How to remove hard water stains from glass

Last updated on: December 1, 2022.

Glass is an elegant material that can be used in various ways, from vases and drinking glasses to glass shower doors and windows. However, the downside of glass is that it is susceptible to hard water stains. If you’ve noticed unsightly white spots on your glass surfaces, don’t despair. There are several ways you can remove them.

Hard water stains are white mineral deposits that have accumulated on surfaces. These stains usually appear in homes in areas with high levels of minerals such as lime and calcium in groundwater. These hard water stains can also attach soap and shampoo molecules, causing glass stains that accumulate over time. These unsightly white spots on glass surfaces are caused by minerals that build up in the water.

While hard water stains can be challenging to clean, liquid and non-liquid cleaners can help clean your glass. This article will explore different methods of cleaning hard water stains from glass.

Hard water stains: what are they, and how do they look?

Hard Water Stain on Faucet
Hard Water Stain on Faucet

Hard water stains form because of the minerals found in hard water, and they build up on glass surfaces. They can be nearly impossible to wipe away and may require special cleaners or methods. Hard water stains may appear as white, cloudy spots or streaks on the glass.

Two main types of stains are caused by hard water. One is soap scum, a white film characteristic of sinks and showers. The other type is limescale, a residue left after interacting with bicarbonate chemicals and hard water. Identifying the type of stain you have will help you take appropriate action to prevent them from recurring.

Can hard water stains be harmful?

Hard water stains are not harmful to human health. The minerals found in hard water are most commonly magnesium and calcium, which can benefit health. However, hard water can damage your kitchen appliances and pipes over time.

The mineral deposits that build up in your pipes, appliances, and glass surfaces can accumulate to a point where they cause irreparable damage. This results in expensive and tedious repairs that can be avoided by regularly cleaning your hard water stains or softening your hard water, so the stains do not appear at all. 

What to do when you have hard water stains:

On glass doors and windows

Glass Door

If you have hard water stains on your glass doors and windows, you can remove them by using vinegar and water solution. You must add an equal amount of water and vinegar into a bowl and let it sit for a while. Then, you can use the mixture on the stained areas with a sponge. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe it away with a clean cloth.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

The same vinegar and water solution is effective if you have hard water stains on your stainless steel appliances. Mix some water and vinegar in equal proportions. Apply the solution to stained areas with a cloth or sponge. If this solution is not as effective as you need, you can add a little bit of baking soda to help remove the stains. 

Toilet bowl

Toilet Bowl

If you have hard water stains in your toilet bowl, you can remove them using a toilet brush or pumice stone. Scrub the stained areas with a brush or stone until the stains are gone. Flush the toilet to rinse away any residue.

Granite

Bathroom Granite

Stone surfaces may react adversely to acid cleaners. The best way to remove hard water stains from granite is to use a mixture of salt and water. The salt can act as a scouring agent that is effective at removing the stain. Apply your salt solution to your granite surface and use a clean cloth to scrub away the stain in circular motions. 

Car

Removing stains from Car

You can find cleaning products to clean your car. Abrasive cleaners can come in powder or liquid form, and there’s no need to be careful about what you’re using as long as it’s safe for use with glass. With both, start by wetting the surface and then apply either type of cleaner on top.

If you’re using a powder, that will cling to the wet surface and form a paste-like substance. If a liquid cleanser is used, it will adhere to wet surfaces too. Generally, abrasives should not be left on glass because they will leave a residue. Be sure to follow the instructions supplied with your cleaning product to clean stains from your car safely.

Faucets

Faucet

Stains on faucets can be physically scrubbed off with any sharp tool, although this is a labor-intensive method. You can also use any acidic cleaning product to clean your faucets. You can make your own solution by mixing vinegar, water, and a little bit of baking soda. There are also several commercially available cleaning products available to clean your faucets.

Bathtub

Bathtub

Ammonia is an effective household cleaner that can be used to clean your bathroom and get rid of hard water stains on glass. You can make a dynamite DIY shower spray by mixing ammonia with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, although you should always wear protective gear when working with it.

Marble

remove hard water stains: MARBLE

Acidic cleaners can damage marble surfaces. The best way to remove hard water stains from marble is to use a mixture of salt and water. Apply your mixture to the marble surface and use a clean cloth to scrub away the stain in circular motions.

These five products will help you remove hard water stains.

Vinegar 

Vinegar
Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar helps break the bonds between hard water minerals and glass. You could also substitute fresh lime juice and lemon juice for distilled vinegar. Vinegar is a mild acid and will counter the alkaline calcium that causes hard water stains. Acetic or citric acid diluted in water should help to clear up cloudy imperfections on your glass cups. Vinegar solutions are also completely natural and great for cleaning up stains without using harsh chemicals.

