If you live with roommates who lose the ability to aim after a few drinks, you’re probably used to finding urine stains on the toilet seat. The same goes for people who are in the process of potty training their toddlers. In any case, knowing how to remove urine stains from toilet seats is a useful life skill.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about the subject. So let’s turn my misfortune into a learning opportunity for you. We can’t have you living with permanent blemishes on your plastic toilet seat, can we? But first, let’s talk about how these regrettable misfires can become permanent stains on your toilet seat — if they are permanent at all.
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Why Does Urine Stain Your Toilet Seat?
If you’re frequently finding urine stains on your toilet seat, the first question you might ask is: “Why?” Why do so many of these unseemly stains end up on your toilet seat as opposed to, say, the toilet bowl itself? Well, the answer is quite simple.
You see, unlike the toilet bowl, the toilet seats are generally made of plastic (plastic vs. wood toilet seat). Despite the manufacturers’ claims, most of them are not, in fact, stainproof. Sadly, plastic is no match for the particular mix of compounds that can be found in human urine.
Conversely, toilet bowls are usually ceramic. After air-drying and baking the clay, the manufacturers add a vitreous china glaze. That mix of different kinds of clay, silica, and fusing agents is then baked again, ensuring a strong and even finish. The resulting gloss is not just aesthetically pleasing — it also prevents most substances from staining the clay beneath it.
Yet, even though most toilet seats are made of inferior materials, they still shouldn’t stain easily. For example, let’s say you waited a few minutes to wipe off your toddler’s splatter.
If that was long enough for the stain to set, you might want to consider getting a new toilet seat. No toilet seat should be that susceptible to discolorations. On the other hand, if the stain was just a splash you didn’t catch on time, you should be able to lift it with the right tools.
Choosing the Right Urine Stain Remover
Depending on the severity of the stain you’re treating, you’ll either use a homemade solution or more harsh cleaners.
If the stain isn’t baked into the seat yet, you might be able to get away with using some of the ingredients you already have in your home:
- White vinegar
- Baking soda
- A small bowl
- A toothbrush
- Two small towels
- A sponge
- Disinfectant spray (if you want to be extra sure the seat is clean after you’ve lifted the stain)
On the other hand, if you’re not sure the gentle approach will work on the stain you want to lift, you could always go straight for the big guns. You’ll need:
- Bleach powder
- A commercial toilet cleaner (there are also ones that are specifically made for urine stains — though they pretty much have the same ingredients)
- A scrubbing brush (not the kind you put into the toilet bowl)
- Lime or limescale remover
- Liquid soap (and warm water to rinse the toilet seat with after you use the harsher chemicals)
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DIY Removing Urine Stains From Toilet Seats
Baking soda is one of the best things you could possibly have in your household — it can be used for cleaning many different areas in your home. In this case, you could use it to make a foamy, slightly runny paste by combining it with either warm water or vinegar. There are other ingredients you might add as well, such as alcohol, tea tree oil, or dish soap. However, most of the time, the basics will do the trick just fine.
Usually, the size of the stain will determine the amount of baking soda you use. However, most people can start with two tablespoons and add baking soda as needed. The ratio of baking soda to water or vinegar should be about 1:2, so you should have double the amount of liquid in the mix.
Once you have your paste, apply it to the stained areas by scrubbing it on with a toothbrush or a sponge. Repeat that process twice, rinsing the sponge between applications. After you do your second pass, leave the paste on the stain for about 10–20 minutes.
When it’s time to wash the paste off, soak an old towel with warm water, and run it over the seat. You may have to fold it and wipe the seat several times to get all of the paste off. If the stain isn’t completely gone, repeat the process as many times as you deem necessary. The mixture is gentle, so it won’t damage your toilet seat.
After you wipe the seat with the wet rag for the last time, remove any remaining moisture with a dry towel. Finally, you can also spray the area with a disinfectant, for good measure.
Using Harsher Chemicals to Remove Urine Stains
If you find that your homemade cleaning solution isn’t strong enough to lift the stain, it’s time to get the bleach. But first, you should protect yourself from the chemicals by wearing gloves and a mask. Now, let’s see what you should do if you see that the stain is too stubborn to lift out of the plastic.
Before you apply the bleach, you’ll need to make sure the toilet seat is as clean as it can be. That will ensure that the bleach can immediately start working on the stain. For this step, you can spray any old cleaning solution on both sides of the seat. Scrub the solution in with a brush, wipe it off with a damp rag, and let the toilet seat dry.
After you give the seat a good wash, use the bleach to target only the discolorations. If you’re using a bleach powder, add some water to it to make a paste. Apply the mixture and let it sit on the stains for about 10 minutes before scrubbing it in. If the stains are still visible, spray them with your limescale remover or try the baking soda paste again.
Finally, wash off any remaining chemical residue with warm water and soap. Make sure to wash your hands and change out of your clothes, too. If you accidentally came into contact with bleach, that should remove the risk of irritations.
Whether you’re using baking soda or bleach to take care of the stains, you probably don’t want to touch the cleaning tools with your bare hands. I, for one, always feel like I have to take a scorching shower after touching the toilet seat even by accident. To shield yourself from that kind of ordeal, you’ll want to get your hands on (or, rather, in) a pair of rubber gloves. The gloves should last several months at the very least, and years at most.
What’s more, if you’re using bleach or similarly harsh detergents, you should protect your lungs by wearing a mask. It doesn’t have to be one of those full-face gas masks — a simple respirator will suffice. If you really don’t want to splurge, though, just cover your mouth with a bandana. But keep in mind that you may also need to protect your eyes.
Clean the Urine Spill Before It Dries!
As we have learned today, the only reason why you might have urine stains on your toilet seat is if you didn’t catch the spill on time. These kinds of stains only happen if the urine had a chance to dry and set on the seat. It’s simply unavoidable due to the way the chemical composure of urine interacts with the plastic toilet seat.
With that in mind, it might be a good idea to keep disinfecting wipes in the bathroom. That would allow you to police drunken roommates or visitors into taking care of their own messes. Alternately, you’d be able to easily clean up after your toddler. And, if you still happen to miss a spill or two, this guide should help you get your toilet seat back to its original color.