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..
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This article (White Vinegar Removes Hard Water Stains) is free and open source. It may be reprinted with permission under this Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, with attribution to Brad Rowland and Highlyuncivilized.com. December 4th, 2011.