Hard water is water with many heavy minerals that can cause a stain or deposit on surfaces. These deposits are normally made up of magnesium and calcium, but iron and some other minerals also can cause deposits. Hard water deposits can develop on anything that regularly comes into contact with the minerals in the hard water, including glasses, tubs and faucets. You can get rid of such deposits in several ways, including simply preventing them to begin with. Other options include using regular white vinegar as a cleanser and using any of a range of cleansers specifically formulated for the task.
Preventing leaks is one of the best ways to handle hard water deposits, because this prevents the water from gathering unnoticed on surfaces and drying there, leaving minerals behind to create the deposits. Any leaks in bathrooms or kitchens should be fixed. It is a good idea to dry faucets and the tops of drains, such as the metal screens in a shower, after you use them. If something is left wet, such as the walls of a shower, then spraying a mixture of water conditioner and water on the wet surface can help if the surface is then dried. A mixture of 1 quart (about 0.95 liter) water to 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) water conditioner will help avoid deposits.
Different kinds of cleaners are available to help you get rid of hard water deposits. Acids will break down water deposits while alkali cleaners suspend minerals, making them easy to simply rinse off. Surfactant cleaner will loosen hard water stains to make the stain easier to clean, and sequestrants will catch minerals before a stain has the chance to form.
You can use white vinegar to remove hard water deposits. A mixture of equal amounts of white vinegar and water will create the cleaner, which has the added benefit of being environmentally friendly. The solution can be wiped on faucets or appliances that have hard water stains. A plastic bag filled with the vinegar solution can be tied or taped over a shower head or faucet and left to soak overnight if the deposits are severe. Dishes, pots, glassware and kettles can be soaked in white vinegar to get rid of deposits, while white vinegar run through a coffee pot, followed by some water-only cycles, can remove any hard water deposits that are in the coffee pot or carafe.
Another cleaner might be your preference, or you may find that white vinegar does not work on every surface. Deposits on ceramic tile should be cleaned with an acid-free cleaner, such as a soap scum remover, if you do not want to use vinegar. If you do use a vinegar solution on tile, then it should be a mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water to keep the acidity of the vinegar from hurting the tile.
Commercial window cleaners can be used on faucets to remove hard water deposits. These cleaners also work on chrome and glass. You should use an ammonia-based cleaner to remove deposits from chrome and bring out the shine.
Hard water stains are often very obvious in toilets. Cola, even flat cola, can easily remove the stains. Use a regular cola instead of lemon-lime; brand is not important. Simply pour the cola into the toilet and let it sit overnight. In the morning, you can scrub the toilet and remove the hard water stains.