Posted on: February 13, 2007 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 35

What is Hard Water?

The term “hard water” is used to describe water that is high in certain minerals, usually calcium and magnesium (Tips on how to get rid of hard water). A high enough concentration of these metals in your water can cause white lime scales on surfaces which the water comes into contact with. This can be anything from your showerhead to your tea pot or coffee maker. The scales build up over time and can become a real eye-sore, in the case of showerheads and spray-nozzles, they can even clog the small holes and reduce their efficiency.

Hard Water Stain Removal

Hard water stains are nearly impossible to remove with ordinary cleaners – but are amazingly easy with the right approach. Regular soaps are worthless against lime scale, but the right acid will dissolve those pesky deposits without any scrubbing at all. Following are some simple instructions for the most common hard water stain victims. In the following sets of instructions I’ve specified the use of vinegar, but if you don’t have any handy, lemon juice will also work.


Removable Showerheads:

  1. Remove the showerhead.
  2. In a pot large enough to submerge the showerhead, bring equal parts white vinegar and water to a rolling boil.
  3. Place the shower head into the pot and simmer it for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Allow the shower head to soak in the mixture for a few hours (or overnight).
  5. Replace the showerhead.

Fixed Showerheads:

  1. Fill a plastic bag large enough to cover the shower head with equal parts white vinegar and water.
  2. Secure the bag over the showerhead with rubber bands, duct tape, hardware clamps, whatever is around the house that will hold it well.
  3. Let the showerhead soak in the solution overnight.
  4. Remove the bag, repeat as necessary.


  1. Fill a plastic bag large enough to submerge the faucet with equal parts white vinegar and water.
  2. Secure the bag over the faucet with rubber bands, duct tape, hardware clamps; whatever is around the house that will hold it well.
  3. Let the faucet soak in the solution overnight.
  4. Remove the bag, repeat as necessary.

For level areas, such as the base around the edge of the sink, you can use a towel soaked in the vinegar solution to dissolve any hard water stains. Stubborn stains can be scrubbed with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (just enough vinegar to make a paste).

Sinks, Bath Tubs and Toilet Bowls

  1. Fill the basin as high as you can with water.
  2. For sinks, add 1 cup of vinegar. Tubs, 1 liter. Toilets, 1 cup.
  3. Let the solution soak in the basin overnight.
  4. Drain and rinse.
  5. For extra-stubborn stains, make a paste from baking soda and white vinegar and scrub. Continue nightly soaks until they’re gone.

Be aware that not all hard water stains can be removed. Mineral deposits can be dissolved, but sometimes the metals in the water bond with surfaces (most commonly glass) and leave permanent white stains.

Cookware, Glasses and Tea Pots

Lime scale on metal or glassware can be soaked away using a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Glasses and bowls should only require 15 minutes to an hour of soaking while cookware like pots and pans may require longer (Try heating up the solution on the stove if your cookware isn’t coming clean).

Coffee Makers

  1. Fill the reservoir with white vinegar.
  2. Run the coffee maker through a brewing cycle and allow the vinegar to run through the system.
  3. Follow up with one or two brewing cycles using regular water to remove remaining vinegar.

Click here for more information on how to get rid of hard water stains.

35 People reacted on this

  1. what about water stains that have leaked from a window unit air conditioner on to a brand new box spring mattress?

  2. about the shower door:

    remove the shower door then,
    soak a towel in the vinegar mixture and then lay the towel on the shower door.

  3. On flat surfaces I place cotton balls first – then pour the vinegar. The cotton will absorb the vinegar (not go down your drain) – let it sit for 2 plus hours – wipe clean with cotton balls – stains are gone! 🙂

  4. What about water stains on a stall shower (no tub) floor and wall? This was a tub shower that was removed/replaced w/ a stall shower. Vinyl, maybe? Whatever, I know the stains are from the shower/water but nothing gets rid of them. CLR did nothing. Thx!

  5. For tubs,sinks and shower doors try a product called the works tub and shower it is in a green and white bottle.Get the pour spout,cause the spray will sufficate you.Make sure you wear gloves.You made need to use a none scratch scrub pad.Take a rag wipe all over the surface [some areas you may need to pour directly on].Then rinse well with water.For glass your may need to use glass cleaner after you rinse,so that the glass will not streak.Then after you use the tub or shower squeegy the walls or spray a daily shower cleaner or vinegar to keep the hardwter build up from returning.I own a cleaning co. a this one of the best products to remove hardwater build up.NOTE: DO NOT USE ON ANY NATURAL STONE SURFACE IT WILL DO MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD>YOU WON’T HAVE HARDWATER BUILD UP,BUT YOUR STONE WILL BE DISCOLORED.For stone surfaces try vinegar or a product called Mira Soap,it is for stone.You can find it at a stone surface supplier or try your hardware store.They might be able to order it for you.

  6. to remove baked on food inside pots or pans. cover staianed andbaked on goods with water, then put a dryer sheet inside the water and leave soak overnight. next morning, all the residue will wipe right out.

  7. I’m trying to get rid of some hard water stains in my 55 gallon aquarium. We bought it used and it had sat for quite a while. Green scratch pad did nothing. Tried toilet bowl cleaner on the outside, did nothing. Going to use some of these tips with vinegar on the aquarium.

  8. Try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I tried every too. I’ve used this product all over the house with things that no other cleaner has gotten. Thought I’d give it a try and it really did work!

  9. Being a professional window cleainnig company, we have found that most stains require a polishing compound and some good old fashioned elbow grease. The best product we have found to date is a product called The Simple Cleaning Solution. Man this stuff really works. We have cleaned windows professionally for over 37 years and we have great success with this product.

