How to Clean Hard Water Stains

Hard water stains, often called lime scale, are chalky white mineral deposits resulting from a build-up of alkaline in hard water. For instructions on cleaning hard water stains, please see How to Remove Lime Scale.


  1. Lynn says:

    Most bathroom cleaners say they remove water spots, but a lot of the milder ones that foam and bubble won’t take off tough hard water spots all at once without a lot of scrubbing or scraping. Be sure you get a cleaner that says it removes hard water deposits or mineral deposits or limescale.

  2. Lynn says:

    This will take the stain off. Make a paste out of vinegar and baking soda, then spread the paste on the stain and let it set for about half an hour. Wipe the paste off and then scrub the spot clean, and most if not all of the stain should be gone.

  3. Lynn says:

    Home remedies and regular bathroom cleaners sometimes aren’t enough, and that’s when you need a descaling agent. CLR and Lime-Away will usually work, or you can get tougher products at your local hardware store. Be careful using them, though, because most of the really good descaling products are a lot more dangerous than scrubbing bubbles.

  4. Lynn says:

    I saw this happen to my friends who are on well water, the minerals in the water turned her bathtub orange! Scrubbing won’t take that kind of stain off. What you have to do is fill the tub with hot water up to the top of the darkest part of the stain, and then add bleach and let the bleach water stand in the tub for a couple of hours. Be careful to close the bathroom door so your pets don’t drink the bleach water. The tub may never be perfectly white again, but it will look better once you’ve done this. I know they make special products for taking off these kinds of stains, but if your water is just going to keep staining the tub, then it’s really not worth it to spend the extra money. Bleach is cheap, and you probably already have a big jug of it sitting around in the laundry room.

  5. Lynn says:

    I know people are always saying to use vinegar to clean everything, but vinegar stinks! Lemon juice smells much better. You can just cut a lemon in half and scrub the hard water spots off with the cut end, or you can put lemon juice in a spray bottle and spray it directly on the stain.

  6. Lisa says:

    I have been in the cleaning business for years and I have found that the best cleaner is a mixture of off brand Pine Sol and ammonia with water in a squirt bottle. It not only cleans all stains, but cuts through most anything. Also use the Mr. Clean sponges to help instead of a cloth.

  7. Zina says:

    Once I ran out of cleanser; since I had company coming, I wanted my bathroom to nice and neat. The only cleaner that I had available was TIDE Laundry Detergent. Figuring TIDE was not abrasive, I poured some in the tub, then used a sponge to distribute the cleaner evenly over the entire tub and stainless steel fixtures. I let it soak for about 20 minutes. To my complete delight, I found that it not only made the tub a beautiful bright white, the water stains on the fixtures were completely gone. My tub, stainless steel fixtures, toilet & sink have never looked better. My best friend says that TIDE has water softeners in it; that is why it cleans clothes, etc. so well.

  8. Bernadette says:

    The BEST HARD WATER STAIN REMOVER: Dobie pad and cleaner that is normally used to clean GLASS TOP RANGES!! Strange but true. Spray/wipe it on and let it dry, then re-wet with a Dobie pad and warm water in small sections. Apply just enough pressure to remove (treated water stains much harder, depending on the length of time it’s been there).

  9. John says:

    We had well water when we lived in PA and would get an orange-colored build up in our dishwasher. My sister-in-law recommended Tang the powdered orange juice stuff. Used it in place of soap and with the dishwasher empty, run a normal cycle. You may have to do it twice but it does work. Some of our everyday dishes also got stained so we would include them and this worked also.

  10. Cleaning Lady says:

    Original Scent Pine Sol. Comet with Bleach Cleaner scouring powder. Bleach. These are the agents. Use a large amount of Pine Sol and scrub after you scoured the bathroom with Comet and bleach. Use HOT water to rinse. Pine Sol is the best. Apply extra Pine Sol to the sponge and wipe out the bathtub for a long lasting scent.

  11. Terry says:

    The other day, I noticed this limey-looking stain around the bathroom faucets which are stainless steel. I thought it might be soap stain so I took some tissue paper, put a little water on it but no luck. I looked under the sink and saw some Sno-Bol toilet bowl cleaner. Squirted a small amount on a bad stain. It started bubbling and scared me, as I thought I was hurting the finish. Took some more tissue and quickly wiped it off; GONE. There are no warnings for stainless, but some special concerns for not getting it on your skin. Just a thought!

