How to Clean (and Prevent) Hard Water Deposits

If you’ve lived in an area with hard water, you are most likely familiar with the ever-changing colors in your sink and tub. Not long after scrubbing your tub back to white, it has turned an unsightly shade of brown. The Metro Atlanta area is considered to have ‘moderately hard’ water, which means that accumulations will happen over time. Instead of waiting until the tub is completely unsightly, here’s how to clean and prevent hard water deposits.

What is Hard Water?

The term ‘hard water’ refers to water which contains a significant amount of minerals, most notably magnesium and calcium. The relative hardness of the water is classified on a scale which measures parts per gallon. The harder the water, the more minerals are present, and the quicker that accumulations and stains will develop. The softer the water, the longer it takes for stains and accumulations to occur.

Some regions of the US have harder water than others, most notably parts of Texas and the Midwest. Most of the Southeast, including Atlanta, has moderately hard water.

Hard water is sometimes referred to as ‘limescale’.

What’s the Harm of Hard Water Deposits?

If left untreated, hard water can create deposits on faucets over time. The appearance of these deposits varies somewhat from region to region due to the specific mineral mix within the water. Most of the time, deposits range from a chalky white to brown.

Hard water deposits can form within pipes over time, which can be tricky since the accumulation is not obvious to spot. Weak water flow is the number one indicator of hard water deposits in pipes. If you have noticed a steady decrease in water flow, contact a plumber. The problem could be hard water deposits obstructing normal water flow.

How to Clean Hard Water Stains and Deposits

Believe it or not, you probably have everything you need to clean hard water stains in your cupboard.

The basic mix is:

  • Water (50%)
  • White vinegar (50%)
  • Splash of lemon (optional)


For particularly stubborn stains or residue, you can always try using 100% vinegar.

Other tools you might need, depending on the area that needs cleaning:

  • Spray bottle
  • Washcloths
  • Bowl or other container
  • Sponge


3 Steps to Clean Hard Water Deposits

1. First, prepare your mixture. For most stains, all you will need is a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. For more stubborn stains, try 100% white vinegar.

2. Once you have the mixture handy, apply to the area in question. The exact method will depend on the area being cleaned.

  • Soak sink faucet aerators in the vinegar and water mixture overnight.
  • Spray the sides of tubs, sinks, and shower stalls before scrubbing down with a sponge.
  • Pour the solution into toilet basins and let sit for 15 – 30 minutes before flushing and scrubbing with a toilet brush.
  • Dip a washcloth in the solution, wring it out to remove excess moisture, and then drape the washcloth over the area for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing with a sponge.

3. Repeat these steps as necessary.

Note: Do NOT soak iron or nickel fixtures in the vinegar solution, as they can cause permanent damage to these materials.

Preventing Hard Water Deposits

The easiest way to prevent hard water deposits is to clean your faucet, sink, and tub regularly. You can purchase products from your local supply store for this purpose. Alternatively, you can keep a bottle of vinegar/water solution handy, and use it on your tub, shower, or sink every day.

Some people dry their tub and faucet after every use in order to prevent stains from developing as the hard water evaporates.

The most effective way to prevent hard water deposits is to have your water treated. Water treatment greatly decreases the amount of minerals within the water, thus significantly slowing the buildup of hard water deposits over time.

  • Whole house systems: Large filters that are applied to the main point of entry for all water within the home.
  • Point of use systems: Smaller filters that affix to the specific faucet being used.


Both types of systems come with replaceable cartridges so that you can keep fresh, soft water flowing through your home at all times.

Tidal Wave Response

Hard water deposits can destroy pipes and fixtures over time. When this happens, you may find yourself with an unexpected water leak. Call Tidal Wave Response if you’ve found yourself with a leak that causes water damage in your home. We are ready to answer your call 24/7 for a free appraisal and estimate of damages and repairs.

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