Who hasn’t gotten tired of scrubbing toilet bowls at least once in their life? It can be tough and time-consuming to get rid of hard water stains, water scale, and other deposits. But did you know that you can make it easier if you use one of the best automatic toilet bowl cleaners on the market?
A passive cleaning system or solution that breaks down deposits without scrubbing can be the ideal method for keeping up with your toilet maintenance. It won’t require much effort on your side. Check out the following products to see what I mean.
12 Best Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaners for All Flushing Systems
1. Fluidmaster 8100 Flush ‘n Sparkle
This toilet bowl cleaner is available in two cleaning kits. One uses bleach and has no color while the other leaves behind sparkling blue water.
The Fluidmaster 8100 is relatively easy to install if you follow the instructions. You can install the cartridge holder in almost any toilet tank in a matter of seconds. You can also connect the short tube it comes with to any standard valve port.
The O ring is very secure and durable. Unlike tablets, granules, and other liquid solutions, the formula inside the 8,100 cartridges doesn’t leave behind any residue. That means that you’ll get consistent scrub-free cleaning and a mess-free toilet tank.
I also like that you can handle the Blue cartridge without gloves. And, the fact that it connects directly to the overflow tube means no unwanted chemicals leak into the tank. That prevents any valves, pipes, or gaskets from deteriorating.
- Available with or without bleach
- Simple installation on universal toilet tank designs
- Keeps toilet bowl water free of chemicals
- Replacement cartridges are somewhat expensive
2. Clorox Automatic Tablets
The Clorox toilet bowl tablets weigh 3.5oz each and come in packs of four. These bleach tablets do an excellent job of keeping the toilet bowl white. They’re also capable of dispatching up to 99.9% of common bacteria while also removing the odor.
Although highly useful, the Clorox tablets give off a powerful odor of their own. It may take a few days before the water becomes odorless once more.
I like how long-lasting the tablets are. Each one can keep the toilet clean for up to six weeks. They’re a very cheap investment if you ask me.
The Clorox formula also does an excellent job of preventing the formation of tough stains. I recommend the tablets, even if you live in an area with mostly hard water.
Like any bleach tablets, you should expect some damage to certain parts inside the toilet tank, particularly low-end flappers. But, you can avoid this if you use these tablets in a toilet bowl that doesn’t see a lot of action, like in a service bathroom.
- Easy to use
- One tablet can last up to 3 months
- It cleans, sanitizes, and removes odors
- Slow bleach release
- Can corrode some flappers
3. Lysol Hygienic Cleaner
Formulated to give out an Atlantic Fresh scent, this is one of the more pleasant toilet bowl cleaners. The freshness is always preferable, and the tablet has more than decent sanitizing properties too.
Lysol offers these in two-packs. One pack should be enough to keep your toilet clean, prevent staining, and kill microbes for up to four months.
The use of specific essential oils also helps maintain a brighter sparkle inside the bowl. While some scrubbing will be necessary once a tablet reaches its end, you won’t have to scrub as hard as you regularly do.
That said, this automatic toilet bowl cleaner offers a significant advantage. Since it comes with a hanger and sits right inside the bowl, the chemicals within it won’t affect any of the water inside the tank. This way, you’re protecting all sensitive tank components from corrosion.
The hanger is not exactly low-profile, but I like the quick-release design. It makes it easy to install, remove, and to replace a used tablet.
- Freshly scented
- Convenient rim hanger
- Doesn’t affect toilet tank water
- Doesn’t do much against hard water deposits
4. Iron Out Tablets
The Iron Out Toilet Bowl Cleaner is perhaps my favorite value package. You get six tablets at a bargain price, and each tablet should last you well over one month.
Unlike other more aggressive tablets, the Iron Out formula doesn’t contain any bleach. That means that every component inside your toilet tank. It is particularly effective at removing manganese stains and iron deposits. And it also does an excellent job of preventing hard water stains.
