How to Clean Toilet Siphon Jets in 4 Easy Steps

When was the last time you looked under the rim of your toilet? Cleaning toilets is no one’s favorite chore. Still, if you neglect this task, and especially your toilet siphon jets, your commode may not flush properly.

Toilet siphon jets are located just under the rim of your toilet and can be easy to forget, but if they aren’t properly cleaned and maintained, this could affect the functionality of your toilet. The steps below work on a basic scale. However, cleaning your toilet siphon jets can vary based on whether you have a bacterial or mineral scale to clean.

1. Fill Your Overflow Tube With the Correct Chemicals

Toilet siphon jets are out of sight, which makes them easy to put out of your mind, until your toilet stops flushing. 

You may notice the water that streams from the rim of your toilet when you flush start to flow in a slow straight line, rather than quickly and at an angle. If this is the case, your siphon jets are clogged and need to be cleaned.

While regular scrubbing under the rim during routine toilet cleanings is excellent, it’s not always enough to keep your jets completely clear of fungus, dirt, fecal matter, bacterial, or mineral scale. 

To prevent a build-up of debris, you need to keep the toilet siphon jets clean. 

The first thing to do is gather your supplies. However, before collecting your materials, put on your rubber gloves, grab a handheld mirror and look to see what you’re dealing with under the rim.

The color of the build-up can tell you a lot about the debris collecting in your siphon jets, as well as how to approach sanitizing them. 

While wearing gloves, run the mirror under the rim of the toilet so that you can see the jets (they look like small holes in the edge). 

If you notice orange or black spots, these indicate a build-up of bacteria. Meanwhile, a light-colored scale (usually greenish) is indicative of a mineral deposit. Mineral scales are common issues in household areas with hard water.

If you notice both types of build-up, decide which is worse, tackle that issue first, and then repeat the process for the secondary concern.  

Chemical Solution for Bacteria Build-Up

If bacteria are the primary concern in your toilet jets, you’ll want to make a bleach solution. Your solution should be one part bleach to ten parts water.

Next, fill the overflow tube inside the toilet tank with the mixture and let it sit. Because it’s a build-up of bacteria, it’s essential to use a bleach solution. This will kill the germs and help clear the debris.

For continued maintenance, add a tablespoon of bleach solution to the overflow tube about once a month to help prevent a future build-up.  

Chemical Solution for Mineral Scale

While you were peeking under the rim, if you noticed light-colored residue, sometimes teal or greenish colored, that means your primary issue is mineral scale. 

This common issue is best combated with vinegar. While some plumbers and experts recommend white vinegar, really any vinegar should suffice.       

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can also turn off the water to the tank before beginning. You can do this by turning off the water at the wall supply and then flushing the toilet.

This can help you reach the small holes in the rim more efficiently without the toilet bowl water getting in your way, but it is not necessary for the process. 

2. Let the Chemical Solution Sit for at Least an Hour

Give the chemical solution time to soften and break down the build-up in your siphon jets before you start scrubbing away. 

If you start going at the bacterial and mineral build-up right away, you may find it too challenging to get off. These build-ups can often become rigid and stuck to the toilet surface. The chemical solution (either bleach or vinegar) will help soften this debris so it can easily be scraped away. 

All you would need to do is turn off the water supply to your tank from the mainline, then flush the toilet to get rid of the water in the bowl. Once this is done, and the toilet bowl is dry, tape the area under the rim of the water jets.

Then, fill the water tank with your vinegar solution and flush the toilet. The duct tape will seal the vinegar to the rim and jets, allowing them to soak in the solution for as long as you leave it secured there.

3. Flush the Toilet

Flushing your toilet is the best way to check your work after you’ve completed the above steps. 

The experts are split on how long to leave the solution soaking, but at least an hour seems the most consistent advice. However, if you have extensive debris build-up on your siphon jets, or your toilet isn’t flushing, or has a weak flush, you may want to let it sit longer. 

If you notice a weak flush, that may be a sign that you have more scrubbing to do.

Some resources, suggest leaving the solution for as long as possible, up to 24-hours. This method would be best for extreme cases but may not be completely necessary for minor build-up.  After your initial soak and scrape, flush your commode to check on its functionality.

If nothing else, you can always check to see if the debris is softened enough to clean by using your scraping tool to begin picking away at the build-up. If the bacteria, fungus, and minerals are still stuck on to the rim, add more solution and let it soak for an extended time. 

4. Clean Out the Jets Using a Scraping Tool

For this final step, you should have selected a scraping tool. Again, this can be anything small, somewhat sharp, and hard.

People often use a hanger or paper clip for this task, but an awl or an Allen wrench brush is also effective.

You may also need the mirror to help guide your scrubbing. Also, remember to use gloves. The build-up you could be touching is toxic and full of germs. Rubber gloves will help protect your exposed skin from any fecal matter or harsh chemicals.

Scrub and scrape each jet or hole until no more debris remains. This could take a decent amount of time depending on how much build-up there is, so plan accordingly. 

Check out this video on how to clean your siphon jets if you need a visual reference.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining the cleanliness of your toilet is crucial for sanitary reasons but also functionality. For example, if bacteria, hard water, or mineral deposits build up in your toilet’s rim, it could affect how your toilet flushes and works.  

If you want to keep your toilet cleaner longer and prevent build-up under the rim, add a tablespoon of bleach to the overflow tube about once a month to avoid bacterial debris. You can also keep mineral deposits at bay by adding a water softener to your tank.

Consult a professional plumber if you’re concerned about the functionality of your toilet.