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Removing Hard Water Stains when Vinegar alone won’t work

Are you annoyed with those white spots on your kitchen and bathroom faucets? You know, the buildup of “gunk” that remains after water has evaporated on the surface. Our current faucets hold A LOT of water, therefore making A LOT of stubborn stains. I finally decided to get the bottom of these tough stains! It took a few trial and errors, but I’ve figured out the trick and I’ll share it with you. A little hint; it requires more than using just a cup of vinegar because vinegar alone won’t remove our hard water stains. 

Want to know something sad…..the pictures below are AFTER I thoroughly cleaned the faucets. Yep these are clean hard water stains. YUCK!

hard water stains on faucet

The bad part is we feel like we needed to apologize when we have friends over and they use our bathrooms. 

“I’m sorry about the faucets, they really are clean, it’s just hard water stains.”

Yep, kind of embarrassing.

Enough of the water build up problem, let’s get to the solution. 

I started like most people probably do when they have a problem, searching the web. 

Ninety percent of websites said to use vinegar to remove hard water build up.  

Well I tried vinegar. 

I soaked a paper towel in vinegar and let it sit on the faucet for one hour. It did help bring some of the calcium deposits or hard water spots to the surface, but it did not remove them

I thought about mixing a little bleach with the vinegar, or just using bleach to remove the unwanted gunk. I was worried that the bleach would remove the chrome finish from my faucets, and then we would have another problem. 

Also, I was informed by a reader that the combination of vinegar and bleach can cause toxic fumes! Don’t mix those two!

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Then I read how some folks use vinegar and baking soda to remove hard water stains! This seemed to be the best way to try to remove the mineral content or hard water deposits off the surface. 

Here’s the deal with baking soda and vinegar. When you pour vinegar over baking soda it fizzes like a volcano! Imagine what that “fizz” can do to remove hard water or calcium buildup. 

Understanding Hard Water Stains

Hard water stains occur when minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, build up on surfaces over time. This happens because you have “hard water;” which means you have a heavy buildup of these minerals in your water supply. Can you use a water softener to help this problem? Probably, but you just don’t hear of folks doing that. So what do you do with those minerals in hard water that can leave behind unsightly stains on everything from glass surfaces (like those glass shower doors) to kitchen sinks? Even a shower head needs some good deep cleaning to remove the build up.  There are a few key things to understand about hard water stains. First, it’s important to know that hard water isn’t harmful to your health. However, it can be a nuisance when it comes to cleaning. Second, hard water stains can be difficult to remove if they’re not addressed promptly. The longer the stains are left to sit, the harder they become to remove.

There are a few common signs that you may have hard water stains in your home. These include:

  • White or cloudy spots on glassware
  • Streaks or spots on shower doors or bathroom fixtures
  • Discoloration or staining on sinks or toilets
  • A buildup of soap scum in the shower or bathtub

If you notice any of these signs, it’s likely that you have hard water stains in your home. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take to remove these stains and prevent them from coming back.

Removing Hard Water Stains with Vinegar Alone

One of the most effective and affordable ways to remove hard water stains is by using vinegar. Vinegar is a mild acid that can dissolve mineral deposits and stains, making it an excellent natural cleaning agent. Not every hard water stain will require using more than just vinegar. As a matter of fact, it’s always a good idea to test using vinegar first before you add the baking soda. I’m sure there are chemical cleaners that work well to remove hard water stains, but this “paste” is one of a few natural remedies to remove the stains without commercial cleaners. Here’s a simple cleaning hack on how to remove hard water stains with vinegar: 

  1. Gather Supplies: You will need white vinegar, a spray bottle, a clean cloth or sponge, and water.
  2. Dilute Vinegar: Mix equal parts vinegar to water and put it in a spray bottle. Shake well to combine.
  3. Spray the Affected Area: Spray the vinegar solution onto the hard water stains and let it sit for a few minutes. The vinegar will dissolve the mineral deposits and stains.
  4. Scrub the Area: Use a clean damp cloth or sponge to scrub the area gently. For tougher stains, you can use a soft-bristled brush or old toothbrush. Be careful not to scratch the surface.
  5. Rinse with Water: Rinse the area thoroughly with water to remove any remaining vinegar solution and loosened mineral deposits.
  6. Dry the Area: Use a clean, dry soft cloth to dry the area.

