How to Clean Kitchen and Bathroom Faucets

Tired of dirty faucets? Here’s how to clean them.

Is your bathroom faucet beginning to look quite nasty with brown and white stains? Or is the pressure in your kitchen fixture running lower than usual? Then it’s about time you whipped out the gloves and sponges.

Faucets are prone to corrosion and build-ups of minerals, and frankly, it’s something many of us are guilty of ignoring. Today, we show you how to clean faucets, whether in your kitchen or bathroom. In a few minutes, you’ll be ready to take on the grime.

Common Causes of Dirty-Looking Faucets

Sparkling faucets go a long way to making a room look fresh and clean. However, they’re constantly exposed to minerals and other corrosive elements through water. Some of these include:

  • Water spots.
  • Limescale build-up.
  • Corrosion.

Water Spots

Unless you have a special finish such as matte black, oil-rubbed bronze or white, water spots are a constant presence. Coats like chrome and stainless steel are particularly prone to water spots.

Water spots are the leftover water that splashes up onto the fixture. Sometimes they’re mixed with soap or creams, making their impact worse. These spots can make an otherwise shiny, beautiful faucet look cloudy and poorly kept.

Fortunately, they’re easy to clean without using harsh chemicals — our guide will show you how.

Limescale Build-Up

If your fixture is looking cloudy, scummy or stained around the nozzle, it’s likely due to limescale build-up. Dissolved minerals like magnesium and calcium are present in all household water. Certain areas have a greater concentration of minerals (1).

The dissolved minerals run through the plumbing until reaching your faucet. If you have an aerator, it will prevent some of the large deposits from exiting. As the water eventually evaporates, the minerals are left behind, creating a build-up.

As you continue to use your fixture, more and more of the minerals accumulate. Eventually, you’re left with scaly, hard limescale deposits, which reduce the water pressure (2). Fortunately, they’re easy to clean, though you may have to remove or replace the aerator.


Corrosion generally occurs as a result of limescale. It’s unpleasant to look at, but what’s worse is that it can spread and ruin your entire fixture. Once it’s really bad, you’ll notice the water spurting out as opposed to flowing.

There are some very simple ways to clear up limescale, especially in the early stages. But, in some cases, the faucet requires a replacement.

How to Clean Faucets: General Exterior Clean

Despite this being a general clean, it’s quite thorough and may remove most of the minerals and water spots.

Keep In Mind

For the best results, do a general clean at least a couple of times a month. If your faucet is corroded, this might not be enough.

What You Need

  • Dish soap.
  • Warm water.
  • Bowl or bucket.
  • Baking soda.
  • Old toothbrush.
  • Washrag.
  • Dental floss.
  • Microfiber cloth.

Step 1: Prepare the Solution

Prepare a dish soap solution by mixing 1–2 tablespoons of soap with 2 cups of warm water in a bowl. Mix it vigorously to create some foam.

Avoid using hard chemicals containing bleach, ammonia or alcohol — these can ruin the finish.

Step 2: Wash the Faucet

Grab a regular washrag and soak it in the solution. Begin to scrub the fixture using circular motions — soak the rag in the soapy mix after a few scrubs.

Go over the neck, handles and near the base a couple of times to be thorough. You don’t have to use excessive force, just enough to remove present grime.

Step 3: Clean Grimy Areas

Get a small dish or plate and place a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in it.

Mix it with some water to create a paste. Add water little by little to avoid over-diluting it.

Take an old toothbrush, scoop up some of the mixture, and clean the grimy parts. This is usually around the base where dirt tends to build up. Use a gentle motion, so you don’t damage the finish.

Step 4: Clear out Small Cracks and Crevices

If there are no small crevices on your faucet, skip this step. If there are, grab some dental floss.

Use approximately 12 inches and place it in any space where you couldn’t reach. Use an up and down motion, much like flossing your teeth. You should soon see grime stuck on the string.

Step 5: Rinse with Cold Water

Fill a bowl with clean, cold water and grab a new cloth. Dampen it in the water and proceed to rinse the faucet. Continue until soap residue, grime, and gunk are gone.

Step 6: Dry the Faucet

Take a clean, dry microfiber cloth and wipe off the faucet to dry it. Drying after cleaning will help to polish it and give some shine. This ensures that all the water spots are gone.

Simply pat it gently back and forth until all the water is gone and it’s completely dry. Step back and admire your fresh new fixture.

How to Clean Faucets: Limescale

Hard limescale requires a bit more than dish soap. You can use a CLR (calcium, lime, and rust) remover if the build-up is severe. However, we recommend using white vinegar as it’s much kinder to the environment and your faucet, and it works just as well.

What You Need

  • White vinegar or CLR.
  • Small plastic bag.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • Microfiber cloth.
  • Rubber band.

Step 1: Prepare the Vinegar

Take a bottle of white vinegar, and pour a cup or two into a plastic bag.

