Can Coke, Kool-Aid, Or Gatorade Clean Your Toilet? Here's Our Sweet (& Not-So-Sweet) Results

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I hate cleaning my toilet. No matter how many miracle products I buy that promise to make the experience painless, I still loathe it. On top of being, well, gross, it's also just not that easy. Even after tireless scrubbing with the latest TikTok cleaning product obsession, I still find grime around the rim or hard stains in the bowl that won't lift even when hit with good old-fashioned bleach. So, instead of heading to the grocery store aisle for yet another disappointing chemical cleaner, I walked myself down the drink aisle. I'd heard tales of the cleaning abilities of Kool-Aid, Coca-Cola, and Gatorade, and I wanted to give them a fair chance in my own latrine. 

My toilet bowl has a few stains that I believe are the result of hard water and mineral buildup. They are in hard-to-reach areas that I cannot seem to get out, so I wanted to see if any of these drinks could adequately clean the surface as well as remove these pesky stains. To try each out, I gave these three beverages a few days between cleanings, so the efficacy could really be tested. Since these aren't cleaning products, they don't come with a helpful directions label. Instead, I allowed each to sit for several hours, scrubbed with my trusty OXO manual toilet brush from Amazon, and then flushed.

Can Coca-Cola handle toilet stains?

Coca-Cola has been touted as a solid cleaner by many thanks to its fizzy carbonation and phosphoric acid. Some methods called for emptying the water from the bowl and allowing the Coke to soak overnight. But, I wanted to find the simplest way of testing Coke's efficacy as a toilet cleaner, and I only have one toilet in my apartment, so this wasn't doable. Instead, I poured a 1-liter bottle of Coke in the toilet bowl and allowed it to soak for three hours. I took care to pour the Coke directly over the rim so it could tackle these grimy, hard-to-reach areas. 

Some Coca-Cola cleaning enthusiasts said to simply flush the Coke after it was done soaking in the bowl, no scrubbing necessary. But, I was skeptical of this advice, so I tried scrubbing before flushing. I poured a little extra Coke into the bowl to add some fresh carbonation and then began scrubbing. The usual grime and grossness lifted easily, but the stubborn stains remained, not even slightly budging. It seems that Coca-Cola may work as a toilet bowl cleaner for general marks and grime, but it's no match against heavy-duty stains and mineral buildup. 

Kool-Aid can't compete

A few days later, I decided to try a packet of Kool-Aid against the toilet stains. The method most folks suggested was simply emptying the powder into the bowl and scrubbing away. Some sites said orange or lemon-flavored Kool-Aid were best because they contained citric acid which can be used as a cleaner. These varieties weren't available from any nearby retailers though. However, I was able to get my hands on the Berry Cherry powder, which also lists citric acid as its primary ingredient. I hoped the abrasive powder would help remove buildup. But, I quickly realized why you should never put cherry Kool-Aid powder in your toilet: it's frightening, and it stains. 

I emptied the packet along the rim of the bowl until everything was covered. I was glad to see the powder actually stick to the rim, rather than immediately sink down like most liquid cleaners. It looked like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie, but I still allowed it to sit for 30 minutes. Then, I remained hopeful and scrubbed for about three straight minutes. When I flushed, I found that not only was the mineral buildup still stubbornly unmoved, but my toilet brush and toilet seat splash zone were stained a comical shade of pink. The Kool-Aid not only failed as a toilet bowl stain remover, it gave me another mess to clean up. 

Gatorade looks, but doesn't act, like toilet cleaner

Finally, it came time to use Gatorade to clean the toilet. Like Kool-Aid, Gatorade contains citric acid, though it's not the primary ingredient, following water and sugars. For my test, I decided to use blue Gatorade because, at the very least, it looked like toilet cleaner. And, after the Kool-Aid, that was important to me. I poured it from the rim and allowed it to soak for 3 hours before I started working away at the stains with my now pink toilet brush.  

Straight away I knew that this wouldn't be the answer to my prayers. The Gatorade was transparent enough that, before I even started scrubbing, I could see that the mineral stains hadn't lifted at all. The rest of the toilet bowl looked clean, for what it's worth, but I can't say if it that was thanks to the Gatorade or the simple agitation of my scrub brush. After scrubbing for a few minutes, I flushed the toilet a few times. When the water ran clear, I still saw the same stubborn stains staring back at me. Gatorade shouldn't be moonlighting as a toilet cleaner anytime soon. 

Chemicals have their place

I can appreciate thrifty cleaning hacks, especially when they use everyday non-toxic items instead of harsh synthetic chemicals. However, all three of these beverage toilet bowl cleaners were disappointing at best and disastrous at worst (I'm looking at you, Berry Cherry Kool-Aid). If you're keen on trying the citric acid found in the Kool-Aid and Gatorade you can buy it in powdered form from Walmart. You can also try concentrated phosphoric acid, the ingredient in the Coke, using this product on Amazon

Another thing to consider is that cleaning is not the same thing as disinfecting, which is something you may want to prioritize considering how many germs circulate in your toilet bowl. So, even if you manage to lift stains and regular grime with Gatorade, Kool-Aid, or Coca-Cola, you aren't effectively killing bacteria and viruses. In the end, I decided to take myself to the grocery store and select a toilet-cleaning product specifically formulated to tackle mineral stains. I had to pick up a fresh bottle of bleach to sort out the stains left behind by my experiments, as well. Save yourself the headache, and save these beverages for sipping, not toilet cleaning.