Using the tablets is pretty straightforward too. You can drop them in your toilet tank, cover it again, fill it with water, and flush. It doesn’t get easier than that. Just make sure that you drop the tablet into an empty tank and away from the flapper.
Even better, they don’t require any tinkering, and you won’t have to get down and dirty to replace a used tablet.
- Odorless formula
- Ideal for iron deposits
- Prevents hard water stains
- Good value for money
- Sometimes flushing can pull the tablet into the flapper
5. NeverScrub Automatic Toilet Cleaning System
This simple toilet bowl cleaning system comes courtesy of NeverScrub. It comes in a two-pack and is very easy to install.
Empty your toilet tank and cut off the water supply. After hanging the NeverScrub system inside it, connect the red tube to the overflow pipe and the blue tube to the fill valve. That’s all.
NeverScrub uses a proprietary cleaning solution that doesn’t leak into the tank but directly into the overflow tube. That means that the cleaning solution will only attack the toilet bowl, keeping the sensitive tank components intact.
Because of how it’s introduced into the system, this formula ensures the cleaning of the entire toilet bowl, including the area under the rim. That area is not always targetable with a simple hanging tablet system.
So, not only can you install this on two toilets in your home or office, but you can also do it fast. Each cartridge should last up to three months. Be aware, though, that the replacement cartridges, while easy to install, can be expensive.
- Safe to use inside the tank
- Provides thorough cleaning
- Prevents common deposits
- Odorless and colorless
- Expensive replacement cartridges
6. SEABEI Bottle Cleaner
I find this to be one of the most innovative toilet bowl cleaners that you can safely use inside a toilet tank. The bottle has a consistent release system for every flush. And, you can place it in a corner, away from the tank mechanism, for optimal performance.
What I like the most is that this bottle should be easier to pair even with older toilet systems. Today’s cartridge systems tend to work with all modern toilets. But, they may not have the right connections for older toilets.
Since this bottle system doesn’t require any connections to the flushing system, so you won’t have to worry about damaging it. The solution is lavender-scented, and there’s enough of it for up to 900 consistent flushes.
When the bottle is empty, you’ll notice that the water is no longer blue. Therefore, it’s easy to know when to replace it.
- Pleasant lavender scent
- Compatible with any toilet tank
- Safe solution for pipes and septic tanks
- Can break down rust stains and urine scale
- Perhaps not as efficient against all hard water stains
7. Blue Ribbon Value Pak 120
This one’s an affordable toilet bowl cleaner that you can use if you don’t want to scrub. The solution can break down existing stains and prevent new ones from forming up to three months.
It’s not, however, a substitute for deep cleaning. But no toilet bowl cleaner is. I like that it’s safe for the plumbing and that it doesn’t affect septic tanks either. That means that you can use it in any home, whether in an urban or a rural area.
That said, the Value Pak 120 doesn’t have the most convenient installation process. After you put the container inside the toilet tank, you will have to hold it down until it fills with water for the first time.
Not doing so may cause it to float and eventually obstruct the flapper or other components of the flushing mechanism. It’s not as simple as just dropping in a tablet in. Also, you may get your hands wet, but it is not a dealbreaker if you ask me. The solution does an excellent job against existing hard water stains, and that’s all that matters for most people.
- Odorless formula
- Safe for septic tanks
- Effective against hard water stains
- A bit messy to install
8. The Works Bleach Tablets
The Works Tablets are among the best passive toilet cleaning solutions on the market. The highly concentrated formula can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria thriving in toilet bowls. Additionally, it can restore the whiteness of the toilet bowl.
It’s also a powerful deodorizer, which is always nice to have. That said, you should know that the smell of bleach is a bit strong during the first few days.
The tablet is small and light, which means that you’ll have to place it in the corner of the toilet tank, away from the flapper. Even then, it may not be the best choice for all models. Some components may corrode after too much exposure to bleach.
