Cleaning a toilet tank can be a do-it-yourself project

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I had to be in the hospital for a couple weeks and when I returned home and used my toilet in my master bathroom, the water from the tank was dark brown and continues to be that way. The water is just fine everywhere else in the house, including the guest bathroom. How do I remedy this situation? I called a few plumbers but am not getting a callback. I’m sure they are busy and have other things to do. — No name, Auburn

ANSWER: Sometimes the water in the toilet tank can get rusty-looking from mineral buildup or corrosion of plumbing pipes or metal parts in the tank itself, especially if it hasn’t been used in a while. It’s easy to clean and just takes a small amount of your time. If you aren’t feeling well enough to do this job after your stay in the hospital, ask someone to do it for you. If you can wait until you’re up to doing it, the discolored water won’t hurt anything.

When you’re ready to tackle this project, buy a couple gallons of white vinegar (You may not need all of it, but it’s very inexpensive and you can always use it for other cleaning projects).

Put on rubber gloves and remove the tank cover, placing it on a towel on the floor. Without draining out the water, pour the vinegar into the tank, stopping at least an inch below the top rim. Let the vinegar-water solution sit for 12 hours to dissolve mineral deposits, rust and mildew. Flush the toilet a couple times to remove the vinegar from the tank. Then turn off the toilet’s water valve, usually located near the floor. Flush the toilet again to completely drain the water from the tank. Using a scrub brush, clean the inside of the tank to eliminate gunk and buildup. Wipe down the metal parts with a sponge to remove any rust.

Turn the water back on, flush the toilet again, and confirm that the water is clear in both the tank and the bowl then replace the tank cover.

For really stained tanks, you can turn the water valve off, flush the toilet until the tank is empty, and fill the tank with just vinegar (no water), letting it sit overnight.

If you’re still not satisfied with the results, there are products out there such as CLR, Iron Out and ZEP. These all work great but be sure to read about all the precautions and directions before using them. Open a window, turn on the bathroom fan, and use those rubber gloves. Readers, if you have other pointers, please share.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I’m late getting this letter out but wanted to thank the person who paid for my meal at Applebee’s on May 27. I don’t go out very much anymore, but because I was waiting for my kitchen stove to be fixed, I had been eating supper at area restaurants for a few days when this happened. It meant a lot to me as I wasn’t sure how much the repair would be. Luckily, it wasn’t as expensive as I thought. Thank you, fellow diner, for your kindness. You made my day. — No name, no town

ANSWER: Love it!

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected].

« Previous