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Top 11 Tips for Dealing With Hard Water Stains


Are your hard water stains so stubborn that you’ve given up trying to remove them? It could be that you’re so used to them you don’t even see them anymore. But your houseguests will.

Don’t worry, though. We’re here to tell you there is still hope for removing hard water stains from your home. And we’ll tell you how to do it.

Below we have 11 tips on how to get rid of even the toughest hard water deposits. Use this guide to completely erase hard water spots from your home.

Choosing the Best Cleaners

Here, we compare harsh vs natural cleaners for removing mineral deposits and other stains associated with hard water. You can use the harsh chemical cleaners or sub them out for the more natural options–whatever floats your boat. Either way, we’ll do our best to tell you the methods that work best in each situation throughout this list.

1. Harsh Chemical Cleaners

If harsh vs natural makes no nevermind to you, you may benefit more from the harsh cleaners. Store-bought cleaners have many advantages over natural alternatives.

For one, they’re a lot more convenient. They are specially made for each specific cleaning job you need them for. And they usually require no mixing and measuring.

Plus, they’re clearly labeled. This makes them easy to choose and easy to use.

They have clearly-labeled instructions and safety precautions. They really take the guesswork out of cleaning.

But there are some disadvantages to them as well. They are sometimes more effective than natural cleaners, but not always. And you’ll have to buy a lot of different cleaners for different cleaning jobs.

Plus, they are far more likely to be hazardous. A cleaner that drips in the wrong spot could stain or damage your bathroom or clothing. Some may be flammable.

And the chemicals can harm your body through contact, inhalation or accidental ingestion. They can also harm pets or children in your home.

2. Natural Cleaners

Don’t knock ’em till you try ’em. These natural cleaners are safer and often more effective harsh chemicals, especially baking soda and vinegar.


Vinegar is arguably the best hard water cleaner, period. Its acidity is strong enough to neutralize and break up hard water deposits, yet gentle enough not to damage bathroom surfaces. It’s both extremely versatile and extremely effective.

It’s also safe. It will make your bathroom smell like salad dressing for a day, but won’t damage your skin or lungs like other cleaners.

Baking soda is a natural antifungal and deodorizer. It’s also a good exfoliator for scrubbing away stains.

Baking soda combined with vinegar causes a chemical reaction that is very effective for certain cleaning jobs, especially rust stains. There is no better remedy for rust stains than vinegar and baking soda.

To remove rust stains from anything, form a paste with vinegar and baking soda and scrub. Leave the past there overnight. In the morning, rinse it with water and scrub it away.

Likewise, hydrogen peroxide triggers a beneficial chemical reaction when it comes into contact with certain stains. It deep cleans and breaks up the stains so they can be easily wiped away without scrubbing. It is also a natural disinfectant.

There are some obvious drawbacks of homemade cleaners, though. For one, they may involve mixing and measuring.

For two, they don’t always have instructions for cleaning. But that’s why you have us! All things considered, we feel the natural cleaners are better than harsh cleaners in most ways.

Erase Existing Hard Water Stains

Now to get down to business. Here are the best cleaning methods for the hard water stains you are most likely to have in your home.

3. Toilet Rust and Rings

The iron in your hard water may be causing rust stains in your toilet. The first and most important step for any toilet cleaning is: don’t use bleach tablets or other products that sit in the top tank of your toilet. They will destroy your toilet.

Next, don’t buy cheap toilet cleaner from the dollar store. It doesn’t work. You might as well use Kool-Aid.

Instead, try the following methods.


For tough toilet stains, close the water shutoff valve and flush the toilet. Use a plunger to drain any remaining water and allow the toilet to dry completely.

Use a toilet cleaner that contains diluted hydrochloric acid (HCL). HCL will eat right through the stain, but also through your skin. It’s very dangerous anywhere but in the toilet bowl, so be careful.

Use rubber gloves, stir slowly and don’t use or store it near bleach. HCL mixed with bleach produces deadly fumes.

Scrub thoroughly, including under the rim. When finished, flush immediately to rinse.

Use a toilet brush with nylon bristles, not wire bristles. Wire bristles can leave scratches on the bowl. Remove remaining, set in stains with a pumice stone.

Safer cleaners that are almost just as effective include, believe it or not, Coca-Cola or WD-40. But for rust stains, the vinegar and baking soda method works best.

