How to protect ceramic tile from hard water stains

Written by sarah metzker erdemir
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Ceramic tile is a popular surface for kitchens, bathrooms, and floors because it is durable and easy to clean. With regular, weekly maintenance, most ceramic tile will always look shiny and hygienic. However, if the water in your area is very hard, it can build up on ceramic over time, making it look dull and dirty. If hard water stains stay on the tile for a long time, they can get steadily worse and be quite hard to remove. Keeping ceramic tile free of hard water is the best way to prevent stains.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda
  • Cleaning rags
  • Box cutter
  • Razor blade
  • Water
  • Squeegee

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  1. 1

    Remove very thick hard water stains. These stains will attract more dirt, hard water, and soap scum the longer they are allowed to stay. Getting rid of old stains helps protect the tile from more staining.

  2. 2

    Soak the stains with white vinegar or lemon juice. Hard water stains are alkaline, and the acid in vinegar or lemons helps soften them and break them up. Dip a cleaning rag into undiluted vinegar or lemon juice and thoroughly wet the stains. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

  3. 3

    Try to wipe the stains off. If they are very thick or stubborn stains, dip a moistened cleaning rag into some baking soda and rub the stain with it. If it still doesn't come off, try scraping or chipping it off with a box cutter or razor blade.

  4. 4

    Take care to scrape only the stain and not the surface of the tile. To avoid scratching the tile, scrape most of the stain off then soak it again with vinegar or lemon juice. The remainder of the stain should come off.

  5. 5

    Dry ceramic tiles that get wet regularly, like those in a shower or around a sink, to prevent future build-up of hard water and soap scum stains. Wipe up water around a sink after every use, and use a squeegee on ceramic tiles in a shower after everyone has finished bathing. This will help prevent new stains from appearing.

  6. 6

    Clean ceramic tiles weekly with cold water and vinegar. Mix a cup of distilled white vinegar in a gallon of water and mop or wipe the tiles. Allow them to air dry. The vinegar may smell for a short time, but the smell will fade, and vinegar helps make the tile shine and prevents water spots.

Tips and warnings

  • Acids like vinegar or lemon juice can damage some types of ceramic finishes. Test the acid in a hidden location before applying it to your tiles.

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