An old fashioned question about bleach


Science Advisor
Gold Member
What is the difference in the active chemical agents in simple household bleach and 'toilet cleaners'?
I have been trying to get rid of a 'toilet stain' for ages. Brushing and Harpic etc. had no effect. The other day, in desperation, I tipped some simple 'own brand' bleach down and the stain just disappeared.

Modern 'School Chemistry' is of no use at all in finding out about this but someone (possibly as old as me) must know the answer to this.


Depends an what the stain was. Hypochlorite is quite effective at oxidizing things, including many organic chromophores. But it won't do a thing to iron stains, which are much better removed by something acidic and complexing - hydrochloric acid or - even better - phosphoric acid.

No idea what is present in toilet cleaners, I guess they contain some detergents and bactericides. Nothing that could "kill" the dye.


Science Advisor
Gold Member
Ok. Thanks for the answer so far. It makes me wonder what the toilet cleaner producers are aiming at. I realise that limescale needs to be inhibited or removed and that, presumably requires an acid but how is a cleaner (and we've tried several) any use if it doesn't 'clean' ordinary stains?
Someone must have a clue about generic cleaners, ???

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