Hard water stains are essentially limescale that is left behind by all of the dissolved calcium and magnesium ions in your water. The water in your toilet bowl always slowly evaporates over time and leaves behind these minerals. Making sure to thoroughly clean and scrub your toilet every week can help to prevent hard water stains, but even this isn’t always sufficient if you live in an area with quite hard water. Even if your area doesn’t have hard water, some limescale can still slowly build over time as all water has at least some dissolved minerals.
Hard water stains or limescale can be extremely tough to remove as the minerals form a quite hard layer that easily sticks to most surfaces. The issue is that most toilet bowl cleaners are mainly designed to disinfect and won’t have much of an effect on hard water stains. This means that scrubbing your toilet bowl alone may not ever remove all of the limescale as you usually need to first start to break down or dissolve the mineral deposits using some form of acid. With that in mind, here are some of the most effective options for cleaning hard water stains from a toilet.
Using Vinegar to Remove Hard Water Stains
One of the best and easiest options for removing hard water stains and limescale from your toilet or any other plumbing fixtures is to use undiluted white vinegar. To clean hard water stains from your toilet bowl, we would recommend using a spray bottle and thoroughly soaking the entire bowl in vinegar. You will want to let the vinegar soak in for at least an hour and then scour all of the stains with your toilet brush.
Another option is to use both vinegar and baking soda. After flushing your toilet, you’ll first want to add one cup of vinegar to the bowl. Use your toilet brush to swirl everything around so the vinegar and water mix and then let it all sit for five minutes or so. You can then pour one cup of baking soda and two more cups of vinegar into the bowl and then wait another 10 minutes before starting to scrub the stains with your toilet brush. If the stains aren’t fully gone, let the mixture sit for at least 30 more minutes while continuing to scrub the stains occasionally.
If your toilet is heavily stained or you still find the stains tough to remove after soaking in vinegar, you may want to try filling up the entire bowl with vinegar and letting it sit overnight. If you do opt for this method, you will first need to drain your toilet bowl as the vinegar will be much less effective if it is diluted. To do this, you’ll need to turn the water to your toilet off and then flush it a few times until no more water fills the bowl. Once the bowl is empty, you can pour as much vinegar into the bowl as it takes to fully submerse the stains. Let the vinegar sit overnight and then add baking soda to the bowl and proceed as above.
Options for Cleaning More Stubborn Hard Water Stains
If you find that vinegar just isn’t doing the trick, you may need to bring out the big guns. In this situation, we would recommend using a mixture of vinegar and borax. You can start out by just adding a half cup of borax to the bowl and then two cups of vinegar. After letting the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes, you can then try to scrub away the stains with your toilet brush.
If this still isn’t fully effective, the next option is to make a borax-vinegar paste and smear this directly onto the stains. First, take a half cup of borax and a quarter cup of vinegar and mix thoroughly until you have a thick paste. Next, grab a pair of cleaning gloves and use your hands to rub the paste into the bowl so that all of the stains are completely coated. Let the paste sit for 30 minutes and then thoroughly scrub the bowl using a non-scratch scrubbing sponge.
If none of these methods successfully eliminates your hard water stains, it may be time to start thinking about replacing your toilet. However, one final option that may help to eliminate even the most stubborn stains is to scrub your toilet using the finest grade steel wool. Some people also suggest scrubbing the stains with sandpaper, but we wouldn’t recommend this as you could easily scratch or damage the porcelain. In fact, even using extremely fine steel wool could result in visible scratches if you’re not careful.
How to Prevent Limescale and Hard Water Stains in Your Toilet
The best way to ensure you don’t have to struggle with cleaning hard water stains in your toilet is to try to prevent them in the first place. One easy option is to use toilet tank tablets as many of these products are specifically designed to help prevent limescale buildup and hard water stains. Simply pouring a cup or two of vinegar into your toilet tank every week or two can also make a huge difference.
All this being said, the best way to prevent limescale is to tackle your hard water problems at the source by installing a water softener. A water softener will work to remove almost all of the dissolved minerals from your home’s water. Not only will this help prevent your toilet from staining, but it can also protect all of your other plumbing appliances and fixtures as well as your pipes. If your home has hard water, limescale will quickly start to build up inside your fixtures and slowly clog your pipes. Limescale can also cause serious damage to your dishwasher, washing machine, and even your coffee maker.
Most water softeners work by using a brine solution to facilitate an ion exchange process. Inside the water softener tank are thousands of negatively charged resin beads, and the tank is filled with a brine made up of negatively charged sodium ions. Due to the difference in charge, the sodium ions first stick to the resin beads. However, when water enters the tank, the calcium and magnesium ions in the water take the place of the sodium ions and stick to the resin beads. This is because calcium and magnesium are also both positively charged and carry a much stronger charge than sodium ions. As a result, the dissolved minerals are removed from the water and essentially replaced with harmless sodium.
Brine-free water softeners will also help to prevent limescale issues. However, these units don’t actually remove the minerals from your water. Instead, they simply make it so that the minerals can’t stick to any surfaces and lead to limescale buildup.
At BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair, we install water softeners and water filtration systems and can help you overcome your hard water issues. We also work on water heaters, drains, sewer lines, water lines, gas lines, and all plumbing fixtures. If you need any heating, cooling, or indoor air quality service in the Las Vegas area, we can help with that as well. Give us a call today if you have any questions or want to schedule a service call.