  12. C. Myers says:

    Hi All!
    Yes, I too had problems with cleaning that darn tub! Hard water stains! Frankly, I haven’t cleaned it in two years other then the wipe & go method. To clean it, I put apple cider vinegar ( 1/2 full) in a spray bottle… Added a touch of bleach & lemon juice, sprayed it on and let it set for 2-3 minutes and wiped it down.
    That tub is spotless. I followed by rinsing it down with water and it’s BEAUTIFUL! Should be good for another 200 Uses!

    This method works much better then LCR & Lime Away, and is a LOT CHEAPER!!!

  13. Traci says:

    I tried the tip to soak paper towels in vinegar, rubber band on, and leave for an hour on my kitchen faucet. I have to say I was really impressed! Most of it just wiped right off.

    Now that I’ve got it clean again, I’m going to try the tip my mother-in-law gave me: every so often, clean your stainless steel spotless, then use a wax (like car wax) on it and it will make it much harder for those hard water stains to stick!

  14. Jessica says:

    Pour vinegar & lemon juice (for scent) in a clean empty spray bottle. Heat in the microwave for 20-40 seconds depending on your microwave and be sure to have the top to the spray bottle off and not in the microwave. Spray onto the hard water stains in the kitchen, bathroom, tub, sink, toilet stains, faucets, etc. Leave on for 5-10 minutes depending on the intensity of the stains. Then wipe clean with a slightly damp rag (use hot water to make it damp). If the stain persists, spray it again, let it sit and then wipe down. Repeat process as necessary, warming the mixture in the microwave if it cools.

    This also works fantastic to clean coffee makers and the inside of microwaves. You’d be amazed! Spray it in the microwave, turn it on for 60 seconds and wipe – repeat 1-2 times depending on the intensity of the stuck on food.

  15. Elsie says:

    I clean hard water spots from my tea kettle with a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice. For just about everything else, I make a solution of 1 cup of ammonia, 1 cup vinegar, half cup of baking soda, 1 tbsp. liquid softener and 1 cup of water. Put all in a spray bottle. It cleans my shower and shower door, bathtubs, sinks, kitchen counters, appliances, refrigerator, stove, the oven, microwave, and toilet. I spot clean the rugs with it, wipe down walls, venetian blinds, cabinets, leather and leather-like furniture, plastics, and glass. Just about anything and everything can be cleaned with it. It only costs pennies and everything sparkles and smells like fresh clean laundry, which, by the way, you can also use to wash clothes!

  16. Regina says:

    I found that The Works Tub & Shower Cleaner is a very good product for removing hard water stains, all you do is apply the product liberally onto the stain, wait 30 seconds and wipe it clean with a cloth, it worked wonders on my tub, which had water stains and rust, it is a must-have.

  17. Ms. Clean says:

    Bowl o’ Cherries is an industrial cleaner that we used to use to clean the orange rust deposits off of our tub and toilet. Zud is also a good cleanser for this purpose.

  18. Marcus says:

    All you need is a baking soda, with 10 min. of scrubbing. I say that this is the most eco-friendly solution.

  19. Donna says:

    I own a cleaning business. I cannot tell you how many customers have used products not recommended for the surfaces that they are cleaning, which results in damage. Once your shower glass doors have hard water build up, nothing will clean them without damaging the glass short of harmful acid cleaners which can burn your skin and fry your lungs. Water softeners are the only way to go if you have hard water, rust, etc. problems in your area. Wipe your showers doors after each use. Once or twice a year, use Turtle Wax on the door only. For fiberglass, use Countertop Magic or Hopes Countertop polish on the walls or bathtub surround, never on the bottom of tub or shower. It polishes the fiberglass to a beautiful gloss. They both work beautifully on cultured marble. Cabinet Magic does a wonderful job on natural wood cabinets. DO NOT use furniture polish on shower walls. When you take a shower, the steam will allow that product to end up in the shower. It isn’t safe nor healthy. Use Granite Gold on your Granite Countertops. They also make Granite Gold for tile floors. Use Armstrong floor cleaner on vinyl floors. The only cleanser I buy for sinks and chrome is Bar Keepers Friend. For weekly cleaning of tubs, showers, basins you can use 20 Mule Team Borax or Scrubbing Bubble Orange Action. Sprinkle or spray the solution, agitate with a wet terrycloth rag, rinse and dry with a terrycloth towel. For stubborn soap scum, use a non-scratch scrubbing pad. The very best mirror and glass cleaner is Sprayway. These products can be purchased at Kmart, Target, Lowes or Smart & Final.

