Hard water is a common factor in many homes across North America. How do you know if you have hard water? If you notice yellow or orange stains on your shower tiles, surrounding sinks, and faucets, or even cloudy mildew on your dishware, then this is a clear indication that you probably have hard water. The good news is that there are a number of solutions for getting rid of and preventing hard water stains throughout your home. Keep reading to learn about the best hard water stain removers and tips on how to clean hard water on common surfaces.
What Causes Hard Water Stains and How Can You Get Rid of Them?
What Is Hard Water?
Hard water is water in your residential or commercial property that has a high mineral content, specifically magnesium and calcium. As water moves through various natural elements like rocks and soil, it automatically picks up these minerals that become dissolved in it. Because the minerals dissolve completely in the water, they only become visible as residue on the surfaces with which they come in contact after the fact.
You may be wondering how consuming or using hard water impacts your health. Although hard water doesn’t have any adverse health effects associated with it, it can certainly do a number on your pipes and other architectural features such as building materials throughout your property.
What Causes Hard Water Stains?
Now that you know what hard water is, it’s important to know how to recognize the stains so that you can adequately remove and prevent them in the future. Here are a few common factors that cause hard water stains.
Are you noticing that your freshly washed glassware is coming out of the dishwasher cloudy? It may not necessarily be your dishwasher or detergent’s fault.
If you’ve already ruled out these other potential culprits, then the next possible cause could be hard water in your pipes. High concentrations of magnesium and calcium can lead to large deposits of insoluble salts that leave a residue on glassware. You probably know this as lime scale or soap scum. Glass is naturally porous and the contaminants in hard water fill the pores, rendering a chemical reaction that allows them to bond to the surface. Eventually, continued exposure to hard water and the contaminants therein cause the glass structure to breakdown, leaving behind a salty deposit on the surface.
Excessive Scale Accumulation
Prolonged exposure to hard water can be harsh on your pipes and various household appliances. Excessive scale accumulation inside your pipes and appliances can lead to rust, corrosion, and other factors the limit their functionality and longevity. Limescale typically leaves behind a white or off-white residue.
High Mineral Content
The high mineral content in hard water can also leave behind yellow and orange looking rust stains in common water fixtures such as sinks, tubs, laundry machines, and toilets. These stains can also be transferred to other items that come in contact with these appliances such as dishware or clothing.
How to Get Rid of Hard Water Stains
There are a number of different methods you can use to get rid of hard water stains throughout your property. Many of them involve the use of common household products, so you don’t have to venture too far outside of your home improvement and maintenance budgetary limits.
How to Clean Hard Water Stains on Glass
Hard water stains on glass can make your dishes or shower door look dingy and like they haven’t been cleaned in a long time. Have no fear, though, because there are a few simple solutions to get rid of those pesky hard water stains from glassware and glass fixtures throughout your home.
Start by diluting an acidic substance in water. Lemon juice, white vinegar, or ethyl alcohol should do the trick. Then, soak a towel in the cleaning mixture and use it to wipe the glass in a gentle circular motion. This will help deteriorate the mineral deposits without having an adverse impact on the glass surface.
You can also look into commercial cleaning products that are designed specifically for glass.
Fluoride is an excellent natural stain remover for your teeth and various fixtures throughout your home. It’s one of the best hard water stain removers for metal sinks and faucets. Simply place a small dab of toothpaste on a toothbrush just like you would if you were brushing your teeth. Gently scrub the toothpaste in a circular motion on the affected area and watch as it removes the hard water stains from the surface!
Used for a number of applications around the house, baking soda is another affordable and common household item that can effectively remove hard water stains from ceramic tiles in your bathroom or kitchen. Mix together equal parts of water and baking soda to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to the affected surface and let it sit for a few minutes. This will allow the chemicals in the baking soda to fully penetrate the surface of the tile and disintegrate the mineral deposits that are bonded to it. After a few minutes, use a toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush to scrub the paste off and reveal a clean stain-free surface.
Preventative care through regular cleaning and maintenance is also a great solution. Through your regular cleaning process, you should be able to quickly spot potential problem areas that could develop hard water stains in your home. The faster you act to remove these stains and fix the underlying problem, the easier it’ll be to prevent hard water stains in the future.
Install a Home Water Softener
Cleaning or removing hard water stains only provides a superficial solution to a much bigger ongoing issue. After all, hard water stains are a symptom of the real problem: you have hard water in your pipes and you need to do something about it. Through the process of reverse osmosis or ion exchanges, water softeners can effectively remove mineral deposits from your home’s water supply. This is also a guaranteed long-term solution to preventing hard water stains from reappearing on surfaces throughout your home.