Fixated on toilets

My beautiful new toilet.

I wasn’t so prolific with the getting rid of stuff this week, unless you count using up bottles of IronOut, Vanish, phosphoric acid and bleach that have been laying around for a while. No, I didn’t use them together, because that would have been stupid and potentially deadly.

I know some of you are thinking that an earthy person like me shouldn’t have had stuff like Vanish and phosphoric acid in my cabinets. But my ownership of them is kind of earthy, since I found them in the trash when all the university students were moving out. It’s an annual event: The students move out in August and, having failed to plan ahead, they throw everything in the trash. Permanent residents like me, also known as cockroaches, congregate at the trash sites to look for what might be salvageable. For example, last August I found (among other things) a $200 Ikea wardrobe in great condition, enough birch-colored cabinets to replace most of the open storage in my basement, a can of paint that is a close enough match to my bathroom that I can use it for touch-ups,  new work clothes, many bottles of bleach, 5 or 6 pounds of Morton’s table salt, and a pair of barely worn Birkenstock clogs that were one size too small for me, so I gave them to St. Vinny. (You might be wondering what a person could do with 5 or 6 pounds of table salt. Start dying fabric and you’ll learn quickly.)

Save for the bleach, all the cleaners I went through this week were spent in the service of getting  rust stains out of my toilets.

One was a toilet that I just installed this weekend. (Actually, Dekalb did most of the work; I bartered for his help with an Air-O-Swiss ultrasonic digital humidifier that I found in the trash). I’d received it from a freecycler who upgraded from an earlier model low-flow to something with a better flush. The freecycle toilet is a diamond compared to the  two toilets that came with my house, which are as old as my house, which is slightly older than me, which is 6.5 years older than my mother was when she gave birth to me. The freecycle toilet replaced one of these decrepit machines. That one had a large, deep orange rust stain running down the back of the bowl, and I could see it in the mirror every time I brushed my teeth. Yuck.

Let me sing the praises of the freecycle toilet: All the enamel is still on and unstained, there are no rust spots in the bowl, and it actually flushes. There was slight rust in the tank from hard-water build-up, which is what motivated me to pour IronOut in it. I wanted the whole toilet to shine like the sparkling jewel that it is.

The rest of the IronOut went in the surviving original-to-house toilet. I used it after the Vanish and the phosphoric acid failed to completely remove the mineral and rust buildup on the toilet rim. The IronOut made a dent, but didn’t work a miracle. I followed it with a pumice, which my dad swears by for removing mineral stains from porcelain. It worked as well as one should expect when one takes advice from a man who lives in a soft-water paradise like Portland, Ore. Which means that it didn’t.

I am so waiting for the freecycle gods to present me with a superior toilet.

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