How do I get rid of limescale?

limescale main

No matter if it’s residue from the kettle, a little deposit on taps, or even clogging the shower head, we’ve probably all had to deal with – and been properly annoyed by –  limescale at some point.

Realistically, limescale is nothing bad – just minerals from the water (mainly calcium and magnesium, in case you were wondering) being left behind when it evaporates. That’s also why it’s often, but not exclusively, found in places where you use more hot than cold water.

Limescale is more common in hard water areas, so places where the water has a higher mineral content – but it can also build up over time if you live in a region with softer water.

Still, this doesn’t mean I want little floaty bits in at the bottom of my kettle or, in the worst case, in my tea though.

As annoying as it is, luckily limescale is easy to get rid of – here are some easy tips and tricks to get your fittings, fixtures, and small appliances sparkling clean again. You don’t even need much, just lemon juice or vinegar and maybe a little patience.

If you’re unsure how hard your water is, Aqua Cure has a handy online tool to check specifically for your postcode.

How to get rid of limescale in your kitchen

Let’s begin by looking at the biggest culprit – your kettle.

kettle
Limescale in your kettle can not only leave you with floaty bits in your hot drinks, the buildup can also damage your appliance. Image via iStock.com / maksim kulikov.

Fill it with a mixture of half water and half vinegar and let it sit over night – in the morning, the limescale should be taken care of. Rinse your kettle well, to get rid of any lingering vinegar smell.

Alternatively, add a splash of vinegar, top it up with some water, boil, and pour it out. Give your kettle a wipe and you’re good – just make sure you don’t scald yourself on the still-hot appliance.

What about my kitchen tap?

For your kitchen tap, we need to look at the material first.

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For most designs, you can make the same solution – half water, half vinegar – and wipe down the body of your tap. If the residue is a bit more persistent, soak a cloth, wrap it around the part you want to clean, and let it soak in for a bit of time.

If you have a gold or chrome plated tap, however, check with the manufacturer before you take any acid to the material. The acid from vinegar can discolour the base material through the thin coating, so it’s always best to make sure it’s safe before you find yourself with a patchy tap.

If limescale is clogging your spout and changing the spray, fill a freezer bag with the water-vinegar mixture and tie it around your tap for a little – then briefly run the water a few hours later (or after leaving it overnight) and you’re good to go.

showerhead
If you live in a hard water area, you’ve probably found limescale on your showerhead, taps, and other fittings. Image via iStock.com / art159.

How to get rid of limescale in your bathroom

Whether it’s your basin tap or the showerhead, you’ll find the same tips as for the kitchen apply: a mixture of half water, half white vinegar is your go-to solution here.

Wipe down surfaces or use a cloth to soak them for more stubborn residue. For tricky corners, handles, or the harder-to-reach base of your tap, an old toothbrush is a handy companion to get every little bit of residue.

And if your showerhead is so clogged it affects the flow, once again: fill your water-vinegar mixture into a plastic bag, tie it so the showerhead is submerged, and leave it overnight. You can also remove it from the shower hose and soak it in a bucket for at least 30 minutes – just make sure there is enough water-vinegar mixture to fully submerge your showerhead.

Then, use a soft cloth to remove any remaining residue. If that doesn’t get it all, repeat the procedure.

If you find your WC has limescale deposits, and a good clean and scrub with the toilet brush is proving fruitless, fill the water-vinegar solution into a spray bottle and spritz it on if it’s only a small area.

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For thicker residue, opt pouring for straight, undiluted white vinegar onto the spots and let it work its magic for at least three hours – although overnight is best.

Unlike on taps, in your WC limescale usually as a brown, pink, or orange-coloured stain.

limescale surfaces
On surfaces and in your WC bowl, limescale can often show up as a pink, brown, or orange-stained residue. Image via iStock.com / Natalya Trofimchuk

My bathroom surfaces have that white film, too, though…

This is where we’ll switch it up a little. For this area, mix one part vinegar with three parts water and fill it into a spray bottle.

Clean your tiles, countertop, shower screen, or any other surface that has limescale on it. Then, spray the mixture on it – making sure you get everything – and let it sit for an hour. Then, wipe down with a clean cloth and you’re good to go. For grout lines or other hard-to-reach areas, once again your trust toothbrush will come in handy.

Make sure everything is dried well, and at this point it should be spick and span. Like with plated taps, make sure your tiles – especially more porous designs, such as encaustics – and other surfaces can take this sort of treatment. Marble, for example, generally doesn’t take kindly to acid, so you’d run the risk of staining the stone.

Good to know…

To finish off, there are two things I’ll call the limesclae cardinal rules.

One: if the water-vinegar mixture doesn’t cut it, try lemon juice. It’s stronger and will usually get rid of limescale that’s been allowed to build up for some time.

Two: Do not scratch or scrape at limescale on your taps – you risk damaging the fitting’s finish or even the surface.

Featured image: via istock.com / Miljan Živković

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