How to Get Rid of Hard Water Scale in Pots

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Rural areas are particularly notorious for hard water battles.
Rural areas are particularly notorious for hard water battles. (Image: professional cooking range with pot image by Canakris from Fotolia.com)

If you are new to dealing with the frustrating effects of hard water, one of the first things you are apt to notice is the white lime build-up in pots, pans, kettles, coffeemakers, faucets and showers. In particular, cooking items like pots and pans can quickly build a layer of hard water scale that seems impermeable. However, with one simple ingredient, you can remove the scum and have your favorite cooking pot back.

Assess the severity of the build-up of lime and mineral deposits. If there is a minor stain or ring, an equal parts solution of vinegar and water should be sufficient. If there is significant staining or build-up, or you are unsure of the extent, use more vinegar, or solely vinegar.

Soak the pot in the vinegar solution so that all stained areas are covered, from 15 minutes to an hour. Ventilate the area well to disperse the strong vinegar aroma by opening a window or turning on a fan.

Rinse the pot thoroughly afterward to remove all traces of vinegar, and dry. If there are still visible hard water stains and build-up, repeat the process with a stronger vinegar solution, or let soak overnight. Tough stains may also disappear if you heat the pot with the vinegar solution on the stove top.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove hard water stains from a coffeemaker by filling the reservoir with vinegar and turning on the machine as usual. After the vinegar "brews," rinse the reservoir, filter the container and coffeepot thoroughly with water.
  • Use any chemical products in a well-ventilated area.
  • Do not leave items on the stove top unattended.
  • Use a product like Lime-A-Way with caution, especially on kitchen equipment; these products may also work well but can be toxic to ingest.

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