How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Dishes

A glass cup with hard water stains.
  • 5 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10
What You'll Need
Distilled white vinegar
Cold water
Paper towels
Baking soda

For a number of reasons, it's advised that you remove hard water stains from dishes. Aside from the dirty appearance it gives, it can be vital to have completely clean dishes for the good health of your family. Hard water stains can be difficult to remove no matter how many times you wash your dishes. However, there are methods that work well whether you wash by hand or in a dishwasher.

Step 1 - Prepare

You’ll need quite a lot of distilled white vinegar for this task, so buy a one-gallon jug to ensure that you have enough. Make sure you use cold water as well. Warm or hot water won’t work as well as it won’t remove the deposits fully.

Step 2 - Soak the Dishes

Half-fill a sink with the vinegar, and then fill the remainder with cold water. It can take a long time to remove hard water stains from all your dishes, so you'll need to allow them to soak in the water for between three and four hours. Place them in one at a time so they are immersed on both sides, and then leave them. You will notice small bubbles forming on the dishes, an indication that the hard water deposits are coming off.

Step 3 - Dry the Dishes

After the suggested time has elapsed, take the dishes out one at a time, being sure to dunk them several more times in the sink before putting them in a drying rack. Use paper towels to wipe them all dry.

If you’re trying to remove hard water stains from all of your dishes, you’ll probably need to do several loads to clean them all. Make sure you top off the vinegar in the sink every so often for continuous effectiveness. You should repeat this every few months to make sure you keep removing hard water stains on your dishes. This will keep them extra-clean and sparkling.

Step 4 - Load the Dishwasher

Some people prefer to use a dishwasher rather than wash the dishes by hand. If you use this machine and have a problem with hard water, you can still get rid of deposits easily. Instead of using a commercial product in the rinse aid dispenser, pour in distilled white vinegar. Putting this in as part of your wash cycle will remove the hard water and prevent new stains from forming. You don’t need much; simply using a quarter cup each time will produce the results you need.

It’s also important to keep your dishwasher clean if you have hard water issues. You can accomplish this very easily too. Once a month, run the dishwasher with no dishes in it, putting half a cup of distilled white vinegar in the bottom and some baking soda in the detergent holder. This will remove the hard water from the dishwasher and ensure it keeps running smoothly.