What Causes Rusty Water in the Toilet?

Written by elton dunn
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What Causes Rusty Water in the Toilet?
Iron in some form causes rusty water. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Toilet water should be clean and clear when not in use. It only takes a small amount of iron---0.3 milligrams---to discolour your water supply.

Rusty Bolts

According to Pro Handyman, if the bolts that hold your toilet together rust, the water in the toilet bowl becomes polluted. Remove the cover and check inside the toilet tank. Look at the bolts that connect the tank to the toilet bowl. If anything you see inside the tank is rusted, this is the culprit. Replacing rusty bolts with fresh ones clears up this problem.

Iron Water

If your community's water supply contains iron, this can cause rusty water in the toilet. Brown water can be treated with a water softener and should clear up naturally. Yellow or brown sludge in your tank means you've got iron bacteria. A chlorine treatment will clear up the colour and odour associated with iron bacteria.


There's no harm in having iron in your water, but over time the rusty red colour will stain your toilet bowl and other appliances to the point where they don't show as white when cleaned. Iron also gives the water supply from your faucet an off taste, so fixing the overall iron problem improves water quality and flavour too.

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