How Do You Remove Hard Water Stains off of Tile?

How Do You Remove Hard Water Stains off of Tile

Hard water stains can be a nightmare for any homeowner. Not only can these stains be eye sores, but they also can make a clean surface seem dirty. If you’ve ever tried scrubbing these stains extra hard from tile with soap and water, you may have realized that this does little, if anything, to affect the stains. So then how do you remove hard water stains from tile?

There are many products on the market, as well as at-home remedies such as vinegar or baking soda mixed with water, that promise to rid your tiles of hard water stains. As every product is different, it is good practice to always read the label on each product carefully before use.

Hard tap water is something many people deal with on a day-to-day basis. If you have hard water in your home, you’ve undoubtedly seen the stains it can leave behind. Keep reading to learn more about how to get rid of these unsightly hard water stains from your tiles.

Is your skin feeling dry and irritated after showering? You might have a hard water problem in your home.

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How Do You Get Rid of Hard Tap Water Stains from Tile?

The first thing you have to do is understand what hard water is: hard water, sometimes called hard tap water, refers to water that has a high amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in it. When this water comes into frequent contact with different items, it can leave behind residue from calcium and magnesium overtime on the surfaces of these items.

These items, while they can sometimes appear to be dirty, can be, in fact, clean. The residue from magnesium and calcium can stain the surface of different items, making them appear as if they are not clean.

There are a few methods you can try in order to remove these stains from your tile and grout, including store-bought methods and at-home remedies.

Get inspired by these creative DIY solutions for hard water issues and keep your home looking fresh.

The following table summarizes the best methods to remove hard water stains from tile.

Method Description Steps
Store-Bought Cleaners Use commercial hard water tile cleaners like CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover, Bioclean Hard Water Stain Remover, or Clean Shower Daily Shower Cleaner.
  1. Read product instructions and warnings.
  2. Follow the product’s specific application process.
White Vinegar Use an equal parts mixture of white vinegar and water.
  1. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the solution on the stains and let sit for at least 15 minutes or overnight for stubborn stains.
  3. Re-wet the area with the solution, then scrub gently with a sponge or old toothbrush.
  4. Wipe clean with a cloth or towel.
Baking Soda Create a paste using baking soda and water.
  1. Mix baking soda and water until a paste is formed.
  2.  Apply the paste on the stains, ensuring it reaches between tiles.
  3. Let the paste sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Gently scrub with a sponge or old toothbrush.
  5. 5Wipe clean with a cloth or towel.
Prevention Install a water softener system or wipe surfaces down after contact with hard water.
  1. Install a water softener system to remove calcium and magnesium from water.
  2. If a water softener system is not an option, consistently wipe down surfaces that come into contact with hard water.

Removing Hard Water Stains with Store-Bought Methods

There are products you can buy, such as a hard water tile cleaner, that promise to rid your tile and grout of hard water residue. Each of these products comes with its own instructions and warnings, so you should always carefully read each label.

The three most popular brands on the market for cleaning hard water stains from tile and grout appear to be:

  • Multi-use CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover
    • This is a non-toxic, multi-purpose cleaner that promises to remove unsightly hard water stains from tiles caused by excessive amounts of calcium.
  • Bioclean Hard Water Stain Remover
    • This is an eco-friendly aerosol product that is great for removing hard water stains from tile and grout.
  • Clean Shower Daily Shower Cleaner

No matter which product you decide on, keep in mind that every product has a different set of directions and warnings. It is good practice to always carefully read each label before use.

Removing Hard Water Stains with At-Home Remedies

If buying chemical products is something you wish to avoid, there are some at-home remedies you can try first.

Keep in mind that not every at-home remedy works for everyone. Sometimes it takes trying many different methods before finding one that works best for you and your individual needs.

If you’re struggling to determine whether you have hard water, consult this guide on identifying hard water symptoms to help you figure it out.

White Vinegar

One of the go-to at-home remedies for many different problems is vinegar, and for good reason, too. Vinegar is an acid and, being an acid, it can help clean many different things within the home. It is also something commonly found in food, meaning it is safe to use on things that children and pets will potentially be around constantly.

To use vinegar to clean hard water stains from tile, mix equal parts vinegar and water together. It is recommended you store your solution in a spray bottle for easy access and easy use.

Apply your solution onto hard water stains and allow it to sit. If your stains are particularly tricky, it is best to allow the vinegar to sit overnight; however, if this is not an option for you, try to allow the vinegar to sit for at least 15 minutes.

Once the vinegar has sat long enough, spray more vinegar to wet the area you wish to clean again, and then use an old toothbrush or a sponge to gently scrub the area. Wipe with a clean cloth or towel when finished.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is also another product you commonly see in at-home remedies. This is because baking soda is the opposite of vinegar. Instead of being an acid, it is a base. This allows baking soda to loosen or destroy stains that vinegar may have a harder time with.

To use baking soda, mix baking soda and water together until you create a paste. Smear this paste on any hard water stains you wish to remove from tiles, being sure to get in between the tiles as well. Allow the paste to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before gently scrubbing with a sponge or old toothbrush. Wipe clean with a clean cloth or towel when finished.

Keep in mind that, while it may be tempting for some people, do not mix vinegar and baking soda together. This will not clean the stains more effectively. Vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base, so mixing them will remove their basic and acidic properties, rendering them almost completely useless for cleaning hard water stains.

How to Prevent Hard Water Stains in the Future

If you’re tired of cleaning hard water stains, there are some ways to avoid them in the future.

The best way to avoid hard water stains is to get a water softener system. This will remove the calcium and magnesium dissolved in your water before it leaves the faucet, keeping your products clean and clear of hard water stains.

If getting a water softener system is not an option for you, you can immediately wipe down any surfaces that come into contact with the hard water. The downside of this is that you will need to wipe down the surface every single time it makes contact with the hard water. If you miss a time or two, hard water stains will slowly but assuredly begin to build up again.


Whether hard water stains are a new problem for you, or a recurring issue, getting rid of them can improve the overall appearance of your home. They leave the surfaces of different items in your house stained, which can make clean items appear dirty. Whether you choose to buy a product at a store or to use a home remedy, remember that not every method works for every person. Sometimes it takes trying different products to find what suits you and your needs best.

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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