Fact Checked

How Do I Use Vinegar for Hard Water?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

Hard water refers to water that has a higher amount of dissolved minerals than other types of water, and it is a common problem for many people. Using vinegar for hard water stain removal is a popular natural cleaning method. Undiluted vinegar can be applied to a surface that has hard water stains. After the vinegar has been allowed to set on the surface for several minutes, the stains will usually wipe right off. Many people use vinegar for cleaning their bathrooms and kitchens.

As water passes through soil and rocks, it can pick up minerals, and water that is referred to as “hard” has a higher than normal amount of minerals in it. Hard water can interfere with the sudsing ability of some soaps and detergents. Certain minerals in the water, particularly magnesium and calcium, can also leave a white stain or film on most surfaces. Instead of purchasing harsh and expensive hard water stain cleaners, many people use vinegar for hard water stains.

Red and white vinegar.
Red and white vinegar.

A bathroom toilet is a common place to find hard water stains. To remove these stains, undiluted white distilled vinegar can be poured into the toilet. After several minutes to an hour, these stains should simply wipe right off. Even when using vinegar for hard water, however, some more stubborn stains may need to be scrubbed.

Showers and tubs can also benefit from vinegar. A clean spray bottle can be used to apply vinegar for hard water stain removal to these surfaces. Several minutes later, most of the stains should wipe off easily. To prevent hard water stains, vinegar can be sprayed onto the inside surfaces of a tub or shower stall before showering.

Vinegar can be used to clean toilet bowls.
Vinegar can be used to clean toilet bowls.

Mineral buildup due to hard water can also cause shower heads to become stained and less efficient. Vinegar can also be used to combat this problem. The shower head should be soaked in undiluted vinegar for a couple of hours to remove the buildup. Pouring the vinegar into a plastic bag and securing it to the shower head with a rubber band is probably one of the easiest ways to do this.

Shower heads can be soaked in vinegar to remove hard water buildup.
Shower heads can be soaked in vinegar to remove hard water buildup.

Vinegar for hard water stains and buildup can also be used in the kitchen. Dishes washed in a dishwasher, particularly glasses, will often be stained by hard water. To prevent this, vinegar can be added to the machine during the rinse cycle. Not only will this remove and prevent hard water stains on dishes, but it will also help eliminate these stains on the inside surfaces of the dishwasher.

Coffee pots can also be affected by hard water. The buildup of minerals in these small appliances can not only cause unpleasant tasting coffee, but it can also cause the machines to quit working properly. To prevent this, diluted vinegar should be run through them once a month. After running the vinegar and water mixture through the machine a few times, plain water should be run through as well to remove any traces of vinegar.

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Discussion Comments


The sink in our guest bathroom had a leak around the faucet. The continual leak caused a hard water stain on the sink and the faucet. I soaked a cloth in vinegar and wrapped the cloth around the faucet. I left it there for several days before removing it.

After removing the cloth, I scrubbed the faucet with a cleaner and the stain came right off. Initially, I had applied the cleaner and scrubbed. This was before I used the vinegar soaked cloth, but the stain did not come off.

For the stain on the basin I just poured vinegar on it several times while the cloth was working on the faucet. The basin came clean too.


Finally, vinegar gets the publicity it deserves! I'm joking, sort of. Vinegar is a great product with a wide array of uses. I have used vinegar in most of the ways mentioned in the article and in a plethora of other ways.

Vinegar is a good substitute for bleach with most tasks. The smell of bleach doesn't bother me, but I know people who complain that breathing in the bleach fumes makes them ill.

Also, vinegar is more environmentally friendly and does not have the same negative effects on humans. Vinegar can be used for cooking so we know we are not putting ourselves at risk by breathing in the vinegar odor when cleaning with it or using it on our clothing.

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    • Red and white vinegar.
      By: GeoM
      Red and white vinegar.
    • Vinegar can be used to clean toilet bowls.
      By: afxhome
      Vinegar can be used to clean toilet bowls.
    • Shower heads can be soaked in vinegar to remove hard water buildup.
      By: dmitrimaruta
      Shower heads can be soaked in vinegar to remove hard water buildup.