A woman removing hard water stains on her glass shower door

How to Remove Hard Water Stains: Drama-Free Home Remedies

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Trying to remove hard water stains that keep returning can leave you muttering like Lady MacBeth: “Out, I say!”

Whether these chalky spots show up on your home’s glass or metal surfaces, or in the toilet, you can get rid of them with simple and effective home remedies that use household ingredients.

Then, unlike Shakespeare’s tragic character, your story will have a happy ending. 

What are Hard Water Stains?

Water contains different minerals. The “harder” your water, the more minerals it contains. When water evaporates or air dries on surfaces, it leaves mineral deposits behind.

Potassium and calcium create white deposits, while iron or manganese leave orange or black water stains. 

Removing Hard Water Spots on Glass

Use equal amounts of white vinegar and water to dissolve hard water stains on glass shower doors and other glass surfaces.

For minor spotting, spray the mix on, wait 5 minutes and scrub it with a microfiber cloth or Magic Eraser, then rinse well and towel dry. 

For stubborn water spots on glass, wet some paper towels with the mixture, squeeze them out a bit, and smooth them onto the glass. The moisture keeps the paper towels in place.

Let them sit for 30 minutes while the vinegar works. Then peel them off, scrub with a microfiber cloth, rinse well and towel dry. 

Hard Water Spots on Plastic

Many types of plastic scratch easily, so you need to be careful how you try cleaning hard water spots on them.

For plastic shower enclosures, use a homemade soft scrub made from combining baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to form a stiff paste, then loosen it with a few drops of dish soap.

Spread the paste onto the damp plastic surface and let it sit for 10-15 minutes loosening the water spots. Then wipe it away with a damp. microfiber cloth, rinse, and buff dry.

Hard Water Stains on Tile and Stone

A paste made from baking soda and water is a safe way to remove hard water stains on ceramic tile or natural stone like granite and marble, which often require special care.

Apply it with a damp cloth, rubbing in small circles to loosen the buildup, then let it sit for 15 minutes. Rub again with a clean damp cloth, rinse and buff dry.

Hard Water Spots on Faucets and Fixtures

If you don’t know what your faucet is made of, use the second method below to avoid damage that can leave you wringing your hands like Lady MacBeth.

Chrome, stainless steel, and powder-coated faucets or fixtures: Wrap a paper towel soaked in vinegar around the faucet for 10 minutes then scrub the spots with an old toothbrush, rinse and towel dry.

Brushed nickel, oiled brass, other sensitive metals and damaged finishes: Get the faucet wet and rub on some baking soda with a damp cloth, wait 5 minutes, then scrub with an old toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and towel dry.

Pro Tip

Toothpaste also makes a great gentle abrasive to remove mineral deposits. Rub it onto a damp surface, let it sit for 5 minutes, use an old toothbrush to loosen the buildup, then rinse well and towel dry. 

Hard Water Stains in Toilets

Don’t use pumice stones to clean dirty toilets made within the last 15 years. Newer toilet bowls have antimicrobial and anti-stain coatings the pumice will permanently damage.

Pro Tip

For best results, turn the toilet’s water supply valve off at the wall then flush to drain the bowl. Now when you apply cleaner, it won’t be diluted.

To get rid of hard water stains in your bowl, smooth paper towels soaked in vinegar onto the inside of the toilet bowl. Wait 30 minutes, peel off the towels and sprinkle baking soda (bicarb) on the walls of the bowl. Scrub with your toilet brush when the fizzing stops, refill the toilet bowl and flush.

For stubborn hard water stains, rub a paste made from vinegar and borax onto the spots. Leave this overnight, loosen it with more vinegar the next day, and scrub. Refill the bowl and flush.


  • Towel drying keeps water from leaving mineral deposits behind.
  • Rub a used dryer sheet on clean faucets and glass shower doors to repel water spots, or apply car wax.
  • Use water filters or install a home water softening system to remove minerals.

So there you go, no need for a Shakespearean tragedy in your bathroom or kitchen. With these simple remedies, you can bid farewell to those hard water spots on your home’s surfaces and take a bow.

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  1. Wendy Clare says:

    Great tips! In addition, for our shower fixtures, we’ve gotten into the routine of wiping the faucet and handles with a corner of our towel when we’re done with our shower. We’ve had the same fixture for over 10 years, and it still looks brand new, just because we never let water dry on it! Such a simple habit, and it sure saves a ton of scrubbing, etc. to keep it shiny.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Great tip!

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