Asked on May 06, 2013

HELP I turned my toilet bowl gray!!!!

by Jayme

A few months ago I decided to try to get the hard water line out of my toilet bowl.. I used an SOS pad (steel wool with soap). I did get rid of the hard water line for the most part, but to my horror I turned my toilet bowl gray!!

Does anyone know of anything that will now clean the gray out of the bowl. Bleach DOES NOT work!!

Best toilet cleaner!

Remove stains safely with Don Aslett's Safety Foam that Amazon reviewers swear by!

  29 answers
  • Elyse Elyse on May 06, 2013
    i found a bunch of suggestions for you at this link.. ..i just google searched it, apparently you arent alone with the sos pad issue :)
  • Jayme Jayme on May 06, 2013
    @Elyse ...thanks for the link. I actually tried a couple of the suggestions. Totally destroyed a Mr. Clean Eraser and just happened to have The Works. All that remains is a gray shadow where the hard water line was...thinking about CLR next. :)
  • A few suggestions. Never use any sort of metal cleaning type of pad or any abrasive pad for that matter when cleaning porcelain. Once scratched it will always become difficult to clean and will dirty up much faster. SOS with a bit of elbow grease and a good sponge should remove any leftover marks on the toilet.
  • Opal Opal on Feb 09, 2014
    Try this...Before bed if it is not in the master-bath, put a tea kettle on to boil, plunge all the water out of the toilet, pour in a gallon of vinegar ($3.00), then the hot water just enough to cover the are plus 1-2 inches. Leave overnight. Scrub in the am and flush. hope that works. If you don't have enough vinegar and are ocd about doing this now, put vinegar in a spray bottle and wait at least an hour then scrub and flush.good luck. vinegar also takes care of that calcium crud around faucets by soaking a paper towel in vinegar are wrapping overnight.
    • See 1 previous
    • Brenda Locke Brenda Locke on Sep 26, 2022

      Make a paste of Baking soda and vinegar a thick paste...cover all the gray

      Then pour a box of Baking soda around all the inside of bowl Add A Full bottle of Vinegar the largest...after all the boil of soda and vinegar add the kettle of boiled water...leave over night.

      But gloves on using a Mr magic scrub all inside bowl ...before flushing ..

      .should be a Huge difference .

      Repeat until Satisfactory

  • Piz453509 Piz453509 on Aug 31, 2014
    Rub baking soda into the grey marks! It worked for me
    • See 1 previous
    • Krs Krs on Apr 07, 2022

      You know, I use baking soda (and/or vinegar) for just about every cleaning need but I never thought it would work for this so I didn’t even bother to try til I saw your post. Thank you, thank you!

  • Mary Titus Mary Titus on Apr 01, 2015
    Baking soda and a lightly dampened magic eraser worked, amazing, ty pizzahut666
    • Michael Michael on Oct 01, 2019

      Thank you Mary! I never had a bowl that was so problematic to clean and made the mistake of using brillo which turned it grey as others have pointed out. Your solution was only thing that worked after bleach, vinegar, etc.

  • Janice AndDoyle Janice AndDoyle on May 18, 2015
    you have scrubbed the enamel off of the bowl the gray you are seeing is the base material off the toilet bowl.clay/ ceramic material . you cannot put the enamel back on once you scratch it off. Steel wool or anything abrasive like that CAN NOT be used on enamel ... this includes you stove, frig, dishwasher, washer , dryer and what ever appliances you have that have shiny finishes.... Stainless steel appliances will also be a mess of scratches if you use steel wool on them
  • Mark Slone Mark Slone on Jun 06, 2015
    Drain the water below the gray stained area - it's just a stain - you haven't removed the enamel. Then use a little Pfaltzgraff Stoneware and Porcelain Cleaner and it will be gone in a blink. :)
  • Sassy Sassy on Feb 19, 2018

    If all that fails, try dumping a can of Coke in the toilet bowl at night and see if it removes the stain by morning.

  • Val33880103 Val33880103 on Aug 01, 2018

    I had a similar problem- cleaned toilet vowel with wire scourer. In desperation as I had no baking soda or borax & visitors arriving in a couple of hours I emptied my cleaning product cupboard and found a well forgotten bottle of ceramic hob cleaner.... it worked. Little bit of elbow grease and a sponge and it’s as good as new.Good luck.

  • Lisa Knight Lisa Knight on Sep 22, 2018

    I had the same problem! What finally did the trick was turning off the water supply and flushing the toilet to drain the bowl, then putting "beekeepers friend" (the liquid one) on it. Waited about a minute and it all just wiped right off as easy as you please!

