Hard water is water with a high content of minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. While these are more prevalent, it may also contain iron, aluminum and manganese at higher altitudes in some geographical locations. The easiest method of determining the hardness of water is by how well your soap lathers. Hard water prevents your soap from lathering and leaves a white scum on surfaces and eventually will leave stains where the water flows or drips. It also causes a build up of these minerals on appliances and pipes and can eventually cause serious clogs, ruin water heaters and toilets and leave undesirable scales inside kettles and teapots.
If you are dealing with hard water issues in your home, and experience these stains and build ups, you will need to find ways to eliminate them before the damage is done. Using regular household cleaners and soaps as a method for hard water stain removal will probably not remove the stains and build up.
White vinegar is the mostly commonly and most effective substance used other than chemical products made specifically for lime, calcium and rust removal. Here are some tips to follow for hard water stain removal from different appliances and areas.
If you can remove your showerhead, do so. Bring a pot of equal parts of water and white vinegar to a boil, enough to submerge the showerhead, and boil for 15 to 20 minutes. Leave it to soak for several hours or overnight. If you cannot remove the head, fill a bag with equal parts of water and vinegar and secure the bag at the neck of the showerhead with the head fully submerged and leave overnight. You can use the same method for any faucet heads that cannot be removed.
For items such as sinks tubs and toilets, fill them almost to full and add vinegar. For toilets and sinks add 1 cup of vinegar and for tubs add 1 litre of vinegar. Leave overnight and drain.
For dishes like pots, glassware etc., fill with equal parts of water and vinegar. Glassware normally takes less time than pots, but leave longer if necessary, and for pots it may help to heat up the solution.
For coffeemakers, use pure vinegar. Fill the reservoir and let it run through a cycle. Repeat if necessary. Then run a couple of clear water cycles through to clean out any remaining residue of vinegar.
If some hard water stains are tougher to get rid of than others you can make a paste out of the vinegar and baking soda and use it to scrub the stains clean. However be aware that some stains are just not going to be removed and may be permanent.
There are a number of commercial products you can purchase that are made specifically to remove these stains and deposits and may be a last resort, however, many people are resorting to more environmentally friendly methods of solving these types of issues and all factors should be seriously taken into consideration when choosing. You can help avoid these stains by using one of the many water softener systems that are available on the market. If you find these too expensive for your needs you might want to consider a Calgon water softener product which is simply something you add with your clothes or dishes when you wash them facilitate the task because hard water makes cleaning both of these much harder than usual, hard water stains are still a possibility however.