How to Eliminate Hard Water Stains

By: Angelica Frey Featured, How to
Bathroom water pipe - scale, dirt and oxidation - cleaning

85% of homes in the United States have hard water, which means that in most households, running water contains calcium, magnesium, and other metals. When hard water evaporates, it leaves behind the mineral traces of calcium and magnesium which then solidify. This leaves behind crusty, yellow/white chalk-like stains on metal, porcelain (such as toilet bowls, tubs, and sinks), and tiles. What’s more, when iron (often present in some tap water) combines with hard water, the end result is rust stains.

For the heavy-duty water stains, cleaning products containing potent chemicals such as muriatic acid may be necessary. But before you settle on chemicals, try white vinegar solution.

Mineral deposits are alkaline in nature (they have a pH greater than 7), so using an acidic substance (whose pH is less than 7) will help soften and, eventually, dissolve these stains.

Removing Hard Water Stains from Faucets


White vinegar
Rubber bands
Clean towel

  1. Soak one or more rags in white vinegar.
  2. Lay on or wrap said rags around the affected areas. Secure with rubber bands if necessary. Leave the rag for about an hour.
  3. After an hour, the mineral deposits will have loosened or dissolved.
  4. Scrub the any remaining stains off with a sponge (an old one will do).
  5. Wipe the surface with a clean towel.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Toilet Bowl

This method also works for toilet bowls. In this case, however, extra steps are necessary.


White vinegar
Several old rags or paper towels
Toilet bowl brush

  1. Turn off the water.
  2. Flush the toilet until the bowl is empty.
  3. Line the toilet bowl with vinegar-soaked rags (or paper towels), and leave them on for several hours. If the rags or paper towels dry out, pour enough vinegar on them to saturate.
  4. After removing the rags, scrub off any remaining spots with a toilet bowl brush.
  5. Turn the water on and flush to rinse.

For Those Especially Tough Stains

If a white vinegar soak it’s removing the stains, try a paste made of vinegar and baking soda, which you would then smear on the affected areas and then scrub.  

In the case of especially stubborn water stains, make a paste containing 3/4 cup borax and one cup white vinegar to use as a scrub on hard water–stained surfaces.

How to Prevent Hard Water Stains

If you have hard water in your home, stains will reappear if steps are not taken to prevent them.

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