4. Deposits on Bathtubs and Jets

Use these tips to remove mineral deposits and other hard water stains from bathtubs and jets, if applicable.

Fill the bathtub with hot water, above the jets. Add a whole container of bleach (or vinegar) and one-half cup of dishwasher detergent.

Run jets for 15 minutes and stop. Soak for one hour if using bleach, overnight if using vinegar.

Completely drain the tub and refill with cold water above the jets. Run jets for 15 minutes again and drain the tub. For rust stains, use the vinegar and baking soda method.

5. Soap Scum on Tiles and Grout

Spray tile and grout thoroughly with a bleach-containing soap scum cleaner. Wait 5-10 minutes, then wipe away.

Alternatively, you can use a homemade cleaner. Mix two cups of water, one cup of hydrogen peroxide, one cup of alcohol, one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and a teaspoon of dishwasher rinsing aid. Soak shower tiles and grout with the solution and wipe away after 15 minutes.


The baking soda and vinegar method works great for tiles and grout as well. This goes for floor tiles and grout, too.

6. Scales on Faucet and Fittings

Soak chrome faucet and handles with a lime-removing faucet cleaner according to the instructions on the label. Scrub vigorously with a toothbrush and rinse according to directions.

Or soak faucet and fittings with vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. Scrub with a toothbrush and wipe vinegar away.

Rinse with a wet sponge and dry again. Repeat until all limescale is removed.

7. Mineral Deposits on Faucet and Shower Heads

For faucet and shower heads that are gunked up with mineral deposits, the answer is, once again, vinegar. Remove the faucet head by unscrewing and soak it for 24 hours in a cup of vinegar. Thoroughly rinse it with water and hand-scrub to remove any mineral residue before reattaching it.

If the faucet head is too difficult to remove, it’s probably because of hard water buildup. In this case, fill a plastic sandwich bag with vinegar and wrap it around the shower head. Use twist ties to hold it in place.

Make sure the entire head is submerged, past the screw threads, and soak it for 24 hours. When it’s finished soaking, the mineral deposits should be dissolved enough to allow you to unscrew the head. Flush it with water and hand-scrub it before reattaching it.

8. Mineral Deposits In Coffee Makers

Most people don’t even know you can clean coffee makers, but you can. The instructions will tell you that you’re actually supposed to do this. If you don’t, mineral buildup from hard water will eventually break it.

To clean out mineral deposits in any coffeemaker (probably, but check your instructions to be sure), fill the water tank to full capacity. With the coffee pot or another appropriate container in place, run the coffee machine until all the vinegar is drained. Then, dump the vinegar back into the water tank and repeat.

If the vinegar is really gunky at this point, dump it down the drain and refill the water tank with fresh vinegar. If it looks fine, put the used vinegar back into the water tank again. Soak for 24 hours.

When finished soaking, run the vinegar through the system one last time and discard. Fill the tank with fresh water, carefully slosh it around and then dump it out. Run fresh water through the system 3 times, discarding each time.

Now, your coffee maker should be working like new!


9. Let Someone Else Do It

If you don’t feel like doing all this work, then don’t. It’s cheaper than you think to hire a professional cleaning service to clean your bathroom.

If you’d rather relax while your bathroom cleans itself, shell out about $100 and let a professional do it. That’s the estimated cost for a deep cleaning. If your bathroom is only mildly filthy, it may cost closer to $50.

Check out professional cleaners near you to see if it’s worth it.

Prevent Hard Water Stains

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Prevent hard water stains with these tips.

10. Weekly Maintenance

Do the following once a week.

Scrub your toilet. You don’t need any cleaner, you’re just scrubbing away invisible germs and buildup before they become visible. Just give it a quick scrub, but don’t miss any spots, and flush.

Spray your shower, faucets, and toilet with vinegar. Wipe faucets clean, no need to rinse the others (except for vinegar smell).

Always use filtered water in your coffee pot. It tastes better this way, too.

11. Use a Water Softener

If you own your home or are allowed to in your rental home, install a water softener. This is the best possible thing you can do about hard water.

Your hard water will magically disappear, and with it, all the required maintenance steps listed above. If you want to get rid of future hard water stains and involved cleaning and maintenance, get a water softener.

Click this link to discover more about using a water softener.

Beat Hard Water Stains

So there you have it. Use these tips today to eliminate hard water stains from your home.


For similar content, check out Common Household Problems and How to Fix Them. See more like this on our renovation blog.