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How To Get Rid Of Iron Bacteria From The Toilet Tank?

How To Get Rid Of Iron Bacteria From The Toilet Tank


Do you feel cringy after seeing slimy reddish-brown stuff in your toilet water tank? It is an accumulation of iron bacteria. It seems like a scary, thick, sticky substance that can be deposited in your faucet, toilet tank, and pipes. Do you want to get rid of it?

If yes, then drain out all the water and clean it while using a scrub or a toilet brush, disinfect it with chlorine, bleach, surf, or acid, and flush it periodically or install a water filter to prevent it.

This article will explain the easy and effective methods to get rid of iron bacteria from the toilet tank. Keep reading it!

What Are Iron Bacteria?

Iron bacteria are naturally found in surface water and groundwater in many regions of the US. The most common genres of bacteria typically involved in the formation of iron bacteria are Gallionella, Leptothrix, and Crenothrix. These bacteria derive energy from oxidizing dissolved ferrous iron or manganese. It can enter your water system during pipe and pump installation or maintenance. One of the common causes is unsanitized drilling equipment.

Many signs can indicate the presence of iron bacteria in your toilet tank water and fixtures. Here are some of the following:

  • Your toilet tank will have orange stains.
  • There will be a slimy substance in the bottom of your tank.
  • You may face clogged pipes in your home.
  • Sewage-like odor will come from your toilet tank and sinks.
  • Poor water pressure from your tap.
  • Presence of oily sheen on the surface of the water.
  • Corrosion in your plumbing equipment.

How To Test For Iron Bacteria?

How To Test For Iron Bacteria

If you are worried about the presence of iron bacteria in your household water, you must test for it. The first thing to do is observe the visual appearance of your toilet tank and pipes. Red, brown, or orange-colored water and stains indicate iron bacteria. Another indicator is the swampy, sewage or rotten-egg-like smell.

The most effective test for the detection of iron and sulfate bacteria in your water is BART (Biological Activity Reaction Test). It is an easy test, and you can perform it at your home by buying a BART kit for around $50. 


Additionally, if you want to learn more about iron bacteria testing, visit how to test iron bacteria in well water.

How To Remove Iron Bacteria From Toilet Tank?   

Getting rid of iron bacteria from a toilet tank is a difficult task. Simple cleaning does not help in prevention. Therefore, here are some of the methods to remove and prevent iron bacteria from your toilet tank:

1. Physical Cleaning

Physical removal of sticky brownish material from your toilet tank is the first step. You must hire an expert plumber or handyperson for this purpose because they ensure contaminated-free equipment. The plumber will clean and remove deposits from your toilet tank by scrubbing it with brushes and washing it with toilet cleaner.

2. Chlorinating The Toilet Tank

Chlorine Tablets:

Chlorine tablets are globally accepted as one of the best water purification methods. It kills pathogens, including viruses and bacteria. You can use this chlorine tablet to disinfect your toilet tank. However, iron bacteria protect themselves with their slimy material, making the process difficult. To solve this problem, follow these simple steps:

  • Add two chlorine tablets to your toilet tank.
  • Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  • After that, you must flush the toilet several times to remove the residues.
  • Repeat this method after every 2-3 months.

Liquid Bleach:

Washroom cleaning chlorine bleach or laundry bleach has approx 5.25% chlorine. You can also use this to clean and disinfect your toilet tank. However, you must add a lot of liquid bleach to increase the concentration of chlorine. After adding it to the tank, you must wait for about 1 hour and flush the toilet. 

3. Using Vinegar In The Toilet Tank

An acidic substance can dissolve iron deposits and kill bacteria. Vinegar is acidic, which makes it an ideal natural cleaner for cleaning toilet tank rust. You can do this by yourself without a plumber by following these instructions:

  • Wear cleaning gloves to protect your hands.
  • Stop the water supply to the toilet tank.
  • Add an equal volume of white vinegar and water.
  • Leave the vinegar for 12 to 14 hours.
  • After that, scrub it with a brush.
  • Turn on the water valve of the toilet tank and flush it.
  • Clean the tank with an all-purpose cleaner.

4. Oxidizing + Filtering

Another ideal method for the removal of iron bacteria from your faucets and toilet tank is to use oxidizing agents. These can include Manganese Greensand, Birm Media, KDF Media, Hydrogen peroxide solution, Benzoyl peroxide, and Potassium peroxymonosulfate. Some of these media are not only capable of reducing iron but also hydrogen sulfide and manganese from your water.

Oxidizing agents can disrupt the activity of iron bacteria by oxidizing the iron and affect the metabolism of bacteria because some of them are anaerobic. After oxidation, sediments are formed, which can be removed by filtration. You can install a Green Sand Filter (GSF), a string-wound filter, or a backwashing filter in your whole house water treatment as pre-filtration.

This solution will be best for your home appliances and fixtures because targeting your toilet tank will not solve your problem permanently. So, you must think about the removal of iron bacteria from the well.  

5. Installing A Water Softener

Install a whole-house water softener if your water supply has high iron levels. However, it is not enough because iron removal is a difficult task. Water softeners remove calcium, magnesium, and dissolved iron. 

It can help prevent the growth of iron bacteria in your water supply by reducing the concentration of iron by replacing it with sodium ions. The lower iron levels make the water less conducive for iron bacteria growth. Iron bacteria require iron to survive and grow. When a water softener reduces the iron content in the water, it creates less favorable conditions for these microorganisms. 

However, they are not specifically designed to address iron-bacteria issues. Therefore, we suggest installing whole-house Iron filters as pre-filters with a water softener. You can install them at the point of entry, which can cost you around $600 to $1,500. This expense will save you from many other problems, including hardness, manganese, and others.

6. Regular Maintenance And Inspection Of Toilet Tanks 

Regular maintenance and inspection of toilet tanks are important to ensure the removal and prevention of iron and sulfur bacteria. You should periodically inspect and clean the tank’s interior. It helps to prevent the buildup of sediment, mold, or other deposits that affect its performance.

In addition, look for any sign of iron bacteria recurrence, such as unpleasant odors and stains in your toilet tank. If you periodically maintain your toilet tank by disinfecting and installing filters, it will ensure contaminant-free water.


Cleaning the rusty and slimy toilet tank requires effort. It is caused by iron bacteria in your household water. If you want to remove it, you must physically clean the toilet tank by scrubbing it with sponge and disinfect it with chlorine. Additionally, you should focus on solving the root cause of the problem, which is your contaminated water supply. 

We recommend using an oxidizing media and installing an iron filter as a whole-house water filtration system to prevent staining on all appliances. Getting a clean water supply is essential for protecting your home appliances and water pipes.

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