How to Clean the Worst Hard Water Stains From...

How to Clean the Worst Hard Water Stains From Your Sink, Tub, and Shower

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Hard water stains are a reality for people living in 85% of the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, so chances are you’ve dealt with them yourself.

The good news is that this annoying white residue isn’t unsafe, or going to make us sick (which is a good thing, given that a lot of people drink it). But the bad news is that the longer we put off removing hard water stains from our bathroom and kitchen fixtures, the harder they are to get rid of—at some point, becoming permanent.

Instead of letting that happen, try these methods for cleaning even the worst hard water stains from your sink, tub, and shower.

What are hard water stains?

When we talk about water being “hard,” we’re really referring to the concentration of dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium in the water. And when hard water is left to dry on a surface like a sink faucet or shower door, the minerals are left behind in the form of white, brown, or rust-colored deposits (depending on the mineral content in the local water).

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How to remove hard water stains from the sink, tub, and shower

Hard water stains can show up in various parts of your bathroom, including the shower door, sink and tub, metal fixtures, and tile surfaces. (We covered how to clean hard water stains from toilets last week.)

Here are a few ways to get rid of these stubborn bathroom blemishes:

Metal fixtures

  • Use an old toothbrush to apply fluoride toothpaste to your fixtures. Gently scrub, then use a damp cloth to wipe it off.
  • Pour or spray some hydrogen peroxide onto your fixtures, then scrub the stains off using a soft, clean cloth.
  • Mix a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, spray it onto your fixtures, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a clean cloth or brush to remove the stains.

Sink and tub

  • Make a paste out of hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar and apply it to your sink or tub. Let it sit for between 10 and 30 minutes (depending on the severity of the stains), then scrub away using a damp sponge.
  • Using that same solution of equal parts water and white vinegar, spray it on the stains inside your sink and tub, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then use a clean cloth or brush to remove the stains.
  • Make a paste of white vinegar and baking soda, then use a bristle brush to scrub the stains away.
  • Any of these methods also work for glass shower doors—just be a bit gentler when you scrub, so you don’t scratch the glass.

Ceramic tile

  • Make a paste out of baking soda and water, apply it to the stained areas, and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Gently scrub the tiles using a bristled brush.

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