How to Clean Toilet Jets (Bacteria, Minerals & Other Debris)

Water jet openings on the underside of the toilet bowl rim are usually not even a thought for most people until they become dirty and clogged with bacteria and mineral deposits.

If colonies of bacteria continue to form here, it can become a health concern. As for mineral deposits, they can clog the toilet jets and interfere with the flow of water.

This article will take you through the steps you need to take to clean your toilet jets and a few mistakes to avoid while going through this relatively simple, but necessary task to keep your toilet clean.

How to Clean Toilet Jets (Bacteria, Minerals & Other Debris)
Very thorough cleaning toilets use a toothbrush.

Why Is It Important to Clean Toilet Jets Regularly?

Toilet jets are the openings through which water from the toilet tank flows down into the bowl to start the flush cycle. Nearly all standard toilets will have these jets, and only special toilets will lack these.

It is important to clean these jets regularly because, if they get clogged or blocked, water can’t get through and your toilet won’t flush correctly. Scrubbing under the rim with a toilet brush is a good way to keep these clean so they don’t acquire too much build-up.

How to Clean Bacteria Off Toilet Jets

While different things can clog the toilet jets, let’s start with looking at how to deal with a bacteria build-up.

Step 1: Pour a Bleach Solution into the Overflow Tube

Make a solution that is one part bleach and ten parts water. If you feel like the solution is too strong, add more water. If you use too much bleach, you can damage your toilet.

Once you have the solution ready, pour it into the overflow tube. The overflow tube is a rigid plastic or metal pipe running vertically inside the tank, usually with a plastic tube clipped into the top of it.

Step 2: Let the Bleach Solution Sit and Then Flush

With the solution poured in, wait for five minutes. Letting it sit and then flushing should should kill any of the bacteria around the jets and clean out your bowl for the next step. Be sure not to touch the bleach with your bare skin as it can very easily irritate it or possibly cause an allergic reaction.

Step 3: Clean Out the Jet Holes

With a piece of wire, scrape out each jet hole, using a hand mirror to see where you are scraping and to make sure you get them all. This step can get a bit dirty, so be sure to wear some rubber gloves while getting this done.

When you finish, clean around the jets with a chemical bowl cleaner and a scrubbing pad.

Finally, repeat the first step one more time and you will be all finished.

You should give one final check on the jets with the hand mirror to see if there are any mineral deposits to clean as well. If so, follow the steps in this next section.

How to Clean Minerals Off Toilet Jets

Cleaning minerals off your toilet jets is very similar to the previous process.

Step 1: Pour White Vinegar into the Overflow Tube

Heat up 8 to 12 Ounces of

This step is basically the same as the first step with cleaning off bacteria but uses a different solution – vinegar. As such, start by heating up 8 to 12 ounces of white vinegar. Unlike bleach, vinegar is very useful for breaking down mineral compounds and doesn’t need to be mixed with any water as it is not even close to being as strong of a chemical.

When heating the vinegar, only get it up to where you can see some steam coming off of the top, do not bring it to a boil.

Once it is heated, pour it into the overflow tube.

Step 2: Let the Vinegar Sit and Then Flush

You’ll have to wait a little bit, about 30 minutes, for the vinegar to mix with the water so it can properly break down the minerals on your jets when you flush.

Set a timer while you wait and, once you’ve flushed, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Scrape the Minerals Off the Jets

The last step is essentially the same as the last step of the previous process. However, it uses a tougher piece of metal to scrape the minerals off the jets. One item that you can use instead of a piece of wire is an Allen wrenchs. Start out with a small one, then work your way up in size to clear the holes out.

Be sure to flush periodically to clear out any debris chipped away and repeat this process until all the jets are clear. Use a hand mirror to double-check yourself and see what you’re scraping when cleaning the jets.

Once you finish scraping off all the minerals, give the toilet one final flush and you’ll be all finished.

How to Know Which Problem You Have

So far, you’ve read how to clean your toilet jets and why it is important but, before you get into any of this, you should know how to check to see what the signs of bacteria or mineral buildup look like.

If you see dark orange or black spots then it is more than likely a bacteria problem that will require the bleach solution and a slightly different set of steps. If what you see looks scaly and light in color, then mineral deposits are your problem and you should follow the steps for that listed above.

Of course, it is also possible to have both problems. If this is the case do these separately and don’t try to blend together steps from both tasks. Do them one at a time and, ideally, with some time in between.

Mistakes to Avoid

Do not scrape the jets too hard or use a tool that can break porcelain easily. Chipping your toilet or the jets themselves will cause a much worse problem for yourself then a little bacteria or mineral buildup.

Also, when you are heating up the vinegar for cleaning off minerals, do not bring it to a boil. Pouring vinegar that is too hot down your overflow tube could damage it. The same thing goes for putting a bleach solution that isn’t diluted enough when cleaning off bacteria.

Another common mistake to avoid is flushing too soon after pouring the bleach solution or vinegar down the overflow tube. It’s important to let these mixes blend into the water in your tank for a bit because, again, they could damage the tube or jets. These are strong acidic liquids and they will clean just fine even if they’re diluted by water.

Summary

Now you have the steps and knowledge needed to take on this important task to keep your toilet operating in great condition for a long time.

The more you check your toilet jets, the better chance you’ll have at catching these mineral or bacterial buildups before they cause any major problems. These buildups happen naturally, and their cleanup is a simple process.

Be sure to keep in mind the common mistakes to avoid and follow the steps outlined above as closely as possible. This operation only requires a few household cleaners and a little bit of elbow grease, it’s understandable, but a bit strange why this task goes over the head of all kinds of homeowners today.