Hard water is a problem that damages floors and appliances and leaves tiles and fixtures unsightly. In India, the reliance on borewell water is the primary reason for hard water. Since limescale buildup is due to the mineral contents of the water, ordinary floor cleaners and detergents cannot get rid of it.
The hardness of water is caused by the high concentration of calcium and magnesium in water. While it is ok for drinking, cleaning and usage in cooking, the minerals in hard water have been associated with dandruff, dryness of hair and increased hair fall. Hard water can make washed clothes look dull and faded, and can make skin feel dry and rough. Hard water also slows down the lathering process of detergent, soap and shampoo, causing you to use more of it. Build up of these minerals creates limescale deposits on taps, showerheads, mirrors and tiles and affects the proper functioning of washing machines, geysers and dishwashers by clogging their pipes and plugging aerators.
It is also possible to get rid of limescale from tiles and fixtures naturally.
To clean floor and wall tiles, sprinkle some salt on the floor or walls and let it stay for at least an hour. Then scrub off the salt with a brush. The longer the salt stays on the limescale, the more effective it is. In case of glass and mirrors, make a saline solution and spray it on the surface. After half an hour, clean off the solution with a clean, dry cloth using circular motions.Rise the surface to remove salt residue. Here, salt acts as a scouring agent that removes limescale buildup.
Prepare a solution of 50:50 vinegar and water. Warm the solution for a few minutes and spray it on glass surfaces such as shower doors, sinks, tiles, floors and bathtubs. The acidic nature of vinegar makes it effective in loosening mineral deposits without causing any damage to your fixtures. Vinegar can also be used to remove limescale from showerheads and taps. For tough stains, soak a towel in vinegar and wrap it around the showerhead or tap for a few hours before wiping off with a cloth.
Do not use vinegar to clean marble or natural stone floors as the acid in vinegar might further stain them. First, conduct a surface test by soaking a cotton ball with vinegar and applying it to a small corner of the tile. Let it rest for between 12 and 24 hours before rinsing off. If the appearance of the tile is unaltered, go ahead and use vinegar to clean it.
This humble kitchen ingredient works wonders to remove hard water stains from floor and wall tiles. It is an effective and mild natural abrasive that can be safely used on marble floors too. Make a paste with a quarter cup of baking soda and water. Apply the paste on the affected area using an old toothbrush and let it stay for 12 hours before scrubbing and rinsing off the residue. It is best to avoid baking soda to remove limescale from glass and ceramic surfaces as its abrasive action might cause damage to these surfaces.
Cream of tartar
An ingredient commonly used in baking, cream of tartar is a mild acid and an effective alternative to baking soda. It has a non-abrasive action that can remove hard water stains from a number of surfaces. Make a paste with cream of tartar and water and apply on the stained surface. Let it sit for up to 30 minutes and then scrub with a damp cloth to reveal shiny tiles.
Fluoridated toothpaste is an effective weapon against limescale and can be safely used on glass, metal fixtures, tiles and ceramic dishes. Using an old toothbrush, apply some toothpaste to the stained area. Scrub using a circular motion and let it sit for 30-45 minutes before wiping off with a damp sponge or cloth.
Lemon juice, either on its own or mixed with salt, vinegar and any of the other ingredients mentioned above can be used to tackle hard water stains. To get rid of mineral deposits from taps and showerheads, sprinkle salt on a lemon half and rub it on the surface.
The longer the minerals remain on a surface, the harder they are to remove so it is important to act early and prevent them from developing at all. One of the most common ways of preventing stains and damage by hard water is to install a water softener. It is possible to choose between whole-house water softeners that can be inserted into the overhead water tank or point-of-use softeners for bathrooms or for specific appliances and fixtures such as washing machines or showers. These softeners work by removing the mineralising and calcifying properties of water, increasing the life span of your appliances and preventing stains from forming.
Regularly clean wet surfaces such as shower doors, mirrors and taps to keep them free of limescale.