How to Clean Hard Water Stains

Cleaning Hard Water Stains.

How to Clean Hard Water Stains

When I was a girl, I got an allowance for doing chores and one of them was to clean the bathroom.

We had hard water in my area and part of my job involved removing hard water stains from the sink, bathtub and toilet bowl.

I absolutely hated to clean the bathroom, but I really liked getting my allowance and spending it at the corner store.

I don’t want to date myself, but there was a thing called penny candy back then, and 10 cents could buy a whole candy bar. I guess that qualifies me as gettin’ up there!

Hard water stains may seem too tough to get out without using heavy duty cleaners, but I’m here to show you after my countless hours of practice how easy it is to remove hard water stains using safe natural cleaners.

Are you ready to learn how to clean up those grimy stains once and for all?

Let’s get busy cleaning!

Homemade (Safe and Natural) Hard Water Cleaners

Water is “hard” when it contains minerals such as calcium carbonate. The minerals not only stain walls and faucets, they increase the amount of soap and shampoo scum that adheres on shower walls.

Distilled white vinegar or lemon juice are not just safe but they are super effective ways to remove hard water stains. The key is the acid in the cleaners—even safe mild vinegar breaks down the calcium mineral deposits allowing them to easily rinse away.

Vinegar Cleaning Spray

  • Mix 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. dishwashing liquid and pour into a spray bottle.

Just applying the spray cleaner won’t remove the hard water stains. The key is good ole’ elbow grease.

  1. Spray or sponge the mixture onto the stains.
  2. Allow the cleaner to sit for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Scrub with a green scrubby side of a sponge or a scrub brush.
  4. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
  5. Wipe the surface dry.

Vinegar Scrubbing Paste

If the vinegar spray alone doesn’t work, add borax to make a heavy duty scrubbing paste.

Vinegar and borax are excellent cleaners. Borax is a mineral powder and is strong enough to help cut through the stain.

To make your own cleaning paste, mix:

  • 1 cup white vinegar (you can use lemon juice)
  • 3/4 cup borax


  • 1 Tbsp. dishwashing liquid (like Dawn)

The paste should be thick enough it doesn’t run down the side of the tub, shower, sink, etc.

  1. Apply the cleaner on the hard water stain and let it sit for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Using the green scrubby side of a wet sponge, give it a good scrubbing.
  3. If the green scrubby isn’t working hard enough for you, try using a pumice stone (listed below).

Pumice Stone

When the stain is tough enough, a pumice stone is one of the first things I turn to. Make sure to keep the pumice stone and the surface wet when cleaning so you don’t scratch the surface area. I would not use the pumice stone on colored tiles.

  1. Wet the stone with water.
  2. Scrub at the stain gently.
  3. Keep a light but consistent pressure until the hard water stain is gone.

Preventing Future Hard Water Stains

There are a few things you can do to prevent hard water build up from getting out of hand.

  • Cleaning hard water stains when they are still “fresh” requires less effort.
  • Keep a towel handy for wiping down the shower and sink after each use and have everyone chip in.
  • Squeegee the shower walls and doors after each use, this will help to prevent soap scum, mildew, and hard water stains from developing.
  • Another option is to purchase a water softener for your home; it’s a good investment that will last many years.

Now those stains weren’t so tough to clean, were they?

The best part about using these cleaners are that they are safe and natural and you won’t have to worry about using toxins. And let’s not forget that they work really well too!