Anyone who lives in a hard water area will be familiar with the unsightly white marks that build up on bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Hard water is water that contains a high concentration of minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium carbonates, picked up from chalk or soft rocks including limestone. Unlike ‘soft water,’ which as relatively low mineral concentration, hard water leaves behind a mineral residue once evaporated.
Commonly called limescale, this white substance is composed of minerals that can gradually harden onto any household surfaces and fixtures that are regularly exposed to water. Not only is this unattractive, but it can actually clog up your appliances, shortening their useful lives.
Limescale is notorious for its stubborn nature which is can be tricky to remove. Luckily, there are a range of specialist products on the market that specifically target this stubborn substance. Let’s take a look at some options for limescale removal:
1. HG Professional Limescale Remover
HG Professional Limescale Remover is a super concentrated formulation for use on severe limescale and calcium build-up. Suitable for use on bathroom surfaces, this is a good product for specialised jobs, such as descaling the shower head or taps. It’s also designed to remove a variety of other unsightly substances including rust, stains, verdigris (the greenish oxidisation on metals such as copper) and general dirt.
This cleaner can be applied neat or diluted in water, according to the amount of limescale buildup; just be aware that this is a highly concentrated cleaner and you should always protect your skin with gloves during use.
2. HG Shower and Washbasin Spray
If the HG Professional spray seems a little too heavy-duty for your house, try HG Shower and Washbasin Spray. This is the everyday version of the concentrated formula and is well suited to lighter jobs. It’s designed to clean up mild limescale deposits as well as other bathroom grime like soap scum.
One of the best features of this cleaner is that it can be applied to any household surface. While this has been specifically designed as bathroom spray, it won’t cause any harm to acid-sensitive materials such as granite and marble. Unlike many commercial limescale removers, this product is safe to use anywhere in the home, though proper safety precautions should always be taken.
3. Viakal Limescale Remover Spray
Available both in a spray bottle and a refill container, Viakal Limescale Remover Spray claims not only to remove limescale residue, but to actually prevent watermarks from coming back in the future. The spray is said to leave a protective film that prevents new build up, even after you’ve wiped the product away.
In order to keep the preventative film in place, regular application is necessary, making this a good option for people who don’t mind doing a little bit of housekeeping every day.
This Viakal spray is available in three different varieties: Regular, Fresh (with a floral fragrance) and Ultra, which has additional anti-bacterial properties. While suitable for use on glass, ceramic and chrome surfaces, this acid-based formula shouldn’t be used on natural stone, household appliances or some metals including silver, copper and gold.
4. Cillit Bang Limescale and Shine Power Cleaner
As its name suggests, the Cillit Bang Limescale and Shine Power Cleaner packs a punch against limescale. This powerful formula uses a “Turbo Foam” action to get rid of tough stains including limescale, soap scum, dirt and rust. Just spray, leave to sit for five minutes and wipe away.
Since the Power Cleaner is a powerful product, this also means that it’s a harsh one. It comes with a litany of safety warnings, so if you’re going to choose this formula, make sure to follow the safety precautions such as wearing skin and eye protection.
This product is too harsh for several surfaces including natural stone, metals, rubber, treated wood and linoleum. It can also be corrosive to metals, so this product is best used on your bathroom enamelware or glass.
5. White Vinegar
For people who prefer to go natural, white vinegar is a cheap, eco-friendly cleaning alternative for getting rid of limescale. While usually used in cooking, vinegar has hundreds of uses as a household cleaner. The acetic acid in vinegar dissolves the minerals in limescale, making it easy to remove without the need for scrubbing.
To descale with vinegar, it may be necessary to soak the relevant area for a few minutes to an hour in order to fully dissolve the buildup. You may also need to repeat the process to completely remove the limescale, but the effort involved is minimal, since the minerals just melt off your surfaces.
To clean fixtures like taps and showerheads, soak a cloth in vinegar and wrap it around the affected area (fasten it in place with a rubber band if needed), then leave it to sit for as long as you think is necessary. Glass surfaces can be cleaned by pouring some vinegar into a spray bottle and using it as you would use a commercial cleaner.
The great thing about using vinegar rather than commercial cleaning products, is that it’s non-toxic and can be safetly used to clean kitchen equipment such as the kettle or dishwasher. To remove limescale from the kettle, simple pour in enough vinegar to cover the affected areas and let it soak for an hour or so, before pouring it out and gently scrubbing out the mineral residue.
Machines including the dishwasher or washing machine can be cleaned by pouring some vinegar into the detergent box and running the machine on an empty cycle.
If you don’t happen to have any vinegar, or if you just don’t the smell, other acidic substances also work, with lemon or lime juice being good alternatives.