Watch Out

Although vinegar is mild enough for most finishes, some faucets such as nickel and iron can suffer damage. For them, a general clean with dish soap will suffice.

Step 2: Wrap the Spout

Take your vinegar-filled plastic bag and attached it to the spout. Try to hold it at an angle, so the vinegar flows into one corner.

Slide it over the fixture to submerge the nozzle.

Here’s the tricky part! Fasten the bag using a rubber band — think tying a ponytail. Let it soak for 24 hours. If you don’t have that much time, use CLR instead, and soak it for up to two hours.

Step 3: Remove the Bag

After 24 hours, remove the bag and dispose of its contents. Vinegar is fine to pour down the drain, and may even clear some light gunk on the way.

Step 4: Scrub Like You Mean It

Once the bag is off, quickly grab an old toothbrush and begin to scrub. Focus around the spout to remove limescale build-up on the nozzle. Move under the spout, and scrub deposits from in there as well.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

Similar to the general method, grab a clean cloth and dampen it with cold water. Rinse the spout and nozzle until all residue is gone. Take the microfiber cloth and dry the fixture.

How to Clean Faucets: The Aerator

If you notice low pressure coming from your faucet, check the aerator. It’s a small screen fitted with lots of tiny holes attached to the nozzle. The aerator is responsible for many things, but its most important job is to aerate the flow to conserve water.

However, because of the tiny holes, it’s prone to mineral and sediment build-up.

What You Need

  • Vinegar.
  • Warm water.
  • Bucket, bowl or dish.
  • Pliers.
  • Plastic tape.
  • Old toothbrush.

Step 1: Remove the Aerator

The most challenging step of the cleaning process is removing the aerator.

Start by using your fingers to try and turn it. Rotate it counterclockwise to loosen. If it doesn’t budge, place some plastic tape around the gripping surface, then use the pliers. Use minimal pressure to avoid damaging it.

In case you can’t remove it, refer to the limescale cleaning technique above. Fill a plastic bag with undiluted vinegar and attach it to the spout.

Be Gentle

If you use too much force with the pliers trying to loosen the aerator, you can quickly deform it. This will then need replacing.

Step 2: Flush the Aerator

After you’ve removed the aerator, flush it under running water. Turn it the other way so minerals and debris can fall out.

Step 3: Soak in Vinegar

Grab a small dish or bowl and make a solution of vinegar and warm water. Mix it 50/50; for example, half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of water.

Place the aerator in the solution and leave it to soak for 30–60 minutes.

While the aerator is out of the faucet, take the opportunity to flush the spout. Place a thick rag or towel over the drain. Then, open the tap and let the water run for 30 seconds to a minute. The rag will catch any significant debris, preventing them from falling into the drain and causing trouble there.

Step 4: Rinse Again

After 30–60 minutes, remove the aerator from the vinegar solution.

Grab an old toothbrush and proceed to scrub it gently under running water. It should look much cleaner in no time.

Step 5: Replace the Aerator

Screw the aerator back onto the nozzle and secure it until it’s snug. Turn on the water and enjoy the improved stream.

How to Clean Faucets: Minerals Around the Plating

The plating is the surface around the faucet’s base. This is also an important spot to clean, as minerals tend to build up here. It’s not very nice to look at since it often turns brownish and overall makes your faucets look poorly kept.

What You Need

  • Dry rag.
  • Washrag.
  • Bowl.
  • Vinegar.
  • A scrub sponge.
  • Microfiber cloth.

Step 1: Dry the Surface

Use a dry rag and remove all moisture from the surface you want to clean. If any water is present, it’ll dilute the vinegar and impair its power.

Step 2: Soak a Washrag in Vinegar

Grab a clean bowl and fill it halfway with white vinegar. Submerge a washrag until it’s completely soaked.

Step 3: Drape the Washrag Around the Spout

Remove the washrag from the bowl. Without squeezing the vinegar out, drape it around the faucet’s neck to cover the plating.

Pour the leftover vinegar over the washrag to ensure full coverage. Leave it to work for about one hour — try to keep peeking to a minimum.

Step 4: Remove and Scrub

After an hour, remove the washcloth and grab a scrub sponge. Use the hard side and gently clean the calcium-covered surface.

If it worked, rinse the area and cloth with some cold water. However, if you didn’t get everything off, repeat the process of soaking and scrubbing.

Step 5: Dry and Finish

Once everything is clean, take the microfiber cloth and dry the surface. And you’re done!


Cleaning a faucet, whether in the kitchen or bathroom, is very easy. You can use dish soap for general cleaning, and white vinegar for build-up.

However, it’s essential to clean regularly. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing corrosion, which may require a replacement.

We hope you found our guide on how to clean faucets useful. If you have any further questions, please leave them below.

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About the Author

Sylvia Jones

Sylvia Jones is a hands-on, DIY aficionado from Indiana. She is passionate about home improvement, gardening, and environmental conservation. In her spare time, you can find Sylvia getting involved in home improvement projects around the house with her husband, or spending quality time out in the yard.