5 Genius Hacks to Remove Hard Water Stains From Any Surface

Work smarter, not harder! The best hard water stain removers do the work for you. We detail the best solutions for handling these hard messes.

Updated October 20, 2020
Dirty faucet with hard water deposits

Hard water buildup happens to even the cleanest of households. These white, pink, gray, and even brown-tinted deposits are slow to form, but once they do, they can become quite the cleaning conundrum. We break down the best hard water stain removers and how they can get your surfaces sparkling once again!

The Five Hard Water Stain Removers That Will Do the Work for You

When using any type of cleaner, there is one important step that you must always take - wait for the product to actually work. If you don't give the chemicals the time to break apart the limescale, the mineral deposits will remain. Read the bottle and follow the directions.

1. CLR

CLR stands for calcium, lime, and rust. These are the top minerals that this multi-purpose cleaner is designed to tackle, making it the premiere hard water stain remover.

To break apart the stain:

  1. Spray the product on the affected area and allow it to sit for two minutes.
  2. Wipe it away with a non-scratch sponge soaked in cold water.
  3. If some of the stain remains, repeat the process again.
Helpful Hack

For faucet handles, spray a liberal amount of CLR directly onto a paper towel or microfiber cloth. Wrap it around the hard water-stained surface and allow it to sit for two minutes. Then, follow the same instructions above for removal.

IMPORTANT: Do not use CLR on aluminum, brass, copper or natural stones. This product will degrade these surfaces.

2. Bar Keeper's Friend

Bar Keeper's Friend is another chemical that's fantastic at melting away hard water stains. You just apply the powder to the surface, gently scrub with a microfiber cloth or non-scratch sponge, and wipe away within a minute of application. Repeat until the stain is gone!

IMPORTANT: Do not use Bar Keeper's Friend on stone surfaces like marble or granite.

3. White Vinegar Spray or Bath

White vinegar is a miraculous cleaning solution, especially when it comes to hard water! If you choose to use a cleaning vinegar (greater than 5 percent acetic acid), it's best to dilute it with distilled water at a 1 to 1 ratio. Remember - the water coming out of your tap causes the hard water stains and build up. This makes it an ineffective choice for cleaning! Always use distilled water instead.

To break apart the stain:

  1. Spray the vinegar solution on the affected surface.
  2. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Wipe away with a microfiber sponge. Alternatively, if you're cleaning a stainless steel sink, spray the vinegar solution on crumpled aluminum foil and gently scrub the stain.
  4. If some of the stain remains, try another one of the hard water stain removers on this list.
Helpful Hack

For shower heads and sink spouts with hard water build up, take a ziplock bag, fill it halfway with white vinegar, and submerge the affected area. Use a rubber band to adhere the bag to the spout and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. It will amaze you at how quickly these deposits melt away!

IMPORTANT: Do not use white vinegar on stone surfaces like marble or granite.

4. Fluoride Toothpaste

You trust it to clean your teeth, so why not your bathroom sink? If you want to remove hard water stains, simply apply a small amount of toothpaste to the area and use a damp microfiber cloth to gently scrub it away. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.

5. Paste

For extremely difficult stains, there are four types of pastes that you can make to help work away the hard water deposits.

  1. Baking soda and distilled water [3:1 ratio]
  2. Baking soda and white vinegar [3:1 ratio]
  3. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide [2:1 ratio]
  4. Cream of tarter and white vinegar [1:1 ratio]

When using these hard water stain removers, especially the ones that have vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in them, it is best to make the paste and immediately apply it to the stain. Let the combination sit for 30 minutes. Then, scrub the area with a microfiber cloth or non-scratch sponge and wipe away when done! When using these mixtures, gloves are always a good idea as well. This can ensure that your hands stay protected throughout the cleaning process.

What Is Hard Water?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, hard water is "the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water."

How do these deposits form? Once you finish taking your shower or washing your hands, the water evaporates, leaving behind these minerals. Over time, they begin to clump around where the water congregates the most.

Folks in New York and North Carolina may not notice this type of issue, but for those who live in places like Indiana, Nevada, Texas, and Minnesota, this unsightly, crusty buildup on sink heads, faucet handles, tub fixtures, toilets, and shower doors is a regular occurrence.

Unfortunately, when left for too long, this residue can become very difficult to remove, or so you may think. What many people don't realize is that with the right supplies, you can get your bathroom and kitchen fixtures back to their original glory with minimal effort!

Want to Know How to Remove Hard Water Stains for Good?

If you have hard water, stains are inevitable. However, by taking a few precautions, you can avoid getting bogged down with constant clean up!

  • After running water or showering, wipe down the area with a squeegee or microfiber cloth.
  • Prevent stains by misting areas with a mixture of distilled water and white vinegar daily to avoid build-up.
  • Clean sinks and tubs frequently to diminish build-up.

Finally, for those who want to get rid of hard water for good, all you need to do is install a home water softener! This will actually remove the magnesium, calcium, and other minerals from the water, making hard water a thing of the past.

5 Genius Hacks to Remove Hard Water Stains From Any Surface