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

Hard Water Stains

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/21/2021

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 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 hard water stains?”


Hard water stains (sometimes called limescale) are unsightly discolorations formed by mineral deposits in water being left behind and building up overtime. Hard water stains can typically be found in toilet bowls, sinks, bathtubs and showers in communities or areas with hard water (water containing high levels of minerals, such as limestone, calcium, and magnesium). Often appearing as an off-white or yellowish brown color, hard water stains are notorious for being difficult to remove.

How To Remove Hard Water Stains

If you’ve ever tried scrubbing with a little elbow grease to remove hard water stains, you 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 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.