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Vinegar is the answer to how to clean hard water stains – but not any old acid!

In NJ, just like most other parts of the United States, some water supplies are hard water, while others are soft. If left uncleaned, hard water can stain ceramic tiles. That’s because as water dries, it leaves minerals behind. Mostly, this is magnesium and calcium. Over a period of time, these deposits will stain your tiles. Fortunately, hard water stains can be cleaned from ceramic tiles.

How do you know you have hard water?

There’s several signs that you’ve got hard water (which is just another way of saying your water has a higher concentration of minerals). For example:

  • It’s difficult to conjure up a lather when washing your hair, no matter how much shampoo you use
  • Your clothes fade quickly in the wash
  • Your shower head and faucets scale quickly
  • Your shower doors suffer water spots, and your tub suffers a scum line

While hard water isn’t usually dangerous, it can leave horrible stains on your tiles.

When does hard water become a cleaning problem?

The short answer is always, but the real answer isn’t quite as clear cut.

If you clean your bathroom wall and floor tiles after every use, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you leave the cleaning for a day or two, those stains start to appear. Each time you allow water to dry instead of wiping it away, a new deposit of minerals creates another layer. This locks in any dirt, too. After a few days, the stain starts to appear. If you leave the clean for weeks or months, it can be really unsightly.

But all is not lost! There is an easy way to get rid of hard water stains on ceramic tiles.

Use household acid in the war against hard water stains on tiles

Hard water is alkaline, so acidic solutions will soften mineral deposits left behind. They will start to dissolve. That’s the science bit over and done with! What you want to know is what acidic solution you could use to clean hard water stains from ceramic tiles.

What you need is a gentle, non-abrasive, safe and non-toxic acid. How about white vinegar? Using it to clean hard water stains from ceramic tiles couldn’t be easier:

  1. Put paper towels down on dry tiles
  2. Soak them with the white vinegar
  3. Leave for eight to ten hours, or overnight
  4. Squeeze out the paper towels, and throw them away
  5. Now scrub the floor with a stiff brush

If the water stains are fresh, instead of soaking paper towels with vinegar and leaving overnight, use the following method:

  • Pour the vinegar on a sponge
  • Wipe the water marks, and allow the vinegar to sit for a few minutes
  • Wipe more vinegar on the stains
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the stains
  • You will notice that the tiles begin to fizz
  • Dampen the sponge with water, and scrub the baking soda into the vinegar
  • Rinse with clean water
  • Repeat if necessary

If the stains are on ceramic wall tiles, soak the towels with the vinegar solution and ‘stick’ them to the wall. Then follow the first method above to complete the cleaning process.

If your tiles are stained so much that this method doesn’t work, contact Porter's Cleaning. We’ve got a few professional tricks up our sleeves that may be able to get your tiles back to their original condition.

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