It’s important to note that vinegar is acidic and can damage some surfaces, such as natural stone, marble, and granite countertops. Before using vinegar on any surface, test it on a small area first.

What happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda?

Pouring vinegar over baking soda causes an acid based reaction that cuts through stubborn hard water stains. This is why this baking soda paste can be a good hard water stain removal for a pesky stained area.  

How to Remove Hard Water Stains with vinegar and baking soda

  1. Mix two tablespoons of vinegar with one tablespoon of baking soda
  2. Rub the surface with the solution
  3. Pour a little baking soda on the surface
  4. Add a few tablespoons of your solution on top of the baking soda to make a “paste”
  5. Let it sit at least 15 minutes
  6. Use a plastic tool to lightly scrub certain areas if needed
  7. Wipe it clean and be amazed!

I’m going to try this method in my shower. Hard water buildup can be terrible in places like showers too!

You won’t believe the difference! 

hard water stains before and after using vinegar and baking soda

I’m so pleased with how my faucets look now that the grime and build up are mostly gone. I’m sure there are a few different methods for removing hard water issues, but this one works for me!

I know it won’t last forever, but at least I know how to get rid of it. 

hard water stains removed with vinegar and baking soda

Did you enjoy this post? Feel free to share it to Pinterest.

remove hard water stains with vinegar and baking soda

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy a few others like it from my Home Tips category. Here are a few of my favorites below.

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How to Clean Floor Glue and Heavy Dirt off Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Thanks for stopping by guys! If you have any other hard water tips let me know in the comments! I’m always up for learning new cleaning hacks.


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  1. Janet says:

    Can this mix be used on brass tub stoppers that have discolored?

  2. Anonymous says:

    you could have just used baking soda since that is what really did the cleaning.

  3. James Salva says:

    I tried using vinegar and baking soda to remove the hard watervstsins in my toilet. It helped a little but I was not satisfied. Then I added TOFIX (contents: 5% anionische Tenside. Duftstoffe Hexyl Cinnamol) This caused a permanent blueish stain from a chemical reaction. Is there any way of getting rid of this chemical stain?

  4. Christine E. Freeman says:

    I have incredibly hard water and have lots of crud. This works really wall on my chrome fixtures.

    However, and I think this is important to make clear to your readers, this safely works on chrome.
    It might work well on some other metals, but in my other bathroom I have artist-made, unlacquered brass fixtures. This combination would discolor that metal far worse than the hard water crud. Granted, I’m still trying to figure out WHAT to use, but it sure wouldn’t be this.
    Am enjoying your blog. Made it here via Pinterest for some reason or another.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes I made this mistake before . It ruined my faucet. This combination of vinegar and baking soda does not work on all surfaces. I replaced the old o e and I currently have a brushed nickel faucet with hard water stains and I’m not sure what to do. I have tried the CLR but that didn’t work. I am afraid to try this combination after my last debacle. I had to live with that mistake for a long time. Does anyone have recommendations for brushed nickel?

  5. glen kali says:

    Thanks for the great content. I recently wrote an article on getting rid of stubborn hard water stains from toilets. I think your readers will find this article useful 🙂

  6. Alice says:

    What a great idea! I have hard water stains on the glass shower door I need to try this on.

  7. lori says:

    great post! I use vinegar and baking soda when ever I clean my sink and tub & chrome – it also helps remove mildew. For more power, I add Liquid castile Soap, which also works in the toilet. Lemon and salt work great as well – and the smell is wonderful!

  8. Susan says:

    Once they’re clean you can apply a light coat of oil- something non toxic like olive or mineral oil. It should help delay the build up of calcium.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Looks Great ! Just a thought ,also try Bar Keepers Friend ! Find it at the Supermarket in the cleaning aisle in a can like Comet ! Works great on many things !!!