingredients and how easy and neat each product is to use.

✔️ Type: When it comes to selecting a cleaner for inside the bowl to tackle hard water rings, rust stains and more, the options are endless and there’s no one-size-fits-all product. Thick liquids are formulated to cling to vertical bowl surfaces to coat and dissolve stuck-on stains so they are easier to brush away. While some people may prefer a traditional liquid toilet cleaner and toilet brush, others may like the convenience of a toilet wand with a disposable cleaning head that’s pre-loaded with cleaner. There are also tablets and gels that either go in the toilet tank or attach inside the toilet bowl to help keep your toilet clean in between deep cleanings by automatically dispensing a bit of cleaner with every flush to clean continuously and keep soil from accumulating. Look for cleaners specifically geared toward your toilet problem, for example, rust is best taken care of with a cleaner that’s specifically formulated to remove rust. ✔️ Ingredients: While certain ingredients, like bleach, are great for removing tough stains and disinfecting the toilet, they may not be the right choice for someone who has kids or pets, or does not want to be exposed to a chemical smell. Also, some gels and tablets may be safe for toilet tanks or septic systems while others may not be recommended. Despite any manufacturer claims around safety, concentrated cleaners are best used in toilets that are flushed regularly. Be sure to check the labels to ensure the cleaner fits your lifestyle and needs. ✔️ Longevity: The lifespan of toilet cleaners can vary, especially with tablets and gels. Some tablets and gels can last anywhere from a week to a few months. Make sure to read the label for how long the manufacturer says the product in question lasts so you’ll know how frequently you need to replace them.

Jamie Kim has over 17 years of experience developing products and researching, reporting on and testing consumer products in the home, cleaning, textiles, media and technology categories. For this story, she worked with Carolyn Forté, Executive Director of the GH Cleaning Lab, who has over 40 years of experience testing all types of cleaning products, including toilet bowl cleaners. With three toilets of her own that she cleans weekly, she had plenty of personal experience. Jamie called in and tested a wide variety of toilet bowl cleaners and compared them head-to-head to find the best for this review.

Jamie Kim is a consumer products expert with over 17 years of experience in areas of product development and manufacturing. She has held leading roles at both mid-size consumer goods companies and one of the most notable and largest apparel brands in the world. Jamie has contributed to several of the GH Institute Labs, including Kitchen Appliances, Media and Tech, Textiles and Home Appliances. In her free time she enjoys cooking, traveling, and working out.

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10 Best Toilet Bowl Cleaners of 2023, Tested by Experts

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