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topic 19333

How can I get rid of a scratch in my toilet bowl?

A discussion started in 2003 & continuing through 2017 . . .
Summary of the thread: The most frequently recommended product, and readily available is Barkeepers Friend. Several other products were found effective as well. And next time use a Toilet Auger, not a snake or coat hanger :-)


Q. Recently, I was flushing the toilet and suddenly the water was rising instead of draining out. The nearest available remedy was a coat hanger, which I used to clear the blockage. Now I am left with a scratch on the inside of the toilet bowl and need some ideas on how I can get rid of the scratch and restore the toilet bowl to it's original colour.

Thank you !

REUBEN O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


What is the bowl made from?

trevor crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK


This is a response to Trevor Crichton who asked me what the toilet bowl is made of...I checked and it is made from Vitreous china. I guess the best way to describe the scratch is that it is just as though someone wrote with a pencil except I cannot erase it.

Reuben O [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Kamloops, BC, Canada

Toilet Auger


An earlier letter suggested a Pumice Stick [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] as the answer to getting "pencil-like" scratches off porcelain. You might try that.

As a plumber's helper and son of a plumber, let me warn the readers "for next time". You don't use a "snake" for a toilet because, yes indeed, it will badly scratch it as Reuben discovered. Rather, you use a "Toilet Auger [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]" which is the same idea as a snake, but is enclosed and rigid and plastic-covered down to where the water starts flowing up again--out of the line of vision.

Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey



First of all, why don't you go to your local plumber and ask him?

Secondly, don't use sharp metal gouging things on enamel.

Thirdly, get some touch up paint ... as most of the toilet bowls in Canada are ceramic and white, get some high quality touch up paint not a latex, that's fersure! Preferably a lacquer paint ... and after drying the scratch, DON'T put in any water after painting for a good 24 hours. OK?

Our kitchen sinks happen to be white enamel and a dent/scratch is now no longer visible after being painted.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


You can use a slurry of calcium carbonate (chalk) and try to polish the mark out. Alternatively, use dental chalk - the type that is sold to smokers to remove the stains from their teeth. You may find it easier to drain the toilet down before you do it. If the mark is very resilient you may have to use a fine grinding paste or even pumice, but the more aggressive the polishing, the more likely the area will be damaged. Your local hardware store may also be able to offer some advice.

Trevor Crichton
Trevor Crichton
R&D practical scientist
Chesham, Bucks, UK

August 8, 2009

Many thanks Trevor! I scratched the bowl with a metal topped brush and my wife said 'We'll need to get a new bowl!' Picture her delight when the pumice stone worked a treat! Thank you!

Charlie Johnston
- Newcastle Upon Tyne UK


Wear Gloves
Drain Bowl to below scratch
Scrub with "Scotch Brite" and "Ajax [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]" cleanser.
The bleach, abrasive and cleaner always clean out the pot and pan marks in my sink so I suspect that it will do the same with the iron mark from the hanger.

Jon Quirt
- Minneapolis, Minnesota


From your description the scratch sounds like what is commonly known as a 'metal mark'. These are often seen in kitchen sinks. The easiest way I've found to remove them is with a cleanser containing Oxalic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Rockler], such as Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Don't use with a sponge, they dissolve! Use paper towels or a rag. Sprinkle it on the wet surface, spread it around, let it set 30 to 60 seconds, then scrub the mark off. Works every time! It does dry out the hands pretty well, so you may want to wear rubber gloves.

Tom Gallant
- Torrance, California


I got my toilet bowl scratched badly today when trying to unclog it with a metal snake, and thought my toilet was ruined. Then I read the post from Tom about the Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], and Tom. . . I am eternally grateful! This worked perfectly! I can't believe it! THANK YOU!

Elin [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Port St. Lucie, Florida


I read these posts and bought some of that Bar Keepers Friend. Man. I don't know if there are similar home or commercial equivalents, but that stuff works. I scratched my wife's precious toilet hacksawing off rusty bolts trying to change the toilet seat. Actually not scratched, rather the metal shavings from the old blade and bolt were ground into the porcelain and looked like big scratches. I contemplated touch up paint, but tried this stuff first. Voila! She threatened to buy a new (expensive!) replacement toilet... not now!

