How to Remove Water Stains

Lime scale is a chalky white mineral deposit (alkaline) which is a result of hard water. It often occurs on faucets and in tubs and appliances, such as kettles and coffeemakers and can leave silver and chrome with a gray dullness. White vinegar contains acetic acid and is a great place to start for cleaning these pesky stains. Over time, these mineral build-ups can damage sinks, toilets, and tubs and make soap scum harder to remove.

What You’ll Need

White vinegar

Rag or paper towel

Rubberband or hair clip

Baking soda

Water softener

Cream of tartar

Denture cleaning tablet (optional)

Lemon juice

Sponge or soft cloth


Toilet brush

White wine (optional)

The Cleaning Process

To clean faucets

Soak a rag or paper towel in vinegar and wrap around your faucet. Secure in place with a rubberband or hair clip. Let sit for an hour before wiping the faucet clean with a soft cloth. The Ultimate Accidental Housewife by Julie Edelman also suggests creating a paste with 3-parts baking soda to 1-part water. Apply the paste to the faucet, leave it on for an hour, and wipe it clean.

To clean kettles
Use 2-tbsp. of water softener in a full kettle of water and boil the solution for 2-3 minutes. Repeat if necessary and then rinse out the kettle with clean water. You can also fill your kettle with equal parts vinegar and water, bring the solution to a boil, and leave it overnight. Don’t forget to rinse it out in the morning!

To clean aluminum percolators
Never use bleach on aluminum appliances. Fill the percolator with water and add 1/4-c. cream of tartar. Run the appliance through for one cycle and then rinse well with hot water.

To clean coffeemakers
Fill the reservoir with water and 2-tbsp. water softener. Run the appliance through for one cycle and then again with clean water. Haley’s Cleaning Tips by Rosemary and Graham Haley also recommends filling it with white vinegar, running it through once, and then running it through twice with clean water. You may also fill with hot water and one regular denture cleaning tablet. Run it through once and once again with clean water.

To clean sinks and tubs
Spray with either vinegar or lemon juice. You may also use a paste of cream of tartar and water. Let sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing clean with a sponge or soft cloth.

To clean toilets
Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and borax. Drain the toilet bowl and pour solution in. Leave it in for 2 hours before scrubbing clean with a toilet brush. You can also add 3-c. of undiluted white vinegar to your full toilet bowl and scrub it clean. Keep your toilet tank clean by adding 3-c. of undiluted vinegar to it, as well.

To clean windows and shower doors
Spraying white vinegar on your windows and shower doors can remove mineral stains left from hard water. You can use leftover white wine to remove lime scale from glass.

To clean a washing machine
Remove hard water stains from the inside of your washing machine by pouring in 1-gal. of white vinegar and running it on the hot water cycle without any clothes inside.

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