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Signs of Hard Water & How to Wipe Them Out

signs of hard water

Stained porcelain. Spotty dishes. Clogged showerheads. Sound familiar? If so, you are among many who suffer from the remnants of hard water in their home. These signs of hard water can be very demoralizing when you realize you need to add them to your cleaning to-do list.

There are a few tips and tricks you should know to help you with your bathroom and kitchen cleaning endeavors, as well as some permanent solutions to prevent the problem from happening again.

Spots & Stains from Hard Water

Hard water is caused by abundant minerals, like calcium and magnesium, that your water has collected from traveling through the ground. The water in your home picks up these minerals through rock formations underneath the earth as it travels past. The hardness of your water depends on how much contact the water in your area has with these minerals along the way. According to a U.S. Geological Survey, 85% of the water going to homes in the United States is considered “hard.”

Visual signs of hard water in your home can include gray or even red/brown stains on toilet bowls and shower drains, chalky white residue on faucets and showerheads, a buildup of soap scum in bathtubs or shower walls, calcium deposits inside water using appliances (like a humidifier), and spotty dishes.

If you have experienced hard water residue in your home, you know cleaning is not easy. It takes a lot of effort to scrub away or a lengthy soaking routine with harsh cleansers to break up the mineral deposits. So how do you get rid of the stains hard water leaves behind?

Cleaning Methods

Leaving these signs of hard water unattended can cause future issues with your plumbing, or permanent staining that can be a real eyesore. Here are some common signs of hard water and how to remedy them.

Stained Toilets

Unsightly reddish-brown or dingy gray stains around your toilet bowl from hard water can be a big embarrassment, especially when you have guests over. Try pouring a mixture of vinegar and borax into the toilet bowl. This concoction will react with the stains helping to loosen them. You can then use this mixture, a toilet cleaning brush, and a little elbow grease to scrub away the staining. If you do not have borax handy, a simple solution of vinegar and water could help loosen up those mineral deposits on your toilet if the buildup is not too severe.

Hard Water Spots on Surfaces

When hard water evaporates, it leaves calcium deposits that appear as white spots. Try using a similar white distilled vinegar and water mixture to clean up this residue. It works best to have an empty spray bottle to pour the mixture into. Spray generously on areas overcome with these hard water spots (showers and bathtubs) and let the vinegar/water solution sit for at least 15 minutes before wiping it away. If using this solution on glass, a microfiber towel can clean away any remaining streaks.

Hard water is also a sneaky accomplice when it comes to the formation of soap scum. The calcium minerals quickly attach to soaps, and the mixture turns into a sticky clump that loves to create a film inside your sinks and showers. If vinegar alone is not strong enough to break through the soap scum, try adding a little dish soap to your spray bottle as well to try to release its hold.

Stained and Clogged Showerheads and Faucets

We have all been a victim of the showerhead or faucet that just doesn’t seem to be pumping out water like it used to when it was first installed. This could be due to the accumulated mineral buildup over the head, causing the water pressure to drop significantly.

To solve this issue, soak the shower head in a large bowl of white vinegar (for heavy buildup, you may need to try this same process with a heavy-duty multi-use cleaner). Let the showerhead soak for a few minutes, then use a sponge or brush to scrub away the grime. You may need to repeat this process before the showerhead is completely clear. If you are trying this method with your faucet or cannot remove your showerhead, try filling up a plastic bag with this solution and using a zip tie or rubber band to hold it while the faucet soaks.

Spotty Dishes

If you notice white spots on your dishes that are extremely difficult to scrub off, hard water is to blame. Hard water can also cause other issues with your dishwasher, so cleaning it at least once a month is essential. Clean the dishwasher with gentle soap and a toothbrush to get food and grime out of all the hard-to-reach places. You can then try filling a cup with white vinegar and placing it somewhere on the top rack of the dishwasher. Let the dishwasher run with the vinegar inside to help clean some of the mineral deposits left behind from your water.

Unfortunately, glass and plastics that have spent years being washed by hard water may still look cloudy even after you have tried to clean them with vinegar. This is because the calcium and magnesium inside the water are thousands of tiny pieces of dissolved rock. When the water inside a dishwasher sprays your dishes with hard water, it's like using a sandblaster every time, and your dishes get etched by the minerals. Even if you hand wash your glassware, the abrasiveness of the dissolved rock inside your water will scratch up the surface as you rub the sides.

How to Eliminate Those Signs of Hard Water for Good!

As you can see, signs of hard water in your house are relatively easy to spot. The real issue comes with cleaning up the mess it leaves behind. A permanent solution to these problems would be to install a water softener. Water softeners use an ion exchange process that removes hard water minerals from the water supply before reaching the various points of your home. Soft water also works better with soap to give you a spot-free shine when cleaning around the house.

Adding a water softener has even more benefits than you might think to the areas in your home you can’t see as well. Contact your local authorized Evolve dealer today to learn more about the variety of water softeners available. They will happily conduct a complimentary water test and answer any questions about which water treatment solution is best for you.

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