If your sinks, showers, and tubs are marred by ugly white or brown spots, you likely have an issue with hard water. Hard water stains detract from the attractiveness of your bathroom or kitchen fixtures, and if left unattended, they will get nothing but worse. The worse they get, the harder it is to remove the sediment buildup. The solution to this is a hard water remover, and this article will discuss the best available hard water removers.
Causes Of Hard Water Stains
Hard water is caused by high mineral content in your tap water. White hard water stains come from water that has a high content of limestone, resulting in calcium and magnesium buildup. If the hard water stains are rust-colored or reddish, they likely come from iron-rich water. Though it can wreak havoc on plumbing fixtures, tap water rich in minerals often has a better taste than softer waters—think about all the mineral waters available at the supermarket and their high costs.
The downside to hard water is a buildup in hard water stains. Depending on how hard your tap water is, any water left on the surfaces of your sinks, tubs, toilets, and showers will probably end up leaving hard water residue that turns into stains. If these hard water stains are not removed regularly, they will build up just like the limestone stalactites and stalagmites build up inside caves. The minerals in your hard water can also build up in your shower head to where it will hurt the water flow, sometimes even stopping it completely.
Why Removers Are Important
The first reason to use a hard water remover is that hard water stains are ugly. They mar the clean, smooth look of your sinks, showers, bathtubs and even the toilets. As stated above, hard water stains will only grow if hard water removers are not used. This not only makes them more difficult to remove but can also interfere with the cleaning power of detergents and shampoos. More of these cleaning products will need to be used to have the same effect under hard water.
This reduction in cleaning power can also lead to other types of staining. Soap scum, sediments, and other debris form more readily on surfaces that have hard water stains. If you have ever had an issue with hard water stains, you will probably understand the reason for this as hard water stains can be rough and collect debris as water exits the tub, shower, or sink.
Hard Water Removers That Work
A good rule of thumb when using any cleaning product (including hard water remover) is to try the least impactful methods of cleaning before looking to use cleaners with harsh chemicals and the resulting nasty fumes that irritate both your nose and skin. With hard water removers, these less drastic methods of removing hard water stains are best done as a preventative measure or regular maintenance. If you have hard water stains that have been growing, stains that mar large amounts of your sinks, showers, or tubs, the more natural ways of removing hard water stains might be insufficient for the job.
Vinegar or Lemon Juice
Vinegar is one of the best natural workhorses of the cleaning world. As a mild acid, vinegar is great at dissolving mineral buildup such as calcium carbonate from heavy water high in limestone. This works because of the hydrogen ions in the vinegar or other acids. Those hydrogen ions react with the carbonates in the limestone and form hydrogen carbonate which is incredibly soluble in water. After this, the limestone will dissolve.
Vinegar is the most commonly used acid for this method of cleaning as it is inexpensive and mild enough to not cause damage to the surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom. Lemon juice is another possibility, but some people do not enjoy the lemon scent, and lemon juice is a lot more expensive than vinegar. White vinegar is the most common source among the kinds of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar will also work as well and comes with a more pleasant aroma than distilled white vinegar.
To use vinegar, lemon juice or another mild acid for hard water removal, add the vinegar to a spray bottle and spray the affected areas with hard water stains directly. Allow the vinegar to sit on the surface for up to a half-hour and then wipe it off. If you have stubborn stains, there might be some scrubbing required. Make sure only to use scrubbers that will not damage the surface you are cleaning. With hard water removal, you want to beautify your kitchen or bathroom—not damage it.
Vinegar to Improve Water Flow through Taps and Shower Heads
With high buildups of hard water stains in the taps of your sinks and shower heads, water flow could be severely impeded. Most shower heads can be removed by unscrewing them, as can the aerators in your sinks—both bathroom and kitchen. To clean these, the best method is to soak them in vinegar. Remove your shower heads and aerators and allow them to soak in a small container of vinegar. After a half-hour, remove them and try to wipe the hard water stains away. If that does not work, let them soak for a longer time.
To prevent further hard water stains from accumulating, spray down the affected areas with the vinegar solution every week. As with hard water removal, let it sit for up to a half-hour before wiping the area down. This amount of preventative maintenance will keep your kitchens and bathrooms from accumulating hard water stains at all.
Vinegar to Remove Mineral Buildup in Appliances
Extra-hard water can also accumulate in appliances such as coffee pots. For coffee pots, one of the best methods of hard water removal is to make a vinegar-water solution with a 25% vinegar and 75% water ratio. Run that solution through the machine several times. This will remove any accumulated hard water inside and can be repeated as needed. Run one cycle only using water to remove any of the vinegar that might have been left. Most people don't like vinegar in their coffee.
Both dishwashers and washing machines can also fall prey to hard water stains, but they are not easily cleaned using vinegar or other mild household acids. For dishwashers, hard water can build up on glasses and dishes after a cycle. Add a small amount of vinegar to the rinse cycle to help combat this. For hard water removal in dishwashers and washing machines, one of the chemical hard water removers will probably have to be used.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
When you have to deal with heavy-duty hard water removal, adding baking soda to the vinegar is the best method to try before switching to one of the harsher chemical hard water removers. As vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, combining them at the same time will cancel the benefits of both out. To use the vinegar and baking soda method of hard water removal, begin by spraying the vinegar directly on the surfaces that are marred with the hard water stains. Allow the vinegar to do its thing for a half-hour. Then, sprinkle baking soda on the area and use the scrubby side of a sponge to remove any remaining stains.
CLR Pro Lime and Rust Remover
If the vinegar and the vinegar and baking soda methods fail as hard water removers, even after applying a bit of elbow grease, it is time to move on to the chemical solutions, and there is no better chemical hard water remover than CLR Pro Lime and Rust Remover. It can be used to clean a variety of different surfaces including glass, chrome, cement, steel, ceramic, stucco, brick, and many more.
While calcium and rust are the most common types of hard water stains, CLR Pro can also remove line stains with little effort. CLR Pro is biodegradable, so it is not bad for the environment. While it is considered non-toxic, it contains stronger acids and other chemicals than vinegar, so it is important when you use it that you don't get it in your eyes or ingest it. If you are working in a small room such as a bathroom, try to ventilate the room as best you can before using it. Otherwise, you may be dealing with severely irritated eyes and sinuses.
CLR Pro can be used for hard water removal in every way that vinegar or baking soda can be used, but it can also remove hard water stains in washing machines and dishwashers. You can even put it in power washers, should the need arise. The only downside of CLR Pro, besides the harsher chemicals, is the price. That said, you will not need much to get rid of your hard water stains, and once you have them taken care of, you can switch to one of the vinegar methods for prevention and maintenance.
There is no better-tasting water than one high in mineral content, but that mineral content leads to hard water stains that can mar your bathroom and kitchen. Following the above methods for using hard water removers will keep this from happening if you have hard water. Once you get rid of your hard water stains, remember to keep them from returning.