How to Clean Calcium Buildup in Urinals

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Some people call them standing toilets, some sanitary plumbing fixtures, and most people call it a urinal.

These things have been known in the male world as chit-chat makers, considering they put together men in a rather awkward situation, which often results in them making small talk to reduce the awkwardness.

For some men, it makes going to the bathroom more effective while others still prefer privacy and always pass on the urinal options.

Like everything in the bathroom, the urinal will get dirty sometimes and you will need to know how to clean it.

Before panicking after noticing that your urinal is dirty and smelly and spending money on a completely new one - relax and keep reading, we have simple solutions for you.

How to Clean Calcium Buildup in Urinals

Cleaning urinals is essential for a good-looking and fresh bathroom.

Whether you have one at home or you are looking for ways of how to clean urinals in the place where you work (a restaurant, a bar, a hotel, etc.) you came to the right place.

In this article, we will cover what is necessary to successfully clean a urinal.

We will take you by the hand and show clear instructions, so don't worry, here is everything you need to know. Let's begin!

The importance of urinal maintenance

Calcium buildup is often the cause of blockages in urinals which prevent a normal flow of liquid. It also causes an unpleasant odor in the bathroom.

We've all felt that smell and all of us wish we could forget it, right?

A well-functioning urinal which doesn't smell bad is necessary no matter which type of bathroom we are talking about - a public one, at the airport, at a stadium, at a school, at a hospital or at a library.

Calcium buildup is the spiders' web for bacteria, collecting everything that it comes in contact with.

When bacteria build up there, you will know by the odor and the blockage. Blockages can not only decrease the urinals efficiency but they can also damage the fixture if not properly taken care of.

Keep in mind that in urinals there isn't a big amount of water flowing, so the chances of it washing away unwanted bacteria or blockages are worse.


With awareness of how important it is to keep our urinals clean brands have made a serious effort in creating cleaners that easily solve this problem for us.

While that comes at a possible price of environment pollution, there are a number of acidic cleaners available which are environmentally friendly and safe to use.

Still, there are the "old fashioned ways" of how to clean your urinal without the need to buy a cleaner. The good news is, all of the solutions for cleaning your urinal are cost-effective.

How do Calcium buildups happen?

Immediately after urine leaves a person's body, it reacts with oxygen and is broken down.

Bodily wastes like urine have natural uric acid in them and when urine is left sitting it changes its chemical structure into ammonia, which is very alkaline.

Over time this form creates hard crystals which can be very tricky to remove. This causes for urinals to have worse draining and liquid flow.

The blockage is usually formed in the P-trap of the urinal, which is the pipe that is shaped in the form of the letter P.

Cleaners are an effective solution because they are left to sit in the P-trap for some time until they completely rid the pipe of the crystals which contain bacteria and odor.

This way the acid has enough time to bite down the unwanted particles.

clean urinals

We recommend that you avoid using soap to clean calcium buildups because soap is less effective at cleaning when mixed with hard water.

Without further ado, here the ways in which you can clean your urinal!

How to Clean Calcium Buildup in Urinals

1. Use natural ingredients - vinegar and lemon

An effective way to clean calcium buildups in the urinal is to mix vinegar with a small amount of water. Then, put the mix on a toothbrush, a rag or a paper towel.

If possible, it is best to soak the brush, rag or towel in vinegar and let it rest overnight. Then, scrub the urinal clean. Everyone has vinegar in their home, which makes this solution extra easy for the majority of us.


There is also another way to use vinegar to clean your urinal, which is more effective when there is a bigger blockage.

Simply pour vinegar in the urinal so that it covers all the holes. Let it rest for a couple of hours and then remove it.

Use toothpicks to pick out the hardened buildup in the holes of the urinal.

If you want to make the process go smoother you can mix vinegar with baking soda and create a paste-like form which is scrubbed on the urinal.

The option without baking soda is fine as well, but this is also viable if you are looking to up your chances for this to work on the first try, and not have to repeat the scrubbing and soaking process a couple of times.

Depending on the situation, the vinegar might have to be reapplied a couple of times. The same goes for lemon juice. It might have to be placed on a rag and scrubbed vigorously until the buildup is cleaned.


Lemons are also very easily found in our kitchen, so we recommend you try out these easy ways first before buying a cleaner.

Just make sure to wear rubber gloves when doing this so you don't accidentally irritate your skin.

2. Use a cleaner

Cleaners are a good option for those looking for a quick fix. They are also cost-effective and leave a fresh scent afterward (usually a number of different options of fruit smells are available).

This is definitely the easiest option since it requires the least amount of manual work.

Recommended: The Best Drain Cleaners for Toilet 


However, there are still some tips to follow if you want to maximize the usage of your cleaner. Here are the detailed steps on how to apply a cleaner to a urinal:

  • Pour the advised amount of the cleaner in the urinal in a circular motion, to make sure you cover everything. (The advised amount of pouring can be seen on the product packaging.)
  • Pour it at the end of the day if it's possible. This way you will get the maximum contact time between the cleaner and the fixture. (Some cleaners only need minutes to react before washing them down, make sure to check this information on the product as well).
  • Put a bag over the urinal to make sure no one uses it during the night. This is very important if you have night shifts at the place where the urinal is located because the people working need to know which urinal is out of function.
  • In the morning, flush the urinal a couple of times to be completely sure you have removed the acid.
  • Use it weekly to prevent potential odor, bacteria and blockages from appearing. Better to be proactive than reactive.
  • If you are using a chlorine bleacher, don't let it rest on the porcelain for a long period of time because it might dull its shininess.

Final thoughts: On Urinal Calcium Buildups

If you are the owner of a restaurant or a hotel, or if you are working in housekeeping or as a maintenance manager, leaving your bathrooms to smell bad leaves the impression that the facility is uncared for and dirty.

This is not only bad for business but also very bad for people in general. Everyone wants basic sanitation at least.

Often times the source for dirty bathrooms which smell funny can be found in urinals which lack proper maintenance. They have bad draining and are dirty with calcium buildups everywhere.

If done right, keeping the urinals clean can be pretty easy and not very time-consuming. All that needs to be done is to regularly clean them and check for possible unwanted bacteria. 

If you are the person who is in charge of keeping these fixtures clean, or if you just need to keep your private urinal clean, hopefully by reading this article you saw how easy it can be to do just that.

When your urinal smells and has calcium buildup, consider the solutions mentioned above before buying a new one.

Probably, there is no need to do so and you can fix this on your own in a matter of minutes.