• Coleen Thomas

How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Glass and Porcelain Surfaces

Do you find it disheartening to watch as your pristine glass and porcelain surfaces become clouded or yellow from hard water stains? You're not alone! Anyone who lives in an area with hard water and no water softener has to deal with these.

Hard water stains, another term for calcium stains, are made of mineral residue and thus can be stubborn when you try to remove them using most household cleaners.

Surprisingly, though, you will find they're not hard to remove using some common substances you might already have around the house. We'll tell you how.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water is nothing more than water with high mineral content. It's formed when water runs through limestone, chalk, or gypsum deposits in the natural environment. These deposits comprise mainly calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates, and sulfates.

One sign of hard water in homes is the mineral scale found in clothes irons, kettles, and water heaters. Then, of course, there is the staining of fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms. Hard water can also cause discoloration in laundered clothing.

Porcelain bathroom and kitchen fixtures are the most typical places to spot visible calcium stains. However, the mineral deposits that cause them also cause problems in pipes, water heaters, and other locations you don't usually see.

Cleaning Hard Water Stains

Cleaning hard water stains is a matter of simple chemistry. You might even remember the formula from your first chemistry experiment.

Since calcium is a heavily alkaline substance (base), it reacts with acids. Calcium carbonate is the chemical name for baking soda. And who hasn't tried mixing baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice?

So you shouldn't be surprised to learn that vinegar is a great everyday cleaner for surfaces prone to hard water stains.

How to Clean Calcium Buildup on Ordinary Household Surfaces

After thoroughly disinfecting your bathroom's surfaces with a CDC-approved cleaner, it's time to deal with the more stubborn stains, such as grout mold and hard water stains.

For the latter, try the vinegar or lemon juice on your porcelain tub or bathroom sink. But if the stains have built up over time, you might need to go a step farther and try an abrasive.

Common household abrasive cleaners, both physical and chemical, include baking soda, Comet cleanser, steel wool, SOS pads, green pot scrubbers, and ordinary toothpaste. These abrasive cleaners work better on smaller deposits.

If the abrasives don't work, though, it's time to go for the "big guns." By this, we mean harsh chemicals. These include:

  • Lime-a-Way

  • CLR

  • Phosphoric acid,

  • Hydrochloric acid

  • Sulfuric acid

Please wear heavy rubber gloves when applying these substances, and take precautions to prevent splashes, spills, and inhalation. Another caution is that the surface to which you will apply the cleaner might not withstand the particular product or chemical you intend to use. Read the container or look online for this information.

How to Clean Calcium Buildup From More Delicate Surfaces

Some surfaces scratch a little when scrubbed with abrasives or become pitted when cleaned with certain acids. These higher maintenance surfaces include several of the various natural stone countertops, especially granite


Stone Surfaces

When cleaning granite counters, it's best to avoid acidic cleaners altogether. Instead, try to remove individual deposits with a utility knife or plastic putty knife. Then, apply an alkaline cleaner if the buildup still hasn't come off. Be sure to rinse off all the cleaner when finished.

Many kitchen surfaces need regular cleaning. This includes countertops in general, not just the ever-popular granite ones. Since most homeowners see countertops as both functional and decorative, there are good reasons to keep them clean and shiny.

Glass Surfaces

Another delicate surface to consider is glass. For one thing, glass shower doors are notorious for collecting hard water stains. Let's face it: most of us rush out of the shower, leaving the walls dripping. That's a lot of calcium to accumulate!

Abrasive cleaners can scratch both porcelain and glass. With porcelain, you won't notice until the surface has become quite worn. It's easier to see how small scratches on glass can dull its clarity.

With time, vinegar will dissolve hard water stains on glass. But it takes a lot of rubbing and polishing. Mild dissolving abrasives like baking soda and toothpaste are somewhat more appropriate.

They can still leave tiny scratches that would be noticeable on clear glass, though. Try this method instead.

Preventing Hard Water Stains and Calcium Buildup

Surely you know that old saw about "an ounce of prevention." In the case of hard water stains, prevention will pay off. Knowing how to clean calcium buildup from surfaces before it hardens is essential.

We can think of at least three ways to fend off calcium stains, each distinct from the others.

Routine Cleaning

As just mentioned, routine cleaning removes calcium deposits while they're still soft enough to wipe or squeegee away. In fact, regular shower cleaning that leaves everything dry cleans more than just calcium.

Water Filtration

Filtering your home's water removes most of the calcium and other minerals, so there will be far fewer deposits. If used for drinking, filtered water has added benefit, mainly where the municipal water is not the greatest.

Water Softening Systems

And while it's an investment not everyone can afford, installing a permanent water softening system is another way to prevent mineral scale. Water softening works wherever water flows, including inside a home's pipes.

Keep Your Surfaces Looking Their Best

Of course, you're aware that cleaning home surfaces doesn't begin and end with removing hard water stains. These mineral deposits can be some of the toughest stains to remove, though. Many who persist end up with unnecessarily sore arms.

Our cleaning pros know more than a few tricks of the trade regarding removing various types of stains and other dirt and grime. We do this regularly and feel so satisfied when every surface sparkles.

If you need help cleaning the different surfaces in your home, request a quote for our services. We're always delighted to meet prospective new clients!

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