White Vinegar Removes Hard Water Stains

white vinegar removes hard water stains

simple organic alternative cleaner

You’ve all seen them; ugly hard water stains on your counter and faucet, left behind by mineral content in your drinking water.

You can go to the store and buy some goopy, mysterious chemical, made for just this, or look to a natural approach using something simple you probably already own. The “benefit” claimed by the products in the store are usually around how quickly they work and how safe they are on your counter top. Honestly this entire project took about 3 minutes of my actual time and I didn’t have to drive to the store. I’m also pretty confident of the safety of white vinegar for my own health and my family, which always has the highest priority.

I’ve tried this trick on several types of material, but the usual disclaimer applies. You should test this on a small, out of site area to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolor your stuff.

White vinegar is very acidic and can remove many types of stains. I also use it to clean my brewing and fermenting equipment, and during the summer I spray it directly on broad leaf weeds baking in the sun. Spraying vinegar on weeds has one side effect – it can create the smell of a tasty salad and make your stomach growl. Beware.

Yesterday morning I decided I was tired of looking at the hard water stain by our kitchen faucet. I grabbed the white vinegar and a paper towel. I tore the paper towel into strips, soaked them in vinegar, and set them right on the stains. The paper towel strips simply keep the vinegar on the spot you intended, so the acid can do it’s trick.

About three hours later I could see the paper towel bits were a little dry, so I poured a bit of vinegar directly on them to moisten. Later that evening I took them off, rubbed the remaining stain for about 2 seconds and threw them away. The dramatic BEFORE and AFTER photos are here.

Although it sat there all day, I didn’t really do anything. As I said earlier I think my personal investment in time was about 3 minutes. Total cost, probably less than a dime..

Pretty simple.


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  1. White vinegar is amazing stuff, plus it’s cheap and non-toxic. We used white vinegar a couple months ago to remove the mildew smells from out towels. We had to wash the towels, no other laundry, in hot water with 2 cups of white vinegar. Then, after that cycle went through, we put it through another wash cycle with laundry soap. Voila! The stubborn smell was gone.

    • Mil that’s a great tip. I was going to try that with hydrogen peroxide but i’ll try the white vinegar first – thanks.

    • Jennifer says:

      Ever get stains on a mattress, my sons mattress would get stains from him sweating, this was before I put the mattress cover on it…LOL I took vinegar and water put in a spray bottle, sprayed directly on mattress, poof a couple of hours later stains gone, there was also a spot about the size of a apple where he spilled something and I sprayed it and took a white towel and scrubbed it a little and sprayed again and it was gone with the rest of the stains. amazing…

      • Jennifer, I have a beige couch that I just about gave up on. the dogs like to rub themselves on the side of it when they walk by, so it’s turned brownish over the years. When the sun is out for more than just a couple of hours at a time, i think i’m going to try spraying the couch with vinegar and letting it sit in the sun for a day…..

      • thanks for the inspiration!

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