  20. Saj says:

    I read enough of the hints here to see that some of you are mixing bleach and ammonia. The fumes this mixture creates can cause serious health issues!!!!

    Under certain circumstances, it may even cause brain damage or death and explosions. Please, please, please at least research this before using this mixture again – or for the first time. Check out the following:

  21. Joe says:

    We have well water, calcium, and spent years using harsh cleaners on tile. Now all I do is after I shower, I take a towel and wipe EVERYTHING down. Works wonders. No more buildup; no more harsh cleaners.

  22. Kari says:

    We have well water at our lake home that leaves a orange, oily slime on our shower walls. The only thing I have found to clean this is Zud and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. It is the best EVER at cleaning that I have found. I sprinkle some in the toilet and leave it to sit, and the stains remove themselves. I’ve even been using Zud on my stainless steel sink and faucet with hard water stains at home. Make a paste with Zud and water and let it sit. In about five minutes you have a sparkling, clean sink! It’s great stuff.

  23. Taylor says:

    “The Works” toilet bowl cleaner removes hard water stains in the bathtub and sinks.

  24. Cheryl says:

    To get lyme stains or hard water spots out of your faucets, use a little WD-40 on a paper towel and rub in like a polish. Use only a little, it really works.

  25. Kat says:

    All I know is, that all the fumes get to me sooner or later. I love Pine Sol, but it doesn’t work on everything. I mean, it cleans, but some stains remain. So, on those hard to remove things, I have used a Mr. Clean sponge; I don’t know what is in it, but it will take off the stains. When I think of the products I have blindly poured together, and almost passed out from the toxic fumes, Mr. Clean little sponge seems like my best choice!! Be safe ya’ll.

  26. Bob says:

    Help; we have a great Bosch dishwasher and it really is leaving the cloudy stuff on the dishes. We have, obviously hard water, and have been using several different products to clean the tub with fair results. Can you use “The Works” in the dishwasher? I know it will eat away carpet (accident on the bath mat). We cannot afford another washer; we just want clean dishes. Is there one product better than another?

  27. Alicia says:

    I own my own cleaning business and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are by far my favorite cleaning product. They work wonders on fridge handles, and soap scum in bath tubs. Only thing you have to watch with them is they will make finishes look dull on things like old cabinets and certain plastics, but they will clean surfaces in seconds that you would otherwise sit and scrub with a rag and cleaner for hours and get no results. Toilet stones will work wonders on the rings that develop in toilet bowls. I haven’t found anything that really takes off hard water spots like on glass shower doors, but will try some of the remedies I’ve read above. My recommendation is to get a squeegee (can be found at Walmart for about three bucks), and wipe down your shower surfaces after every use.

  28. B.B. says:

    To clean out your dishwasher, just use a little packet of lemonade mix (the kind without sugar). Put it in like you would dish soap, and then run the machine through a cycle. Repeat if you didn’t get all the scale the first time. :) If your machine has a ‘jet dry’ dispenser, adding that stuff will help with build up on the dishes themselves.

  29. laura says:

    CLR will fix every one of these issues. Try it!

  30. Collin says:

    Thanks for sharing those instructions on cleaning hard water stains, but if you want to get rid of the need for cleaning, I suggest you use a water conditioner.

  31. Kim says:

    I had a housekeeper who used to use a new razor blade to remove hard water scale from my clear glass shower doors. She always stressed that it was important to use gentle pressure, and you must use a fresh, new blade each time. I believe it was because a previously used blade could have been bent during use, and even the slightest bend could cause it to scratch the glass. Likewise, this method would not work on something like a toilet bowl or sink because the surface needs to be completely flat. It worked like a charm, and never left a scratch!

  32. John says:

    I have little knowledge to offer this board, but I cleaned my hard water stains with plastic headlight cleaner. It is a mild abrasive that easily removed years of calcium on 1950’s ceramic tile. It also leaves a wax finish and looked new. I tried CLR, vinegar with baking soda, and other cleaners, and nothing would touch it. Thanks, John

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