What Causes Yellow Stains On Toilet Seats?

If you’ve noticed unsightly yellow stains on your toilet seat, you probably had two questions pop into your head. First, “what caused these ugly stains?” followed immediately by, “how can I get rid of them?”. You may also wonder if they’re caused by anything that could be hazardous to your health.

Yellow stains on toilet seats are often caused by not cleaning your toilet often enough, hard water, exposure to direct sunlight, or just having the toilet seat for a long time. Although the stains are ugly, only one of these reasons poses a health risk.

What Causes Yellow Stains On Toilet Seats

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at each of the possible causes of yellow staining on your toilet seat, how you can remove those stains, and tips for keeping them from coming back. 

We have covered black stains separately here, and brown/rust stains here.

What Causes Yellow Stains On Toilet Seats?

As noted above, there are a few things that can cause yellow stains on toilet seats. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main culprits for those unsightly stains.

a toilet being flushed

1. Not Cleaning Often Enough

Sometimes, yellow stains on toilet seats are caused by neglecting to clean your bathroom regularly. In this case, the yellow color comes from urine oxidizing on the toilet seat.

The longer you go without cleaning, the darker the stains will become, and removing them will become more and more difficult.

2. Hard Water

No matter how often you clean your bathroom, if you have hard water, the minerals in that water can leave yellow stains inside your toilet and on the seat.

Although hard water is a bigger problem for your toilet bowl than the seat, when you flush the toilet, little bits of water can splash onto the seat and leave stains over time.

3. Exposure to Sunlight

We often don’t think about our toilets being exposed to sunlight. After all, they’re indoors. However, if you have a window that gets direct sunlight near your toilet, your toilet seat might be exposed to damaging UV rays.

In this case, the sun isn’t exactly staining your toilet seat; instead, it’s completely changing the color from white to yellow. This color will never go back to white, so drawing your shades in the bathroom is essential to prevent your toilet from becoming discolored.

4. Time

The longer you have a toilet seat, the more likely it is that the color is just changing due to the natural aging process of the material it’s made from.

Much like exposure to sunlight, this yellowing isn’t actually a stain but rather a discoloration. No amount of cleaning will change these old toilet seats back to white.

You’ll have to replace them instead.

Related: The Red Cup Under The Toilet Seat Hack.

How To Remove Yellow Stains From Your Toilet Seat

Now that you know more about what causes yellow stains on toilet seats, let’s look at ways to remove those stains.

removing yellow stains from toilet seat

1. Choose Your Cleaner

The type of cleaner you choose will vary from one household to the next (WD40 is also an effective option). If you prefer natural, environmentally-friendly products, you can use white distilled vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and essential oils.

If you don’t mind using chemicals, trisodium phosphate (TSP), Vanish oxi-action tabs, and bleach all work wonders against stains.

2. Let It Soak

Regardless of the type of cleaner you choose, you should let it soak in for 20-30 minutes to give it time to dissolve the stains.

3. Wipe It Off

When the cleaner has had time to soak in, wipe it off with a clean, wet rag. The stain will probably still be there, but the surface dirt will be gone, so you’ll be able to see how much set-in staining you’re dealing with.

4. Use a Baking Soda Paste

If the stains are gone, you can skip right to step 7. Your toilet seat is clean, woohoo!

For those who still see stains, that’s okay. We have a few more tricks to help you knock those stains out once and for all.

After using a regular cleaning product, you can mix baking soda and vinegar to tackle those set-in stains.

Mix ¼ cup of baking soda with ½ cup of vinegar until it creates a thick paste, then apply that paste to your toilet seat. Let it soak for about 20 minutes.

5. Scrub With a Sponge

When the baking soda paste has soaked in, you can gently scrub the toilet seat with a sponge. You should use warm water and clean in a circular motion for best results.

You should also avoid using an abrasive sponge as it can damage your toilet seat.

6. Repeat the Process if Needed

If the stains are still there, you can repeat steps 1-5 again. If you need to clean your toilet seat again, you may want to choose a stronger cleaning product than you used the first time around. 

If cleaning your toilet seat again doesn’t lighten the stains, there’s a good chance they are permanent, like those caused by sunlight or aging. In this case, you’ll need to replace the toilet seat if the yellowing bothers you.

7. Wipe it Clean

When you’ve finished scrubbing your toilet seat with the baking soda paste, grab a clean rag and your favorite cleaner to clean and shine your toilet seat (don’t use it on your shower though).

How To Prevent Yellow Stains On Your Toilet 

Once you remove the yellow stains from your toilet seat, either by cleaning them or buying a replacement, here are a few tips to keep the stains from returning.

Preventing toilet seat stains

1. Clean It Regularly

The best way to prevent stains on your toilet seat is by cleaning it often. This will only help in the case of urine or hard water stains but will eliminate them entirely.

We recommend cleaning your toilet weekly, but it may be necessary to clean it twice a week or so if you have hard water. 

2. Keep The Shades Drawn

If you’ve discovered that sunlight is causing your toilet seat to turn yellow, you should keep your shades drawn when direct sunlight comes in the window.

It’s vital to prevent these stains entirely because they are irreversible.

3. Choose Your Toilet Lid Cover Carefully

Rubber-backed toilet lid covers can stain your toilet seat over time. This problem really only happens if you have the same cover and the same seat for 5-10 years or more.

To prevent this issue, wash your toilet lid cover frequently and inspect the edge for signs of yellowing. If you notice the rubber becoming discolored, it’s time to replace the cover. Regular maintenance of the toilet lid cover could add years of life to your toilet seat.


Can I use bleach on my toilet seat?

Yes, you can use bleach to combat tough stains on most toilet seats. Bleach is a strong chemical, so be careful when using it. You shouldn’t use it on unsealed wooden toilet seats because the chemical can cause more stains instead of removing them.

Why does my toilet get stained so fast?

The number one culprit of quickly stained toilet seats is hard water. The minerals in hard water leave stains ranging from red to brown to yellow when they oxidize.

If you have hard water, you will have to clean your toilet much more frequently to prevent unsightly stains. We recommend giving your toilet a thorough scrubbing with baking soda and vinegar twice a week to keep it looking its best.

Does urine leave yellow stains?

Yes, urine can leave a yellow stain on surfaces. Yellowing happens when urine particles hit the air and oxidize.


Yellow stains on toilet seats are ugly and often seen as unsanitary. While neglecting to clean your toilet frequently can certainly cause staining, your toilet seats may also turn yellow for other reasons, including sun exposure, hard water, or aging. 

You can remove unsightly stains from your toilet seat by cleaning them with your favorite cleaning product to remove surface dirt, then applying a baking soda paste to the stains. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to make your toilet seat white again.

If cleaning your toilet seat doesn’t remove the stains, they are most likely permanent. Permanent yellow stains are often caused by direct sunlight coming in your bathroom window or simply from having the same toilet seat for a long time. In this case, you’ll need to replace the toilet seat to eliminate the stains.

Shauna Stone