If you're trying to get rid of hard water stains, you'll know all about the frustration that accompanies this task. You keep scrubbing and scrubbing, and they just won't shift.
This is because hard water stains aren't like any other stains – these are actually a buildup of minerals naturally occurring in water, mostly calcium. So, learning how to remove water stains is less about putting in extra elbow grease and understanding the chemistry involved. And it turns out that there's one specific ingredient that will do the trick without you having to put it very much effort at all.
The one ingredient you need to shift stubborn hard water stains
And the miracle ingredient is distilled malt vinegar. A little different from your regular white vinegar, distilled malt vinegar (opens in new tab) is nevertheless very easy to buy. Tony Jones, General Manager at Harvey Water Softeners (opens in new tab) explains the science behind why distilled malt vinegar is perfect for cleaning hard water residue: 'White distilled malt vinegar is very very acidic with a fairly low PH level, around 2.5. The residue left by hard water has a high calcium content and is naturally on the other end of the PH scale - as an alkaline, its PH level will be more than 7. Because of the residue’s natural properties which are predominantly alkaline, the acidity of the vinegar is great for neutralizing limescale.'
What if I don't have any vinegar?
No vinegar, or don't like using it? Don’t have any distilled malt vinegar? Tony suggests five alternatives to try:
- Fluoride Toothpaste - This can be used to scrub and remove any limescale
- Lemon - you can dissolve limescale by simply rubbing a lemon cut in half over the stained area and leaving on for 10 minutes
- Bicarbonate of Soda - mix a few teaspoons with water and you can use this as a paste to scrub on impacted areas. Baking soda cleaning tips are useful for other areas in the house, too
- Coca Cola - can also be used as a scrub, its carbonic acid properties help to break down the limescale
- Pickle water - You can use the pickle juice from any jars of pickled veg to clean away hard water scum as well. The citric acid in the pickle juice will break down the hard water residue
You can even try a combination of these to shift stubborn stains – or go for whichever one is close to hand.