Although beyond their control, homeowners often battle hard water with its accompanying dingy laundry and unattractive hard water stains. While water softening equipment and supplies cost many households a huge part of their budgets, a heavy hitter against hard water stains resides in most kitchen pantries.
Hard Water Stain Causes
Hard water contains salts such as calcium or magnesium, making it highly alkaline and causing chemical deposits such as scum, film or lime on surfaces.
Commonly Affected Objects
Showers, toilets and bathroom fixtures often present hard water stains in the form of white spots or film, but glass, china, porcelain and any other surfaces in common contact with water may show deposits as well.
Why Vinegar Works
Acid counters alkaline stains. At 5 percent acetic acid, vinegar removes deposits while working more gently on surfaces than stronger acids.
How to Clean with Vinegar
Wrap a towel with vinegar around the affected area for 10 to 30 minutes; or if removable---as in the case of shower heads---soak the item in a vinegar bath for the same amount of time.
Items to Avoid
Vinegar may cause discoloration on brass or colored fixtures. As with any cleaner, testing a small portion ensures safety prior to use.
- U.S. Geological Survey Water-Quality Information: Water Hardness and Alkalinity
- Filter Water Direct: Removing Hard Water Stains from Appliances and Fixtures
- The Vinegar Institute: Uses and Tips
- Reader's Digest: Eight Tips for Cleaning a Kitchen or Bathroom Sink
- Business Dictionary: Hard Water Definition
- Photo Credit soap dispensers image by Dragan Trifunovic from Fotolia.com eau image by RÃ©mi BORNET from Fotolia.com glasses image by cherie from Fotolia.com Test Kit image by Cinneman from Fotolia.com bottle image by tofuwarrior from Fotolia.com GRIFO image by anna janÃ© from Fotolia.com
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