hard water stains and build up covering the face of a showerhead

Hard Water Stains

Originally contributed by • last updated 3/17/2021

Smith Family Resources
Smith Family Resources

You’ve probably heard the terms soft water and hard water before. But unless you’ve had to deal with hard water stains, you may not truly understand and appreciate the differences. When it comes to hard water vs soft water, there is really only one question that needs an answer, “How do you remove the stains?” That’s because hard water has a tendency to carry deposits that build up over time on your faucets, in your toilets, and just about anywhere else the water continually touches. These build ups are notoriously difficult to remove and it’s the reason hard water gets such a bad reputation.


Hard water stains, which are sometimes called limescale, are unsightly discolorations formed by mineral deposits in water being left behind and building up overtime. These nasty looking discolorations can typically be found in toilet bowls, sinks, bathtubs and showers. Often appearing as an off-white or yellowish brown color, these stubborn stains can be incredibly difficult to remove without the proper materials. They are almost always found in neighborhoods, communities, or areas with hard water. (Hard water is water containing high levels of minerals, such as limestone, calcium, and magnesium).

What’s The Best Way To Get Rid Of Hard Water Stains?

When hard water stains start appearing in your toilet or bathroom sink, typically your first response is to clean them off before anyone sees them. However, if you’ve ever tried to remove these stubborn nasty stains using a little elbow grease, you already know how difficult they can be to get rid of. But with just a few natural ingredients and some patience, those stains will come right off:

  • Use vinegar, baking soda, and water to remove hard water stains. You can mix some vinegar and water together and then add some baking soda to make a paste. Then apply that to the stains and let it sit. Scrub it off with a brush and the stains are gone. The best part is, it’s all natural and made from everyday items.
  • Store bought hard water stain removers often come with harsh chemicals and may require the use of protective gear, such as goggles and gloves. There are “green” products available but they may be more costly.

If you opt for a store-bought cleaner, be sure to read and follow the safety label.