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How to Remove Hard Water Stains

Hard water stains can look unsightly. This article is full of tips for removing hard water stains and getting your taps, showers & sinks squeaky clean again!


ways to conserve water at home

The chalky white mineral deposits left behind by hard water can build-up and cause limescale stains on your fixtures and fittings – these are unsightly and can affect the efficiency of some fixtures, such as a shower head. Here we explain how to remove hard water stains and prevent them from coming back.

To remove hard water stains built up in the toilet bowl, use a commercial cleaner or bleach like . Just remember to follow the instructions on the bottle!

How to Remove Hard Water Stains Early Stages

Hard water stains don’t have to be your worst enemy! Follow these tips on how to prevent hard water stains from ruining your surfaces:

  • First, prevention is better than cure. Therefore, take care to reduce the chances of stains forming in the first place, by ensuring that surfaces are dried, and that no water is left after use.

  • Similarly, regularly clean surfaces, such as worktops, baths, showers and sinks, as well as taps, with cleaning products with descaling properties, such as Cif Power & Shine Bathroom spray. Always follow the instructions on your cleaning product.

  • To avoid a hard water stain on glass, it’s a good idea to apply a spray like this to shower screens after every use.

  • If stains nevertheless form, application of stronger products such as Domex bleach (following the instructions on the label), along with a bit of elbow grease, can help to remove build-ups. Use an abrasive sponge or pad where necessary, but it is best to use a slightly worn pad on stainless steel, in order to protect the surface layer from damage.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains Ingrained Stains and Residue

  • For removing hard water stains that are stubborn, try vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with a solution of water and white vinegar (a 50/50 balance should suffice but more can be added if necessary) then spray onto the affected surface. Use a cloth to wipe down the area and remove any dislodged lime scale. Then dry the area, to remove excess solution and avoid streaky lines. The vinegar should have the added benefit of giving your surfaces a sparkling shine.

  • Sometimes, hard water residue can become embedded – particularly around taps and showers, and shower and bath floors, where water is more likely to collect and sit. In this case, take a cloth and soak it in a water and white vinegar solution, then wrap it tightly around the affected area and leave it for some time, to allow the acidic properties of the vinegar to work on the lime scale. Then wipe or scrub away the dislodged residue.

  • It’s also a good idea periodically to remove showerheads and soak them in a water and vinegar solution to prevent build-up blocking the shower holes and causing lasting damage.

  • Where hard water remains tough to shift, a final solution is to create a paste by adding baking soda to the water/vinegar solution. Apply the paste to affected areas, leave it to set for a quarter of an hour or so, then wipe away, rinse and dry. The paste should work as an effective tool for removing hard water stains, and should leave all surfaces stain-free and sparkling.

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Use biocides carefully – always wear gloves, and ensure the room is well ventilated.

  • Bleach Spray

  • Toilet cleaner

  • A bathroom spray with descaling properties

  • A mixture of water & white vinegar

  • A paste of baking soda and water & white vinegar.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on hard water

Can you buy a special hard water remover shower head?

While you cannot change the water that flows through your home, and you can’t purchase a hard water remover shower head, you can buy special shower heads that can help reduce the limescale left behind by hard water – which is effectively the same thing.

I have a hard water ring in my toilet - what do I do?

Borax and vinegar are the perfect treatments for a hard water ring in the toilet. Use a toilet brush to clean the toilet bowl with a ¼ cup of borax. Next, add two cups of white vinegar to the bowl and allow it to work for 30 minutes. Now you should be able to simply scrub the toilet clean of any stains and flush to reveal your shiny toilet bowl. A vinegar soak should also help if you have noticed staining caused by other sources such as mold or bacteria.

What is the relation between limescale and the pH of water?

Water with a low pH – or soft water – is more acidic and often contains higher levels of calcium which neutralizes the minerals which cause limescale. pH 7.0 and above – or hard water – is more alkaline. Without high acidity and calcium levels of soft water, hard water can lead to the build up of limescale.

What materials are the best bathroom fittings for hard water made of?

The best bathroom fittings for hard water are made from one of four materials: stainless steel, porcelain enamel, and granite or quartz composites. These are all known to be great at resisting corrosion that can be caused by hard water.

Originally published