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Cloudy Toilet Water: What’s Happening and What You Can Do

Cloudy Toilet Water: What’s Happening and What You Can Do

Do you often find cloudy water in your toilet?

Not only is it an unpleasant sight, but it also could result in a bad-smelling toilet that makes you look like you’re not keeping it clean.

Dirty and smelly water in your toilet tank can be a real source of embarrassment.

More importantly, you’re not exactly feeling at ease wondering what’s causing the water to be unclear in the first place.

But don’t worry!

In this article, I’ll show you the reasons behind this icky issue and share with you the tips used to clear things up in your potty today.

What Causes Cloudy Toilet Water?

Murky water could indicate several underlying issues. If unaddressed, it might lead to more significant problems in the future (depending on what it is of course!).

Here are the possible culprits that lead to the water in your toilet not appearing very clean.

1. Hard Water

If you live in a city with hard water, you may notice that your toilet tank water appears cloudy or murky sometimes but not always.

Hard water is high in calcium and magnesium. These minerals can cause sediment buildup in your toilet tank over time.

The sediment can cling to the sides of the tank and create a cloudy appearance in the water as it builds up and penetrates the water microscopically.

It may not seem like a big deal at first, but over time, this buildup can cause more than just whitish water. I can lead to your pipes getting partial clogged!

2. Mold

Mold growth can cause toilet water to become cloudy because it feeds on the minerals in the water.

The mold would then grow a film or layer on the water’s surface.

This film can trap air bubbles and other impurities, leading to cloudiness in the water.

Additionally, mold growth in the toilet tank can cause unpleasant odors.

3. Toilet Bowl Cleaners

If your toilet water gets cloudy and smells, then it might be the residual cleaning product.

This one has been the case for me more than once!

What happens is I get a little extra zealous when cleaning the toilets. I’ll add the cleaner and let it soak for hours.

After a nearly full day of warning all the family members not to flush the toilet until it’s had a good soaking, the water appears a bit cloudy for the next several days depending on usage.

Not usually a big deal but…

Toilet cleaners contain chemicals that can be harsh. If too much is used, it becomes overkill and can damage toilet bowl surfaces over time.

I’ll let it soak for just 10-15 minutes. This gets a gentle cleaning and disinfecting without any visible effects to the water.

4. Worn Out Component

The cloudy water could sometimes be the result of a broken or worn-out component in your toilet.

There’s a rubber valve at the bottom of your toilet tank is a common cause for cloudy water.

That thing is the flapper, and it’s the hero that stops water from flowing into the bowl when you’re not using it.

But after years of being a champ, the flapper can wear down and lose its sealing powers.

And when that happens, water can sneak past and start leaking from the tank into the bowl. These leaks cause cloudy water in the toilet tank.

How to Fix Cloudy Toilet water

Here’s how you can handle the cloudy toilet water:

Sanitize the Toilet

sanitizing cloudy toilet

Cleaning the toilet tank and bowl is necessary for maintaining a hygienic bathroom.

But related to what I just mentioned above, follow these steps to best use it:

Step 1: Drain the Water

Start by turning off the water supply valve and flushing the toilet. Then, drain the water from the toilet tank and bowl.

Step 2: Use a Toilet Cleaner

Add a cleaning solution to the toilet bowl. I’ve tried many that worked, but my favorite by far is the Lysol Toilet Gel.

For less than five bucks, you get one of the best toilet cleaners on the market.

Once you apply the cleaner, let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. This allows the cleaner to eliminate the smell.

Step 3: Remove the Accumulated Deposits 

Scrub the outside and inside of the bowl with a brush. Pay special attention to areas with stains or buildup.

Step 4: Give your Toilet Tank a Deep Clean

Now that you’ve cleaned the toilet sink, it’s time to clean the water tank.

Remove the toilet tank lid and add the cleaning solution to the tank. Once again, let it sit for a few minutes.

Use a sponge or brush to clean the inside of the tank, including the walls and bottom.

Step 5: Scrape the Stains

If there is any buildup or debris in the tank, use a plastic scraper or old toothbrush to remove it.