Dennis C [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Westboro, Massachusetts


I read this forum a week ago. I was looking for something to get scratches off my cousin's toilet bowl. Long story short, we had a plumber come out to fix her toilet because the flush was not powerful. He used a snake to flush everything down. His snake got stuck. So he scratched the heck out of her toilet. I was freaking out, because it's not like it was my house. Tried a whole bunch of cleaners she had at her house and nothing worked. So after reading this form I went out and got some Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. And it was like a magic. I poured it in, and cleaned it with a brush. The scratches came right off. This stuff is the best. And it only cost me $2.99. Not a $100 - $300 for a new toilet bowl.

Neda L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Washington DC


Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] is excellent at removing gray marks from porcelain. If you don't want to order it on-line you can find it at Williams-Sonoma.

Lisa Roark
- Indianapolis, Indiana


Hi All

I had the same problem today, Finally I removed all the marks with HARPIC - POWER PLUS from Reckitt Benckiser.


Saheen M.
- Calicut, Kerala, India


The baking soda [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] idea was great. It helped the scratches in my toilet bowl. Some dumb contractors have been dumping white cement into the toilet after their work. This has caused it to settle and stick to my toilet as its a apartment building and I'm the first floor.

I had no choice but to turn off the water, dry the toilet and to scrape it off but in the process I scratched the toilet pretty badly. Your baking soda idea worked it took most of it off. I'll try again as my baking soda was expired.

Anyone out there know how to dissolve white cement that is stuck in a toilet. Its going to happen again, so if there is some mixture or something I can use in to make it dissolve please tell me. I'll really appreciate it.

Sarah J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Melbourne, Australia


Complain to the landlord, Sarah. That is the wrong disposal method and could become very costly to him.

Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey



I have tried telling he doesn't seem to care. So any ideas as to what will dissolve white cement that is in water. It somehow lines the bottom of the toilet and no matter how hard you try to scrub it won't budge. My toilet is fairly new the water saving kind without the very powerful force like old toilets.

Help me please! if you know what'll dissolve it tell me I'll buy and keep it so when it does happen again. I'll know what to do.

Sarah J [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Melbourne, Australia

July 18, 2009

i moved into a new apartment last week. the previous tenants poured white cement into the toilet bowl and I can't get it out. it looks quite awful. someone else too has the same problem but no one seems to have given an answer. kindly help.
ps. tried telling the landlord but he says now that's my problem.

hazel b [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
education - bahrain

July 22, 2009

Hi, Hazel. I tried to give you the answer that tenants must not consider it their responsibility to repair damage of this type, particularly because it may include extensive hidden damage. The landlord may face many thousands of dollars in repairs if the cement blocks a low spot in the pipes. Put it in writing that it was there when you moved in.

Muriatic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] will probably dissolve the cement, but it is dangerous enough that it should be done by an experienced plumber, not someone who has never used it. And you will be accepting financial responsibility for consequential damage if the landlord claims the acid rather than the cement hurt the system. I think you'd be better off replacing the toilet than doing that.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey



Giovanna D'Amico
- MASTIC, New York


Would you believe I used a toilet auger tonight and I still managed to scratch my toilet? I never used one before and the instructions were wrong or way too vague. The instructions read: 1. Pull handle to upward to position boring head at the end of tube. 2. Carefully insert end into toilet bowl so as not to scratch porcelain. Rotate handle clockwise while gently pushing handle downward. 3. Pull handle back to original position, remove tube slowly and flush toilet.
When first reading these instructions, I mistakenly thought "end of tube" meant the top end; if you would see picture along with instructions, you would understand why I thought this. After a couple of tries, but after the damage had already been done, I understood what I was doing wrong - a little too late!
I'm just glad there are some suggestions here; going to try a couple.

Kay Knopp
- Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
April 30, 2008

Like others, our toilet bowl was scratched considerably whilst being unblocked with a metal snake auger. I tried Barkeepers Friend as recommended on this site, and it was amazing. The toilet looks like new again! Thanks.

