There is a spot, in the toilet bowl, right underneath where the water sits, that is a bunch of brown scratches. This is a new apartment unit I'm moving in. If I just remove a few inches of water, I should be able to paint over it, so it doesn't look like there is some poop stains. What's the right way to go about this? What type of paint? What is the right way to remove enough water so that I can paint that spot under the sitting water?

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    I'm fairly certain that nothing that comes out of the bottom end of a human can scratch a toilet. I have seen a (poorly maintained) toilet have some kind of biomineral residue. You just got to try something that'll react/dissolve it, and scrub hard. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 8:22
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    Have you tried bleaching it yet?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 12:47
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    One does not paint porcelain.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 15:31
  • a new elongated (or round) "project source" toilet from lowes is $99 currently, they are better than any of the 10+ year old toilets. you said "scratches". you won't get that out of the current bowl. use a tank bleaching puck to give blue bowl water, the scratches will fiill in with that color - because the glaze is scratched, at best might change your scratch color to a more desirable color. replace your toilet.
    – ron
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 17:46
  • unless the current toilet is a Toto, or a current high end model Kohler, if it has a sprial flush that takes more than 2 seconds to flush completely, replace the toilet.
    – ron
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


Here's a trick we used to use on old houses that we renovated many years ago. You have to be very careful, but if you get a flexible razor blade (the typical kind), you can lightly scrape the hard water and other deposits off of the inside of the bowl. You have to go slow and with a light touch so as to not scratch the porcelain, but for some really bad toilets, this is the only thing we found that will work. Bend the razor blade as you work so that it conforms to the roundness of the bowl and try to just get the edge of the blade under the deposits but over the porcelain. You might end up with some faint silver scratch marks, but these are superficial and are from the blade not the bowl. They will come off with regular cleaner.

  • Sounds a delightful way to spend your time ;) I use these instead [UK] harpic.co.uk/products/tablets although the very worst I ever found took all 8 tablets, one a day, left 24h, to finally clear it.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 15:33

Turn off the toilet shut off valve and flush the toilet. The water will go out and the toilet won't be able to fill up. Let it dry and get some acrylic appliance paint and paint the area. Matching the paint could be a challenge unless it's white.

If this is a rental, get with the landlord and have him fix it or at least get their OK to do the work.

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    Since you’re renting, a minor caution about shutoff valves: some really old ones won’t work, and worse — once you touch them, they start leaking. Home inspectors around here won’t touch them for liability concerns. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 19:00
  • "The water will go out" … and immediately refill from the flush. You can't then flush it again, because there's no header. The water level will be exactly the same as it was before. You need to put something in the bowl to displace the water over the trap - hopefully without displacing enough to break the seal. A hand in a plastic bag might be sufficient.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 19:02
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    @Tetsujin With the shutoff valve turned off, once you flush, the tank empties, the bowl fills, whirlpools and empties and no water can get into the bowl or tank. The OP just wants the water to be below the waterline a few inches.
    – JACK
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 19:31
  • I’ve seen both situations where the bowl empties or refills. If it did refill, dump a gallon of water into the bowl — that’ll siphon out most and leave the level low. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 20:45
  • Your toilets must work differently to ours. 'bowl fills whirlpools & empties' … back to the exact same level it started from.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 5:52

Painting is likely to make it look worse and you'd need a paint that essentially needs to deal with flowing water and standing water. There's also a chance your landlord might now be happy about it, so documenting the current condition and getting their permission first is a good idea.

What you really need is an strain remover that's acidic - the stuff we use says "solvents, acid, surfactants" as its contents and comes in a brown plastic bottle. I just dump maybe a cup or two in, scrub it hard and leave it for about 10 minutes, and flush. Repeat until clean. It takes time (and this can mean, every day for a week, just keep at it till its clean or there's no difference)

Here's what it says on the bottle

Here's another example of what the bottle looks like, though its generic enough it is a different brand from what I use, which is whatever the supermarket has.

Vinegar (the white, slightly nasty synthetic stuff) might work, but the brown bottle stuff smells better.

  • For those who don't know what HomeSaver is (we don't all live in the same country!) could you give a hint on what the generic active ingredient is, please? Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 10:09
  • The bottle I have literally says "Solvents, Acid, Surfactants", as mentioned in the answer. Hence the mention of an acidic strain remover - I suspect its just sulphuric acid, detergent and water. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 10:14
  • Ah, OK. Here in Europe the active ingredients are always listed, together with anything else which might cause an adverse reaction in a human. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 10:17
  • I've added an image of the label. I'm not entirely convinced it'll help though. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 10:18
  • @AndrewLeach - yeah, "Ingredients: some nasty stuff" isn't likely to pass muster over here ;) …though they do get away with "Contains: 5-15% oxygen-based bleaching agents, <5 % : anionic surfactants, non-ionic surfactants" which is the label from the Harpic tabs I mentioned on another answer.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 15:39

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