CLR Calcium Lime & Rust Remover 

CLR Calcium Lime & Rust Remover 
CLR Calcium Lime & Rust Remover 

Calcium Lime Rust or CLR is primarily used as a household cleaning product containing water, lactic acid, and several other compounds. It is commonly used as a cleaning agent to dissolve calcium, lime, or iron oxide deposits, making it particularly effective at removing hard water stains.

Bar keepers friend soft cleanser. 

Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser works as quickly as the original BKF Cleanser & Polish powder. It is a ready-to-use cleaning product specially formulated to remove stubborn hard water stains. It can be used to clean hard, non-porous surfaces and vertical surfaces like shower stalls, bathtubs, and toilets.

Windex Magic Eraser

The Windex Magic Eraser is a cleaning sponge made from melamine foam. Melamine is an organic base and looks like a white crystal. When mixed with another compound, it becomes a plush foam with a sandpaper-like texture. It’s harder than most stains but softer than most of the surfaces around it. So, you can remove stains without scratching the surface or around it. It makes it effective at cleaning stains on delicate surfaces like glass.

How much does it cost to remove hard water spots?

Removing Hard Water stains from a tap
Removing Hard Water stains from a tap

The cost of removing hard water spots can vary depending on the severity of the spots and the size of the area affected. For smaller areas, spot removal kits are available that use a mild abrasive to remove the spots. These kits typically cost between $10 and $30. Professional services may be required for larger areas or for more stubborn spots. The cost for professional hard water spot removal can range from $100 to $300.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can hard water stains be permanent?

Hard water stains are not permanent but stubborn and can become difficult to remove if left too long. It’s always best to remove hard water stains as soon as they appear. Hard water stains are easiest to remove when they’re fresh. If you leave the stain untouched, it will become too hard to remove.

2. Will toothpaste remove hard water stains?

If your toothpaste contains fluoride, it can be used to remove hard water stains. Toothpaste is a mild abrasive in a smooth paste, which means it will work on stains without damaging your glass surfaces. Toothpaste can also be used to clean and protect surfaces found in the home, such as fixtures and dishware. It is an excellent household essential because it is affordable and a staple in your bathroom.

If you are looking to use toothpaste to clean hard water stains, follow these steps:

  • Apply the toothpaste to the surface and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Scrub the surface in circular motions using a soft, damp cloth.
  • Rinse the surface with a clean wet cloth. A microfiber cloth is a good option to rinse your surfaces. To be even more efficient, you can use a steam cleaner to rinse your surface quickly.
  • You should be able to see the stain visibility reduce after following these steps. Repeat as necessary for other hard water stains on surfaces in your household.

3. How do you remove limescale from glass windows?

The simplest and most effective cleaning solution you can make at home is vinegar and water mixed in equal proportions. Apply this solution to your glass windows and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a clean cloth to scrub your windows gently, and finally, rinse your windows to remove any residue of your cleaning solution. If your stains are particularly stubborn, you can add a little baking soda to your solution to act as a mild abrasive.

For gentle cleaning, you can simply mix dish soap with warm water and gently scrub your windows with a clean cloth. Wipe the soap away, and use a commercially available window cleaner. Finally, use a dry cloth to wipe the entire surface dry. It will keep your windows free from hard water stains.

For extremely stubborn stains, you can use commercially available cleaning products that are specially formulated to work against hard water stains.

4. Why do I keep getting limescale in toilet?

Limescale is an accumulation of a hard, chalky substance that appears around the home that is caused by calcium converting to an insoluble form. The substance can be found throughout the house in contact areas, such as taps and toilets. Limescale only forms in homes with hard water. Hard water contains dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium. When hard water evaporates, it leaves behind these mineral deposits, which leave visible stains, also known as limescale.

If you keep getting limescale in your toilet, there is a good chance that your household is using hard water. The best way to keep limescale from continuously forming is to invest in a water softener that eliminates hard water and helps preserve your appliances, fittings, and plumbing infrastructure.

Conclusion

Hard water stains are caused by minerals dissolved in the water and can accumulate on several surfaces, such as on glass. Removing hard water stains isn’t always that easy. There are many options for removing stubborn hard water spots, and some work better than others. Household ingredients can be combined to remove hard water stains, or the surface may be scrubbed with a fine abrasive until the stain is gone. You can use commercially available cleaning products to remove stains. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas for removing hard water stains from glass.

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.