Water Stain Removal

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Water stains can pop up anywhere when you've got a leak—especially on ceilings and walls. Once these stains have dried, they look like yellow spots. Splotchy, unappealing, yellow spots.

Whether they're big or small, if you have water stains in your home, your first task will be fixing the source of the problem. Often, this means getting your hands dirty tackling a plumbing or roofing leak, hopefully by doing something as simple as replacing a small section of pipe or patching the roof. Once the source of your water stain has been taken care of, it's time to fix the yellow patch on your ceiling or wall.

Quick Fixes

The most common fixes for removing water stains include rubbing straight bleach on a small stain with a sponge, or covering up a small stain with paint that matches your walls or ceiling.

bad water stain on white ceiling

Often people rub chalk onto a light stain to make it disappear, or get crafty and hide the mark with art or a piece of furniture. These fast solutions can help minimize the damage, but it may take a few tries to find which one will work best on your wall.

Be especially careful when working with bleach on colored walls or walls with high-gloss paint. Try other solutions before putting bleach, or any cleaner with bleach in it, on these surfaces.

Covering a Large Water Stain

man getting ready to paint over a water stain on ceiling

After the stain's been around for a while, it may grow larger and/or darker. The best thing you can do for a serious water stain is to clean the wall thoroughly and repaint it with a stain-blocking paint.

Prime the wall with a coat or two. It may take a few coats of your top paint to cover up a large or dark stain, and you may have to repaint the wall or ceiling completely so the paint looks even.

paint roller painting ceiling glossy white

Hard Water Stain Removal

Some cleaning agents are especially useful for eliminating calcium deposits, iron, and other metals left behind on solid surfaces. Especially if your home has hard water, you may need a little extra help from these cleaning agents. If you prefer the natural route, you have three good options that use standard home products.

Vinegar and Water

Vinegar is a less aggressive option than some commercial cleaners, which have powerful acids. But it's not without its risks. If your surface is delicate, start with a heavily diluted solution, or a simple gentle soap wash.

If your surface is fairly rugged, a half and half mixture of vinegar in a spray bottle might do the trick. Apply and let rest for a few minutes, then wipe it off.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Make a paste with these ingredients and apply it for fifteen minutes, then scrub and rinse thoroughly.

Lemon Juice

This common acid has the added benefit of a pleasant, uplifting scent. Leave it on for about ten minutes before cleaning and rinsing.

Whatever products you end up using, always carefully rinse and dry your surfaces afterward to remove any lingering acids.