If you live in an area with hard water, you’ve probably found yourself wondering how to remove hard water spots from your bathroom or kitchen fixtures, shower doors, and even your tub.
Now, keep in mind that hard water spots are not the same thing as soap scum. If you can scrape it away easily with a fingernail, it’s probably soap scum. Here is an easy, no-scrub homemade soap scum remover to deal with that mess.
If you’ve determined that what you’re looking at is in spots left by hard water, read on for solutions.
How to Get Rid of Hard Water Spots
Why Hard Water Leaves Spots
These stubborn spots are often called lime deposits, calcium buildup, or scale. Whatever name you know them by, they’re due to the minerals that give hard water its name.
While there are many commercial products on the market designed to get rid of those water spots, most contain strong chemicals that can contribute to indoor air pollution.
Some even contain ingredients which, if used at or near the same time as other cleaning products, can create dangerous chemical combinations that can cause serious health issues.
Fortunately, there are several safe, natural methods to remove hard water spots that don’t expose you or your family to fumes or corrosive substances.
Removing Hard Water Spots in the Shower
To clean hard water spots from shower walls, including glass doors, try one of the following:
- A melamine sponge or Magic Eraser dipped in warm water.
- A damp dryer sheet also works well, since it has both surfactants that loosen the scale and a rough texture that helps lift them away.
- A natural scouring powder like this homemade soft scrub and a damp microfiber cloth.
- A sprinkle of Barkeeper’s Friend on a damp sponge and plenty of water when you rinse.
Once you have removed hard water spots from the shower, keep them away with a homemade daily shower spray.
Here’s how to get rid of hard water spots on your shower head.
Removing Mineral Buildup from Jetted Tubs
Jetted tubs don’t wholly drain between uses, so owners often encounter two kinds of gross problems.
First is the black gunk that sometimes spews out of whirlpool jets and the pink mold that grows around them. This stuff, known as “biofilm,” is bacterial buildup from the water (and hair and dead skin cells) that sat in the whirlpool pipes between uses.
Then there’s the hard, white mineral buildup that sometimes clogs the jets. This buildup can also leave spots on dark-colored tubs and tub surrounds.
Fortunately, there’s an all-natural way to get rid of both, which I’ve used in my whirlpool tub for years now:
- Turn on your bathroom fan and lay towels on the floor at the base of the tub just to be safe.
- Fill the tub with HOT water — at least 2 inches above the highest jet.
- Add 1/2 gallon white vinegar and two tablespoons powdered dish detergent. (Do not substitute liquid dish detergent!)
- Run the jets for 15 minutes, then let sit for another 10.
- Drain the tub and refill with COLD water then run the jets another 10 minutes.
- Drain the tub and wipe down with a clean, soft cloth.
Removing Hard Water Spots from Faucets
- To remove hard water spots from faucets, dip a paper towel in white vinegar and wrap it around the faucet. (Granite counters? See the note below!)
- To remove buildup from within the tap, stick a wedge of lemon or a wad of vinegar-dampened paper towel inside.
- Wait 5 minutes then remove the paper towel and gently scrub with an old toothbrush. If the buildup has not loosened, put the damp towel back in place and check again in 5 more minutes.
- Once you’re able to scrub away the buildup, rinse the entire faucet well with clean water and buff it dry.
NOTE: There’s a trick to getting hard water buildup off of faucets without damaging your bathroom counter, especially if it’s made of granite, marble or natural stone. The secret is placing a layer of plastic cling film on the counter at the base of your faucet to protect it from the vinegar.
Removing Hard Water Stains in Toilets
Don’t be tempted to grab a pumice stone and scour the inside of your bowl like grandma used to do! Modern toilets are easily scratched. Using something as abrasive as pumice will damage the toilet bowl’s finish, so you’ll wind up with a toilet that develops stains and odors more quickly.
Instead, try these steps:
- Turn off the water supply to the toilet then flush it to reduce the amount of water in the bowl. Use a plunger to push additional water down the drain until the bowl is empty.
- Spray the bowl with straight white vinegar and wait 20-30 minutes before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
- For stubborn remaining spots, sprinkle lightly with baking soda and wait for the fizzing to subside. Scrub again.
- Turn the water supply back on and flush.
Removing Hard Water Spots from Refrigerator Water Dispensers
With something like a water dispenser, it’s obvious why you don’t want to use cleaning products that might linger and land in your water. Fortunately, you don’t need to. Follow these steps instead:
- Cut a lemon in half and shove it onto the water spout.
- Let that sit 30 minutes then remove the lemon, scrub the tube opening with a toothbrush, and run the water to flush the line.
- Follow by wiping the entire dispenser area with white vinegar to remove any remaining water spots, then wipe again using a clean cloth dampened only with water. Buff dry.
- How to Clean a Keurig and Fix a Broken One
- Bathroom Spring Cleaning Checklist
- Using Vinegar in the Laundry
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