Sharon Jones
- San Jose, California

May 8, 2008

I had scratches on my toilet bowl resulting from using a plumbing snake. From this forum, it looks like Barkeepers Friend works miracles. Since I had some Barkeepers Friend liquid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] around, I tried it out. I poured 1/2 cup in the toilet and let it sit for 2-3 hours. I didn't do anything else, just pour it in. Later, I simply flushed and voila, the scratches are totally gone. It is indeed a miracle.

Bart Leeson
- Santa Clara, California

August 11, 2008

Hi there,

A couple months ago, I had a relative, who was trying to be helpful, pour some 'comet' down our toilet bowl and unfortunately they let it sit there for at least half an hour. When I finally saw this and flushed the toilet, the paint on the porcelain appeared to be chipped. My toilet is white and I can actually see the underlying beige color of the chip marks. It really looks bad, and I would like to paint it. Considering the chip marks are actually in the bowl itself is there any paint that anyone can suggest that can stand the continuous water immersion? I heard that Rustoleum does not work if water is consistently in contact with the surface.

Julie Daniel
- Laval, Quebec, Canada

Hi, Julie. Unless toilet bowls in Quebec are very different than in the USA, I find this very strange. My mom, my wife, and I have used Comet in toilet bowls as long as the product has existed. My suspicion is that your toilet was already painted, and that the comet attacked the paint, revealing the beige color porcelain.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 15, 2008

I totally scratched the whole interior of my toilet bowl with the "snake". the original bowl was porcelain cream color, which turned dark grey after I scratched it... I couldn't tell at the time because the water was dirty. This $1.75 Target product worked wonders! Thanks for the advise... I won't be buying a new $300+ toilet bowl, and I never have to tell my fiance what happened while he was away!

Stefanie Dew
- Sicklerville, New Jersey

November 19, 2008

Listen, people are talking about some barkeeper something.... I am foolish, yes I know, I used a snake in my toilet when I should have used an auger, but in my defense.... I'm not a plumber, just a mommy. Now back to my response. USE ANYTHING LIKE: Ajax [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] or whatever is like it. Usually you can find it at the dollar store or at Walmart for like 88 cents. Dry the spot pour it on and scrub the sh*t out of it. It won't take out really, really deep scratches but it takes out most of them due to a snake screw up...lol.

Katrina Ryan
- Rochester, New York

Barkeeper's Friend 4-pack

January 6, 2009

Thanks for the tips everyone, I scratched a toilet in a rented place with a hanger, was stressing until I tried the recommendation, and voila! Gone, completely, after an hour of soaking.



Kenny Mac
- Los Angeles, California

July 1, 2009

Just scratched my Mom's toilet. Barkeepers Friend is definitely the way to go!

Jason Land
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

August 1, 2009

Well, I stumbled upon this site searching for an answer to the scratches my father-in-law made in our toilet unclogging it with a wire coat-hanger. As with the other testimonials, thanks for the posts about Barkeepers Friend. I emptied about a 1/3 of a can into the bowl, mixed it up well with a toilet brush, let it sit over-night, then scrubbed again with the toilet brush in the morning before flushing to reveal - the scratches were gone. OK, my method maybe was overkill, but it worked and peace in the family has been restored. Thanks Barkeepers Friend and thanks to all the previous positive posts about this product.

Don Kirk
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada

August 5, 2009

Hi I'm from the UK & have had the same problem with the scratches in the toilet bowl..and to make matters worse it's not my toilet; I'm renting and landlady is due her 4 monthly visits so need to get it removed quick.
I used a knife to remove caked in lime scale (coz at her last visit she had me about that and nothing I tried would get rid, grr).
Anyway this has resulted to my horror pencil type scratches eeek.
Anyway done some research trying to find a D-I-Y rather then fork out for a professional to come & do it (yes I'm that desperate). I came across your bar keepers friend..however they don't sell all the products in the UK and USA sites won't ship here..I'm after the one that is shown in the links for amazon but no do here but they do other ones and they have read not to use on enamel .. I have no idea what the toilet is made off for a start plus can anyone recommend another bar keepers product I can use instead of the one in the link or is all of them ok to use in the loo?


