Why Is My Toilet Water Brown? 7 Causes and Quick Fixes

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What the heck??

That’s what I yelled while standing over a toilet in my bathroom a couple of months ago. The porcelain was clear as usual, but the water was suspiciously brown. I flushed it again, but the water was still murky when it came back up.

It made me think: Why is my toilet water brown? Here’s what I discovered — the toilet water is brown because of corroded pipes, rust, and sediments. 

But that’s not the end of the story. I soon became an expert in the subject, discovering seven things that make toilet water dark and brownish.

Now you can learn from my experience, so keep reading to see how to make brown water in your toilet clean again.

Problem 1: Your Toilet Is Rusty

Your toilet doesn’t consist of plastic and rubber elements only. On the contrary, it also contains metal components prone to rusting. The moisture in your toilet slowly gnaws metal, which makes it oxidize and rust over time.

If you flush your toilet and brownish-red stains appear down there, rusty parts make it look awful. In addition to looking bad, rust can also cause foul smells and damages to your toilet as a whole.

Solution: Replace Rusty Parts

Solving this problem is simple — you only need to research the toilet and find rusty parts. After that, you can replace damaged components in minutes. But what exactly are you searching for here?

A few things can suffer from oxidation — toilet base bolts, nuts, metal handles, tank bolts, and metal supply hoses.

When you discover a rusted element, buy a replacement and install it instead of the old item. After that, you won’t notice brown water anymore.

Problem 2: You Have Waste Leftovers in the Toilet

Toilet waste leftovers can be the second reason why your toilet water is brown. Toilets usually deal with dissolved organic matter, but not always. Waste remnants don’t just look awkward but also produce stinky fumes, making the overall experience intolerable.

Most times, leftovers stay in your bowl because the toilet’s flush system is not powerful enough to clean everything. A typical toilet should easily remove toilet paper and human waste, but that’s not the case with low-flow toilets.

Solution: Increase the Flush Power

The only solution is to improve the flushing potential of your toilet. The simplest option is to convert a low-flow toilet to a high-flow, maximizing the flush power. It only requires lifting the tank float or repositioning the cylinder float.

When you do it, the toilet will be strong enough to remove waste in a single flush, turning the water clear again. It will keep the toilet clean and prevent poop from sticking to the porcelain.

Problem 3: Mineral Deposits in Water

Although it seems clear, toilet water is often hard and packed with mineral deposits and debris. A high level of mineral content can interfere with the porcelain coating, but it can also discolor the water in your toilet bowl.

Minerals often drop down on top of invisible stains, forming deposits and causing brown water at times. It doesn’t happen frequently, but you should remember it because the solution is easy.

Solution: Use Vinegar to Clean the Toilet

You can use commercial products and chemicals to remove deposits, making your toilet water clear again. However, we’d recommend another option — vinegar. It’s a natural solution that cannot harm your toilet or pipes.

Pour four cups of white distilled vinegar into the tank and flush the toilet. First of all, vinegar will clean the toilet tank. Secondly, it will react with mineral deposits in the toilet bowl and help water get that clear appearance again.

If necessary, you can also use the toilet brush to scrub the bowl and remove the brown ring from the water surface.

Problem 4: Look for Rusty Pipes

Toilet parts get dirty, but so do the pipes hiding behind the walls. It’s a more severe problem because rusted pipes can be anywhere. After all, too much iron can harm the pipes in your kitchen, bathroom, and other rooms.

It’s often the case with old houses, where iron drains dominate the plumbing system. In such circumstances, brown water will probably come out of all faucets and showers. You will also notice brown stains on your clothes after washing.

Solution: Remove Rust With Water Softeners

There are two options in front of you. The first is temporary, as you can use water softeners and chlorine to fend off iron content and rust. The second solution is permanent, but it requires changing old pipes in your home.

It’s a costly fix, but it solves the problem for good and allows you to think about remodeling the bathroom. If you do that, you probably won’t be facing any toilet-related issues in the next few decades.

Problem 5: A Water Pump Is Broken

A water pump is a small mechanical device that recirculates the water supply every time you flush the toilet. The tool is perfect for toilets with weak flush systems, but it can discolor the toilet water.

The pump needs enough water pressure to run adequately, but it can’t clean itself from excess water. Over time, the device forms iron stains in the cracks or between its components.

Long-term dampness leads to corrosion, which transfers to the toilet bowl and discolors the water.

Solution: Change the Pump

One way to solve the problem is to clean your toilet pump thoroughly. You can disconnect the device and use a dry cloth to remove water. After that, spray some WD-40 on rusty stains to clean the pump.

If you can’t clean the pump, the alternative is to replace it with a new one.

For instance, the Macerator Sewerage Pump consists of plastic parts and stainless steel, guaranteeing durability and cleanliness. It also has a powerful vertical flush system, so your toilet won’t have a hard time disposing of waste.

Problem 6: Clogs in the Plumbing System

Clogs in the plumbing system can halt the water supply and cause brown water in the toilet bowl. If you keep flushing non-flushable items like baby wipes and condoms, you will clog the toilet sooner or later.

In this case, water backflows and brings debris to make brown water. The problem is bigger than having too much iron in the pipes — clogs will disable the outlet drain, so you’ll have to unclog the toilet.

Solution: Unclog the Toilet

You can break down clogs using many tools and chemicals. Epsom salt is the most elegant solution because you only need to pour a cup of it into the toilet. Add a bucket of hot water, wait for 15 minutes, and you’ll see brown water disappearing.

If you don’t like cleaning the toilet with salt, you can always drill through the clog with a toilet auger. Another option is to push it out using a toilet plunger, while you can also pour the dish soap to help the clog slide through the steel pipes.

Problem 7: Sediments in the Well

The last problem is the least likely to occur, but we need to mention it. If you have a well close to your home, it might form sediments that make the water look dirty and brownish. It might happen if construction works are taking place nearby.

Solution: Call a Plumber 

You can hardly do anything about it alone, so make sure to call your plumber or utility provider.

The Bottom Line

So why is my toilet water brown? We answered the question by pinpointing seven causes, including a rusty pipe, clogs, and waste deposits.

If the toilet welcomes you with brown water, you have to discover the root of the problem and fix it accordingly. Our tips will help you do it, so roll up your sleeves and make your toilet clean again.


How do you fix dirty toilet water?

It depends on the source of dirt, but you will likely have to replace the rusty parts and clean the toilet regularly. Besides that, you can increase the flush power of your toilet and remove clogs from all the pipes.

What do I do if the toilet water is brown?

If the water in your toilet is brown, you should check the toilet to see what causes it. If it’s clogged, use a plunger to break the blockade. In case the water pump is broken, replace it as soon as possible. You should also replace rusted components and clean the toilet regularly.

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