How to Banish Hard Water Stains From Your Home

It’s a beautiful summer day, and you’re taking a moment to soak in the sunshine from inside your home. Only you see white spots on the window blocking your rays. Maybe you’re getting in the shower, and when you turn on the water, it sprays in a million crazy directions, making a huge mess. Wherever it pops up, hard water is a pain. It makes your home look dirty, and it takes more than the token elbow grease to clean. Where does hard water come from, and more importantly, what do you do with it?

What Is Hard Water?

What exactly is hard water? It is, simply put, water with a high mineral level. Doesn’t sound too terrible, right? After all, we pay good money for bottled water with high mineral content. Civil engineers get rid of contaminants, like pollutants and algae blooms, in our water, but the minerals persist. Why? Because hard water doesn’t have negative effects on your health. In fact, it can contribute to your dietary needs. In your home, however, hard water can work mischief in a handful of ways. Affected water can change the way soap acts. It can leave a white buildup on anything that comes in contact with water, and it’s particularly difficult to clean. Hard water stains primarily consist of calcium and magnesium. The more minerals in the water, the harder it is.

What Does It Do?

Hard water affects you and your household in a variety of ways. Mineral-rich water can affect the way soap reacts to your body. It can also make your hair less susceptible to styling and cause dye to fade quicker. Many surfaces in your home are susceptible to damage from water of this type. If left untreated, glass can become permanently etched by hard water marks. Buildup can stop your faucets and shower heads from performing at their best.  In your dishwasher, hard water can cause clean glasses to look cloudy.

How to Clean Hard Water Stains

Hard water is indiscriminate — it can build up along any kind of surface. Some surfaces, like glass, require urgent cleaning. Glass is susceptible to permanent damage. Shower heads and faucets, however can be treated whenever buildup starts to interfere with functionality.

So how do you get rid of hard water stains? There are a ton of cleaners on the market designed to deal with it. If you’re the kind who likes to use homemade cleaning agents, you can easily make your own from common household items.

A vinegar and water mixture works best on hard water marks. According to Bob Vila, use a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar (he also recommends white vinegar). Women’s Day, however, recommends 1 tablespoon vinegar for every half gallon of water if you’re worried about the fragility of the surface you plan to clean (like fiberglass bathtubs or ceramic tile). A more diluted solution protects against permanent dulling.

To clean windows, spray your vinegar solution directly onto the windows and scrub at the marks with a toothbrush. Alternatively, you can soak a towel in your vinegar and water solution and repeatedly press it against windows to loosen mineral sediment before scrubbing it off.

Dishware can also be soaked in vinegar to bring back the original sparkle. Make sure to thoroughly clean the glassware before using.

Alternatively, you can use a mixture made from a combination of baking soda and vinegar to help clean your glass. Apply a little baking soda to a sponge, then wet the sponge with vinegar. Use this to scrub at the marks on your glass. This mixture works to remove hard water stains not only from glass but countertops and toilets too.

For faucets, soaking the filtered ends in vinegar works best. Unscrew faucet ends by turning counter-clockwise. If you remove any rubber stoppers, be careful to put them in a safe place and put them back exactly where they came from when reassembling. Soak the faucet end and filter for half an hour to an hour, then scrub at the build up with an old toothbrush. Reassemble and enjoy your uninterrupted water flow. For shower heads that aren’t removable, tie a plastic baggie filled with vinegar around the shower head and let it soak. Scrub at remaining spots with an old toothbrush, and run water to flush out the shower head.

Common Mistakes

Be wary of using the vinegar and water solution on all surfaces. Some, like natural stone, can react poorly. For sensitive surfaces, look for a specifically designed cleaner. If you’re not sure, consult the maker of the counters, or a cleaning professional. If scrubbing at glass isn’t working, or it looks like you have permanent etching, consult a professional glass cleaner.

How to Prevent Them

As my mother enjoyed saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — so how do you prevent hard water stains in their tracks? For glass, wipe down shower doors with a microfiber cloth (or use a squeegee to dry off glass walls) as often as possible. Move shower heads to hit glass walls and doors as little as possible. Turn sprinklers away from windows. Use a dishwashing detergent designed specifically to combat the problem. Some consumers find whole home water filters or hard water treatments, like softeners, helpful. Consult with a professional to assess your home’s needs and determine the best product.