  • Judith Judith on Sep 22, 2018

    Lagostina stainless still pot cleaners works great. Not only on porcelain toilets and tubs....but cleans grey marks on coffee and tea cups too. A cute tip to get inside your coffe pot and tea pots is to put automatic dish detergent dry crystals into a lot water in the tea and coffee pots. Let stand for an hour stirring now and then with a spoon......instant clean pots??

  • Robin Harris Robin Harris on Jan 18, 2019

    Barkeeper’s Friend works!

  • Kelly Denoyer Russell Kelly Denoyer Russell on Jan 18, 2019

    Try The Works toilet bowl cleaner. The thin original one not the thick formula. Cheap and in Walmart or wherever! It has been this crazy tb cleaner that practically melted off water rust stains and I have used it for crazy odd nontoilet messes since then like fluorescent orange spray paint my kid sprayed on the brick of my house. If that doesn’t work I think it’s permanently damaged. I spilled on carpet and it melted it so whatever is in it is strong! Lol

  • Deb Deb on Oct 19, 2019

    I did the same thing. I used steel wool to remove the hard water line and left gray scratches on the bowl. After reading all the comments, I checked my cleaning supplies and found a bottle of ceramic stovetop cleaning solution. I emptied the toilet of water and applied the cream with a magic eraser sponge and it looks like new. No more gray scratches! So you just need to polish the porcelain again with whatever you have - beekeepers or any glass top stove cleaner. Good luck!!

  • Kelly Antinori Kelly Antinori on Feb 15, 2020

    Empty the bowl and use glass top stove cleaner and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and it worked like a charm.

  • 48746664 48746664 on Feb 19, 2020

    White Vinegar worked for me!

  • Tony Romano Tony Romano on Apr 25, 2020

    You did not etch the toilet! I used Comet and it worked for me. Dumped a bucket of water to get the waterline down and sprinkled it on and scrubbed with toilet brush and then put some more on top of that and let it sit for about 5 min. Took most out the first time. Repeated once more to get the last bit.

  • Heather Boss Heather Boss on Dec 29, 2020

    So I made the same mistake of using a brillo pad on my toilet bowel last night which resulted in a big gray circle from trying to remove the ring. I poured a bunch of Lime Away in the toilet and left it overnight. I read this forum and was about to try baking soda with magic eraser. However, when I checked in the toilet the next day, the gray was completely gone. I didnt even have to scrub it. I hope this helps.

  • Kris Kris on Jan 01, 2021

    pumice stick

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Jun 23, 2021


    I might suggest emptying out the water in your bowl and try and barkeepers friend. In the future you may want to use a pumice stick is an excellent tool to use to clean your toilet bowl it must be kept wet to keep it soft and provide effectively cleaning

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Jun 23, 2021

    Get comet and a scrubby sponge that will do it

  • Dmholt4391 Dmholt4391 on Dec 31, 2021

    BarKeeper's Friend or Comet. No problem

  • Cut70749361 Cut70749361 on Sep 25, 2022

    I used an Amyway non scratch scrubber sponge to clean the calcium ridge off my toilet bowl, got the calcium ridge off but left a gray stain. After using baking soda, vinegar, bleach & denture cleaner, I added some Out White Brite for laundry to the bowl, let it set for an hour & it took the stain right out with hardly any scrubbing with the toilet brush. Now I will seal it with car wax to keep it from happening again. You can use spray or regular car wax. Flush your toilet & turn the water off to it. Apply a small amount to the toilet bowl surface with a dry cloth, afterwards anything that touches it will slide right off. You should do this every 6 months to a year & you will never have stains again. Works for porcelain sinks as well. I did this when my toilet was new but forgot to keep it up, I will from now on.

  • Mogie Mogie on Oct 01, 2022

    Sounds like you scratched the toilet bowl using the metal on it.

  • User User 7 days ago

    Hi I read all the suggestions here. I found the my ceramic cleaner worked amazing easy. I was panicking until I read everyone’s comments. Thank you all. It made me search for something else besides the bleach and toilet bowl cleaner I was trying. My toilet bowl is sparkling once again

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 6 days ago

    Was that a question or an Answer?

  • Janice Janice 6 days ago

    Dampen a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove the gray area you've created.

  • Add 1 or 2 cups of vinegar to the toilet bowl along with a few sprinkles of baking soda. Swish the solution around the bowl with your brush for a few minutes and then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Scrub the stains with your brush (or pumice stone).