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The hardware and grocery store shelves are well stocked with strong chemical products made to remove hard water stains, but in many cases, gentler techniques will work. Lemon and vinegar are especially useful in removing lime scale and hard water stains. If you have hard water, your best defense is frequent cleaning to prevent stains from building up.
Water containing concentrations of magnesium and calcium is commonly known as hard water. These minerals pose no health risk, and in fact, your body needs these substances, but when hard water dries, these minerals remain on surfaces as lime scale and hard water stains. White or brown marks might be found on any surface where water is allowed to evaporate. Soap scum adheres better to mineral deposits than to smoother surfaces such as porcelain, adding another layer.
You will find it much easier to remove hard water stains and lime scale if you act early. Left unaddressed, minerals will continue to dry onto the surface, darkening and becoming more stubborn. By getting rid of spots when they are first seen and cleaning surfaces frequently, you can spare yourself heavy scrubbing and exposure to harsh chemicals.
Mineral deposits such as lime scale are alkaline, meaning that acidic cleaners are the best way to get rid of them. One of the simplest methods to remove hard water stains is to rub the surface with a sliced lemon half. Vinegar solutions are also effective for removing these stains. Regularly wiping down surfaces with lemon juice or vinegar can help to keep hard water stains from forming at all.
Soap scum might actually shield the hard water stain, so a slightly different approach might be required. By mixing baking soda and vinegar, you can form a paste that can work through the soap to get to the underlying stain. To remove hard water stains under soap scum, spread this paste over the area and wait a few minutes before rinsing.
When faced with a heavy, stubborn, brown hard water stain, you might need to look beyond your kitchen for cleaning solutions. There are several effective products available. Look for cleaning products containing sequestrant agents that specifically target hard water stains.
Professional cleaners might use very powerful chemicals, such as hydrochloric, sulfuric and phosphoric acids, to remove hard water stains. These chemicals are dangerous and can cause serious harm if used incorrectly. These products are best left to specialists, but if you decide to use any of these chemicals yourself, protective eye ware and gloves are essential.
After you have removed hard water stains, regular cleaning will help keep them away. A spray bottle loaded with a vinegar solution can keep your shower door free of lime scale, and a weekly wipe with lemon juice can keep faucets sparkling. Without regular treatment, your hard water stains will return.