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Why Is My Toilet Water Cloudy? (With Quick Fixes)

Nobody likes a dirty toilet. But instead of a crystal clear pond in your porcelain, you’re looking at a murky puddle. So what’s going on?

Cloudy toilet water is most commonly caused by hard water buildup in the toilet’s water tank. That means minerals such as calcium and magnesium are in the water, causing it to look cloudy.

Now that you know the cause of the problem, you can go about fixing it. Luckily, cleaning your toilet is pretty easy!

Why Does Toilet Water Get Cloudy?

Although hard water buildup is the most common cause of cloudy water in your toilet, it’s not the only reason it can happen. Here are some alternative causes to consider:

  • Water Heater – Old water heaters also suffer from hard water buildup. If your water heater has this problem, it may need to be cleaned or replaced.
  • Municipal Water – It’s possible that your city’s water supply already has a lot of minerals in it before it ever reaches you. If that’s the case, you’ll want to call your city’s water department and potentially install a water filter for your home.
  • Toilet Bowl – Minerals can build up anywhere there’s water, and that includes your toilet bowl just as much as your toilet’s water tank. When you go to clean your tank, consider scrubbing the bowl too!
  • Old Pipes – If the water pipes in your house have hard water or rust built up inside, the water flowing through will have a cloudy or muddy color. You would likely see the discoloration in more than one place, so this should be pretty obvious.

How To Clean Your Toilet’s Water Tank

So you looked in your toilet’s water tank and said, “yuk!” Well, it’s time to give that sucker a bath. Cleaning the tank is my top recommendation to anyone looking for clarity in their toilet water. Don’t forget the rubber gloves!

Step 1: Turn Off The Water Valve

If you want to clean your water tank, you’ll need to empty it first. If you don’t turn off the water valve, it’ll just keep filling back up when you go to flush.

Don’t worry. It’s super easy to find the valve. Look for it at the toilet’s base or on the wall nearby. Turn the valve clockwise to stop the flow of water.

Step 2: Flush The Toilet

Now that the water is off, we can empty the tank. Go ahead and flush your toilet a few times to get as much water out of the tank as possible. When you’ve finished, the tank should be empty.

Step 3: Clean The Water Tank

Grab your preferred cleaning solution and a clean sponge or long-handled scrub brush. Spray the inside of the tank (avoiding the metal bits) and let it soak for a few minutes before scrubbing away all of the mineral deposits. 

Step 4: Clear Out The Residue

Now that the water tank is clean, you can turn the valve back on. Water will start pouring into the tank again. Once it’s full, flush the toilet a few times to wash away all the residue you just scrubbed off.

And you’re good to go! Clarity has returned to your porcelain throne’s spring stream.

Alternative Fixes For Cloudy Water

On the off chance that cleaning your water tank doesn’t work, don’t stress. You still have lots of options. Such as:

Deep Cleaning The Water Tank

If scrubbing your toilet’s water tank didn’t remove all the hard water deposits, you may need to do a deep clean.

Follow steps one and two above to empty the tank, then pour up to one gallon of white vinegar into the tank before turning the water valve back on. Let this vinegar/water mixture sit overnight and then flush it out.

Cleaning The Flapper Valve

The flapper valve is the circular rubber part that sits at the bottom of your water tank. If it’s old and nasty looking, you could buy a replacement. But if you want to save some money, try cleaning it.

If the flapper valve is dirty, it could contaminate the water as it passes through, giving it a cloudy look.

Clean The Toilet Bowl

As I mentioned above, your toilet bowl can also be a source of hard water deposits. When the water comes down from the tank to refill the bowl, it can pick up small amounts of the minerals the same way it would in the tank. Give your toilet bowl a good scrub and see if that works.

If you want to give it a deep clean, mix one cup of vinegar with the water in the bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Then pour one cup of baking soda and two more cups of vinegar into the bowl and let that bubble up for about ten minutes.

From there, you want to scrub around the toilet bowl. Let it sit for twenty minutes, and scrub it again. Keep repeating this process of soaking and scrubbing until the hard water is gone, and then flush.

Best Practices For Toilet Maintenance

If you’re the proactive type who likes to keep your belongings in good shape before problems pop up, you will want to clean your toilet regularly to keep the water from getting cloudy again.

A good practice is to clean out your water tank twice a year, although you might get away with it once. If your city’s water is notoriously hard, you may want to do it four times a year. Likewise, if you live in a hot or humid area, you should protect your water tank from bacteria and mold by cleaning it more often.

If you’ve tried everything you can think of and your toilet water is still cloudy, it might be time to call in a professional. A local plumber will have plenty of experience with issues just like yours and will be able to identify anything unusual going on.