Why do I Have Sand in My Toilet Tank

You opened up the toilet tank and found sand. Should you be worried? Where did it come from? How do you get rid of it and can you prevent it? Toilet maintenance is a basic home-skill we all need. I’ll help you figure out what’s going on in your tank, and fix the issue. 

Why do I have sand in my toilet tank? You have sand in your toilet tank because there’s sediment in your water. Over time it can flow through your pipes and settle in the toilet. Additionally, it can get into your water heater. Regardless, it’s time to clean that tank. 

Where Does the Sand Come From

Typically renters find sand in their toilet tanks because of the city source. When repair crews do maintenance, they open up pipes. Resultantly, a little sand can get into the works.

Naturally, that sand has to go somewhere. As the water moves around, it picks up whatever is in the pipes. Thus redistributing sand from repairs into home toilets, washing machine inflows, and water tanks is normal.

In your kitchen sinks, the screens you can feel in the faucet help catch sand and debris from the water. It’s important to clean and replace your sink screens regularly. Ultimately, this prevents water blockages and mineral buildup.

Homeowners With Wells Get Sand Differently

When your home runs on well water, the sand is coming in a little differently. Your pump can bring it in with the water. Luckily, it’s still not a big problem. However, it is one that you need to address as part of your standard home maintenance.

A well that’s pumping small amounts of sand is different from a muddy flow. When the deposits are small and happen over time, it’s likely your well’s filter. Fortunately, you can resolve this easily.

Locate your well’s filter. Next, open it up and check for visible holes. Sometimes it’s obvious, but not always. When you can see the problem it helps. However, that won’t always be the case.

Change Your Well Filter

A dirty, damaged, torn or faulty filter will let sand through. Normally, well filters need changing every thirty to ninety days. Sometimes you’ll notice a drop in household water pressure before you see any sand. This is a sign that it’s time to change your filter.

Before you change a well filter, you need to turn all the water off. Not doing so could cause a huge and potentially damaging mess. Plus it can be dangerous to you.

All you need is a metal filter wrench, a bucket, and the correct filter to replace it with. Once the water is off, place the bucket under the filter. This will catch any water trapped in your pipes. Next, you can unscrew the housing.

Pulling out the old filter should be simple. Then you place the new filter in and dispose of the used up piece. While you’re at it, you should always check and lubricate your o-rings. This prevents leaks.

What is the Sand in My Toilet Tank

Most of the time, the sand in your toilet tank is exactly what it looks like. It’s quite literally sand and dirt from the ground outside. This sand can be pale and yellow or tan, brown, or even black.

If you have a lot of black buildup, that likely means that your water has an excess of certain minerals. When your local water has excess iron, manganese, and calcium it may appear black.

You can prevent sand from entering your tank in the future with a FlushSaver Inline Filter Assembly for your toilet. FlushSavers are easy to install with either no tools needed or common household tools most people already have. Plus the 200-micron filter is easy to remove, clean and replace. To get a Flush Saver from Amazon, click here.

Other Toilet Tank Troubles

Sadly, sand isn’t the only foreign substance you could find in your toilet tank. If the water isn’t clear, you may be looking at contaminated well water or city water. Likewise, if the tank isn’t white, it should be.

The only exception is when you have a toilet that’s another color like black or pink. Then you should have a tank inside that matches the outside color. For this reason, I do not recommend dark colored toilets.

It’s also normal for the water in a toilet to change color when using a colored cleaning tablet. Redish, orange or brown water can indicate rust. However, any unexpected color change to the water, tank or bowl needs to be addressed immediately. Clean it out, or change a filter. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may need professional assistance.


In addition to sand, certain types of bacteria can thrive in toilet tanks. Hence, regular cleaning is necessary for your health and the function of your toilet.

A black or brown slime in your toilet tank is a warning. The bacteria that thrive on iron and manganese produces that goo. Fortunately, it’s easy to kill off problem bacteria in your tank.

