What Causes Yellow Stains On Toilet Seat | All You Need To Know

The main causes of yellow stains on toilet seats are urine residue and hard water. However, poor routine cleaning, undiluted bleach, exposure to direct sunlight, and aging toilet seats can also build up yellow stains. 

About a month ago, I attended a conference in Las Vegas. Thanks to the generosity of a friend who let me stay in her home, I was able to save money on hotel fees.

Everything about the house was perfect, except for the toilet seat, which had yellow rings. This was an eyesore, but no fault of hers! Her lack of cleanliness was not to blame. However, I could hardly “bake a loaf” throughout my stay.

She’s tried various toilet cleaners, but the stain persists, and she was planning to hire a professional cleaner.

Well, not on my watch. I had grown up with my grandma long enough to know what caused those yellow stains and how to remove them,

So, after my conference, we tested some of my favorite methods, and she was amazed the toilet seat became gleaming white. The secret to our success was identifying the causes of the yellow stains. 

If you’re struggling with yellow stains on your toilet seat, it’s more than just urine residues causing the problem.

In this article, we’ll explore other potential causes of yellow stains on your toilet seat and 5 effective methods to get rid of them.

what causes yellow stains on toilet seat

Causes of Yellow Stains On Your Toilet Seat

Despite how clean you keep your toilet, plastic toilet seats are known for turning yellow over time. And you may eventually need to replace them.

Below are several possible causes of these yellow stains. Some may seem obvious, but others may surprise you.

Urine Residue

Urine contains a pigment called urobilin which causes yellow stains. So every time you pee and your toilet seat collects urine drops and splashes, yellow stains will develop. The longer the stains go unclean, the harder it becomes to remove.

Hard Water

Hard water contains calcium, magnesium, and iron, which sticks to any surface easily. Over time, these mineral deposits from hard water will accumulate and become visible on your toilet seat as a yellow ring.

The yellow stains from hard water are really stubborn ones and will require extra effort and stronger cleaning products that contain acidic elements. 

Use Of Undiluted Bleach

We are often tempted to clean our toilets with bleach to achieve the best results. However, undiluted bleach can damage the porcelain and cause yellow stains or permanent discoloration. 

There are better alternatives to bleach that work really well for me, and I will be sharing them as you read on. However, If you really must use bleach, dilute at least 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water.


The UV light from the sun, which causes sunburns on the skin, has the same effect on toilet seats, only this time the color changes to yellow. Excessive sunlight can cause yellow stains on your toilet if it is too close to a window.

Ageing Toilet seat

If a toilet seat has been in use for a long time, a yellow stain may develop, even if it is cleaned and maintained regularly. At this point, you may want to replace the toilet cover entirely.

How To Get Yellow Stain Off Your Toilet Seat

how to clean a toilet seat

Now that you know what’s causing the yellow stains on your toilet seat, let’s get rid of them using simple and effective DIY methods.

To get started, we need to gather some materials.

Materials Needed:

  • Cleaning solution (homemade or store-bought).
  • Water
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Non-abrasive Sponge/Brush
  • Towel
  • Bowl 

Combine Baking Soda And Vinegar

These are my go-to cleaning supplies for every room in the house, and they should be in every home. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar produces carbonic acid, a chemical compound that is effective for removing stains.

Here is how to start your cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar;

  • Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar in a bowl.
  • Put on your gloves and thoroughly swirl the solution.
  • Dip a non-abrasive sponge in the solution, and use the sponge to scrub the toilet seat gently.
  • When dealing with tough yellow stains, sprinkle baking soda directly on the stain as you scrub.
  • Allow the solution to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • Then, wipe the toilet seat with a cloth dipped in clean, warm water to restore the sparkle.
  • Stubborn stains may require repeating the treatment.

Use Coca Cola And Baking Soda

You probably never would have guessed that you can use Coca-Cola to remove toilet stains! However, mixing it with baking soda is apparently quite effective and works really well for me.

Coca-Cola drinks contain phosphoric acid, which is strong enough to soften stains and make them easier to scrub away. Combining it with baking soda, it becomes even more effective.