Jade Gadsden
- Rugby, UK

September 13, 2009

Ok. Y'all have been talking toilets. I googled for something that would get the gray marks off of vintage ceramic dishes and your forum popped up. So I am going to get Barkeeper's Friend and try it on a dish. If it works, I will be back on here to post my results.

Kathy Conner
- Ventura, California

November 21, 2009

After looking up Barkeeper's Helper, the chemistry of removing a metal mark with acid made so much sense to me that I tried the old standby, a paste of table salt and white vinegar on my coathanger-scratched toilet bowl. This, with a little bit of effort, worked very well.

Dr Matt Fields
- Ann Arbor, Michigan

December 29, 2009

I followed this post and got a can of Barkeepers Friend [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. I just put the powder in toilet bowl and didn't have to drain the water out and just used the toilet brush to spread the powder at the low end of the bowl. Let it sit for 30 min and flushed.. Wow! .. the scratches are gone!...

This is great product and Thanks! a ton for the advice..

Lokesh B
- Fort collins, Colorado

April 3, 2010

Thanks for the tip on Barkeepers Friend. I scratched up my toilet unplugging it. It worked like a charm and saved me buying a new toilet.

Chris Cascio
- Orlando, Florida

June 17, 2010

No abrasives, no pumice stone! Just had my toilet get the snake bite. I closed the water valve drained remaining water with a sponge and used a product called CLR (stands for Calcium, Lime, Rust remover). Let it sit in there for a few minutes and just wiped it off with a paper towel. Looks like brand new.

Just my 2 cents.

John Gibbon
- St. Lazare Quebec Canada

August 16, 2010

Great tips here. Thanks!

Tried both a slurry of vinegar and table salt, and baking soda and water. Both worked well and did the job. Nothing like putting on a pair of gloves and good old elbow grease.

Mark Robinson
- Orlando, Florida, USA

November 14, 2010

If you live somewhere where you cannot obtain Bar Keeper's Friend or other branded products mentioned here, oxalic acid crystals are readily available in pharmacies or (in Europe) drogueries. Just pour a generous amount in the toilet bowl, let sit for a few hours and wipe with a sponge or cloth. The scratch marks will disappear like magic.

Paul Vitalis
- Brussels, Belgium

April 29, 2011

Awesome post. I was cleaning lime away on my porcelain toilet bowl with CLR and a metal brush and scratched the cr*p out of the toilet. I was freaking out about painting it to fix it but then read about how the barkeeper's friend was working so I just tried pure baking soda and a wet paper towel and all the dark scratches went away! Now the toilet looks brand new! Thanks!

timea mester
- san marcos, Texas

Barkeeper's Friend 4-pack

June 27, 2011

You can buy Bar Keeper's Friend off the shelf. Can't wait to go home and try it on my toilet I "wrecked" last night.

Tim Kaczmarek
- Charlottesville, Virginia

August 4, 2011

Thank you!!!! The Barkeepers Friend =>
really worked!!! My husband will be so surprised when he gets home! He really thought he had done permanent damage and he'd have to buy a new toilet. :-)

Betsy Smith
- Lebanon, Ohio

August 20, 2011

I really can not stress enough how good Barkeepers Friend is.
I damaged the toilet of a couple hosting me whilst unblocking it pretty badly but this worked a treat.

For future reference - never touch porcelain with anything metal but if too late Barkeepers Friend will save the day.

Theo Penty
- norwich, Connecticut

December 20, 2017

A. There's a big difference between stained porcelain and scratched porcelain. I tried to remove the unsightly toilet ring with a pumice stone. It did a fair job, but left the porcelain lightly scratched. The rough surface now catches a stain much quicker. I started cleaning with Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach, and now no more scrubbing! Just squeeze it on, let it sit for a few minutes, and flush for a perfectly clean toilet bowl. If necessary you might want to use a soft scrub brush for stubborn brown spots before flushing.

To return to my original point, now I plan to use Barkeepers Friend or some other mild abrasive to polish out the scratches left by the Pumice Stone.

Gene Bihit
- Chino, California USA

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