What Causes Yellow Stains on Toilet Seats

What Causes Yellow Stains on Toilet Seats?

Yellow stains are nasty, and unfortunately found on toilet seats all around the world. 

Whilst you may associate them with public bathrooms in shopping centres and petrol stations, this isn’t the only place they can strike. 

Yellow toilet staining is commonplace in homes too. And no matter how much you clean and how careful you are, those stains can just keep coming back.

You may assume that the cause is automatically urine staining, and whilst this is a common cause, it isn’t the only one.

Causes of Yellow Stains on Toilet Seats

1. Urine staining

Urine staining is incredibly common and is the cause that most people will automatically think of when attempting to tackle a toilet seat that is stained yellow. 

Over time, odd little splashes and drops will build up, resulting in a nasty residue that will then stain if left unchecked.

The longer the urine stays on the plastic, the darker the colour will get, and the worse the stain will be. Even after the urine has dried, the colour will keep on darkening for some time.

2. Hard water

yellow stain in toilet seat due to hard water

The minerals in the water in hard water areas are another cause of yellow staining. As the toilet flushes, the water can splash upwards onto the underside of the seat, and as the water evaporates, it can leave behind mineral deposits (limescale).

As it builds up, limescale can develop a yellow tinge that can end up damaging the surface of the plastic and causing staining.

3. Cleaning chemicals

Some cleaning chemicals can damage white plastics, causing discolouration. This tends to be down to harsh chemicals, such as strong bleaches that aren’t diluted.

4. Sunlight

We all know that sunlight can cause sunburn on people and pets, but not many people consider the effect that sunlight can have on plastics, including toilet seats. It’s just that sunburn can turn plastic yellow, whereas it turns skin red.

If your toilet sits in direct view of a window, you might find that yellow staining on your toilet seat is due to sunburn. 


Getting Rid of Yellow Stains on the Toilet Seat

removing yellow stains on toilet seat

Now you know what causes yellow staining on toilets, you will want to know how to get rid of it. There are a couple of methods that you can use to remove these stains, including bleach and more natural alternatives.

Regardless of the method that you choose, avoid harsh abrasives such as metal brushes as these will leave scratches across the toilet seat. These will not only look unsightly but will also make it harder to properly clean the toilet seat in the future.

You should also protect the surrounding area, especially any soft furnishings or fabric. Take adequate precautions regardless of your chosen method; you should always wear gloves!

Soak in bleach

For awful staining, the easiest solution can be to soak the entire toilet seat in bleach. Simply remove the toilet seat and soak it in a solution of bleach and water in either a large container or in the bath, for example.

After a few minutes, scrub the stains until they disappear. Rinse the toilet seat thoroughly with clean water, dry, and fix back to the toilet.

Bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar

using baking soda and vinegar to clean yellow stains in toilet seat

Bicarbonate of soda and distilled white vinegar are popular eco-friendly household cleaners. To clean your toilet seat, all you need to do is make a paste of equal parts bicarbonate of soda and distilled white vinegar.

Apply the paste to the toilet seat and leave it to sit for between 10 and 30 minutes. Scrub the stains, then wipe the toilet seat with a cloth dipped in clean, warm water. If any stains remain, repeat the process. Thoroughly dry the toilet seat to finish. 

Lemon juice

using lemon juice to clean yellow stains in toilet seat

The acidic properties of lemon juice mean that it can cut through yellow staining and any calcium build up. Simply mix a cup of lemon juice with a few drops of your favourite essential oil in a spray bottle.

Spray the mix over the toilet seat and leave it to sit for around 15 minutes. Wipe over the seat with plenty of clean water, and dry thoroughly.

Other methods

In addition to these popular choices, there are a range of others that some people are reporting success with.

Some people online are reporting success with oven cleaner, as long as the oven cleaner is UPVC safe. If you want to try this method, always wear gloves, and conduct a test in an out-of-sight area first.

In addition, cream cleaners such as Cif can work wonders. For a chemical-free solution, you could also try a Magic Sponge.


Preventing Yellow Staining

Preventing Yellow Stains in toilet seat

Yellow stains on a toilet seat are nasty, and the best way to deal with the problem is to prevent it entirely. By making sure that the toilet seat is wiped over as soon as needed, and is properly cleaned once a week, you can prevent the yellow stains, regardless of their cause.

If you determine that your yellow stains are caused by your chosen cleaning chemicals damaging the plastic, swap to a gentler solution, or just make sure that the chemicals are properly diluted before use.