Stainless Steel is a favorite for kitchen appliances and other household items by consumers because the name would indicate that it will remain shiny and new for years. This is true to an extent, but it can still suffer from mineral buildup such as hard water stains. When this happens, how can you remove the stain? Is hard water merely an aesthetic problem or a safety concern?
Hard water stains can be removed from stainless steel using:
- white vinegar
- isopropyl alcohol
- baking soda
- commercial stainless-steel cleaners
While hard water is not dangerous, it does have unpleasant consequences for your body and home. Hard water buildup should be removed, then reoccurrence prevented.
Some of these cleaners are better suited to certain situations than others. There are also several options for treating your water to prevent reoccurring stains.
For a comprehensive understanding of water containing high levels of minerals, visit this informative blog post.
Table of Contents
The Best Cleaners for Hard Water Stains on Stainless Steel
There are several cleaners sold to combat hard water stains in your typical grocery or home goods store. Most work well when used according to manufacturer directions. However, since it is easy to make your own, I rarely bother to buy these specialized cleaners.
Instead, my favorite hard water stain removers are:
- White vinegar
- Isopropyl alcohol
White vinegar and Isopropyl alcohol can both be used with a rag and some hard work. They are no fuss and effective. If neither of these is powerful enough, consider baking soda and lemon juice instead.
The following table presents an overview of the methods you can use to remove hard water from stainless steel.
|White Vinegar||Soak a cloth in white vinegar and wipe the stained area. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub gently and rinse with water.||Easy|
|Isopropyl Alcohol||Apply isopropyl alcohol to a cloth or sponge and scrub the stained area. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth.||Easy|
|Baking Soda & Lemon Juice||Mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to form a paste. Apply the paste to the stain, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub gently and rinse with water.||Moderate|
|Commercial Cleaners||Use a commercial stainless-steel cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.||Easy|
Using Baking Soda and Lemon Juice to Remove Hard Water Stains
If you are struggling to remove the stains with other products, then the best choice is baking soda and lemon juice. You can also use it preemptively for very dirty items as a soak.
- Mix 1 part baking soda with 1 part lemon juice.
- Dissolve the baking soda as best as you can by stirring the solution.
- Submerge the stained area in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Use a rag or sponge to scrub the area gently.
- Follow up with another soak and scrub cycle or move on to a gentler cleaner such as vinegar.
Causes of Hard Water Stains
Hard water stains are caused by a buildup of minerals, most commonly calcium and magnesium. This occurs when the groundwater in your local area flows through certain kinds of stone (usually limestone).
As the water flows through the stone, minerals dissolve into the water. This continues until the water comes out of your tap, where some of the excess minerals are deposited on nearby surfaces.
This is why you’ll notice more staining in areas that are frequently wet, such as shower heads and faucets.
Unsure if you’re dealing with hard water? Learn about the key signs of mineral-heavy water to make an informed decision.
Is Having Hard Water Safe?
The presence of hard water in your home might be a cause for concern, but probably not because of the danger to your health.
Some minerals are toxic to humans when ingested (such as lead). However, most hard water is due to calcium and isn’t dangerous. You can use a hard water testing kit to rule out dangerous minerals for your peace of mind.
Instead, hard water is more likely to cause hair and skin issues, ruin clothes, or problems with your home’s plumbing.
Many people report that the presence of excess minerals in their drinking water makes it taste unpleasant. You might notice a chalky texture or a metallic taste. A tap filter can treat this, although the hard water will still be in the pipes.
Hair and Skin
Showering with hard water can lead to a buildup of minerals on your hair and skin. While safe, this can cause:
- Dry skin
- Limp or dull hair
If you are unable or unwilling to treat the water in your home, there are shampoos and soaps designed to combat these effects by dissolving calcium.
When clothing is washed with hard water, this can lead to build-up and degradation of the fabric. To combat this, you can use a laundry detergent additive designed for hard water.
Eliminating the hard water at the source, however, is usually preferable.
Appliances and Pipes
The most worrying effect of hard water is the effect it has on your home over time.
Not only does the hard water deposit minerals on your appliances where you can see it but also inside pipes and valves.
This will lead to more frequent clogs over time and may even break appliances such as refrigerators and ice makers.
Preventing the Recurrence of Hardwater Stains
To prevent hard water stains from regularly forming on your stainless-steel appliances, you have two options. You can either keep the appliance from getting wet or remove the offending minerals from the water.
There are many products on the market that can remove excess minerals from your water. To see which are available near you, try searching for the following:
- Water softeners
- Water conditioners
- Ion exchange filters
Most water-softening systems fall into two categories, salt-based, and salt-free systems.
How Do Water Softening Products Work?
Each of these products uses molecular science to remove excess minerals from the water.
Most of the minerals responsible for hard water are negatively charged. This means that positively charged molecules of substances like potassium will bond with the minerals and remove them from the water supply before it reaches your tap.
Some of these products require you to replace filters as they wear out, but many are capable of self-renewing. These are typically more expensive, but well worth the investment.
Hard water stains look unpleasant on your stainless-steel appliances and are very common. Hard water is caused by groundwater traveling through rocks such as limestone and picking up large amounts of calcium and other minerals.
Hard water in your home will not pose a health concern to you or your family, but it can lead to dry, itchy hair and skin. Some people also report that hard water tastes bad.
The more pressing concern with hard water is that it will shorten the life of your pipes and appliances because the mineral buildup also occurs in the pipes where you cannot see. Luckily, there are many products on the market to treat hard water and prevent these problems.