It’s a beautiful summer day, and you’re taking a moment to soak in the sunshine from inside your home. Only you see white spots on the window blocking your rays. Maybe you’re getting in the shower, and when you turn on the water, it sprays in a million crazy directions, making a huge mess. Wherever it pops up, hard water is a pain. It makes your home look dirty, and it takes more than the token elbow grease to clean. Where does hard water come from, and more importantly, what do you do with it?

What Is Hard Water?

What exactly is hard water? It is, simply put, water with a high mineral level. Doesn’t sound too terrible, right? After all, we pay good money for bottled water with high mineral content. Civil engineers get rid of contaminants, like pollutants and algae blooms, in our water, but the minerals persist. Why? Because hard water doesn’t have negative effects on your health. In fact, it can contribute to your dietary needs. In your home, however, hard water can work mischief in a handful of ways. Affected water can change the way soap acts. It can leave a white buildup on anything that comes in contact with water, and it’s particularly difficult to clean. Hard water stains primarily consist of calcium and magnesium. The more minerals in the water, the harder it is.

What Does It Do?

Hard water affects you and your household in a variety of ways. Mineral-rich water can affect the way soap reacts to your body. It can also make your hair less susceptible to styling and cause dye to fade quicker. Many surfaces in your home are susceptible to damage from water of this type. If left untreated, glass can become permanently etched by hard water marks. Buildup can stop your faucets and shower heads from performing at their best.  In your dishwasher, hard water can cause clean glasses to look cloudy.

How to Clean Hard Water Stains

Hard water is indiscriminate — it can build up along any kind of surface. Some surfaces, like glass, require urgent cleaning. Glass is susceptible to permanent damage. Shower heads and faucets, however can be treated whenever buildup starts to interfere with functionality.

So how do you get rid of hard water stains? There are a ton of cleaners on the market designed to deal with it. If you’re the kind who likes to use homemade cleaning agents, you can easily make your own from common household items.

A vinegar and water mixture works best on hard water marks. According to Bob Vila, use a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar (he also recommends white vinegar). Women’s Day, however, recommends 1 tablespoon vinegar for every half gallon of water if you’re worried about the fragility of the surface you plan to clean (like fiberglass bathtubs or ceramic tile). A more diluted solution protects against permanent dulling.

To clean windows, spray your vinegar solution directly onto the windows and scrub at the marks with a toothbrush. Alternatively, you can soak a towel in your vinegar and water solution and repeatedly press it against windows to loosen mineral sediment before scrubbing it off.

Dishware can also be soaked in vinegar to bring back the original sparkle. Make sure to thoroughly clean the glassware before using.

Alternatively, you can use a mixture made from a combination of baking soda and vinegar to help clean your glass. Apply a little baking soda to a sponge, then wet the sponge with vinegar. Use this to scrub at the marks on your glass. This mixture works to remove hard water stains not only from glass but countertops and toilets too.

For faucets, soaking the filtered ends in vinegar works best. Unscrew faucet ends by turning counter-clockwise. If you remove any rubber stoppers, be careful to put them in a safe place and put them back exactly where they came from when reassembling. Soak the faucet end and filter for half an hour to an hour, then scrub at the build up with an old toothbrush. Reassemble and enjoy your uninterrupted water flow. For shower heads that aren’t removable, tie a plastic baggie filled with vinegar around the shower head and let it soak. Scrub at remaining spots with an old toothbrush, and run water to flush out the shower head.

Common Mistakes

Be wary of using the vinegar and water solution on all surfaces. Some, like natural stone, can react poorly. For sensitive surfaces, look for a specifically designed cleaner. If you’re not sure, consult the maker of the counters, or a cleaning professional. If scrubbing at glass isn’t working, or it looks like you have permanent etching, consult a professional glass cleaner.

How to Prevent Them

As my mother enjoyed saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — so how do you prevent hard water stains in their tracks? For glass, wipe down shower doors with a microfiber cloth (or use a squeegee to dry off glass walls) as often as possible. Move shower heads to hit glass walls and doors as little as possible. Turn sprinklers away from windows. Use a dishwashing detergent designed specifically to combat the problem. Some consumers find whole home water filters or hard water treatments, like softeners, helpful. Consult with a professional to assess your home’s needs and determine the best product.

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