Hard water is water that is high in minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. As water travels through rock and soil, small amounts of the minerals are dissolved and kept in the water. The greater the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water, the harder the water is. Hard water is especially prevalent in mountainous areas as well as those places with a low water table. More than 85 percent of the United States has hard water, making this a problem for the majority of consumers nationwide.
Hard water stains are caused when water with high levels of this calcium remains behind leaving white cloudy spots. These spots are also known as hard water spots. Hard water spots can form on anything that touches water continually, such as clothing, sinks, and dishes. If permitted to build up over time, hard water stains can be difficult to remove. However, there are a variety of methods for removing hard water stains that are effective.
Removing Hard Water Stains from Clothes
Hard water is especially rough on laundry because the mineral deposits in the water cling to the fabric, which causes them to wear faster and fade more quickly. The minerals also trap dirt and detergent in the fabric, making them appear yellowed and dull. In order to prevent this from happening, it is recommended that consumers add water softener, also called water conditioner, to each load of laundry. These types of products, sold in liquid or powder form, gently remove the minerals from the fabrics being washed; in turn, clothing is left looking brighter and cleaner. And, the fabrics last longer too.
In clothing that has already been damaged by hard water, it is possible to reverse the yellowed, dull appearance. First, the washer must be filled with very hot water. Next, four times the normal amount of laundry detergent and one cup of water conditioner should be added. Clothing should then be added and agitated until all of the laundry is wet. Then, the clothing should soak for twelve hours. Following this, clothing can be washed normally. This process can be repeated a few times until the dinginess in the fabrics has diminished.
Removing Hard Water Stains from Dishes
Hard water stains are very noticeable when dishes are washed in a dishwasher because the mineral deposits react to the high heat used, causing the spots to seemingly stick to the dishes. These spots appear white-colored, cloudy, and chalky, making the dishes look dirty. This is especially frustrating on glassware that is supposed be clear.
To remove hard water stains from dishes using the dishwasher, one can put a glass right side up on the top rack, and fill it with 1/4 cup vinegar. Then, the dishwashing detergent is added as usual. Finally, the dishwasher should run through a normal wash cycle. When the wash cycle is over, the dishes should appear shiny and bright.
If there are hard water stains on dishes that can not be put into a dishwasher, there are also a few options, depending on the dish. If working with stainless steel flatware, for example, a cloth dampened with vinegar can be used to rub out any stains. However, if silver flatware is stained, silver polish should be used to take away any hard water stains. It is important to note that silver flatware and dishes should never be cleaned with the popular household cleaning product with vinegar, because its acidity can erode any etching on the silver.
Removing Hard Water Stains from Acrylic Bathtubs
Acrylic bathtubs are relatively easy to keep clean because of the non-porous surface, which prevents dirt from seeping into the tub. However, hard water stains cannot always be helped, especially if the owner does not wipe down the tub after every bath or shower. To remove hard water stains from acrylic bathtubs, abrasive cleaners should not be used as these can cause scratches. Instead, mixing 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda with one gallon of warm water should go a long way in getting rid of hard water stains. Once the mixture is made, a cloth should be used to put the mixture onto the tub and a little elbow grease is required to rub out the staining completely.
Removing Hard Water Stains from Porcelain or Ceramic Bathroom Sinks and Showers
The key to dealing with hard water stains in the bathroom is to wipe down the surfaces frequently to prevent build-up. However, if hard water stains have already formed, vinegar can again be used to break up the mineral deposits. An added plus to using vinegar is that it also cleans and disinfects the surfaces. The general calculation for using vinegar as the primary cleaning agent is to use 1/2 cup vinegar to 1/2 gallon of warm water. An easy way to then clean the surfaces is to fill a squirt bottle with the solution and spray directly onto the sinks and showers. The areas can then be wiped dry with a clean cloth to prevent smearing.
Removing Hard Water Stains from Glass Shower Doors
When attempting to remove hard water stains from glass shower doors, it is important to use products that will cut through the soap scum and minerals that seem nearly impossible to remove. But, it is equally important to use cleaners that will not scratch or etch the glass. Because removing hard water stains on glass shower doors is one of the more difficult places for removal due to constant water flow, it really is imperative that doors be wiped with a dry cloth or squeegee after each shower.
Vinegar and water can be used to remove hard water stains on glass shower doors. However, sometimes, a more advanced solution is needed. A unique way to remove hard water stains from glass shower doors is to add 1/2 cup powdered dish detergent and some warm water in order to form a paste. Next, stir the paste and apply all over the doors with a wet mesh sponge. Leave the paste on for ten minutes, rinse, and wipe down the doors with a clean cloth. Repeat as necessary to completely erase the hard water stains.
Removing Hard Water Stains from Stainless Steel Sinks
Stainless steel sinks are very common in homes and businesses, and these sinks take on a lot of wear and tear from constant use. Hard water stains form quickly and can be difficult to remove. However, using a mixture of baking soda and warm water can solve the hard water staining. Using just enough baking soda and water to form a paste, apply it in a circular motion with a soft, clean cloth or sponge. A rough brillo pad or scouring pad should not be used for fear of scratching the surface of the stainless steel. Once the mixture has been applied, wipe away and rinse.
Other Options for Removing Hard Water Stains
The options described outline natural ways to remove hard water stains. However, if more stringent chemicals are needed, a trip to the hardware store may be in order. Depending on the area to be cleaned, different products will be required, so it is smart to read the label before purchasing. Additionally, when using especially harsh chemicals, use caution and only apply in a well-ventilated area to prevent inhalation of dangerous fumes. Also, wearing gloves and eye goggles to protect the body is a good idea. It is also worth noting that some chemicals stain clothing, so wearing old garments while cleaning is also a wise choice.
Purchasing Hard Water Stain Removers
Many times, it is through trial and error that individuals find the best ways to remove hard water stains from various surfaces in their homes. Most of the cleaners described can be bought at grocery or discount stores. Some of the more advanced hard water stain removers can be purchased from hardware stores. Online searches will also provide a variety of retailers that sell hard water stain removers.
Purchasing Hard Water Stain Removers on eBay
There are also many options for finding hard water stain removers on eBay. Since eBay boasts competitive pricing and many opportunities for free shipping, it is a wise option for buyers who want an extensive, unique, and convenient shopping experience. Once on the site, go to the category labeled Home, Outdoors & Decor. Next, choose the following options from a list of menus: Home & Garden Housekeeping & Organization, Cleaning Supplies, and Cleaners. At this point, many household cleaners are visible. Depending on what you are cleaning, use the search box to narrow down the options. In the search box, type in something such as "stainless steel sink cleaners" or "bathroom cleaners" to locate your perfect product. You may also want to limit your search to only looking at those sellers who offer discounted or free shipping.
Purchasing on eBay gives both the seller and the buyer peace of mind when engaging in a transaction. By allowing both parties to rate and leave feedback, other potential customers can decide to work with those whose ratings are the highest and whose feedback is excellent.
Additionally, eBay offers the buyer protection policy. This protects both buyers and sells. If a case is filed by either the buyer or seller, eBay takes a more personal, active role in the transaction process and makes a final decision regarding the sale.
Hard water stains can be an eyesore, but these stains do not have to permanently mar the appearances of fabrics, dishes, sinks, or showers. With a little elbow grease and the right product, hard water stains can be erased and items can be restored.