    You can sometimes find it at small hardware stores like Ace Hardware or True Value.

    Probably the easiest way to buy it is online at their website The stuff really works like the munufacturer says. I rarely run across a water stained window or shower door that can’t be made to look clean and clear.

    I’ve tried CLR with moderate results. However, CLR creates nasty smelling fumes. The Simple Cleaning Solution has no smell (it’s a powder) and I don’t neeed to wear gloves to use it.

  10. I have an antique pourous clay flower pot. It has a raised flower design on it and several colors decorating it. Does anyone know how I can get rid of the brown and cream scuzzy stuff that accumulated on the outside presumably from overwatering. I am worried about hurting the colors. Thank you.

  11. i couldn’t even see through my shower doors and i tried all the products. some of them worked a little but it never removed it all. my girlfriend told me about this paste stuff called Bruce’s and I foudn it at ace hardware. i used a blue scrub pad and scrubbed it on and let it dry. when i wiped it off i could see through the door for the first time in years. this stuff really worked

  12. I had a slow leak in my bathtube for months now, and the water has set in the lower end of tube (close to drain) and caused a THICK calcium/hardwater build up. It has been IMPOSSIBLE to remove thus far. I have tried every product available, and it is still there. I really need some advice with this headache…. Thank you in advance:)

  13. EVERYBODY – I used cameo brand copper and porcelain polish power on my shower doors, frame, and side panels it turned out awesome! You’re going to need some elbow grease. Get a spray bottle filled with just water and set it to a fine mist spray. Lightly spray the area you’re going to clean. Get a rag and spray the rag with the bottle (just get it damp). Next take your Cameo polish powder and lightly “sprinkle” the powder on the damp area of your rag. Next in a concentric circle motion rub the powder over the surface to be cleaned until the hardwater stains go away. I used a concentric circle pattern and followed it with a clean rag in an up and down fashion. There may be slight residue leftover after cleaning which can be wiped off with a clean damp rag or very mild cleaner. Keep in mind it took me roughly two hours to really get everything cleaned. ALWAYS TEST A SMALL AREA BEFORE DOING THE WHOLE SHOWER SO YOU DON’T ACCIDENTALLY SCRATCH OR DAMAGE YOUR SHOWER. And be careful around your caulked and siliconed seals.

  14. The vinegar trick worked great! Thanks so much. My parents have had horrible hard water stains in their sinks for years and this is the only thing that made it look like a brand new sink!

  15. i second shaz’s suggestion of using dryer sheets. i just tried this myself after scrubbing the hard water on our shower doors for 20 minutes and getting absolutely nowhere, and it worked perfectly. Just rub down the doors with the dryer sheet, then go over it with glass cleaner and it will look brand new!! I’m so glad I found this tip!

  16. I have a severe hard water stain at the bottom of my toilet. I was on vacation for two months and I guess from having the water sit there so long, the result is a nasty brown area of the inside of my toilet bowl. How can I possibly get this gone? I have tried so many things and nothing works. Please help!

  17. I have a major ring in my toilet. It is clear and the only way to get rid of it is a pumice stone. Is there a product that will work onit? LIme-a-way and the clear product just laugh at it. Ihave a water softner but it still comes back after I use the pumice stone.

  18. I was search Hi an Low to find a way to get rid of water build up. I am happy to report that because of the tips her I found the answer on my first try.

    I used a sponge with a medium to soft side with pure vinegar and it took of the stains with little effort. The only time I had to scrub hard was in creases and hard to reach places. I found a nice hard tooth brush did the trick.

    I will admit that the smell was a bit much but it was well worth it. Now I put it in a spay bottle and before getting out spray the shower a bit and wipe it down with a soft cloth and no more troubles for me any longer.

    Thank you all, I am so happy my shower looks like new again.

  19. Steam vacum is almost blocked because of warter stain probably due to using salty water. Is tere a way to remove the stain kowing that the steamer has “L” shape Pipe?

  20. My mom used to be a housekeeper and one day she came to my house and started cleaning my glass shower door that was very water stained all she used was some dishwashing liquid and a razor.She just put some dishwashing liquid in a bowl mixed it with some water(make sure the area of glass you are working on is wet) and the stains came off quickly!The soapy mixture makes the razor blade slide on the glass.Did not leave a scratch!

  21. Hard Water Stain Removal

    I read somewhere that hydrogen peroxide & cream of tartar mixed into a paste (left to sit a while) works (SEE WARNING! BELOW!!)

    *** WARNING!! *** Like most popular commercial OTC bathroom cleaners, test a small non-visible area 1st. (Hydrogen Peroxide remove the color/bleaches/stains clothing, fabric, etc so test to ensure there will be no loss of color, especially if you plan to use on a material that is acrylic, porcelain, etc.) Best to be safe rather than sorry. Good Luck! (I’m going to use it myself – nothing to lose at this point, afterwards, when I get a chance, I’ll post the result, unless someone else does between now and the next time I check this site.

  22. Shower DoorsI read somewhere that hydrogen peroxide & cream of tartar mixed into a paste (left to sit a while) works

  23. OMG this really works I used the water and vinegar as directed and than I let it soak for 2days in the tub only because the kids weren’t home lol..but after that I sprayed the shower with some vinegar and water inside of a spray bottle and than used a brillo pad to scrub the lime out of the tub but wait I also used a very cheap product that is inside of family dollar or dollar general its call awesome and that worked also great with the lime I love this method and will truly be sticking to it thank you so much *muah muah*

  24. My toilet boil has a ring from hard water, brownish and very difficult to remove, am going to try the vinger and see, let you know of the result

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