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How to get rid of lime stains

Hard water increases films and stains from soaps, minerals, and other substances. Bathroom fixtures, sinks, dishes, and other surfaces need more frequent cleaning. Calcium and magnesium in the water leave hard deposits called lime scale on fixtures and equipment.

These minerals make cleaning products less effective. To clean limescale, you need a cleaning product with “sequestrants”. Sequestrants capture and deactivate minerals in the water (Calgon is an example of a product with sequestrants). Deactivated minerals cannot react with other materials to form slag, film, or lime scale.

Also, think acid. Anything with acidity can help remove hard water stains on any surface. The general types of cleaners discussed below will help you remove stains from household surfaces. It is best to clean stains regularly. If they are allowed to penetrate the surface, they become more difficult to remove.

Be sure to follow label directions for safe use of cleaners. You may need to open a window or use a fan for proper ventilation. Store cleaners in a safe place and properly dispose of empty containers.

Basic limescale stain removal

* Scrub the area with warm tap water to remove dirt and soap scum first. Pat dry with a towel or cloth afterwards. Limescale stains are much more difficult to remove with dirt and soap suds intact, so treat the problem layer by layer first, or else you risk making the stain worse and more difficult to remove. .

* You can rub vinegar or lemon juice on the stain to dissolve it. Many people use vinegar to clean coffee pots, dishwashers, and garbage disposals. Go get some Heinz white vinegar or even the generic stuff; it does not matter which. Soak a brush in the vinegar and start scratching at the stain.

Lemon juice is also suggested because it works on the same principle as the white vinegar solution. You can simply use the juice or exfoliate with the lemon itself; that is, cut a lemon in half and rub it directly on the stain.

The acetic acid from either method should break through the soap suds and help dissolve any organic compounds left behind in your bathroom grime. Rinse well. After stains dissipate, follow up frequently with white/lemon vinegar to prevent stains from reappearing.

*Use a brass brush and some bleach. Bleach is a chemical that removes color or whitens, often through oxidation. Common chemical bleaches include household “chlorine bleach,” a solution of about 3-6% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), and “oxygen bleach,” which contains hydrogen peroxide or a peroxide-releasing compound such as perborate sodium or sodium percarbonate.

Sodium hypochlorite is used in endodontics during root canal treatments, disinfecting the canal and dissolving any remaining pulp tissue; the same process is used to dissolve hard water buildup in bathrooms, sinks, pots and pans.

* Boil some rhubarb in a pot affected and stained with lime. Rubarb is a genus of perennial plants that grow from short, thick rhizomes. The plants have large leaves that are somewhat triangular in shape with long, fleshy petioles, and the latter are readily available in most grocery stores.

Rhubarb is particularly effective at removing limescale stains because it absorbs most marks through the copious amount of absorbent acid it contains. When you’re done, dispose of the plant debris and then clean as usual.

* Ammonia can also work, but should never be mixed or used with bleach because it can form toxic fumes.

* If all else fails, consider using stronger acids to finish the job. For example, oxalic acid is effective as a rust remover; phosphoric acid is often found in cleaning products that remove hard water deposits; and hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are sometimes used in dilute concentrations in toilet bowl cleaners.

Commercial lime stain remover

Compare if vinegars and lemons just aren’t enough; you may need a more powerful approach. Visit hardware and grocery stores for more stringent chemical cleaners. Commercial products designed to remove hard, white limescale can be used if the label says they are safe for the surface.

* Lime-A-Way is a product found in most stores; if you have hard water, it’s a must. You can use it for many applications. To clean your sink and bathtub, spray it on the stained spots, and leave it there for up to 15 minutes, depending on how dirty they are, then wipe it off and rinse it off.

Once you’ve cleaned the sink or tub, use the same sponge to quickly wipe down the faucets – it leaves them so shiny and clean you’ll think they’re brand new.

* Bar Keepers Friend is a powdered cleaner that works wonders on pots and pans. However, do not use it on non-stick surfaces. Wet the surface of the pot and sprinkle a generous amount of BKF over the pot. Use a sponge to rub in a circular pattern. Rub and rinse. Your pots will shine.

* Calgon is a product consisting of powdered sodium hexametaphosphate (amorphous sodium polyphosphate), which in water would form complexes with the ambient calcium ion and other cations, preventing the formation of unwanted salts and the interference of those cations with the actions of soap or other detergents.

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