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How to Clean Hard Water Stains from Different Household Surfaces

dirty bathroom faucet that has been affected by calcium build up over time

One of the most frustrating stains to see on a household surface is a hard water stain. Why? Because it’s just water, after all! Yet, unlike other stains or spills, getting rid of hard water stains does not entail a quick wipe down with a damp cloth. Depending on the type of surface in question, there are specific methods and cleaning agents to use in order to eliminate the stain safely and in the most effective manner.

Before we get into these individual cleaning guides to remove hard water stains, it helps to understand exactly what they are, and how they are caused. Having knowledge of the same will also aid in preventing future hard water stains in your home. 

Identifying Hard Water Stains and Their Causes

bottom view of bathroom faucet that has been riddled with calcium build up

When you see a chalk-like buildup that is either whitish or yellowish in colour, this is a clear indication of a hard water stain. In some cases, the residue may appear brown or rusty, however, the texture of the buildup remains the same (chalky), and is rather unpleasant to look at.

If you’re wondering what causes hard water stains, high mineral content in the water is responsible for that. While calcium and magnesium are the most common minerals found in household water supplies, some may even contain iron. Together, they cause ‘hardness’ in water that is not harmful to humans but certainly does a number on faucets and other household surfaces as the residue builds up over time. All it takes is for water/droplets to merely dry up on a surface and mineral deposits will be left behind. 

If you don’t remove hard water stains in a timely manner, they can actually cause long term damage on surfaces like glass and wood. Furthermore, the buildup around plumbing fixtures also leads to problems later on. 

So, how do you clean hard water stains from different household surfaces? Let’s find out from the experts at MaidForYou!

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Wood

person cleaning hardwater stains from wooden deck with a red outdoor mop

  • Measure 1 teaspoon each of olive oil and white vinegar; mix the ingredients in a bowl. If you are dealing with a large stain, increase the measurement but be sure to mix equal parts of the ingredients.
  • Using a plain white cloth, dip one end into the mixture and gently rub the stain in the direction of the grain.
  • Finish off by dabbing the area with paper towels to soak up moisture before allowing the wood to air-dry.

If the water stain is still damp on the wood, try the following method instead:

  • Place a clean cotton cloth over the stain (preferably one that is not printed or coloured).
  • Drain out water from your iron (if any), and switch it to the lowest heat setting. 
  • When the plate starts to heat up, place the iron on the cloth for 3-5 seconds and lift. 
  • Repeat these steps until the water stain evaporates.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Glass

shower glass that has been riddled with hard water stains over time

(Shower doors, windows, glass tabletops, drinking glasses, etc)

  • In a spray bottle with a functioning mist setting, combine equal parts of warm water and white vinegar; shake the bottle well to mix the solution.
  • Spray the glass generously to wet the surface, and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes. If the solution evaporates quickly, re-spray the glass at least once during the sitting time.
  • While the surface is still wet or damp, wipe away the stains with a clean microfibre cloth. 

For drinking glasses and cookware, wash the item with dish soap and water after allowing the vinegar solution to sit for 10 or 15 minutes. Thereafter, dry the glassware immediately using an absorbent, lint-free kitchen towel.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Showerheads and Faucets

bottom view of dirty shower head with clacium build up

(Stainless steel and chrome)

  • Soak a kitchen cloth in undiluted vinegar, and drape it around the faucet/showerhead. If some areas are left exposed, simply tie a second cloth soaked in vinegar around the rest of the fixture for full coverage. Leave it to sit for 15 minutes. 
  • Using the same cloth, scrub the entire surface to remove the mineral deposits.
  • Buff the faucet/showerhead dry immediately after cleaning it for an extra shiny finish.

If your showerhead is clogged with mineral deposits, use a toothbrush dipped in vinegar to scrub the water jets; next, turn the shower on (to the highest water pressure) and allow the water to rinse off the showerhead while pushing out the deposits that have been broken down by the vinegar.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Toilet Bowl

toilet bowl that is riddled with limescale after hard water build up

  • Clean the toilet bowl as you typically would using your regular cleaning product and toilet brush.
  • Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the toilet bowl water by pouring it around the interior of the bowl.
  • After a minute, add ½ a cup of baking soda directly to the toilet water; this is when the water will start to fizz or become foamy due to the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda. Wait for 10 minutes before moving on to the next step.
  • Scrub the toilet bowl interiors with your toilet brush to remove hard water stains.
  • If the toilet water appears discoloured from the ingredients and/or scrubbing, pull the flush to rinse the bowl, otherwise, there is no need to do this as the presence of vinegar will help prevent hard water stains in your toilet bowl.

With these fool-proof cleaning guides, you can kiss the frustration of seeing hard water stains in your home goodbye! All it takes are a few simple steps to clean hard water stains from different household surfaces and, thanks to the experts at Maid For You, you now know exactly what those steps are!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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