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Removing Hard Water Stains From Appliances And Fixtures

Removing Hard Water Stains, Lime Deposits And Lime Scale

If you have hard water, you probably have more than your share of scum, film, and lime deposits on a number of household surfaces and your constantly challenged with Removing Hard Water Stains from your fixtures and appliances.

Removing Hard Water Stains, lime deposits, and lime scale should be done on a regular basis to keep your fixtures and appliances looking good.

These unattractive deposits can appear on china, porcelain, enamel, tile, stainless steel, fiberglass, chrome, and glass surfaces.

Hard water increases films and stains from soaps, minerals, and other substances. Bathroom fixtures, sinks, dishes, and other surfaces need more frequent cleaning.

Calcium and magnesium in water leave hard deposits -- called lime scale -- on fixtures and equipment. These minerals make cleaning products less effective.

Removing hard water stains and lime scale is simple, when you use the correct chemical or product. You need a cleaning product with "sequestrants." Sequestrants capture and deactivate minerals in water. (Calgon is one example of a product with sequestrants.) The deactivated minerals then cannot react with other materials to form scum, film, or lime scale.

You may also have problems from manganese, iron, brass, or copper. Manganese leaves brownish or blackish stains. Bacteria that thrive in water with a high iron content leave a reddish or white slime.

Brass and copper content in water are the result of acidic water. When water is a bit acidic, it corrodes plumbing and fixtures. If you have brass or copper fittings, you may end up with blue or green stains on fixtures. To remove any of these metallic stains, use an acidic cleaner or an all-purpose cleaner.

The general types of cleaners discussed below will help in removing hard water stains on household surfaces. It's best to clean stains away regularly. If they are allowed to penetrate the surface, they become more difficult to remove.

Be sure to follow label instructions for safe use of cleaners. You may need to open a window or use a fan to get proper ventilation when using these techniques for removing lime scale.

Remember, some cleaners, such as ammonia and bleach, should never be mixed or used together because they can form toxic fumes. Store cleaners in a safe place and properly dispose of empty containers.

Acid Cleaners:
Acids helps remove lime deposits. Some acid cleaners help remove discoloration from aluminum, brass, bronze, and copper. Other acids remove iron rust stains.

Acids are typically found in toilet bowl cleaners, rust removers, metal cleaners, and kitchen and bath cleaners that remove mineral products.

Examples of acidic cleaners

  • White vinegar, a weak acid, is about 5 percent acetic acid. It may remove hard water deposits and lime scale from glass, rust stains from sinks, and tarnish from brass and copper.
  • Lemon juice, another weak acid, contains citric acid, which can be used in much the same way as vinegar.
  • Oxalic acid is effective as a rust remover.
  • Phosphoric acid is often found in cleaning products that help in removing hard water stains.
  • Hydrochloric and Sulfuric Acids are sometimes used in diluted concentrations in toilet bowl cleaners and will help remove lime scale.

Rust stains present a special problem on plumbing fixtures. Commercial rust removers contain oxalic acid. If you purchase oxalic acid at full strength, dilute it with 10 parts water.

Follow all precautions when using oxalic acid, as this is a highly toxic product. A commercial product like ZUD may be effective on rust stains and lime deposits because it contains oxalic acid.

When surfaces have become rough or pitted from repeated scrubbings with an abrasive cleaner, ZUD or a similar product may be mixed with water to form a paste and left standing on the stain for several minutes, then rinsed off.

For fixtures that are not acid resistant, clean with trisodium phosphate to remove the rust. Cream of tartar, a mild acid, may be mixed with water to form a paste rust remover.

Abrasive Cleaners:
Removing Hard Water Stains with abrasive cleaners like scouring powder or pads may help in removing hard water stains. Regular use of harsh abrasives scratches the finish of sinks, bathtubs, or other fixtures. Once the surface is dull and rough, it will get dirty faster and stain more deeply.

Even mild or fine abrasive cleaners may eventually scratch or dull surfaces. Do not use abrasive cleaners on fiberglass, ceramic tile or glass.

Instead of using an abrasive pad, try using a product called "Scrub Buds". We have had great success with these pads and they will not scratch your delicate surface but remove the lime scale when used with a little vinegar.

Chlorine Bleach:
Chlorine bleach can help in removing some hard water stains. Don't leave it standing for long periods of time, as it will dull shiny porcelain enamel surfaces.

Specialty Cleaners:
Some specialty cleaners are formulated to remove hard water stains, soap scum, or rust stains. Lime-A-Way is one example. Tub, tile, and sink cleaners that remove soup scum and water hardness may contain sequestering agents and acids such as phosphoric, hydrochloric, or hydroxyacetic acids.

All-Purpose Cleaners:
Nonabrasive, all-purpose cleaners (like "409") in powdered, liquid, or spray form are safe for most plumbing fixtures and can be used for regular cleaning and for removal of hard water deposits and soap scum if the deposits are not heavy accumulations.

Stains at a Glance:
Red, reddish brown (from rust or iron)

  • Paste of borax and lemon juice; let dry, then rinse [or]
  • Paste of mild scouring powder, cream of tartar, peroxide; let stand 1/2 hour, then rinse [or]
  • Trisodium phosphate in water, then rinse [or]
  • Commercial products (like ZUD), then rinse [or]
  • Oxalic acid, 1 part to 10 parts water, then rinse

Green, blue-green stains (from copper or acid water)

  • Soap suds and ammonia, then rinse [or]
  • Mixture of half water and half ammonia; rinse well and flush pipes with water after using

Brown, black or others (from manganese and other minerals)

  • Paste made of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide; let stand, then rinse

Removing hard-water marks, soap scum

  • Paste made of white vinegar and baking soda; let stand, then rinse or 1 teaspoon Calgon in a gallon of water, rinse well or 2-4 tablespoons trisodium phosphate in a gallon of water, then rinse the surface well.

Before I installed my Sterling Water Conditioner, I would mix vinegar and water and pour this over the area that had the lime scale and lime deposits.

I would allow it to soak for about an hour and then clean it with a scrub bud.

Our Calcium Scale Reduction System will solve your hard water problems and the need for removing hard water stains.