How to Remove Toilet Bolt Caps and Install New Ones

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Bolt caps are hard to notice until they’re dirty or missing. When this happens, you’ll know it’s time to remove or replace them.

Caps are small plastic elements that cover the bolt attaching your toilet to the floor. Your toilet can work without them, but caps give it a finished look and protect the bolt from corrosion.

Replacing them is a simple DIY task that will only take you about 10 minutes. Here’s how it works.

When to Replace Bolt Caps

There are a few obvious signs that you need to replace your toilet’s bolt caps.

1. Bolt Caps Are Dirty

Sometimes the caps are dirty, and all it takes is cleaning them. If you can’t clean the caps with Heinz Cleaning Vinegar or other similar products, you need to replace them.

2. Bolt Caps Are Damaged

If your bolt caps are damaged, you will notice cracks on their surface. This is the sign that you have to replace the bolt caps.

3. Bolt Caps Are Missing

Sometimes you’ll notice that your bolt caps are missing, probably because they were loose and fell off. When this happens, you must install a new set of caps.

Tools to Use When Removing Bolt Caps

Removing bolt caps is easy — it doesn’t require more than your typical garage tools and home items:

  • A pair of gloves to protect your hands and keep them clean
  • A towel or two to collect water
  • A screwdriver or flat knife to remove the bolt covers
  • An adjustable wrench or pliers to screw threaded caps
  • A small hammer to install traditional caps
  • Milwaukee hacksaw in case you need to cut the bolts
  • Vinegar and baking soda to clean the bolts before installing bolt covers

Remove and Replace Toilet Bolt Caps In 6 Steps

It takes only six steps to remove and replace your old toilet bolt caps. Here’s what you should do:

Step 1: Put a Towel Under the Toilet Bowl

Put a towel under the toilet bowl to protect your floor and yourself from excess or running water. It will catch any leaks around the base of your toilet bowl, making sure that nothing gets on you or your floor while working.

Step 2: Use the Proper Tools

You can try to remove the caps with your hands, but it’s easier if you have the right tool. Something like a flathead screwdriver or knife is excellent for removing caps. 

Both tools have flat and thin heads, so you can insert them into the hairline gaps. This makes knives and screwdrivers perfect for removing bolt caps that aren’t too stiff or rusty.

You can also use a small hacksaw, which will help you cut through the bolts if they turn out to be too long. A wrench can come in handy, too.

Step 3: Slip the Tool Under the Bolt Cap

Now it’s time to get to the toilet bowl. Take a screwdriver and hold it firmly, then slip the flat end under the plastic cap and push it upward.

Do this from different sides and various angles to loosen the cap. If the cap resists, apply a bit more pressure until it comes off.

In the worst-case scenario, the cap won’t budge at all because it’s stuck. If this happens, you can cut the bolt cap with a knife or a hacksaw. However, be careful not to damage the bolt nuts underneath or cut your hand.

Step 4: Clear the Bolts

When you remove the caps, remember to clear the toilet bolts and safety nuts at the bottom of your toilet. These bolts need to be free of debris that might prevent new caps from attaching to them correctly.

Vinegar and baking soda are common household products that you can use to clean the toilet bolts, as well as the entire toilet base. After pouring the mix of vinegar and soda, leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing with water.

Step 5: Check Bolt Height

Before installing new bolt covers, check the length of the bolt head. Toilet bolts come in standard sizes, but sometimes they are higher because of the toilet weight.

If you notice this problem, cut off a small section of the bolt using a hacksaw. Now the new caps should be able to fit.

Step 6: Set New Caps

It is time to set the new covers. There are two types of toilet bolt caps:

A flat cap snaps onto the bolt and safety nuts. You only need to give these a light push to snap them in place.

However, it is sometimes hard to do it manually. If you are struggling, use a small hammer and gently nail down the caps until they fit.

A threaded bolt cover comes with special adapters that you first need to make sure are placed on the bolts.

After that, you can screw the threaded caps over the adapters. You can also use a pair of pliers for threaded caps, but make sure you don’t damage them in the process.

PRO TIP: If you don’t want to mess with the toilet bolts, go for tall toilet bolt caps — you can purchase taller Push-On Caps on Amazon. That way, you don’t need to cut the bolts to adjust the height.

The Bottom Line

Bolt caps are small, but they strongly impact your toilet’s appearance and functionality. If you notice that your covers are missing or damaged, replace them ASAP.

Using our tips, you’ll have the job done in less than 20 minutes.

Keep reading Bomisch articles for more DIYs just like this — we have a lot more bathroom ideas and practical tips to share with you!

FAQ

What is holding toilet bolt caps?

When installing a toilet bowl, plumbers connect the caps to the bolts. Some plastic covers for toilets are threaded, while others snap on the bolts.

How to clean rusty bolts?

You can use vinegar or soda for cleaning rusty bolts. Pour the solution on the bolts until it becomes wet, then leave it for 15 minutes before rinsing with water.

Before removing rusty bolts, remember that they can be sharp. Put on your rubber gloves to protect your hands and keep them clean.

How to remove caps from toilet seats?

Lift a decorative toilet seat cap with your hand. If it’s stuck, remove it using a flat screwdriver or a wrench.

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