Having yellow stains on your toilet seat can be highly embarrassing, especially if you have visitors in your home who might see them – and it can be particularly problematic if you can’t get the stains off.
There are several reasons why these stains might appear, but one of the worst is due to bleach. So, to help you understand this problem and how to resolve the issue, in this post, we talk about what to do if a toilet seat turned yellow after bleaching.
Why does bleach turn toilet seats yellow?
Bleaches are incredibly useful cleaning products. They can effectively remove stains, kill mold and bacteria, disinfect surfaces and more, so it’s no wonder that most households have at least some kind of bleach stored away as part of their cleaning armoury.
However, bleaches are also powerful chemicals, and when not used correctly, they can also damage the very things you’re trying to clean.
One example could be causing the colors to fade in clothes, and another is staining toilet seats yellow – but why does this happen?
Sodium hypochlorite – more commonly known as chlorine bleach – is one type of bleach that is often used as a household cleaner.
Unfortunately, when undiluted, it is also corrosive, and when used in this way, it can react with the polymers in your toilet seat, changing the color.
The risk increases after repeated use or in higher concentrations, but sometimes, even one application of this bleach can change the color of a toilet seat.
So what can you do if this happens? Let’s look at this next.
What can you do when it happens?
If your toilet has already changed color due to the use of bleach, we have some bad news for you. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to remove this “stain” because, in fact, it isn’t a stain at all.
Rather, the bleach has permanently altered the color of your toilet seat, leaving you with only two options: either you can replace the toilet seat, or you can paint it. Other than this, the only thing you can do is accept the discolored toilet seat and leave it as it is.
1. Replacing your toilet seat
Replacing your toilet seat may be the best option. Toilet seats don’t have to be expensive, and removing the old one and fitting a new one isn’t a difficult job.
Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to check out some more original toilet seat designs, adding a touch of style to your bathroom.
However, some people might feel this is a big hassle, in which case, painting over the stain may be an option to consider.
2. Painting over the stain
If you want to paint over the stain, you will need to start by removing the seat and cleaning it thoroughly. After that, you should spray it with a special paint primer.
Once this is dry, you can then paint over the discolored areas with paint that’s suitable for the material of your toilet seat to restore it to something like how it looked before.
How can you avoid bleach turning your toilet seat yellow?
As you have by now probably realized, changing the color of your toilet seat by bleaching it is something you probably want to avoid – so what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen?
The simplest answer is to not use bleach on your toilet seat at all – that way, there’s no risk of it happening. In a moment, we’ll look at some other safer cleaning products you can use instead, but if you still feel you have to use bleach, what can you do to minimize the risk?
First, you should never use undiluted bleach. If you read the instructions on the packaging, it will tell you the correct proportion of bleach to mix with water to make a cleaning solution – and you should follow these instructions carefully.
That way, the cleaning solution you mix up won’t be so potent that it damages your toilet seat.
Second, make sure you rinse the toilet seat thoroughly and completely after washing it with bleach. Even diluted bleach can damage a toilet seat if given enough time to act, so make sure you remove all traces of bleach right after cleaning.
Finally, check the label on the packaging to see if the bleach you have is suitable for cleaning your toilet seat.
The instructions should give you a list of the materials the bleach is safe to clean as well as those it shouldn’t be used to clean. If the label advises against it, don’t use it on your toilet seat.
Now let’s have a look at some other products you can use instead.
What natural cleaning products can you use instead?
Vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning products around. The active ingredient is acetic acid, a mild acid that is nonetheless powerful enough to remove a whole range of stains while also killing bacteria and mold.
The only real downside is the pungent odor, but this soon dissipates after use.
The simplest way to use vinegar is to mix up a one-to-one solution with water and then pour it into a spray bottle.
Once you have done this, you just need to spray it onto the area you want to clean, leave it for around half an hour and then wipe it off using a cloth, old towel, rag or sponge and some warm water.
The best choice is cleaning-grade white vinegar, simply because it’s extremely inexpensive and easy to get hold of. You could also use any kind of food-grade vinegar such as wine vinegar or malt vinegar – but these are more expensive.
2. Lemon juice
Just like vinegar, lemon juice contains acid, this time citric acid, and it works in the same way as the acetic acid in vinegar.
This means pure lemon juice can be used just like vinegar as a cleaning agent, with the added advantage that it has a naturally pleasant odor. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix before applying it to improve the odor further.
Unfortunately, buying lemons and squeezing the juice to use as a cleaner works out much more expensive than using white vinegar, which might put some people off.
3. Bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda – also known as baking soda – is another common cleaning product that’s found in most homes.
To use it, you can mix it into a paste with a little water and apply it to stained surfaces with an old toothbrush. Leave it to act and then wash it off, just like with vinegar.
To make an even more potent paste, substitute vinegar for the water when you make the paste, and you will find that it can deal with even the most stubborn of stains.
If you don’t have a more conventional toilet cleaner to hand, you can also try Coca-Cola. Like vinegar and lemon juice, Coke is slightly acidic, and this, combined with the carbonation, can help remove hard water stains, leaving you with a clean toilet seat.
What are some other reasons for toilet seats to turn yellow?
Bleach is not the only reason for toilet seats to turn yellow, and it probably isn’t even the most common.
When it comes to yellow stains on toilet seats, the main culprits are urine and hard water – while another possibility is sunlight – so let’s have a quick look at each of these in turn now.
1. Urine stains
If your guests go into your bathroom and discover yellow stains on your toilet seat, they’ll probably assume that they’re dirty urine stains, which is why stains caused by bleach are so embarrassing, even if they’re not what they seem.
However, as well as trying to avoid bleach stains, you’ll also want to take steps to ensure real urine stains don’t appear – because even if your guests don’t see them, they’re still pretty unhygienic and downright gross.
If somebody urinates on the toilet seat, the urine will react with air to create a stain – and the longer the urine sits there, the more difficult the stain will be to remove.
The short answer to what to do about this problem is to make sure you clean your toilets regularly – at least once a week – and to clean any urine stains you notice immediately.
Of course, if the urine stains are on the top of your toilet seat, it means that somebody is not bothering to lift the toilet seat when they do their number ones standing up, so you might also want to speak to that person about polite bathroom habits!
2. Hard water stains
When water falls from the sky as rain, it is free from any mineral impurities, but as that rain travels through the local geology on the way to our water supplies, it can pick a whole range of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and more.
These minerals are not dangerous to our health, and in some cases, they may be beneficial, which is why people buy so much mineral water. However, their effect on our plumbing systems is another matter.
When hard water containing minerals passes through our pipes and comes out of our faucets, it leaves mineral deposits behind.
The amount of deposit left is tiny, but over time, it can build up, eventually leaving unsightly limescale deposits on our fixtures.
When this happens, the deposits show up as brown or yellow stains.
This kind of stain is more likely to appear where there is running water – so in your toilet bowl where the water enters the bowl when you flush.
However, if you don’t keep the underside of your toilet seat clean, splashes from flushing can eventually develop into mineral deposits too.
The good news is that stains like this are easy to remove – the acid in vinegar is highly effective at dealing with alkaline deposits such as these, so the vinegar spray method described above should be all you need to return your toilet seat to its former shining glory.
One final cause of discoloration is sunlight. If your toilet is exposed to direct sunlight, it can slowly cause the color of the seat to fade due to the UV light, the same rays that cause sunburn on our skin.
Unfortunately, like toilet stains caused by bleach, this kind of stained toilet seat cannot be cleaned since the color of the seat will have been permanently altered, meaning your only options are to paint the toilet seat or replace it entirely.
Avoid using pumice stones to clean stains
You may read online that you can use a pumice stone to scrub stubborn stains. However, this should be avoided since pumice stones are abrasive and will scratch your toilet seat or the porcelain of your toilet bowl.
If you need to scrub your toilet, using a regular toilet brush is a much better idea since it won’t damage your toilet.
Test bleach on an inconspicuous part of your toilet seat first
If you must use bleach on your toilet seat, test it on an inconspicuous part first. That way, if you see your toilet seat turning yellow, you will know not to use that product on parts of your toilet that are more visible.
Never mix bleach with other products
Although you might think mixing cleaning products will just give you a more potent cleaning agent, you should never mix other cleaners with bleach.
This is because some chemicals – including ammonia and even something as innocuous as vinegar – can react with bleach to create chlorine gas, which is poisonous if you breathe it in.
Avoid using bleach as much as possible
The best advice if you want to avoid your toilet seat turning yellow after bleaching is to avoid using bleach as a cleaner altogether. In this post, we have highlighted several other less harmful options that work just as well, so there should be no need to turn to bleach anyway.
However, if you must use bleach, make sure you dilute it, be certain to follow the instructions and don’t forget to clean it off the toilet seat thoroughly after. That way, even if you do turn to bleach, you will minimize the risk of developing those unpleasant yellow stains.