It's a real downer. What was once ivory white, now stained an ugly brown. What at one time boasted a brand new sparkle, now looks like belongs in a condemned house. The bathtub, the sink, the shower, the toilet, all potential victims of hard water stains. Depending on where you live the problem can vary so count your blessings if your tap water is relatively soft. For the rest of us, our water is hard and it taints everything it touches leaving all of our porcelain with nasty stains that don’t seem to respond to standard cleaning attempts. Don’t give up hope however for there are successful methods to remove hard water stains.
What is “hard water” exactly?
First of all, a bit of education. Just what is “hard water” and why is it bad? “Hard water” doesn’t mean that the water it literally hard as such would be impossible (unless you froze it into ice of course). “Hard water” is a term used to described water that has a high mineral content; those minerals chiefly being magnesium, calcium and sometimes a bit of limestone. These minerals are natural in some soils especially rocky ones, and sink down into the water table creating the hard water. Using water as its conduit, these minerals then cover all of your porcelain pretties and given time, stain them an unsightly brown.
What about hard water and your body?
That begs the question: if hard water stains your sink so badly, what is it doing to your insides? Not to worry, it's harmless to flesh and blood. Creatures of porcelain however, are another matter. The problem isn’t only one of staining either. In addition to aging our bathroom necessities the minerals in hard water also limit the lathering capacity of soap, rendering soaps and detergents less effective in their important tasks. In fact the mineral density of water can be roughly tested simply by seeing how well soap lathers in your hands when running the tap over them. If the soap lathers up easily the you’re water isn’t too hard. If it hardly lathers at all then you have some pretty hard water.
How To Remove Hard Water Stains
So what can you do to clean hard water stains? Standard cleanings of your bathroom just won’t do much for the problem. Instead you’ll have to take a more targeted approach to removing the stains. Here are some progressive steps you can take to remove the offending marks and colors; the success of each will depend on how deep and stubborn the stains are.
1. Clean with a water/vinegar mixture. Either soak a rag in the mixture or apply it with a spray bottle. Simply spray, wipe with a rag, and dry. Repeat several times.
2. Hard water stains still there? Now it’s time to bring lemons into the game. Mix lemon juice in with the water and vinegar in the spray bottle and apply the same treatment.
3. Still there? Then create a paste, combining white vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Spread it all over the stain and give it about 20 minutes to soak. Then scrub, rinse, and very importantly; dry. (You don’t want to leave water sitting on top of the stain you’re trying to clean). Once again, try this a couple of times to see if the stains will lift.
4. Stains still there? Now it’s time to bring in the big guns. The only option left now is to buy a chemical cleaner that contains hydrochloric acid or maybe oxalic acid. This is strong stuff so be sure to have ample ventilation in the room and wear protective gear.
Hopefully by now the hard water stains are gone, or if not gone, at least severely reduced. If they still won’t budge you may be out of options short of resurfacing or even replacing. Good luck!