Toilet-Bowl Cleaner Buying Guide

Consumer Reports no longer updates this product category and maintains it for archival purposes only.

Toilet Toilette: What to Look for in Cleaners

Toilet-bowl cleaners seem mundane, but the health warnings on some containers are enough to make you hold your nose. How about "causes irreversible eye damage and skin burns" or "not recommended for use by persons with heart conditions"? 

In past tests, in which a machine scrubbed soiled ceramic tiles meant to replicate the toilet's surface, we found several liquids that we judged good for cleaning yet had chemicals that are less likely to harm you or the environment. One listed specific ingredients, which we think all companies should do, and we support legislation in Congress that would require complete disclosure.

The toilet-bowl cleaners we last tested were fine for cleaning and normal use. You don't need the most toxic stuff on a regular basis; reserve their use for when you have to disinfect the toilet because of illness or to remove rust and stains. Products containing hydrochloric acid were good at cleaning but could pose more serious hazards, based on manufacturer information. You'll see other heavy-duty chemicals, so heed manufacturer warnings for ventilating where you're cleaning.

In the same tests, we looked at two disposable abrasive detergent pads attached to a handle. While both were very good at cleaning, they contain pads that shouldn't be touched. 


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