Water with a high mineral content can leave streaks on glasses and unsightly build-up on sinks, tubs, and toilets. Get rid of it, stat, with items you already have in your pantry.
bathroom with black and white tile
Credit: KristianSeptimiusKrogh / Getty Images

Hard water gets its name due to the high concentration of minerals, like calcium or magnesium, found in it. While these minerals aren't normally harmful, they can leave difficult-to-remove white, chalky stains on your surfaces and appliances over time. Here, Bailey Carson, a home care expert at Angi, explains what you need to know about tackling these unsightly spots.

Simple Removal

Hard water stains tend to show up in areas where hard water runs frequently, like faucets, bathtubs, showers, toilets, and sinks, says Carson. "For most surfaces, you can remove these stains by spraying the area with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar," she says. "After spritzing, wipe the mixture off with a soft cloth. This will not only help you get rid of existing stains, but can also help prevent new ones from forming. Try using this method once a week for the best results."

Tougher Spots

Sometimes, you need a little more than water and vinegar to get the job done—which is why Carson recommends targeting your problem areas with more location-specific fixes. For sink stains, Carson suggests filling the basin with equal parts water and vinegar and then waiting 15 minutes. "When the time is up, give your sink a quick scrub, and the stains should come right off," she notes. And if your problem area is made of glass (like a shower door), toothpaste may be the magic answer. "Use an old toothbrush to buff toothpaste onto the stain and wait a few minutes," she says. "Gently wipe away the toothpaste, and your glass should be crystal clear."

On faucets, a paper towel wet with vinegar should do the trick. "Drape the paper towel over your faucet and wait 15 minutes," she says. "You can also fill a small plastic bag with [a mix of vinegar and water] and attach it to your faucet with a rubber band to let it soak for 15 minutes. When the time is up, scrub the faucet down and rinse with clean water to reveal a stain-free finish." For toilet troubles, scrub the stains with either a toilet brush or a toothbrush. "If the stains are in the toilet bowl, add one cup of vinegar to the bowl and wait one minute before scrubbing the stains away," she says. "If that still doesn't work, try adding a cup of baking soda; let it sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing."

Baking Soda Magic

And if Carson's aforementioned solutions don't cut it? Try making a paste with equal parts baking soda and vinegar. "Spread the paste on the stain and wait for 15 minutes," she says. "Wipe away the paste with a cloth, and the stain should wipe away with it. "

Delicate or Fragile Materials

If you're noticing hard water stains on a more delicate surface (like hand-painted tiles or more porous iterations), Carson suggests speaking with a professional. "They can help you determine the best way to clean the stains without ruining the surface in the process," she says, noting that forging ahead without expert input could lead to more costly repairs down the road.


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