How to Conquer Hard Water Stains

Water Spots

Hard water stains are a common problem in areas with tap water that has a high concentrations of minerals, and particularly for homes without water softeners. Hard water stains can especially be a problem in bathrooms (shower doors and walls) and on windows that get hit by sprinklers.

I’ve seen a lot of different home remedies for cleaning hard water stains from windows, such as:

  • Wet newspaper
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • White paste toothpaste (non-whitening)
  • Baking powder
  • Powder stovetop cleaner
  • Wet fabric softener sheets

A lot of them make sense for different reasons, but some I don’t get. Wet newspaper? Vinegar? Maybe if the water spots are minor or from poor previous cleaning. Wet fabric softener sheets? I would think those would leave an awful, streaky mess, since that’s what towels washed with fabric softener do.

This YouTube video from essortment makes some good points for removing hard water stains, particularly in regards to lemon juice. Most hard water stains are basic and lemon juice is acidic.

But what if you’ve tried these and had no luck? Should you use something with caustic fumes like a CLR or Lime Away? These may be effective, but they’re not good for using in a closed room like a bathroom and they’re certainly not good for prolonged exposure, like a window cleaner might encounter.

When I suggest hard water stain removers, I suggest a series of products, starting with the safest, but still very effective for most stains, and ending with a acid-based cleaner which requires care and the use of gloves:

  1. Bio-Clean: This is a light-duty cleaner with consistency similar to Soft Scrub or similar paste bathroom cleaners, but of a professional grade. Bio-clean is also safe for plants, kids, and pets.
  2. Titan Labs A-1 Stain Remover: This is a medium-duty cleaner which is a paste with uniquely engineered scrubbing agents.
  3. EaCo Chem One Restore: This is a heavy-duty restoration cleaner that can even remove metal oxide and some coatings. Easy spray-on, spray-off application.
  4. Winsol Crystal Clear 550: This is a heavy-duty, cleaner made from a powerful mixture of acids. Be sure read all directions and use protection when using this chemical.

If all these stain removers still don’t work, the stain is probably a burn in the glass. When stains become bad enough and sit on glass long enough, they began to etch into the glass itself. At this point, the only thing that works is machining the glass.

A product like the JFlint Mr. Hard Water line can be helpful with these etched-in stains.

When combating hard water stains, it is best to start simple and safe, and to go progressively more heavy-duty. Hard water stains are never something with a simple solution. They take the right chemical and some elbow-grease. So be patient, be persistent, and use the right cleaner.

Do you have additional questions about the various hard water stain removers available?  Comment below or email us from the About Page!

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23 comments

  1. Carolyn says:

    Very informative, and that’s coming from a professional window cleaner
    Carolyn recently posted…Commercial Cleaning Company; Why Rely on the ExpertsMy Profile

  2. jack white says:

    Thanks so much for the tips and recommended products to use. My job has such crazy looking water stains right now. We are needing to do a deep cleaning to try to get the issue fixed. It is now a good thing to have anywhere.

  3. Correy Smith says:

    Knowing about the different home remedies that people use to clean windows is quite interesting. I myself am going to be getting several windows installers to install some new windows. Mostly because the old ones have been stained and scratched up that my wife even tried using sponges, wet towels, and even a scrubber to get rid of those marks.

  4. I really appreciate you talking about this, and giving me some great ways on how to get rid of water stains. I never would have thought that lemon juice would be able to help with this! I’ll definitely have to try this out, and see how well it works for me.

  5. Josh Allen says:

    I have been trying to get my windows completely clean for months with regular window cleaner but it has not gotten the water stains off. But once I used lemon juice like you suggested it came off with a little bit of scrubbing. So thank you for the help I am not sure if I ever would of guessed to use that without your suggestion.

  6. I had no idea that water stains could eventually etch themselves onto the glass! That would make sense as to why some of the spots on my glass shower door seem impossible to remove. I’ll have to try some of these cleaners you mentioned, and hopefully one of them will work!

  7. Diane Morgan says:

    I really hate the hard water stains on windows, glasses and cutlery. Thank you for sharing these cleaning solutions! I will definitely try them out! Greets!

  8. Where I live, the water is so hard, you can float nails. Thanks for the tips about how to maintain your shower doors. Hopefully this will help making cleaning my bathroom a quicker and easier job.

  9. Dean Dorron says:

    The stain removing suggestions are very much informative. Stains in the window destroy its beauty and I just found window cleaning a tough work for me.I never believe that lime juice can help us to remove the stains, but now I’ll try it. Thanks for this great post.

  10. Rob Benton says:

    I agree that machining is probably the only thing to do once stains are etched into the glass. Growing up, we probably stained lots of our glass dishes without realizing it. Looking back, they probably would have been more presentable for guests had we taken the time to machine them.

  11. Michael says:

    Thanks so much for the tips and recommended products to use. I have been trying to get my windows completely clean for months with regular window cleaner but it has not gotten the water stains off.
    Michael recently posted…The Right Way To Clean Your CarpetMy Profile

    • Jamie says:

      That’s great to hear that you found this helpful. I hope you are able to conquer those trouble spots.

      ~ Jamie

  12. Thanks for your tips about how to clean hard water on windows. Where I live the water is so hard you can float nails in it. This can make cleaning the bathroom and windows challenging. I’ll have to try your tip about trying to use an acidic cleaner. That or I might start using a window cleaning service since some of our windows are really hard to reach.

    • Jamie says:

      Yes, some windows will always be more difficult to get to. Poles and ladders are helpful to an extent, but come with their own challenges. Sometimes a professional is just a good idea since they have all the tools to do it without hassle, even if they’re just a once in a while, deep cleaning solution.

      ~ Jamie

  13. Kim Hunter says:

    Great suggestions! I never could cope to remove those water stains from my glasses and the windows. I am so glad to find this cleaning tips. Thanks

  14. I always worry about hard water stains, because the water from my city always seems to have so much in it! It sounds like there are many different levels of options to take care of water stains on glass, so I hope that I can have some luck with the first acid-based cleaners you mention. Do you suggest one of them more than the other?

    • Jamie says:

      I always suggest the least caustic measures first, because they’re effective but also safer for the user, pets and children, plants they might drip onto, and the windows themselves. Acid-type cleaners are the direct counter of the many things that stain windows (because they are usually base-type stains), but they also bring many more cautions to consider.

      ~ Jamie

  15. Drew says:

    I have never heard of using wet newspaper but that sounds ridiculous. Good job clearing these things up and thanks for the tips.
    Drew recently posted…Pressure Washing ServicesMy Profile

  16. Hard water stains are really very common problem that I have faced it many times. Hard water is containing high concentrations of minerals so it is not good for us.

  17. Hazel Owens says:

    I didn’t know that lemon juice would work so well when cleaning a shower door! However, if the stains are basic, it would make sense that an acid would be able to deal with them. I’ve also heard that a combination of dish soap and vinegar works wonders for cleaning shower doors, but I haven’t tried it myself. I’ll be trying that mixture or lemon juice in the near future, though! Thanks for the article.

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