How to Remove Hard Water Stains from Your Toilet, Sink and Bathtub

Updated: Jul. 31, 2023

You'll need a few simple secret weapons to remove hard water stains like a pumice stone, vinegar and baking soda.

Like it or not, most households have hard water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey about 85% of the U.S. has hard water; when you turn on your faucet, it’s likely hard water coming out. The good news? Hard water is not harmful, and with the right cleaning techniques, you can remove the stains it leaves behind.

Here’s the best way to remove hard water stains from every bathroom surface!

What Causes Hard Water Stains?

That cloudy shower door, yellow stains in the toilet and white buildup on the shower head are all caused by one thing: hard water.

In scientific terms, your water is considered “hard water” if it is high in dissolved minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium. When hard water dries on a surface, it leaves behind mineral deposits. That’s what causes the tough-to-remove stains.

How to Remove Hard Water Stains


That pesky ring marking the water line is caused by hard water—and it’s extremely hard to remove. It won’t come off with regular toilet brush scrubbing. Instead, you’ll need a secret weapon: a Pumie Scouring Stick. This abrasive pumice stone stick scrubs away the hard water ring, without scratching the ceramic bowl. Once you get to know the other uses of pumice stone, you’ll never go back!

First, wet the stick, then rub the edge of the stick on the hard water line with back and forth strokes. As you scrub, the stick creates a paste buildup that helps to clean and polish. Once the ring is gone, flush to rinse away paste and residue.


Another secret weapon against hard water stains is cleaning with vinegar. The acidity in white vinegar eats away at the mineral deposits. The trick is to let the vinegar sit on the hard water long enough to work its magic.

Grab a spray bottle and mix equal parts water and vinegar (you can also add a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap for more clinging power). Spray the solution on the bathtub stains, let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then wipe clean. Let the solution sit longer depending on the severity of the stains. Looking for more bathtub cleaning tips? Check out our guide for how to clean a bathtub.


Sprinkle baking soda or Borax directly on the hard water stain in your sink, then spray on the same vinegar and water solution you used on the bathtub. Let the cleaners sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a soft brush or sponge. (Remember to wear gloves when cleaning with Borax.)

If the hard water stains are also on the sink faucet, soak a paper towel in a vinegar and water mixture, squeezing out the excess. Then lay the wet paper towel on the faucet and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove paper towel and scrub clean.

How to Prevent Hard Water Stains

  • Do not leave hard water to dry on its own. Use a dry cloth to wipe away any water from the sink, bathtub, faucets, shower, and countertop.
  • Clean frequently. The more you ignore hard water buildup; the tougher it is to remove. It can even permanently damage bathroom surfaces if not removed.
  • Install a water softener. This is not a cheap option but many homeowners find the long-term solution worth the expense.

Top-Rated Hard Water Stain Removers

  • Pumie Scouring Stick: Effectively scrubs away hard water stains from your toilet and porcelain sink (don’t use on fiberglass surfaces like the bathtub).
  • White Vinegar: Simple and affordable, nothing fights hard water better than plain ol’ vinegar!
  • Bring It On Cleaner Hard Water Stain Remover: This powerful cleaner has over 3,000 positive reviews! It contains oxygen bleach to help dissolve calcium buildup.