If you have noticed spots on your freshly washed dishes, or a cloudy film on your coffeemaker, hard water is probably the culprit. Hard water stains leave behind an unsightly residue, but the main issue with hard water is that those minerals that cause the spots can also clog your washing machine, shower, and faucets. Therefore, knowing how to remove those stains quickly and efficiently is important, and it could save you money by preventing costly repairs in the future.
In this article, we’ll share some tried and true methods to remove hard water stains from different surfaces in your home. The best part about these techniques is that they require simple household staples like vinegar and baking powder, so you don’t need to acquire any special cleaning equipment.
What is hard water?
You may be wondering, 'What exactly is hard water and why does it leave stains?' When we say that the water is hard, we actually mean that it has a high concentration of minerals dissolved in the water. When water contains high levels of magnesium, calcium, and iron, it’s considered "hard”.
As water travels from its source to your home, it comes in contact with underground minerals, picking up traces of them as it moves through layers of rock. The more time your water interacts with (and absorbs) these minerals, the harder it will be.
Stains appear when hard water droplets dry and leave behind calcium mineral deposits. Usually, the stains are white, but the color can vary depending on the minerals present in the water. For example, high levels of iron tend to leave brown or reddish spots.
If left for too long, hard water stains can become permanent, so it's best to remove them as soon as they appear.
1. Keep your dishes stain-free by regularly cleaning the dishwasher
One way to prevent hard water stains from forming on your dishes is to stop them from building up in the dishwasher. To do so, make sure to clean the dishwasher once a month using this simple method:
- Remove the filter, removable baskets, and attachments.
- Prepare a solution of hot water and a few drops of dish soap, then use an old toothbrush dipped in the solution to gently scrub the areas where food and dirt collect.
- Fill a cup with white vinegar and set it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run it for one cycle on hot.
- Next, sprinkle baking soda along the bottom of the empty dishwasher and run it one more time.
- Once the dishwasher has completed the drying cycle, return the removable parts, and you’re ready to go.
Related: How to Clean and Maintain Your Dishwasher Step By Step
2. Remove hard water stains from dishes by hand-washing
If you want to remove hard water stains by hand-washing your dishes, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda will do the trick, too.
- First, heat some white vinegar in the microwave until it’s warm, and then pour it into the basin.
- Immerse the dishes in the vinegar for 10 minutes, turning them to cover all sides.
- After 10 minutes, remove the glasses and sprinkle them with a generous amount of baking soda.
- Rub the baking soda gently with your fingers to remove the stains, rinse, and buff-dry.
3. Remove hard water stains from showers and bathtubs
Of all the rooms in your home, the bathroom is the most likely to have hard water stains from the constant flow of water and the use of lathering products in the sink, bathtub, and shower.
To remove hard water stains from shower walls and bathtubs:
- Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray surfaces liberally and let the vinegar solution sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Wipe clean with a dry microfiber towel.
- If the stains persist, combine white vinegar and baking soda to form a paste. Spread the paste over surfaces and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping clean with a dry microfiber cloth.
Related: 17 Common Cleaning Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Bathroom
To remove hard water stains from shower-heads and faucets:
- Dip a cloth into the water and vinegar mixture we prepared earlier, wrap it around the stained parts of the faucet, and leave for up to 10 minutes.
- After letting it sit, rinse the item and let it dry. Repeat if necessary.
If the stream in your shower becomes weaker than usual, it could be due to minerals in hard water clogging the shower-head. To clean your shower-head, dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and scrub the water jets, then wipe it clean, and turn on the jets to blast out the clogging mineral residue.
You could soak the whole shower-head in vinegar, too, but bear in mind that doing so could damage the finish of the shower-head.
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