Hard Water Stain Removal from Metals

Using a blue sponge to clean a stainless steel sink
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20
What You'll Need
Metal cleaning product with phosphoric acid
White vinegar
Firm brush
Razor blade

Hard water stain removal is necessary in locations that have unusually high levels of calcium, lime, or other natural compounds in the water. In these cases, the water that flows through your faucet may be classified as "hard." Hard water flow can have a number of different repercussions in your home, but one of the most frustrating is hard water stains. These manifest on metal surfaces like sinks and faucets and come about when those areas have been exposed to a large amount of affected water. Read on for some tips on removing hard water stains from metal surfaces in your home.

Step 1 - Assess the Damage

If you are unsure about the cause of a potential stain, it is best to determine first that you do have hard water. Professional testing services are available to examine your water supply. Even if you live in an area with generally clean and pure water, the water that flows into your home may be contaminated. Homeowners with wells and other water storage systems are often the most susceptible to hard water. When you have determined that the stain is due to hard water and not something else, proceed to the next step.

Step 2 - Use the Cleaning Product

different bottles of cleaners

The first method of cleaning a stain of this type is to treat the metal with a chemical cleaner. Cleaners with phosphoric acid are the most effective at eliminating hard water stains; look for a cleaner with the highest concentration of this acid possible. Many people find that these cleaners are ineffective or unable to completely remove the stain. If this is the case, or if you'd prefer not to use a chemical product, continue with the next method.

Step 3 - Treat the Stain with Vinegar

vinegar, baking soda, and cut citrus

Allow the metal surface to soak in a white vinegar bath for up to an hour. The vinegar helps to loosen the stain from the surface of the metal. In some cases, as in stained faucets, you may need to partially dismantle the metal object in order to soak it in vinegar.

Once you have soaked the metal object, use a firm brush and sponge to scrub off the stain. In many cases, the vinegar will have loosened the material to a degree where this will effectively remove the stain. If this does not seem to be working, use a razor blade to gently and carefully chip off the stain from the surface of the metal. Ensure that you do not scratch the metal itself while you're doing this.

If you continue to have difficulty removing the hard water stain from your metal surface, consult with a specialist for more advice. Professional cleaning services are available, although these will generally be more expensive than alternate methods.