I recommend using this in a service bathroom rather than the main one. If you’re looking for a scrub-free solution to remove existing stains, this may be the one for you. It shouldn’t take more than five or six flushes to remove old stains.
That said, it’s not the most cost-effective solution. So, I recommend using this in extreme cases, not so much for regular maintenance. Pricing aside, you wouldn’t want to damage the working parts of the toilet tank. I advise you to use this one if you’re dealing with very old and hard to remove stains.
- Removes the hardest of stains
- Deodorizing effect
- Eliminates bacteria and maintains the bowl’s shine and sparkle
- Pricey single-tablet pack
9. Lysol Click Gel
If you’re not a fan of installing tank cleaners, then perhaps a classic rim-hanging passive toilet bowl device may be for you. Lysol offers a gel version too, with a prolonged release.
Each Lysol Click Gel cartridge should last up to two weeks. The price is ideal for homeowners with multiple bathrooms that need servicing.
I like that the gel has a citrusy scent. I find it more pleasant and natural that the smell of most ocean-fresh type cleaning solutions.
What’s perhaps even better is that the cartridges stick to the toilet bowl. You can use the disposable applicators to do this to keep your hands clean.
I find that this looks better than traditional hangers, and it also won’t interfere with the position and stability of the toilet seat. Even though the gel cartridge is large, you can push it high enough under the rim to hide most of it with the applicator.
- Self-sticking gel cartridges
- Pleasant citrus scent
- Very affordable
- Disposable applicators included
- Better at preventing stains than removing them
10. X-Life Tablets
Easy to use and very potent, the X-Life tablets are among my favorites. The formula doesn’t contain bleach, so they don’t give off a pungent and off-putting smell. At the same time, they can counteract unwanted odors formed from bacteria and stains.
While these aren’t as long-lasting as other formulations, the price is right. You get six tablets per pack, and each one can last up to two weeks. Of course, that depends on how often you use the toilet.
It’s important to remember to let the tablets soak for a while, maybe around 30 minutes, before flushing for the first time. And, to avoid getting down and dirty, place one tablet in a corner away from the water outlet. Place it after you empty the tank.
These tablets are good at removing urine and water scale and some harder stains. But, I wouldn’t say that they’re the best against massive mineral deposits. When used on a clean toilet, they can prevent such deposits from forming in the first place, which is pretty neat if you ask me.
- Removes odors
- Breaks down water and urine scale easily
- Natural acidic formula non-damaging to the tank
- Value pack
- Not ideal for old hard water stains
11. Pure-Eco New Generation Toilet Cleaner
With the Pure-Eco New Generation Toilet Cleaner, you get about 600 flushes with disinfectant and cleaning properties. Perhaps ideal in urban residential areas or any other area with predominantly soft water, this Pure-Eco cleaner is super easy to install and replace.
The unique bottle design prevents the bottle container from floating inside the tank. It’s also optimized to release the formula consistently with each flush so that you don’t run out too much.
I also like that it doesn’t use any bleach and that it doesn’t require a connection to the toilet’s flushing system. There are no tubes to worry about with this solution.
The formula is quite acidic but non-corrosive. Hence it won’t damage the tank but will be able to remove scale and some older stains too. That said, the most difficult hard water stains are out of its reach. You may need something more potent than this formula to clean the toilet bowl without scrubbing.
- Unique bottle container design
- Delivers up to 600 flushes
- Natural disinfectant
- Safe to use inside the toilet tank
- Might not be good enough for super hard water
12. Meiheija Tablet Six-Pack
You can handle these tablets without gloves because each one has a protective film. Once inside the toilet tank, it will take a few minutes for the film to start dissolving so that the tablet can last longer.
With each flush, a single tablet provides enough cleaning of the agent to remove odors, prevent new stains from forming, and enough to kill most bacteria.
I also find this useful at cleaning under the rim. Not just because it releases the cleaning agent into the entire tank before the flush, but also because of how quickly it works.
