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We all use our taps every day, whether that’s for bathing, doing dishes or having a glass of water. But not everyone thinks that much about the kind of water that comes out of the tap. But if you have very hard water, you have no choice but to think about it, whether that’s because of residue on your drinkware, on your faucets, inside your electric kettle or pretty much anywhere water comes in regular contact. The hardness of your water depends largely on where you live. Fortunately, hard water has no known negative health ramifications, and may actually present health benefits. Unfortunately, hard water can be a nuisance when it comes to cleaning, and it can negatively affect your pipes, water heater and other equipment. If you’re wondering how to remove hard water stains, we’ve got the rundown (plus the products you need).
What Is Hard Water?
First, it’s worth explaining what, exactly, hard water is. According to USGS.gov, water hardness is the result of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water, in addition to some other deposits. The difference between hard water and soft water isn’t exactly a binary, but rather a scale measured in milligrams per liter, with levels ranging from soft (0 to 60 mg/L), moderately hard (61 to 120 mg/L), hard (121 to 180 mg/L) to very hard (more than 180 mg/L).
Water becomes hard as it passes through deposits in the ground. This affects most Americans — 85% of the country has hard water. Since minerals are essential for health, drinking hard water can actually have a positive impact, as it can be a supplemental source of minerals. However, hard water can leave a slick residue on your hands after you wash in the sink, in addition to negatively affecting appliances and pipes through scale buildup. And of course, those pesky white spots are often a result of hard water.
How To Remove Hard Water Stains Using DIY Methods
Cleaning hard water deposits is an extra step in the routine, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re wondering how to remove hard water stains, you can buy cleaners or make a solution at home. In fact, you can do a lot with just a spray bottle filled with a solution of distilled white vinegar and water. But sometimes you want a little extra muscle to tackle hard water issues. Here’s how to remove hard water stains using products you have at home.
How to Remove Hard Water Stains with Vinegar
One way to remove hard water stains is to create a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on affected areas, and allow it to sit for at least five minutes. You might want to open your windows to do this; while vinegar is non-toxic, it does have an intense smell. Then, simply use a nonabrasive sponge, brush or squeegee and wipe the surface with a wet towel.
How to Remove Hard Water Stains with Baking Soda and Vinegar
For tougher stains, you can use a combination of baking soda and vinegar. Spray the affected area with a vinegar-water solution first, then follow it up by mixing a solution of water and baking soda. It should form a thick paste, so add more baking soda or water as needed. Then apply it to your surfaces and scrub with a towel.
Arm and Hammer Baking Soda (12 Boxes)
OXO Good Grips Squeegee
Best Pre-Made Hard Water Cleaners
If you find yourself continually battling hard water stains, one way to remove hard water stains is to invest in a cleaner. These are typically only a few dollars, and they should last a long time. We’ve rounded up some of the best products that you can use to clean hard water deposits, and even some equipment you can buy to prevent hard water problems in the first place.
1. CLR Brilliant Bath Foaming Action Cleaner
BEST BATHROOM CLEANER
CLR is a versatile cleaner for tackling the most common kinds of water deposits in your home, including calcium and lime (the C and L in CLR). It comes in a 26 oz spray bottle, which contains a foaming solution for quicker cleaning with less elbow grease. This spray was specifically formulated for cleaning the bathroom. Plus, this cleaner meets U.S. EPA Safer Product Standards.
2. Stardrops The Pink Stuff
BEST CLEANING PASTE
The Pink Stuff is one of the most popular cleaners on Amazon, thanks to its natural effectiveness on a variety of surfaces (and maybe the eye-catching pink container has something to do with it). It’s formulated with baking soda, quartz, sodium silicate, and soap for a formula that can tackle a variety of issues, with many reviewers praising its effectiveness against hard water. In our hands-on testing, we were impressed, too.
3. Finish Jet-Dry Dishwasher Rinse Aid Hardwater Protection
BEST FOR DISHES
If you’re getting spotty dishes coming out of the dishwasher, there are convenient cleaners to help keep your glassware looking crystal clear. Finish’s Jet-Dry dishwasher rinse is specifically formulated to combat residue that comes from hard water. Each bottle is designed to last for 80 washes.
4. Mrs. Meyer’s Lemon Verbena Tub and Tile Spray Cleaner
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly cleaner that has a little more oomph than your standard bottle of vinegar, this option from Mrs. Meyer’s is a good one to get. It’s a tub and tile spray cleaner, and it’s specifically designed to remove hard water stains and soap scum. Plus, the lemon verbena scent will leave your bathroom smelling fresh.
5. Lime-A-Way Lime Calcium Rust Cleaner
Not satisfied with simply cleaning hard water stains? Well, Lime-A-Way is designed to destroy hard water stains. It’s an effective cleaning solution for lime, calcium deposits and rust, and it has a foaming formula for easier cleaning.
6. Whirlpool WHES40E Water Softener
If you’d truly rather not deal with cleaning hard water, or your water is so hard that regular solutions aren’t working, then you can also invest in a water softener. This option from Whirlpool effectively reduces hard water symptoms for households between one and six people. It uses salt to soften the water, and the system monitors the water hardness so it only uses the amount of salt and water that’s actually needed. After all, why bother learning how to remove hard water stains when you could just prevent them from ever happening in the first place?