Pour two to three cups of white vinegar into the tank water. There’s no special trick to it. You simply need to let it sit for around five minutes. Vinegar will kill off the bacteria and you can then rinse it away.

Flush the tank out with water and your slime should be gone. If not you can repeat as necessary. Vinegar won’t hurt your toilet. You can also use a rough scrubbing pad to scour the sides with vinegar if you have stubborn buildup.

In that case, you may want to turn off the water and scour the tank after draining it. You can rinse the sides above the waterline with a cup. Fortunately, you can put vinegar in a spray bottle for easy application.

Make certain that you scrub the entire inside of the tank including the underside of the lid. Don’t give bacteria anywhere to hide and re-colonize.


In addition to sand and bacteria, there are a couple of other toilet tank issues that can happen. Mold can grow, especially if your bathroom is extra warm and humid.

Unlike bacteria, you need to wash mold away with bleach. Vinegar may help, but a good bottle of Clorox will kill everything alive in your tank. Treat it similarly to removing bacteria, except for using a different cleaner.

I recommend wearing gloves since bleach isn’t good for human skin. Once your tank os drained wipe it out with bleach and let it sit for about five minutes before you rinse. This will allow the bleach to permeate the material of the tank, killing off any sneaky spores.

Mineral Buildup

Have you ever seen one of those gross looking super red-brown toilet bowls? Believe it or not (most of the time) that’s not poop. Instead, it’s a buildup of iron and minerals around the ceramic bowl.

The same thing can happen in your toilet tank. In this case, a little CLR will often do the trick. A pumice stone may scratch the unpolished inside of your tank in a way they rarely, if ever do to a smooth bowl. However, those chemicals will remove rust stains and buildup.

Apply CLR like bleach. It’s best to leave it on for a few minutes and wear gloves. If the mess is truly bad, you can re-apply after rinsing and leave it on up to twenty minutes.

Because iron causes the reddish-brown rust stain, a rust remover is ideal. Make sure to rinse completely and flush three or four times before using the toilet again. You do not want CLR on your skin.


Like bacteria, sand and mineral deposits, a toilet tank can certainly breed germs. However, there’s nothing special about getting germs out of a toilet tank. Vinegar or bleach will do just fine.

Similarly, you can use one of those leave-in toilet cleaning tabs. They typically contain some bleach, which is enough to handle germs. You should be more concerned about the germs on your toilet’s handle than anywhere else, but tank cleaning is a part of regular home maintenance.

If you want to clean the tank, bowl and freshen your air at the same time, I highly recommend Dometic D1112002 3 in 1 drop-in tabs. These foaming tabs have a pleasant lavender scent. So you don’t have to settle for that nasty bowl cleaner smell or do three different jobs. Find out more on Amazon.

Clean Sand Out of Toilet Tank

Getting sand out of the toilet tank can be tedious. If you have to remove it manually, a soft sponge and many rinses to clear the grit will help. Although this technique takes time, it will work.

If you are fortunate enough to own a shop vac, they are ideal for cleaning water and sand out of a toilet tank. The unique ability to vacuum water safely does not extend to your normal household-vacuum. Save yourself an expensive mistake and don’t even try it.

A good five-gallon shop vac like the Shop-Vac 5989300 from Amazon will help you get sand out of your tank. I recommend going with the tried and true Shop-Vac brand. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how effective and useful these high-quality vacuums are. To check the reviews, click here.

Final Thoughts

Although the sand in your toilet tank isn’t ideal, it’s easy to cleanout. There’s no reason to be concerned over a little dirt. This is a common problem.If there is sand, does it cause noise making you question why does my toilet whistle during the day? Should I switch to a toilet brand that does not have a problem mentioned in forums on sand with a toto toilet. Learning why are toto toilets so good will help with your shopping.

However, it’s important to keep an eye on that sand. Too much can clog your pipes and cause backups. Disgustingly, toilet backups are something you should be concerned about.

Make sure you check your toilet tank and your water heater quarterly. Moreover, if you have a well, you need to maintain your filter to reduce sand buildup.

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Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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