Hard Water - Etching and Staining

kaelkriverJune 16, 2009


I hope you can help. We have hard water, though we have a softener. Every toilet bowl in the house seems to have a ring etched at the water line. Is there anyway to get rid of this or do we need to replace the toilet?

Second, though we wipe the shower and tub down, there always seems to be a rust stain at the drain and around the tub doors. I can't seem to remove that either. Any suggestions?

It's drives me nuts so I hope you can help. Thanks for your time.

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I have moderately hard water, though nothing to the level it sounds like you do!

Is the ring in the toilet actually etched or is it raised (i.e. a build up of deposits)? If it's raised, the usual recommendation is to try a pumice stick or other abraisive. If it's etched (indented)... man, I guess you'd just have to live with it or replace the toilet. Never heard of that.

I recently picked up a bottle of "CLR Kitchens and bathrooms" (like this, but I got it at a store and it was around $3). It did a nice job removing the hard water spots and build-up on my shower fixtures (and, as a bonus, was relatively mildly scented and that dissipated quickly). It says it should work on rust, though I can't personally attest to that. I usually use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to clean around the drains - they get a combination of soap scum, hard water marks, touch of rust, etc, and a weekly 10 second scrub seems to take care of that.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 10:41AM
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Thanks much for the suggestion. I never thought about using Mr Clean Magic Erasers, although I use them frequently for other things around the house. I'll give it a try, and the CLR.

Again, much appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 11:03AM
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Hi kaelkriver,
I certainly was not referring to you as a spammer but rather the isteam response, which has shown up in almost every threat around here the last few days. Not intended for you at all.

I have VERY hard water in Denver and have also used CLR for the tub and the toilet. I usually spray and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing down and rinsing. However, I am very careful to rinse the shower down after using CLR as I had an old tub surround (aluminum) that started to etch over time as well. Once the thick build up is gone, I've found that I don't need to use CLR more than once a month if I keep up with regular cleaning.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 5:41PM
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Thanks Cohoss, CLR seems to be the way to go.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 7:56AM
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Our water here in Tucson is so hard you have to chew it 10 times before swallowing! Anyway I use pumice stick to remove the hard water build up around the toilet bowl. I've tried limeaway and CLR but old fashioned elbow grease and pumice works fine. The first time may take a few minutes but then the followups aren't too bad.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 3:59PM
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I have what must be a pumice stick on a handle. I bought this from some catalog a long time ago so don't remember the details. I'm hoping when I need more of them I can google and find it. It works well.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 12:06PM
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We have to chew our water too! I turn the toilet water off and flush to drain bowl. Lay paper towels soaked in white vinegar on the ring. Come back an hour later, remove paper towels and use the dark green Scotchbrite pads. Comes right off.

For polished chrome fixtures, I wrap them in soaked paper towels for about 20 minutes. Come back and use the paper towel to wipe with and they are as clean as brand new.

For stainless sink, I use a spray bottle to totally wet and keep it wet for about 20 minutes. Wipe with paper towels. Clean!

Hope you try this as it is so easy and no chemicals or hard work. It has never damaged anything, but that may depend on the age and condition of your stuff.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 11:22AM
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Great advice, I'll give them all a try and let you know how it works. Again, thanks to all for taking the time to respond.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 7:58AM
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I hate to sound like a spammer for 'The Works', but I've had amazing results with their toilet cleaner (hydrochloric acid) and it's SO cheap - $1 a bottle at Big Jobs or the Dollar Store.

A few years ago I was visiting my father - who has real hard water, and there was a crusty formation in his toilet that neither he nor his cleaning lady had been able to remove. I poured The Works on it and it broke apart immediately and we were able to completely clean it out.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 7:59AM
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And the winner is..... pumice. Yeah! I found one with a handle, in the nail care section, at Walgreen's. Next time I would forgo the handle and just buy the stone. Because of the shape of the bowl I will only be able to use part of it (the tip), unless I break it, of course. There wasnÂt a lot of work to it.

I regularly use The Works and though itÂs good on the rust, it didnÂt take care of the ring. When I have more time I want to try the vinegar method. I was more into instant gratification this time around.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 8:28AM
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Glad to hear the pumice worked! I've never used one as I've been afraid of scratching - did you find that it did leave any small scratches in the porcelain?
My grocery store here has a large pumice stone (looks way too big to use) for about $9.50.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 1:10PM
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I paid $2.49 at Walgreens, as I said, it was on a stick. They also had one the size of an egg for about $5.00. A little bit goes a long, long way. And I didn't notice any scratches, but will report back as time goes on if I do see any.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 1:30PM
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For that hard-water ring in the toilet I use Hannah's Helper ring remover scour screen. It conforms to the shape of the bowl and you just lightly scrape away. I try to stay on the ring and not wander too much onto the rest of the porcelain and I haven't noticed any scratches. But CLR doesn't cut it on the shower floor where the hard-water build up can get bad. Someone put me onto Duro Tub'n Sink Jelly lime & rust remover. My job was years of build up so it took some patience and elbow grease, but it saved my shower remodel! I got it at Ace Hardware. It goes on with a brush; let it sit and let it do it's thing, and I still had to scrub and also use the Hannah's helper. Now I rarely have to use it. I also use a Sonic Scrubber for the rust around the drains and it works great for the buildup around the faucets as well.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 6:30PM
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I've never heard of Hannah's Helper, where do you get that? I'm going to Ace anyway so I'll check into Duro -


    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 7:49AM
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For Hannah's Helper, check in the cleaning supply section of your grocery store or Walmart or hardware store. I think I might have found it at Home Depot the last time I purchased it. I don't have to buy it very often. I cut the sheet in half and they last forever.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 11:29AM
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