Meiheija managed to create an efficient and fast-acting toilet bowl cleaner, one that doesn’t require many flushes to get the job done. That said, it does have a strong scent, not unpleasant but powerful nonetheless.
And, one tablet won’t last more than ten days. That means that even with the protective film, the tablets may not last as long as you would expect.
- Very fast-acting formula
- Works against hard water
- Tablets feature a protective film
- Non-damaging to the toilet tank
- Tablets last less than most competitor formulas
Types of Automatic Toilet Cleaners
As you’ve seen by now, there aren’t that many types of automatic or passive toilet bowl cleaners that you can use for scrub-free maintenance.
Tablets are usually the go-to choices for most homeowners. They can drop them into the tank, and let them soak. Tablets will slowly dissolve, allowing the cleaning agent to mix with the flushed water.
You should note that not all tablets are equal in size or have the same rate of release. The latter often depends on how good the coating film is and how fast it dissolves. That can make or break a tablet’s effectiveness.
Hanging cartridges come in two variants. They’re either tablet cartridges that hang from the toilet rim or self-sticking cartridges that can be either gel-like or solid in texture.
Their main advantage is they don’t mix directly with the water inside the tank. Because of this, such cartridges can contain much more aggressive chemicals, should you need them.
Last but not least, automatic toilet bowl cleaners that you install inside the toilet tank exist as well. Most of these systems are similar to hangers. In most cases, you can hang the container which holds the cartridge with the cleaning solution inside the toilet tank.
But, unlike a tablet, that cartridge will release the solution in the overflow tube and not inside the tank. Hence none of the components of the flushing mechanism will be affected.
Another type of system involves bottle containers. Each manufacturer uses its unique design to slowly release the cleaning agent into the water when you flush. Some bottle containers last longer than others.
Believe it or not, there are some other less popular types of cleaners too. Powders and granules are also available. However, I find these to be mostly ineffective and even sometimes dangerous to use.
Mainly for the same reason why tablets can be damaging. Granules can clog the overflow tube or the flapper.
How to Pick Your Toilet Cleaner
Although I find them very useful, direct overflow tube releasing cartridge systems are not compatible with all toilet tanks. For example, there are still people that have toilet tanks more than a decade old.
These cartridges are rather new on the market, and their tube connections may only be compatible with more modern systems.
Another thing to consider when picking a toilet cleaner is how aggressive you need it to be. Bleach is an excellent cleaner, but you can’t rely on bleach tablets forever, not if you put them inside the tank.
You see, there are many highly corrosive chemicals, including bleach. So your flapper, gaskets, and other small moving parts of the flushing system can get damaged. Sometimes the damage might be so severe that you’ll have to replace some or all of them.
Of course, if you’re not sure what caused the toilet bowl stains, you won’t be able to pick the right toilet bowl cleaner.
You might also want to consider the fact that some cleaners are better as maintenance systems. As in, they don’t remove tough water stains without scrubbing, but they can prevent them from forming.
Do All Toilet Cleaners Remove Bad Odors?
For the most part, yes, they do. However, not all toilet bowl cleaners have a pleasant scent, either. For example, some bleach-based solutions can give out a lingering odor for more than a few days. It’s also not uncommon for many chemical toilet bowl cleaners to also carry a mildew-type scent.
If you want to remove bad odors and maintain a pleasant scent in the bathroom, I recommend steering towards more natural products.
There are many natural yet highly acidic solutions for cleaning toilets. Many of them are also capable of dealing with hard water deposits. My favorite scent is lemon or something citrusy, but that’s just me.
Do’s and Don’ts of Installing a Tank Toilet Cleaner
When using tablets, I recommend always emptying the tank first. That will make it easier to drop the tablet as close to a corner as possible without getting your hands dirty or wet. It is also essential because dropping a lightweight tablet inside the full toilet tank can cause it to float or slide towards the flapper.
