The Common Medicine That'll Surprisingly Leave Your Toilet Squeaky Clean

Unexpected guests can inspire many different feelings, but one of which always seems to be panic, specifically about the state of one's home. Hurriedly cleaning your space is a challenge, and it's made increasingly difficult when you also lack the right cleaning products. Suddenly, you're aware of every speck of dirt in your home — especially in the bathroom and specifically the toilet. Thankfully, there's a common medicine cabinet staple you can use to achieve a squeaky clean toilet in no time and with minimal effort: Alka-Seltzer.

Alka-Seltzer is a combination of citric acid, aspirin, and sodium bicarbonate used to treat acid reflux, stomachaches, and general gastrointestinal discomfort. Shockingly, it's also an effective toilet cleaning agent because it works as a bubbling germ magnet. The germs in and on your toilet can carry several harmful viruses. Influenza, E. coli, streptococcus, norovirus, Staphylococcus aureus, and salmonella are a few of the most common viruses found in or around household toilets. Luckily, this easy hack not only delivers a sparkling clean commode but also sanitizes it as well.

How to clean your toilet with Alka-Seltzer

Cleaning your toilet with Alka-Seltzer requires very little. You'll need Alka-Seltzer tablets and a toilet scrub brush. A timer is optional but may help if you're multitasking. Drop two to three tabs into the toilet bowl; bubbles should begin forming immediately. Leave the tabs to fizzle for about 25 minutes undisturbed. Stirring will disrupt the bubbles, which are key to lifting stains.

After the appropriate time has passed, dip the scrub brush in the water. Use the brush around the top portion of the bowl, and thoroughly scrub underneath the rim to descale or unclog any of the jets. Once you're done, flush the toilet. Use the time the bowl is empty to scrub the bottom and drain. Flush the toilet a second time to wash away any dislodged debris. The porcelain should be squeaky clean at this point and ready for those unexpected guests. Repeat this progress regularly to keep your toilet disinfected and sanitized.

How is this possible?

The primary ingredient in Alka-Seltzer is citric acid, an organic chemical used in a variety of food and home products. Citric acid binds with other compounds or particles, such as iron, making it an effective cleaning agent and descaler. When you use Alka-Seltzer in your toilet bowl, the effervescent bubbles loosen stains, and the citric acid binds with them. Scrubbing and flushing finish the cleaning process by washing everything away. Moreover, citric acid can stop the spread of bacteria. Specifically used in antimicrobial products, citric acid breaks down the cell walls of the microbes, killing or significantly inhibiting them. In particular, citric acid has been shown to be an effective agent against E. coli and other infectious diseases that hang out in toilets. It can even be used as a natural substitute for bleach for its whitening and disinfecting properties.

In addition to citric acid, Alka-Seltzer contains bicarbonate of soda – also known as baking soda – a tried and true natural cleaning ingredient known for its whitening and deodorizing abilities. Baking soda is recommended as part of cleaning hacks that can be used all over the home, and the toilet is no exception. With these two ingredients, Alka-Seltzer is just as effective against stains and odors as it is against your upset stomach.

Other areas to clean with Alka-Seltzer

In the same way that Alka-Seltzer removes stains, debris, and odors from your toilet, this makeshift cleaner works well on limescale and calcium buildup in showers, too. Consider applying it anywhere you have hard water stains. Simply fill your basin with a few inches of water, drop in the tabs, and wait for them to do their magic before scrubbing away the grime that's been loosened and broken down by the bubbling compound of the Alka-Seltzer.

Also, citric acid can kill mold and mildew on top of various bacterial infections, making it ideal to use on your tile and grout. For these and other spots in your home, simply add the tablets to warm water and stir lightly. Then pour the mixture into a spray bottle for an easy-to-use cleaner. Spray it on glass surfaces, tiles, and stovetops; the ingredients in it are considered safe for use around the home. Though it's not a miracle grease buster, an Alka-Seltzer solution is effective for use in between regular deep cleanings. So the next time you have to clean at a moment's notice, head to your medicine cabinet. Alka-Seltzer to the rescue!