How To Remove Hard Water Stains From Stainless Steel: 5 Easy Ways!

How To Remove Hard Water Stains From Stainless Steel

Last Updated: December 15, 2023

How to remove hard water stains from stainless steel? If you are looking for the easiest and most effective way to do it, you will have it right now! Read on as I will share 5 five home remedies that I use myself for bringing back appliances to life. Additionally, I will tell you important preventive measures that will help you not to face the problem again. So without further ado, let’s head into details!

Quick Answer

Stainless Steel is a favorite for kitchen appliances and other household items by consumers because the name indicates 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:

  1. White vinegar;
  2. Isopropyl alcohol;
  3. Baking soda;
  4. Commercial stainless-steel cleaners;
  5. Olive oil.

But the above list just covers the basics. Continue reading to learn how to use these cleaning agents to get maximum results. Also, get insights into the useful tips that will enhance the glow of your appliances. Let’s get started!

For a comprehensive understanding of water containing high levels of minerals, visit this informative blog post.

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Hard Water Stains on Clothes: Top Tips for Restoring Your Wardrobe 

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Stainless Steel Appliances? Uncover Best Cleaners!

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.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Stainless Steel Appliances_ Uncover Best 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.

Important! Don’t let hard water stains ruin your surfaces—employ these do-it-yourself hard water strategies for a cleaner home.

How Do You Get Water Stains Out of Stainless Steel Appliances: Methods Overview

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


Isopropyl Alcohol

Apply isopropyl alcohol to a cloth or sponge and scrub the stained area. Rinse with water and dry with a clean cloth


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


Commercial Cleaners

Use a commercial stainless-steel cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions


Olive Oil

Soak the paper towel or microfiber towel in the olive oil and wipe the appliance it with


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. Also, you can use a white vinegar solution instead of lemon juice.

Using Baking Soda and Lemon Juice to Remove Hard Water Stains

You can also use it preemptively for very dirty items as a soak.

  1. Mix 1 part baking soda with 1 part lemon juice or white vinegar.
  2. Dissolve the baking soda as best as you can by stirring the solution.
  3. Submerge the stained area in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Use a rag or sponge to scrub the area gently.
  5. Repeat the same process to get better results.

Using Olive Oil to Remove Tough Stains from Stainless Steel Appliances and Sinks

Removing tough stains from stainless steel sinks can be a headache but if you properly cater to them with olive oil, you can easily get rid of them. It is my favorite way of cleaning my appliances as olive oil also acts as a polishing agent which means that your appliances will shine brighter.

Using Olive Oil to Remove Tough Stains from Stainless Steel Appliances and Sinks (2)

Let me share the whole process with you:

  • Firstly take a paper towel and fold it in half. Dip its edge in the olive oil.
  • Start rubbing on the stain gently and ensure to move it along the steel grain.
  • If you observe excess oil, use another paper towel and clean it up.
  • Once you are done rubbing it, let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Take the microfiber cloth and start buffing it.

Finally, the stains will start disappearing and the olive oil will make a protective film on the appliance that will prevent the stains from coming back.

Does Hard Water Ruin Stainless Steel And What Are Its Causes?

Yes, hard water ruins the stainless steel over time as these 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.
  • It 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. If you let the stains sit on the surface for a long time, these elements will start oxidizing and eventually, it will lead to a rusty appliance or sink.

Does Hard Water Ruin Stainless Steel And What Are Its Causes?
Note: In case your stainless steel sink gets rusty, it will start leaking and you will have to deal with a bigger mess. So to avoid any misfortunate event like this in the future, you should clean the hard water spots regularly.

Unsure if you’re dealing with hard water? Learn about the key signs of mineral-heavy water to make an informed decision.

Pro Tips To Keep Your Kitchen Appliances Shiny

Following are a handful of tips that I personally follow so the appliances are always clean and shiny.

2 Pro Tips To Keep Your Kitchen Appliances Shiny

Let’s check them out:

Scrub Along The Grain

I have been through a situation where after cleaning my appliances, they still had some stains on them. Later on, I discussed this with one of my colleagues, Hugh who told me that I had been doing it wrong.

He mentioned that I should have rubbed the soft cloth in the direction of the grains. So for proper cleaning, always rub the steel wool or cloth along the grain instead of in a circular motion. This will help you to clean it effectively.

Give Extra Shine to Your Appliances

If you want your appliances to look brand new, you will need to get the extra shine on them. To achieve this, I use lemon oil.

2 Pro Tips To Keep Your Kitchen Appliances Shiny

Pour a few drops on the damp cloth and gently rub it over the surface. It will add extra shine to your stainless steel sink and appliances. However, never use it in the oven or any appliance that conducts heat because lemon oil is flammable and can cause damage.

Note: In case you used it accidentally in the oven, make a mixture using baking soda and a little dish soap. Apply it on the affected surface, it will neutralize lemon oil.

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.

Preventing the Recurrence of Hardwater Stains

Many products on the market can remove excess minerals from your water. To see which are available near you, try searching for the following:

  • Water softener
  • Water conditioner
  • Ion exchange filter

Most water-softening systems fall into two categories, salt-based, and salt-free systems. For more insights into water softeners, you can check out these helpful guides “Pros and Cons of Water Softeners: Should You Buy Them?” and “Water Conditioner vs Water Softener: Which One is Better for Your Needs?


Does vinegar damage stainless steel?

No, Vinegar doesn’t damage the stainless steel if used properly. You should properly dilute it with water. Then, sprinkle it over the appliances using a spray bottle or pour very few drops on the steel. Lastly, wipe off the vinegar with a soft cloth to finish the cleaning process.

How do you get rid of hard water stains on stainless steel?

To get rid of hard water stains from stainless steel, you need to spray some diluted vinegar on the surface and wipe it along the direction of the steel grain.

How do you remove tough stains from stainless steel?

You can effectively remove stubborn stains on stainless steel by simply combining baking soda and lemon juice to create a powerful mixture. Apply this solution onto the affected surface and gently rub it over the tough stains for best results.

What causes water marks on stainless steel?

The major cause of watermarks on stainless steel is hard water. Hard water has a relatively high amount of calcium, magnesium, and other impurities that leave the spots on the appliances.

How do you get water stains out of a metal table?

You can get rid of water stains from a metal table by simply mixing dish soap with a bit of elbow grease and a damp cloth. For tougher stains, try a diluted vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water) for cleaning.

How do you remove white haze from stainless steel?

You can remove the white haze from stainless steel by spraying the white vinegar solution or lemon juice on it. Let them sit there for about five minutes and then sprinkle a little amount of baking soda. Scrub it with the cloth and the haze will disappear.


Summing up how to rеmovе hard watеr stains from stainlеss stееl, my favorite clеaning mеthod includеs using vinеgar with baking soda or applying isopropyl alcohol to thе stainеd arеa. You can also use a mixturе of baking soda and lеmon juicе. It is a simple process that involves submеrging thе affеctеd arеa for up to 10 minutеs in thе solution.

Howеvеr, if thе stains arе tough and you can’t gеt rid of thеm, thеn I would rеcommеnd you usе olivе oil. Just dip a cloth in olivе oil and scrub thе stain until it fadеs away. To add shinе to your utеnsils, you can spray olivе oil or alcohol on thеm and gеntly wipе thеm off.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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