How to Get Rid of Hard Water Stains (Lime Scale)

Updated February 21, 2017

Hard water refers to any water source that contains high levels of dissolved minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium. These minerals leave behind white deposits that build up and become unsightly stains called lime scale. Getting rid of lime scale can be a real chore, but a few common household items can make the clean-up a little easier. Treat hard water stains as quickly as possible or they can permanently stain your faucets, sinks and other surfaces.

Pour full-strength white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar onto your shower head and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Apply dry scouring powder and scrub with a scrubbing sponge for milder stains or with a dry steel wool pad for stubborn stains. Repeat these steps until you remove all hard water stains.

Fill a plastic baggie with enough full-strength white vinegar to completely submerge the hard water stains on your bathroom faucet. Secure the baggie with duct tape or rubber bands. Allow the faucet to soak overnight. Remove the bag and scrub the lime scale with scouring powder and a sponge or steel wool. Repeat this process until the hard water stains completely come off of your faucet.

Pour baking soda into a small bowl and add just enough vinegar to make a thick paste. Scrub the paste on the level areas around your bathroom and kitchen sinks. Scrub small areas with an old toothbrush. Repeat these steps until your sinks look clean.

Pour 1 cup of full-strength vinegar into your toilet bowl and use a sponge to apply vinegar to the inside rim. Allow the vinegar to sit overnight and flush your toilet the next morning. Scrub your toilet bowl and rim with scouring powder and a toilet brush or a scrubbing sponge. Repeat these steps, if necessary.

Pour 1 cup of white vinegar or lemon juice into the soap dispenser of your empty washing machine to remove mineral deposits. Run your washing machine through a normal cycle. The vinegar or lemon juice should remove hard water stains and lime scale deposits while making the inside of your washing machine smell nice and fresh.


Wipe your faucets and showerheads with either vinegar or lemon juice at least once a week to keep them free of lime scale. Dry your shower, tub and sinks after every use to avoid hard water stains. Use commercial products on stubborn hard water stains. Hardware stores carry specialised cleansers formulated to remove stubborn mineral stains and lime scale. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the label when using a commercial product.


Always pretest your cleaning solution on an inconspicuous spot before using it on a larger area. Open any windows and set up fans before cleaning to make sure you have adequate cross-ventilation.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Scouring powder
  • Scrubbing sponge or steel wool pad
  • Plastic baggies
  • Duct tape or rubber bands
  • Baking soda
  • Small bowl
  • Old toothbrush
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • Toilet brush
  • Commercial lime scale removal product
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