Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by Sean Busch.
If your freshly-washed dishes have spots and your shower has unsightly scum, you’re probably among the 85% of US households with hard water.
While removing hard water stains makes household cleaning a bit more challenging, our tried-and-true tricks will show you how to get rid of hard water stains from showers, toilets, and sinks.
What Causes Hard Water Stains?
When we talk about water “hardness,” we’re talking about the levels of minerals in it (like magnesium and calcium). As water travels from its source to your home, it comes in contact with underground minerals, picking up traces of them as it moves through layers of rock. The more time your water interacts with – and absorbs – these minerals, the harder it will be.
If you’re curious, your local municipality (and certain companies) should be able to disclose your water hardness level, but there are some telltale signs you have hard water:
- Spots on dishes and glasses caused as water evaporates and leaves calcium deposits behind.
- Brown or reddish stains in your sink, tub, or toilet caused by high iron levels in water
- Soap scum/film left behind after soap combines with calcium and magnesium particles during washing.
It’s possible to get rid of hard water stains in the shower, kitchen, and dishwasher, but without taking steps to soften your water, they’ll keep returning. However, the right products, elbow grease, and following tips will help you remove hard water stains and soap scum – for good.
How to Clean Hard Water Stains from Showers & Bathtubs
Water flow and the use of lathering products may mean that your bathroom attracts hard water stains. There are, however, a few easy ways to remove hard water stains from showers and tubs.
Remove Hard Water Stains with Vinegar
Mix equal parts white vinegar and fresh water in a spray bottle for an excellent bathroom cleaner that can be used liberally on showers and tubs. Fully saturate surfaces and let the vinegar solution sit for at least 15 minutes. Wipe clean with a clean, dry microfiber towel.
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If you require some extra scrubbing power, add white vinegar directly to baking soda until it’s wet enough to form a paste. Spread the paste over surfaces and let it sit for 15 minutes before wiping clean with a dry microfiber cleaning cloth. For homes with hard water, we recommend doing this weekly to reduce spots and brighten bathroom surfaces.
If your sink, tub, or shower has red, rusty, and/or hard water stains, you may need something stronger (like CLR Pro Spray Cleaner). When using chemical cleaners, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take proper safety precautions.
Removing Hard Water Stains on Showerheads & Faucets
While our Multi-Surface Cleaner is great for basic upkeep, removing serious hard water stains and mineral deposits may require CLR.
Fill a large, deep bowl with a mixture of equal parts CLR and hot water. If you’re able to remove your showerhead or tub faucet, place each one separately in the bowl for 2-3 minutes. If you’re unable to remove your fixtures, fully submerge them by holding the bowl in place for 2 to 3 minutes.
Using a soft, non-abrasive sponge or brush, loosen any deposits or grime. Repeat this process until all visible mineral buildup and stains are fully removed. Finally, rinse your showerhead and tub faucet with warm water and wipe dry using a clean microfiber cloth.
Cleaning Hard Water Stains on Shower Glass
During every shower, water droplets and product residue splash onto the walls. In homes with hard water, this leaves spots and thick soap scum behind. If our Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner doesn’t remove stubborn stains, however, the baking soda paste (mentioned above) is ideal.
To reduce stains from happening (and cut down on bacteria growth), use a small squeegee to wipe down shower glass and walls after every use.
Getting Rid of Hard Water Stains in Toilets
Since bathtubs and toilets are usually made from the same porcelain material, the methods mentioned above should work for removing hard water stains from your toilet.
Always be sure to do a spot test first, but pumice cleaning stones can be great tools for gently removing calcium, iron, and rust buildup.
What Causes Pink Toilet Stains?
Pink stains in toilet bowls are usually caused by the bacteria Serratia Marcescens, but these can easily be removed with a Disinfecting Surface Cleaner. Simply spray this hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectant on toilet stains, let it sit for 10 minutes, scrub with a toilet brush, and flush.
How to Keep Dishes and Glasses Spot-Free
The simplest way to keep soap and hard water from building up is by cleaning your dishwasher every month:
- Remove the filter, removable baskets, and attachments.
- Dip an old toothbrush in a solution of warm water and a few drops of Puracy Natural Dish Soap. Gently scrub the areas where food and dirt collect.
- Fill a cup with white vinegar and set it on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run it for one cycle on hot.
- Sprinkle baking soda along the bottom of the empty dishwasher and run it one more time.
- Once the dishwasher has completed the drying cycle, return the removable parts and you’re ready to go.
Handwashing: How to Avoid Spots on Dishes
When it comes to handwashing dishes, soap buildup and hard water stains are heavily influenced by the soap you use. We specifically formulated our Natural Dish Soap to “sheet” water, meaning fewer water droplets to dry off and a streak-free finish.
Removing Hard Water Stains on Granite & Marble
Granite and marble aren’t cheap, so avoid using harsh acidic cleaners that can dull their shine and compromise their seal. To remove hard water stains on granite and marble, either spray the area with:
- а gentle, plant-based surface spray or
- a few drops of Puracy Natural Dish Soap mixed with warm water
Whichever method you choose, use one trigger pull per 2’ x 2’ surface area and let the solution sit for a few minutes. Then, scrub with an old toothbrush or non-scratch sponge (that’s designed for natural stone).
5 Tips to Prevent Hard Water Stains
Getting rid of hard water stains is important – but it’s better to stop them from happening in the first place.
1. Frequent Care is Easy Care
If you take a few minutes each day to clean the most commonly-used areas in your home, you’ll prevent dirt and grime from building up. That makes household chores much easier (and household surfaces that much cleaner).
2. Invest in a Home Water Softener
In areas with very hard water, we strongly recommend investing in a water softener. Not only will this help remove stain-causing minerals, but also, your clothes will be cleaner and your soap and shampoo will lather better.
3. Seal Surfaces To Prevent Future Hard Water Stains
A few times a year, add a non-toxic cleaner (like BioClean Hard Water Stain Remover) to your home care rotation. Bio Clean zaps hard water stains from showers and tubs and creates a seal to reduce future staining.
4. A Brush for Every Toilet
Store a toilet brush in every bathroom to keep toilets sparkling clean. Every few days, squirt your favorite cleaner into the bowl and swish it around with the brush, making sure to get under the rim. Because bacteria can cause stains, spray the exterior of your toilet with a disinfecting surface cleaner, then let it sit for 10 minutes (which kills 99.9% of germs).
5. Spray Surfaces Daily
Our Natural All-Purpose Cleaner is the ideal bathroom product to prevent water stains and soap scum buildup. Safe for granite, glass, marble, and just about every other non-porous surface in your home, it wipes off easily without leaving streaks or spots.
Using a clean, folded microfiber towel, apply medium pressure to wipe in quick overlapping passes (making a “Z” pattern).
The Best Hard Water Stain Remover Is Plant-Based
Stains, spots, and soap scum can make your cleaning routine feel overwhelming. That’s why our home cleaners have been designed to tackle grime, gunk, and goo wherever they pop up. And when you purchase our Puracy Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate, you’ll be saving over 50% per fluid ounce!