Hard water stains appear when hard water is evaporated from a surface and leaves behind mineral deposits. These same minerals often cause limescale and other buildups in your plumbing and appliances.
The marks left by hard water aren’t dangerous and aren’t always obvious. However, they can be very visible on glass surfaces, which is why drinking glasses often appear hazy or cloudy even after cleaning them.
Removing these stains can be difficult if you don’t know how, especially when cleaning delicate glass objects. In this article, we will tell you how to remove hard water stains from glass shower doors, windows, drinking glasses, and even fish tanks.
- Use white vinegar to remove hard water stains from glass surfaces like shower doors, windows, and drinking glasses.
- For stubborn stains, try an acidic cleaner such as hydrochloric, sulfuric, or phosphoric acid, but be cautious and follow safety guidelines.
- For fish tanks, avoid using hard water and chemicals, and clean with vinegar or a specialized fish tank cleaner.
- To prevent hard water stains, dry glass surfaces thoroughly after cleaning or rinsing to avoid mineral buildup.
Modern shower doors are designed to encourage water to flow off their surfaces as quickly as possible. However, in time, hard water droplets can begin leaving marks and these spots can make an otherwise pristine shower door look unsightly.
There are two simple ways to get hard water stains off glass shower doors, one natural and one chemical:
- White vinegar
- Acidic cleaner
Again, we prefer to use white vinegar to clean glass windows if possible. A chemical cleaner should only be used to get hard water spots off glass windows if natural cleaners don’t work.
Step 1: Apply Vinegar
Mix equal amounts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, then spray it onto the stained window. Rub the solution into the affected area using a damp cloth or sponge, then leave it to work for up to 30 minutes.
If the stains are particularly hard or stubborn, use undiluted vinegar instead.
Step 2: Make a Paste
Combine equal amounts of salt and baking soda in a container or bowl, then add small amounts of water to form a paste. You can use any type of salt for this, but fine table salt is usually easier to work into a paste.
Step 3: Apply the Paste
The combination of baking soda and salt will create a mildly abrasive cleaner that should cut through tough stains.
Dip a cloth or sponge in the paste and rub it onto the window using circular motions. You won’t need to apply too much pressure as the baking soda and salt will do most of the work for you.
Step 4: Rinse and Dry
Rinse the area thoroughly using a damp sponge or cloth. Try to remove all of the paste to avoid creating any extra marks.
Finish by polishing the window using a clean microfiber cloth to ensure no water is left behind to stain the window again.
Drinking glasses are more delicate than modern shower doors and windows but they can still be cleaned thoroughly using our favorite natural treatment. Even better, you can simply put them in a dishwasher if you have one.
Glass Fish Tanks
If you have an aquarium and want to avoid the telltale signs of hard water, here are some important tips:
- Avoid hard water: Avoid using hard water in the tank because of its hard mineral content. Experts say it takes longer for fish to adapt to hard water. Also, as the water slowly evaporates, it leaves behind limescale or mineral deposits (8).
- Don’t use chemicals: Resist the urge to clean your aquarium with chemical cleaners that you use elsewhere in your home. These can leave a residue that is lethal to fish — even on the outside of the tank. It is best to visit your local pet shop and choose a recommended fish tank cleaner.
- Vinegar works: If you want to clean your fish tank using a natural method, vinegar is perfectly safe. It is highly effective at removing stubborn limescale and is also a natural disinfectant. However, you will need to place your fish into a holding tank first. Drain and empty the tank, then scrub the tank and any decorations using the vinegar solution.
- Algae scraper: You can use an algae scraper or razor blade to remove very tough stains. However, avoid using razor blades on plexiglass as they can scratch the surface.
Whenever cleaning a fish tank, make sure you rinse and dry the tank properly before refilling it and replacing fish, rocks, and decorations.