Home Remedy for Lime & Scale Build Up

Updated February 21, 2017

Lime scale seems to appear out of nowhere, and is difficult to remove using many conventional means. Household cleaning utensils and chemicals are often powerless when it comes to its thick residue. Even with determination and care, sometimes no amount of scrubbing will dislodge the large chunks from toilets, sinks, pipes, or other items. The tendency for many people is to call in the "experts," who may charge an arm and a leg. However, plenty of home remedies exist that allow individuals to remove lime deposits easily.


Before attempting any home remedy to remove lime scale build up, the area must be properly cleaned. In many cases, the first layer of lime scale can be removed simply by applying warm water and soap, with a little bit of elbow grease. Doing so is similar to sanding a piece of wood before finishing it---chipping away at the problem to make the next steps go more smoothly. Next, the application of acids, such as pure lemon juice or vinegar, will begin to break the lime scale down before the heavy artillery begins. White vinegar, used for centuries to clean, may be the best solution. Using a soft bristled brush (wire brushes can damage the finish of the surface being cleaned), wipe down the area in order to facilitate the next steps.

Continued Treatment

White vinegar can continue to be used to break down lime scale. For example, washcloths and paper towels soaked in vinegar may be attached by rubber band to fixtures or left to sit on the edges of bathtubs for at least an hour before scrubbing. Coffee and teapots can be filled with a mixture of vinegar and water (some suggest to boil the mixture) and allowed to sit for a day before cleaning. After rinsing, cream of tartar, a paste of baking soda and water, or borax should be used to scrub lime scales. This simple treatment can be extremely effective---even surprising---in the amount of lime being removed with minimal effort.

Finishing the Job

In certain cases, however, even these solutions will not be effective enough. Tough jobs may call for chemical solutions. CLR, a chemical designed to deal with difficult lime stain, and Lime-Away both work particularly well. Harsh household cleaners such as bleach should be used sparingly, but can work wonders on toilets and sinks. In general, cleaning products that contain oxalic acid and phosphoric acid work the best at removing lime deposits. A final trick is a product called Bar Keeper's Friend, a chemical solution that works especially well on pots and trousers. By following these steps properly, most lime scale issues will recede entirely.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Alexis Writing has many years of freelance writing experience. She has written for a variety of online destinations, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Rochester.