If you have hard water in your Plainfield, IL home, then hard water stains are likely a constant issue. Untreated limescale build-ups can make kitchen and bathroom fixtures look grimy even when they’re clean. Hard water residues can also leave spots on your flatware, cookware, glasses, and more. Although there are many easy and natural ways to get rid of them, even the very best methods won’t eliminate them for good. Read on to find out what does and doesn’t work.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using White Vinegar to Treat Hard Water Stains
When it’s used correctly, few things break down hard water build-ups as quickly and effectively as white vinegar. This is great news for homeowners given that white vinegar is both cheap and easy to acquire. However, to get the results you want, you’ll need to use white vinegar that’s specially formulated for cleaning and has an acidity level of at least 6%.
To remove hard water stains, combine equal parts water and white vinegar in a clean spray bottle. Spray this mixture liberally on all affected fixtures. Leave the solution in place for 15 minutes or more. Then, wipe it away with a soft towel. Microfiber towels work best.
The acetic acid in white vinegar breaks calcium and other deposits down, and it should leave your fixtures spot-free and sparkling. You can achieve these same results on your dishes by adding a full cup of vinegar to your dishwasher’s final rinse.
Homeowners have also had success in removing hard water build-ups from their shower heads and faucet aerators after soaking these components in water and white vinegar overnight.
However, before using vinegar as a hard water solvent in any area, there are a few important things to note. The acetic acid in vinegar can cause permanent damage if it lands on certain materials. These include:
- Stainless steel
- Natural stones like slate, granite, and marble
- Cast iron
- Unfinished or waxed wood
When using it in your kitchen and bathrooms, make sure that over-spray isn’t getting on any natural stone back splashes, counters, shower walls, or trim to prevent problems with pitting and etching. You should also avoid spraying too close to stainless steel appliances. If used on a regular basis, vinegar can also prove harmful to the rubber gaskets and hoses in your dishwasher and other water-reliant appliances. Thus, although it’s handy for short-term use, it’s hardly an effective solution to ongoing hard water problems.
It’s additionally important to note that while white vinegar is a natural and generally safe cleaning agent, high concentrations and repeated exposure can cause respiratory and eye irritation.
Keep Your Faucets Looking Fresh With Spray-on Dish Soap
A popular alternative to white vinegar is spray-on dish soap. Certain brands are deemed more effective than others, but they’re all applied in the same way. Simply coat the fixtures that have hard water build-ups with one of these products. Let it sit for 15 minutes or more, and then scrub it away with a slightly abrasive sponge. You can finish by polishing the area with a microfiber towel.
Unfortunately, these products aren’t acceptable for use in dishwashers, and they don’t work well for cleaning shower-heads or faucet aerators. If you have hard water spots on your dishes or pressure problems in your bathtubs, showers, and sinks, you’ll need an alternative treatment.
Borax to the Rescue
Like both spray-on dish soaps and white vinegar, Borax is low in cost and easy to acquire. You can find it at most big box stores as well as at many grocery and hardware stores. Borax is pure sodium tetraborate. It’s typically sourced from dry lake beds.
To remove hard water spots, mix Borax with cleaning-strength white vinegar to create a thick paste. Spread this paste on stained fixtures and then scrub it off with a coarse rag or slightly abrasive sponge. As with all other do-it-yourself cleaning methods, you’ll get the best results by fully drying and polishing treated surfaces with a microfiber towel.
You can also add Borax to your dishwasher and washing machine to break up stubborn, hard water build-ups in these appliances. However, although you can add Borax to each load of laundry that you do, it’s generally best to use it as a hard water cleaner in your dishwasher when you aren’t actively washing dishes.
Hard Water and Your Skin and Hair
If you have hard water build-ups on your faucets and shower-heads, you have to account for how the hard water minerals in your baths and showers are affecting you. Constant exposure to hard water can have a drying effect on the skin and scalp. It can make your hair feel brittle and prone to both breaking off and falling out. Hard water exposure can cause tight, itchy skin, persistent rashes, and more. The way in which your hard water is affecting your health is even more concerning if you aren’t filtering the water in your home and you’re cooking and drinking with it as well. Although the minerals in hard water are both natural and among the nutrients that humans need, the calcium and magnesium in your water isn’t present in a way that your body can actually use.
How Hard Water Affects the Functionality of Your Taps
Another important thing to consider is the way in which your hard water is affecting your taps. The same build-ups that you find on the outside of your faucets is likely present at their interior too. Moreover, given that you can’t actually scrub them away like you can on the outside, these build-ups are likely much larger as well.
Limescale Decreases the Diameter of Pipe Interiors Too
Hard water build-ups don’t stop at the interior and exterior of your taps, they also exist in pipes. Over time, these build-ups slowly reduce the diameter of pipe interiors so that fresh water, wastewater, and solids have less room to move. If left unchecked, these build-ups, their additional weight, and the pressure they cause can lead to cracked pipes or pipe ruptures.
Leaky Faucets and Ongoing Hard Water Problems
Faucets with hard water build-ups on and in them have a higher likelihood of leaking than do faucets in homes that don’t have hard water problems at all. When faucets leak, hard water stains rapidly become larger and more prominent. Thus, if you’re concerned with bathroom and kitchen aesthetics, it’s important to take care of ongoing faucet leaks right away. You can do this by having your faucets repaired or replaced, but you should also address the underlying hard water problem.
Why Installing Water Softening Equipment Is the Best Choice
Hard water can ruin residential plumbing systems over time. It can also lead to excessive cleaning and higher than normal cleaning costs. You’ll spend a veritable fortune to keep everything in your home spot-free if you focus only on removing the symptoms of hard water rather than hard water itself. Having a water softener in your home will eliminate the need to invest in do-it-yourself cleaning products. It will also keep your natural stone, cast iron, and stainless steel protected. Investing in a water softening system is additionally a great way to improve the health of your skin and hair and the taste and quality of your tap water and cooked foods.
Countless households in Plainfield, IL struggle with the functional, aesthetic, and health-related effects of hard water. Since 2008, we’ve been providing effective and lasting hard water solutions. In addition to cutting-edge water softening equipment, we also provide superior heating, cooling, and plumbing services. To find out more or to schedule an appointment, contact TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing now.