If this happens, the flapper might jam, and you won’t be able to flush properly. On the other hand, it might lock in an open position. The latter will cause water to run continuously down the outlet. That’s a waste of water and a waste of the cleaning product.
When installing a cartridge system inside the tank, always follow the instructions on the package. You’ll notice that most systems only use two tube connections. But you will have to know where to plug each one.
Verify that the O ring seals are tight and that the cartridge container doesn’t leak from the top either. Also, don’t forget to empty the toilet tank and cut off the water supply too so that you can work freely. It may take a bit longer, but it’s not that hard.
Can Colored Solutions Stain Your Toilet Bowl?
As you should know by now, some tablets, gels, and cartridges color the toilet water. But does that color matter anyway?
Usually, it shouldn’t matter. If everything works as it should, that color should make the water look better, but it won’t stain your bowl.
That said, not all manufacturers make high-quality cleaning agents. And, in some cases, a defective flapper can lead to some mishaps.
For example, if you place a tablet that colors the water inside the tank and the flapper leaks, you will get a more concentrated runoff, consistently pouring into the toilet bowl. It could leave a trail on the bowl, and you might have a hard time cleaning it if you don’t act fast.
I think that a colored cleaning agent can come in handy in some cases. Specifically, when the hard water stain takes longer to dissolve. The colored water can mask the stain for a while until the chemicals can break it down completely.
Self-Sticking Gels or Hanging Cartridges
Many people prefer self-sticking gels, and it’s quite understandable. You can sometimes hide gels underneath the rim, making them almost invisible.
Hangers, on the other hand, are always visible. In terms of how they interact with water, however, there shouldn’t be any difference between the two. You install both in the path of the flushed water, so they should clean the bowl equally thoroughly.
That said, there’s another thing you should consider about hanging bowl cartridges. If the top arm is bulky, then you could end up with a slightly raised toilet seat. That might be a considerable problem if you have a very narrow toilet seat.
If you do opt for a gel, I recommend using gloves to stick it to the toilet bowl. Not all gel packs come with disposable applicators.
I should also point out that in the long run, these types of automatic toilet bowl cleaners should last much longer than tablets. That’s because they’re not in constant contact with water. Therefore, they dissolve at a slower pace.
Take the Advertised Lingering Effect with a Grain of Salt
You’ll notice that the manufacturers tend to accent the lingering effect of their toilet cleaners. It could be days, weeks, or even months. This length of effectiveness will differ significantly between cleaning products based on the formulas and the type of cleaner.
But, you can’t always rely on what it says on the package. You see, manufacturers don’t always list for how many flushes you can use their cleaner. Some only mention a length of time, based on an average number of uses per day. However, such estimations tend to be inaccurate.
Therefore, using a tablet that’s supposed to last one month, may only give you two weeks if you use it in a high-traffic bathroom.
Some cleaners have their length of effectiveness rated in flushes. These are usually bottle containers, like some we covered in this article.
Not All Automatic Cleaners Are Also Great Disinfectants
Of course, if you want to kill bacteria fast and efficiently, bleach is one of your best options. But bleach is not the ingredient of choice for all homeowners. It can damage the flushing system in the long run.
If you plan on using something more natural or a less aggressive chemical, you should know that the solution may not have the most reliable antimicrobial properties.
Can You Truly Avoid Ever Scrubbing Your Toilet Again?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Even if you use the best automatic toilet bowl cleaner on the market, you’ll still have to do some scrubbing from time to time.
The upside is that you probably won’t have to use any aggressive chemical agents that require a face mask or that create dangerous fumes when they mix with your automatic cleaner of choice.
Give Yourself a Break Without Skimping on Cleanliness
Everyone should use one of the best automatic toilet bowl cleaners, whether they mind scrubbing or not. It’s much easier to clean and, more importantly, to maintain a sanitary, odorless, and sparkling toilet.
Now whether you’ve found your ideal cleaner in this article or not, that’s up to you. I’m sure that using the information in this guide and the reviews, you’ll be able to make the right choice.