Some stains can be a bit stubborn, so prioritize repeated scraping rather than hard scraping to avoid getting tired.

Step 6: Flush the Toilet

Ensure a thorough rinse of both the bowl and tank. Turn the water on and flush the toilet.

I like to do this multiple times to ensure that no chemicals linger around.

Check and Replace the Toilet Fill Valve

replacing toilet fill valve

Cleaning the water sink and tank often does the trick for me. However, I had an old toilet that still retained its cloudy water because of a rusty fill valve.

It took me three cleaning cycles to figure that out, so I thought I’d save you the hassle and point it out early on.

Unless your toilet fill valve is actually leaking, you may never know this is the problem!

Here’s how to replace a damaged fill valve:

Step 1: Drain the Tank

The golden rule for searching for any problem or trying to fix anything in your toilet is to shut off the water and drain the tank.

You’ll have a much better chance of spotting a problem if there’s no water in the way.

Step 2: Look for the Valve

Remove the tank lid and locate the fill valve. It’s that tower-like rod of plastic attached to the bottom of the tank.

Step 3: Watch Out for Damage

Check the fill valve for any visible signs of damage or wear. Look for cracks, leaks, or corrosion.

Move the valve up and down to see if there are any broken parts.

I like to use a small mirror to check the hidden areas that my eyes can’t see; it works wonders in detecting rust and damage.

Step 4: Listen to Unusual Sounds

Turn the water supply back on to test the fill valve and let the tank fill with water.

Once the tank is full, listen for any hissing or dripping sounds from the fill valve. You might have to replace the valve if you hear any unusual sounds.

Step 5: Replace the Valve

If you do find an issue in the valve, then it’s time to replace it. The quickest way is to buy a new one and have a plumber install it for you.

This is often a convenient solution since there are many valve designs.

However, I’ve seen enough of them being installed to know that the process is almost always the same. Have a look at the video above to understand what I mean.

As you can see, the trick is to unscrew the mounting nut below the tank, remove the valve, and replace it with the new one.

Proper Ventilation Keeps Your Bathroom Smelling Fresh

The cloudy water can be accompanied by a smell that makes you think there’s always someone using the toilet.

When that happens, you’ll need to deal with the smell as well. You’ve already fixed the cloudy water issue, but ventilation is now essential to get rid of the smell.

A poorly ventilated bathroom can allow unpleasant odors to linger even if there’s no problem with the toilet itself.

You may also install an exhaust fan to keep your bathroom smelling fresh.

I’m a DIY freak, so I always look for tutorials. (I even did this to fix my cloudy pool water!).

The one in the video above was the icing on the cake for me.


What causes cloudy toilet water?

Air bubbles or mineral buildup from hard water is a common culprit. A rusty toilet valve is also a possible reason.

Sometimes the toilet simply requires a thorough cleaning, so you can try that too.

Is cloudy water in my toilet harmful?

In most cases, it’s not harmful to your health but could mean a plumbing issue. However, it’s best to handle the problem as soon as you see it to avoid complications.

Can I fix murky water on my own?

Yes! Try adjusting the water level or replacing the flapper valve for air bubbles.

And if there is mineral buildup, use a specialized toilet bowl cleaner. It will eliminate those pesky deposits.

Will cloudy and smelly toilet water damage my toilet?

It’s unlikely to cause major damage. But mineral buildup could lead to corrosion over time if left untreated.

Also it’s always a good idea if your supposedly clean plumbing water smells.

When should I call a plumber?

If your efforts to fix the problem don’t work, or if you suspect there’s a tricky plumbing issue at play, it’s time to call in a professional.

Can using too much toilet cleaner cause the water to get dirty?

The excessive use of specific cleaning agents can react with the minerals in the water. It’ll then create a murky appearance.

However, it’s not an actual problem since it’ll clear away within a few flushes.

Cloudy toilet water can be a source of embarrassment and a bad smell. 

Hard water, mold growth, toilet cleaners, and worn-out components are common causes.

To prevent the problem, start by sanitizing your toilet. 

If that doesn’t fix it, check the fill valve and fix or replace it if necessary.

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