Skip to Content

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 hard water stains. I finally decided to get the bottom of getting rid of them! 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 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. 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!

Disclosure: this posts contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase from one of these links I will receive a small commission, but rest assured you won’t pay anymore for the product.

Then I read how some folks use vinegar and baking soda to remove hard water stains!

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. The minerals in hard water can leave behind unsightly stains on everything from glass shower doors to kitchen sinks.

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. Fortunately, 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. Here is 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 of water and vinegar 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 cloth or sponge to scrub the area gently. For tougher stains, you can use a soft-bristled brush. 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 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. Before using vinegar on any surface, test it on a small, inconspicuous area first.

What happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda?

Pouring vinegar over baking soda causes an acid based reaction that cuts through hard water stains. This is why it can be a good cleaner for those pesky hard water stains.

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 spots and calcium buildup are 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 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.

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

How to remove hard water stains and calcium build up

how to remove hard water stains

Learn how to remove hard water stains and pesky calcium buildup on your faucets. This post shares a solution for removing both with this simple trick.

Active Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy


  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Paper Towels


  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!

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.



Monday 11th of September 2023

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

[email protected]

Tuesday 12th of September 2023

I'm not sure to be honest.

Wednesday 1st of February 2023

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

James Salva

Tuesday 25th of May 2021

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?

[email protected]

Wednesday 26th of May 2021

Oh gosh, I have no idea about that. I would reach out to the manufacturer of TOFIX to ask about that. I'm sorry I'm not more help!

Christine E. Freeman

Friday 4th of December 2020

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.

Saturday 13th of February 2021

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?

glen kali

Thursday 26th of September 2019

Hey, 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 :)

Skip to Instructions