How To Remove Hard Water Stains: Everything You Need To Know

Hard water tastes sweet when you drink it. But the salts in it can cause nasty stains on kitchen and toilet surfaces. The stains caused by hard water are known by many names, including limescale, mineral deposits, hard water deposits, and much more. Whatever the name, you need to learn how to remove hard water stains if you live in an area where the water supply gives only hard water.

You can identify the stains as crusty gunk that builds up around faucets, toilets, and showerheads. When tap water evaporates, it leaves behind the minerals calcium and magnesium. These minerals solidify to form crusty stuff that is the stain. In case you are wondering, what do hard water stains look like? You will see them looking like salt. Will vinegar remove hard water stains? Read on to learn more.

What Are Hard Water Stains?

Hard water, unlike soft water, contains a higher calcium and magnesium content. These mineral ions make the water hard. When water on your faucets, toilet, and other surfaces evaporates, the salts are left behind, and they form the stain. In the bathroom, you can see the stains on the glass, tile, porcelain, and metal surfaces. Sometimes, the hard water stains spread to your dishes and clothing.

How To Remove Hard Water Stains

Hard water stains might seem challenging to remove, especially if you are seeing them for the first time. If a bright tub or shower changes and becomes stained, the first thing that might come to your mind is to scrub off the stain. However, scrubbing might mess the shine of your faucet, and sometimes it does not work at all.

The hard water does not affect your health, and the stain only affects how the tubs and faucets look without interfering with their structural integrity. Your faucet should not have permanent stains as long as you learn how to remove hard water stains. How do you tell whether the water in your house is hard? Read how to test water hardness levels on this website.

There are many agents you can use, including vinegar for hard water stains, borax for hard water stains, and lemon juice, among others, as discussed below.

Vinegar for Hard Water Stains

Removing hard water stains with vinegar is easy. Mix vinegar and water in equal parts. Put your mixture in a small spray bottle and spray it on the stained surface. Wait for a few minutes and wipe off the vinegar, which comes off with stain.

Don’t have a spray bottle? You can soak a small towel with the mixture and place it on the stain for a few minutes. Removing hard water stains with vinegar is as easy as that.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Paste

Baking soda also works great when mixed with vinegar to form a thick paste. All you need to do is smear the paste on the stained surface and wait for about 15 minutes. Scrub the surface after fifteen minutes and rinse with clean water. Because you might still clean using the hard water that comes to your house, ensure that you wipe dry the cleaned surface to avoid re-formation of stains.

Lemon Juice for Hard Water Stains

Lemon juice works almost the same as removing hard water stains with vinegar. All you need to do is spray the faucet with fresh lemon juice and wait for ten minutes. Wipe the surface clean.

Borax for Hard Water Stains

Borax removes stains as the best baking soda. All you need to do is create a thick paste with borax and water and smear it on the stained surface. Leave the paste you've made on the stain for about ten minutes and then scrub, rinse and wipe the surface dry.

Get Rid Of Hard Water Stains Once And For All with A Water Softener

The problem with hard water stains is that they keep coming for as long as you use hard water in your home. You can use any method discussed above, including borax for hard water stains, but the stains keep coming back.

Why not solve the problem of hard water for all by softening the water that comes to your home? When you soften your water, you do not only get rid of stains, but you will use less soap and clean faster, and you will experience less clogging in your piping system. Even better, your clothes will feel soft, seeing as there are no minerals trapped in between the fibers. Your skin will also benefit from the use of soft water. Like your skin, your hair also feels smoother and appears shiny when you use soft water. There is no salt drying on your hair to make it hard and rough.

Again, soft water is also easy on your electric appliances. By using soft water, your appliances will last longer with less maintenance, thereby saving you on replacement costs. Plus, even though you know how to remove hard water stains, that is not something you want to do every week.

Today water softeners are simple to install and cost-friendly to buy. Better yet, modern water softeners are salt-free, which makes them almost maintenance-free. Even systems that require salt are still easy to maintain.

Salt-based water softeners run on the ion-exchange system. The only disadvantage with these systems is that the softened water will still have sodium from the salt you use. If you have a problem with the sodium, use salt-free systems instead.


Will vinegar remove hard water stains? Yes, and so will other agents discussed above. If you are still wondering what hard water stains look like, the chances are that you do not have hard water in your house. Even though the stains may seem challenging to remove, with vinegar, lemon juice, borax, or baking soda, you can remove them in less than 20 minutes. 

However, since the stains recur whenever you use hard water, you need to find a permanent solution – use a water softener to keep the stains off your faucets, toilet, and any other surfaces.