Removing Hard Water and Rust Stains

by Carolanne Strong
(last updated September 5, 2016)


If you live in an area that has really hard water, chances are is most obvious in your bathroom. Tubs and sinks and toilets collect soap scum and hard water deposits very easily and their typically white porcelain doesn't hide any of it. I have found that my regular cleaning routine—scrubbing bubbles and a scouring pad—works pretty well to clean up the soap scum, but it does nothing to cut down the hard water deposits that have built up over time, especially around the faucets and drains. "Hard water" is a broad term that basically means that you have dissolved mineral deposits suspended in your water. Depending on your water source, you hard water deposits can range in color from white, green, rust or black.

Vinegar makes an excellent cleaner because it is a weak acid, which means it can usually break down build up without damaging porcelain finishes. I keep a bottle of vinegar in the house that is designated for cleaning purposes. Because I don't use it for food I can use it straight from the bottle. I pour a little bit onto a rag and scrub at the hard water deposits, and I drape it over butter knife to work it into the edges where the fixture meets the porcelain.

If vinegar is ineffective against your hard water build up, you can try commercial cleaning agents such as CLR (an acid cocktail with gluconic acid being the mineral remover) or Sno-bol (basically hydrochloric acid), but you may want to test the stronger cleaning agents on your porcelain to make sure they don't etch the surface. Also, you will want to use these stronger agents sparingly because extended use will eventually erode your porcelain.

Rust stains are fairly common—they can be created by everything from bobby pins left in the shower to corrosion from your pipes—and they can be particularly stubborn. If the previous methods don't remove your or they were too strong for your fixture's finish, then raid your spice and medicine cabinets. If you have a rust stain on a vertical surface, make a paste with these two items and apply it with a rag or sponge. Otherwise, drizzle a little bit of hydrogen peroxide over the stain and sprinkle it with cream of tartar. Let it sit for an hour or so until the cream of tartar has absorbed the stain.

Author Bio

Carolanne Strong


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What is four less than 8?

2016-09-06 11:04:15


To be honest, I hadn't noticed that! Maybe it's the peroxide and cream of tartar they mention a bit farther on? That sounds like an idea I could use, if it works. I'm going to try it.

2016-09-05 12:43:04

Skip Nicholson

Not sure which ingredients are meant here: "...make a paste with these two items and apply it with a rag or sponge."

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