Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner: The Update

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of homemade cleaners.  On cleaning day you can find me going all around my house with my spray bottle of vinegar and water.  I clean my mirrors with club soda, and scour my sink with baking soda.  I’ve become more and more convinced that these old fashioned cleaning strategies are still great today for all kinds of cleaning jobs.

But as much as I love my homemade cleaners, I was pretty slow about trying to find a homemade toilet bowl cleaner.  It was just one of those areas where I was didn’t feel much of a need to make a change.  But finally at the beginning of this year I started testing out a recipe to see if this was an area where I could save a few a few bucks and make the switch to homemade too.

So now here I am . . . several months later . . . still using homemade toilet bowl cleaner.

{ and feeling a little smarter about the whole thing too }

Here’s an update:

How to make a homemade toilet bowl cleaner

The Pros and Cons of Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The original recipe I was using was a mixture of water, baking soda, liquid castile soap, and tea tree oil.  (you can read the original post here: homemade toilet bowl cleaner).  As time went by however, I started noticing a few things:

This combo of ingredients always separated.  It’s wasn’t too big of a deal to always shake it up again, but it did make me wonder if there might be a better mix of ingredients.

It doesn’t cling under the rim.  Now I appreciate why store bought toilet bowl cleaners are the thicker consistency that they are.  They really do cling under the toilet bowl rim much better.  When you squirt this homemade mixture under the toilet bowl rim, it doesn’t stay there.  It quickly runs back down into the bowl.  I would think I had that under-the-rim area clean but a few weeks later I would see spots and realize it wasn’t getting clean with just a swish of the toilet brush after all.

So yeah, there were a couple of negatives, but there were some positives too:

I liked that this was a natural cleaner

I loved the smell of the eucalyptus castile soap

It mixed together quickly when I wanted to make more

I liked the repurposed dish soap container it was in for squirting it around.

It left the main part of the toilet bowl very clean and shiny even though I had to reconsider what to do about under the rim

With those pros and cons in mind I decided to make two little tweaks – one to the recipe and one to my cleaning method.

My Updated Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The first small change I made was to switch from using baking soda in this recipe to using borax instead.  The borax mixes in better and it’s no longer separating when it’s sitting still. I also think borax has a little more cleaning power than baking soda.

How to make a homemade toilet bowl cleaner

The second small change to my cleaning method was for cleaning under the rim.  I squirt this cleaner around the bowl and under the rim, then clean around with the toilet brush and THEN – finish up by squirting a little more of this cleaner on a damp scrubbie sponge and scrubbing around good under the rim.  Maybe I should have ALWAYS been cleaning this good with a scrubbie under the rim!

Here’s the complete updated recipe and instructions:

How to make a homemade toilet bowl cleaner

Updated Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner


Start with one cup of very hot water in a measuring cup.  Add the 2 tablespoons of borax and stir and smash it up to dissolve it.  (This is why I use hot water, to help dissolve the borax).   Once you have the borax dissolved to your satisfaction, pour the water/borax mixture into the container you will be using for your homemade toilet bowl cleaner.  I’ve found that a repurposed dish soap bottle works great.

Add the remaining 3/4 cup of hot water, the 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap, and the 20 drops of tea tree essential oil and gently shake to combine.

TO USE:  Squirt the cleaner around the toilet bowl and scrub with a toilet brush.  For additional cleaning under the rim, squirt some of the mixture onto a damp scrubbie/sponge, scrub under the rim, and flush.


So there’s the update for that cleaner.  I decided to test out an update to my big batch homemade laundry soap this week too and that recipe is coming up next!


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  1. I have well water heavy in minerals.
    I’ve tried so many homemade toilet bowl cleaners to get rid of the ring at the water level. Loads of elbow grease later I still haven’t found a solution.
    What do you recommend!
    Thank you!

    1. One thing to try is putting a cup of borax in the toilet bowl, and then let it set for several hours (or overnight) and then scrub. It’s the soaking time for this method that seems to work. Another cleaner to try (which isn’t homemade) is Bar Keepers Friend which seems to clean lots of tough stuff like toilet bowl rings.

  2. I have also been timid about homemade toilet bowel cleaner until now! Excited to try it! thanks for the tips and honest reviews!

  3. I really like using this cleaner. It works better than the blue and I feel good about using this. Just made my second batch – Thank you for sharing this.

    1. My research showed that the items in this mixture are natural items that are safe to use in a septic system. My understanding is the main thing to avoid with septic tanks is too much bleach or other strong antibacterial, and this mixture is a milder option that does not have those strong chemicals.

    2. Yes, I believe this is septic safe, as my research showed that the items in this mixture are natural items that are safe. My understanding is the main thing to avoid with septic tanks is too much bleach or other strong antibacterial. This mixture is a milder option that doesn’t have those strong chemicals.

  4. I’m allergic to tea tree oil. Can you suggest an alternative? I’m thinking lemon or orange maybe.

    1. My first suggestion for a substitution to tea tree oil would be lavender, which is often used in homemade cleaners for its antibacterial properties. Lemon and Peppermint are good choices too.

  5. Would adding corn starch to the hot water before you mix it to the other ingredients help to “gel-up” the mixture as it cools down for more of a “cling” to the bowl effect?

    1. I realize this is an old post, but I just found it today. I have used xanthan gum in another toilet cleaning formula. Just add enough so it thickens and then sticks to the sides of the bowl. I will be adding it with this formula.

  6. Do you mix up a new batch each time you clean your toilet or can the remaining mixture sit in the bottle and get used again next time without needing to add any ingredients? If the latter, does it seem to clean as well when the solution is recently made compared to after it has sat in the bottle for a week or two (or more)? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Jenn – I don’t mix a new batch every time. I just mix up a batch and let it sit between uses. I shake it up a bit when I get it out to use it again. It still works good even weeks after making it. I hope that helps!

  7. I thought essential oils ate away at plastic and needed to be in glass containers? Does the 20 drops not add up to enough to harm the plastic? Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. I have been using this for awhile now and have not had any problems with the mixture being in a plastic bottle. I think the oils are diluted enough in this mixture that the plastic is OK.

  8. I would love to be able to clean my whole house with homemade cleaners. It looks like you’re on to something with this. Thank you for linking at the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party. Hope to see you again next week.