To get started; 

  • Pour 2 cups of Coca-Cola over the toilet seat stains.
  • Then, sprinkle baking soda on the toilet seat.
  • Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  • Scrub the already softened stains with a non-abrasive sponge.
  • Rinse the toilet seat with water to restore its gleaming white color.

Using Borax and Vinegar

Borax is also an excellent multipurpose cleaner, particularly for tough stains. However, mixing with vinegar makes it even more effective for yellow stains on toilet seats. 

To effectively use Borax and Vinegar; 

  • Pour a cup of borax on your toilet seat.
  • Add 1/2 cup vinegar directly over the borax.
  • Gently rub your toilet seat with a soft sponge to allow the chemical to soak.
  • Allow the paste to sit for 15 minutes on your toilet seat.
  • Then, Gently scrub with a brush to remove stains.
  • Rinse with water to completely remove all residues. 

Mix Lemon Juice And Salt

Apparently, your lemon juice and salt are not only useful in the kitchen. They can also be a suitable cleaning solution for getting rid of yellow stains on your toilet seat.

  • Mix equal parts lemon juice and salt in a bowl.
  • Apply the mixture directly to the surface of the toilet seat.
  • You should allow the solution to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • Then, use a non-abrasive sponge to scrub the toilet seat to remove stains.
  • Rinse the toilet seat to restore its sparkle.

Use A ReliableToilet Cleaner

cleaning materials to clean toilet seats

Most toilet cleaners are great for cleaning and removing stubborn stains; however, they are my least favorite method, and for the right reasons.

Some cleaners contain bleach and other harsh chemicals that can damage your toilet seat and cause discoloration in the long run. Therefore, you should always check your toilet cleaner’s bleach concentration before use.

If you must use toilet cleaners; 

  • Pour a measured amount of cleaning solution onto the edge of your toilet seat.
  • Wipe off any spills on the floor with a rag or towel.
  • Allow the cleaner to sit on the toilet seat for 15-minutes.
  • Using a non-abrasive brush, scrub the seat until the yellow stains fade.
  • Spray toilet cleaner directly on the stain as you scrub for stubborn stains.
  • Rinse with water and dry the toilet seat with a towel.
  • If the stains remain, repeat the soaking and scrubbing process until you are satisfied.

Additional Cleaning Tips

  • When you spray any cleaning solution on your toilet seat, let it sit for enough time to allow it to do its work. We tend to spray a product and then wipe it away almost immediately.
  • To avoid scratching your toilet seat, do not scrub it with a hard brush.
  • Don’t be discouraged if your toilet still has yellow stains after the first application of baking soda. It might take a few tries. If stains remain, repeat the process.
alternative methods to clean toilet seats

How To Prevent Yellow Stains On Your Toilet Seat

If you want to keep your toilet seat looking clean and new, don’t wait for yellow stains to appear before you clean them off. Instead, to avoid wasting your time and effort, follow my maintenance tips to prevent those pesky stains:

  • Always flush the toilet after use and remember to clean the guest room toilet daily, even if it is not in use. 
  • Regularly disinfect and wash the toilet bowl and seat regularly with homemade or commercial detergents.
  • It’s best to stop using hard brushes on your toilet seats. Harsh brushes create tiny holes on the toilet seat for hard water minerals and urine to settle in and build up stains.
  • Avoid using very harsh brushes on your toilet. This can damage its coating, creating little holes that allow minerals and urine to settle and form stains.
  • Stop using bleach on the toilet seat. 

FAQs On What Causes Yellow Stains On Toilet Seat

Does Bleach Discolor the Toilet?

Yes, bleach can cause your white toilet to change colors. However, that depends on the product and how often you use it.

How Do I Get the Smell of Urine Out of My Toilet?

To get rid of the smell, you can spray baking soda in the toilet and allow it to sit for about an hour before rinsing off. You can also add a deodorizing additive to your toilet tank. Remember to keep the toilet area ventilated and use an air freshener when necessary.

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