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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
120 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best automatic toilet bowl cleaners

If you’re tired of getting on your knees to scrub your toilet, an automatic toilet bowl cleaner can help cut down on your bathroom cleaning chores in a big way.

An automatic toilet bowl cleaner is a packaged cleansing agent that sits inside your toilet. Each time you flush, some of the cleaner dispenses into the toilet. Waterflow from each flush disperses cleaner throughout the bowl for a thorough cleaning.

Although handy, automatic toilet bowl cleaners do not last indefinitely. You’ll need to replace yours every few months to keep the bowl clean. There are plenty of automatic toilet bowl cleaners on the market. You can find them in tablet, liquid, and gel form, and you must choose whether you want one that sits inside the toilet tank or the bowl itself. If you have tough limescale or other stains to tackle, that may also factor into which product you should use.

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No tools are necessary to install an automatic toilet bowl cleaner. Setup usually takes just a few minutes.

Key considerations

Safety

Automatic toilet bowl cleaners often contain potent chemicals that can keep your toilet clean. While you want a formula that works, it’s essential to consider your safety and possible health risks. All toilet bowl cleaners should be kept out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion and skin contact.

Avoid any cleaners that produce potentially harmful fumes or gases. Read the label closely to determine if the cleaner interacts with other cleaning agents or chemicals, too.

The safety of humans and pets is not the only factor that should concern you. Some automatic toilet bowl cleaners contain chemicals strong enough to corrode parts of your toilet tank or plumbing system. Check carefully to make sure the formula you choose is safe to use with your particular toilet.

The best automatic toilet cleaners are made with non-toxic ingredients. Formulas with bleach and vinegar can effectively treat stains but are often potentially damaging to your toilet. If used for prolonged periods, they could even affect local water sources.

In-bowl vs. in-tank

In-bowl automatic toilet cleaners hang from the toilet rim in the bowl. Composed of liquid or gel cleanser in a water-soluble packaging, they are strategically placed to receive maximum water flow. Each time you flush, cleaning agents wash through the bowl.

Most in-tank automatic toilet cleaners are dropped or placed in the toilet tank, but some require a connection to the toilet’s fill valve. These come in the form of tablets, liquid, and gel in a water-soluble packaging. As with in-bowl cleaners, in-tank formulas release cleanser with every flush.

Both types of automatic toilet cleaner are effective, so it’s often a matter of personal preference when choosing between the two.

Types of stains

If you’re looking for an automatic toilet bowl cleaner just to keep your toilet clean, nearly any formula could work. However, if you want to target particular stains, some cleaners are more effective than others.

Read the label to see what types of stains a product can handle. Some are particularly effective on rust, while others are better at removing hard water mineral deposits.

Installation

Most automatic toilet bowl cleaners install fairly easily. Tablets are generally the easiest because you simply drop them in the tank. In-bowl cleaners usually only require hooking on the bowl’s rim, so setup is easy and quick.

In-tank automatic cleaners that require a connection to the toilet’s fill valve are typically the trickiest to install, though it still takes just a few minutes. If you’re leary of fiddling with your toilet’s plumbing connections, you may prefer a simple in-tank or in-bowl option.

Lifespan

All automatic toilet bowl cleaners have a limited lifespan, but some formulas last longer than others. In general, you can expect a cleaner to effectively clean for one to four months. Those with longer lifespans usually cost more, but you won’t have to replace them as often, which can make them a better value.

If your toilet bowl has existing stains from limescale, rust, or particularly stubborn mineral deposits, clean them manually before adding an automatic toilet cleaner to help keep them at bay.

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Features

Quantity

Most automatic toilet bowl cleaners are sold in packs of two or more tablets, gel packs, or clip-on cleaners. Some purchases include as many as six cleaners, which minimizes your need to go shopping. Although a larger quantity may cost more, there is usually a decent per-pack savings with multipacks.

Antibacterial

Many automatic toilet cleaners contain antibacterial agents that kill bacteria and other germs. This can help cut down on illness in your home while keeping your toilet as clean as possible.

Scent

Most automatic toilet cleaners have a fresh scent that helps keep the toilet smelling fresh. Some models have deodorizing agents that actually absorb foul odors.

Eco-friendly

An eco-friendly automatic toilet cleaner contains ingredients that won’t pollute water sources if it makes its way into them. Another consideration is the cleaner’s packaging. Some formulas feature completely water-soluble packaging, so there’s no waste to worry about afterward. If you opt for an automatic toilet cleaner with plastic components, consider checking to see if those components are recyclable.

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Did You Know?
An automatic toilet bowl cleaner can prevent rings around your bowl and the development of mineral deposits.
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Automatic toilet bowl cleaner prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable automatic toilet bowl cleaners are typically formulas that contain harsh chemicals that might be toxic and damaging to your plumbing. These are usually in-bowl hanging cleaners or in-tank tablets that cost between $3 and $9.

Mid-range: For $10 to $18, you can find automatic toilet bowl cleaners with non-toxic formulas that are less likely to damage your plumbing. These come in the form of in-bowl hanging cleaners, in-tank tablets or dissolving packets, and in-tank systems that connect to the fill valve.

Expensive: The priciest automatic toilet bowl cleaners, from $18 to $26, tend to be non-toxic, eco-friendly formulas that won’t damage your toilet or plumbing fixtures. They usually feature recyclable packaging, too. In-bowl hanging cleaners, in-tank tablets or dissolving packets, and in-tank systems that connect to the fill valve may be found in this category.

If you’re using an automatic toilet bowl cleaner tablet that contains bleach, drop it in the tank near the back right wall to avoid damaging the toilet’s components.

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Tips

  • Avoid touching automatic toilet bowl cleaner tablets. Dump them directly from their packaging into the toilet tank, or use rubber gloves to lift a tablet that hasn’t fully dissolved from the tank.
  • Place in-tank automatic toilet bowl cleaners only in toilets that are flushed regularly. If the toilet isn’t flushed at least once a week, the cleaner may cause damage.
  • Keep pets away from the toilet water. The chemicals found in automatic toilet bowl cleaner can be toxic to companion animals who might venture to the toilet to take a drink. Keep the lid shut and your furry friend out of the bathroom.
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If you accidentally get any cleaning agents from an automatic toilet bowl cleaner on your skin, rinse immediately with cold water. If you experience lingering irritation, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

FAQ

Q. How effective is automatic toilet bowl cleaner?

A. Most consumers find it to be highly effective. However, convenience may be an even stronger reason to use automatic toilet bowl cleaner. Your toilet stays clean with minimal effort on your part. In addition, this product tends to provide an excellent value for the money.

Q. Can I use an automatic toilet bowl cleaner with a septic system?

A. Most automatic toilet bowl cleaners are safe for use with a septic system. However, you should read the product description or packaging carefully to ensure that the formula you’re using or considering won’t damage your septic tank.

Q. Can I use other toilet bowl cleaners in conjunction with an automatic cleaner?

A. While an automatic toilet bowl cleaner prevents you from having to scrub your toilet daily, you should still give it a thorough cleaning at least once a week. Fortunately, you can use other toilet cleaning products like liquids, gels, and foams inside the bowl if you have an automatic cleaner set up inside it. Just read the packaging to make sure there won’t be any chemical interactions between the two formulas.

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