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Potty Talk—Getting Rid of the Dreaded Brown Toilet Ring & So Much More!

Woman holding a dog next to toilet

Photo credit American Standard

  • Are you tired of getting down on your hands and knees scrubbing the nasty brown toilet ring that still will not go away no matter what you do?

  • Do you feel embarrassed when guests come over knowing they may think your toilet is dirty (even though you just sanitized it) because of the glaringly obvious brown ring?

  • Have you been putting off replacing your old toilets because you cannot face doing your research about which toilets are the best for flushing power, cleaning, and water efficiency?

Well…. you are in luck because whether you want to get rid of that nasty brown toilet ring or are in the market for a new toilet, living space design (my potty talk) will give you answers you need!


Let’s start with the brown toilet ring, so you can take care of it as soon as possible!

Not only may you have a brown toilet ring, but you also may have staining in the bottom of your toilet bowl. The staining comes from hard water, which contains a high concentration of minerals mainly iron, manganese, or limescale compounds. The staining on the bottom of the bowl is from the minerals settling, and for the toilet ring problem, the water evaporates, the minerals buildup, and when it dries it picks up dirt particles and creates the ring. YUCK!

Photo credit @dreamstime

If you are having this issue, chances are you have an older toilet.

If you search the Internet, you will find plenty of solutions but most of them do not work or require A LOT of elbow grease. The most effective and easiest product we discovered recently is called ZEP® Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner. It’s available at local retailers and online. Directions are simple—no draining the bowl or letting solution sit overnight—Just apply solution under toilet rim and around the sides, wait five minutes, scrub with a toilet brush, and flush to rinse. For more stubborn stains, you may have to repeat the process twice and let the solution stay in bowl for a few hours. Then voila—your toilet will look brand new!

Here are some Do’s & Don’ts regarding toilet bowl cleaning:

  • Don’t use a pumice stone, steel wool, hard wire brushes, or any other tools that will scrape off the enamel coating. Once the coating is scratched or eliminated, the stains will appear much faster and be harder to remove. For older toilets, use the ZEP® cleaner as I described above to get rid of any staining or rings.

  • Do use Dawn® Liquid Dish Soap and a silicone toilet brush on newer toilets. The newer toilets are easy to clean due to their protective coating. For several years now, toilet manufacturers have been using protective coatings to ensure the bowl inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew as well as making the surface antimicrobial.


Typically, the older the toilet, the more water it uses.

Toilets built before 1982 use 5-7 gallons per flush. Now, toilets are designed to flush using between .08 -1.28 gallons per flush (GPF) depending on what type of model you purchase.

Even though toilets use way less water than they used to, the flushing effectiveness is excellent.

No more having to flush two or three times after you do your business!

Dual flushing toilets have two flushing options--full (1.28 GPF) or partial (.9 GPF).

We recommend if you go with a dual flushing toilet, it is best to put it into bathrooms that are not used by guests. Unless they have the same exact toilet, guests never know which button to press, defeating the whole purpose of the dual flush!


There are one or two-piece toilets.

The two-piece toilet is two pieces, with a separate tank and a separate bowl, and there is connection between the tank and the bowl.

Two-piece toilets are more common, and a less expensive.

Photo credit American Standard two-piece toilet

A one-piece toilet is a molded unit where the tank and bowl are connected as one piece. One-piece toilets are easier to clean, but they can be a bit pricey.

Photo credit American Standard one-piece toilet

Another style choice when purchasing a new toilet is whether to go with a skirted versus a non-skirted toilet.

Skirted toilets have a sleeker look and there is less cleaning surface by the bottom of the toilet and no pesky nut caps; however, you do have a partial open cavity in the rear of the toilet.

Photo credit American Standard-skirted toilet

Non-skirted toilets have the traditional look you are used to seeing with a broader base and nut caps. Regarding cleaning, the non-skirted has more surface to clean at the base, but there is no open cavity in the back. The price difference between non-skirted vs. skirted toilets is nominal, so it is a personal preference.

Photo credit American Standard Non-skited toilet

For toilet height, the standard height used to be 15-16 inches, but most toilets today are 17-19 inches.

Please be aware that comfort height, right height, chair height, universal height are all synonymous terms that different manufacturers use. If you’re in the market for a new toilet and want to know your current toilet’s height, measure from the floor to the top of the toilet seat rim.

If you are purchasing a new toilet, make sure the rough-in measurement is the same as what you currently have installed.

A toilet's rough-in refers to the measurement dimension from the finished wall to the center of mounting holes on the floor flange. A 12-inch rough-in is the most common in the US, but there are also 10 inch and 14 inch rough-ins.

As far as toilets brands go, our favorite right now is American Standard® for the price point, comfort, water usage and flushing power.

Although potty talk is not a sexy topic, it is an essential discussion we always have with our bath remodeling clients. We wanted to share the information so you too can be proud of your potty be it old or new!


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