We’ve all seen that crusty white film that often makes an unsightly appearance around taps, and in our baths, showers and toilets. It’s called limescale and it’s a calcium compound found on surfaces that come into regular contact with ‘hard’ water. Unattractive in the short run and potentially damaging in the long run, it can be tough to eliminate, but not with the right combination of products! Here are some tips on removing bathroom limescale.
What removes limescale?
There are basically two components to bathroom limescale – soap scum (which is the magnesium salt of the soap molecule) and mineral deposits which usually consist of calcium carbonate. These alkaline mineral deposits over time leave stains, and to counteract them, you need some form of acid. However, unfortunately acids used in the bathroom can sometimes corrode alloy trims and shower glass.
Some specially formulated cleaning products contain sulphamic acid, which will work effectively, however in the interests of the environment, household pantry items like lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar are limescale removers that can work just as well. So why not consider a more natural method of cleaning? Let’s look at what works best on what bathroom areas.
Whether your glass shower screen is just covered in hazy grey spots or it’s completely inundated, in terms of how to remove limescale from showers, lemon juice, white vinegar and baking soda can all work well.
With lemon juice, simply pour freshly squeezed or a bottled concentrate onto a soft sponge, wipe over glass surfaces, and leave for a few minutes. Then rinse it away with plenty of clean water and dry the glass with a paper towel. White vinegar in a spray bottle can be diluted in a 50/50 mix with water before drenching the glass with the solution. Leave for a few minutes, go over it with soft-bristled brush, rinse and then again dry with a paper towel.
For tougher stains, baking soda is your go-to. Make a thick paste with a little water, smear it over the glass and use a soft-bristled brush to target stubborn stains on the framework and door hinges. Then rinse and paper-towel it. None in the pantry? Plain old toothpaste will do the job as well (and it will leave a minty freshness!)
Getting rid of limescale on taps can be a trickier job, mainly because minerals like to lurk in hard-to-get-at places! If using vinegar, lemon juice or a baking soda paste, use an old cloth to soak up the liquid and then wrap it around the tap. Your aim is to get all of the metal in contact with the removing agent you’re using, and if you leave it for a hour or so, most of it should dissolve.
To clean the spout, fill a small cup with your chosen cleaning solution, submerge it in the cup, then wrap an old towel around the whole combination. Stubborn stains can be tackled later with a gentle scourer.
Baking soda is also great for limescale removal on bathroom sinks. It not only removes limescale, but soap scum and toothpaste, and its suitable for porcelain and all non-porous, acrylic-based surfaces as well. Start by wiping the whole sink with warm water, then sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface. Next, rub it in using a sponge or soft cloth until it forms a paste. Use an old toothbrush to clean taps and hard-to-reach places, rinse the entire basin with water, then dry with a clean cloth.
And here’s a great tip for time-poor individuals who are after a quick solution for removing limescale from both your sink and the bits and pieces around it! Fill the sink with hot water and add a cup or two of white vinegar. While you’re there, toss in small items that also need a clean, including your soap tray and toothpaste holder. Let everything soak for 10 minutes, and while it’s soaking, rub the mixture around the taps and use a cloth dipped in the mixture to wipe down the counter top. Finally, drain the sink, give everything a final rinse and wipe it all down with a clean cloth.
Bathroom limescale can build up in two main places in a bath – in the corners where water pools and just behind the tap, particularly if it’s prone to dripping. A mix of water and vinegar can be particularly effective for removing it – simply leave the mixture for 15 minutes before rinsing and wiping. Tackle heavier stains with a sprinkling of baking soda before you spray your vinegar/water mixture. The area will fizz and bubble which is clear sign the mixture is working! After around 15 minutes, wipe away, then thoroughly rinse with warm water.
However, a note of caution! Take care if you own an enamel bath as surfaces can be damaged by acid. Only apply the vinegar to the affected area, scrub gently and wash thoroughly afterwards.
Removing scaly deposits in the bowl and underneath the toilet rim can be tough and may sometimes require a bit more elbow grease. Limescale removers specifically targeted at toilets are a great option, however for a more natural approach, try an equal mix of white vinegar and borax. Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a mineral that’s a salt of boric acid. In powdered form it consists of soft, colourless crystals that dissolve in water.
Drain the toilet bowl and squirt your spray bottle mixture in the bowl, and upwards under the rim as well. Leave it to soak for at a couple of hours, then scrub with a toilet brush before you flush. For heavier build-ups, try rubbing limescale stains with a pumice stone or steel wool.
Upkeep your sparkling white toilet with a white vinegar wash once a week (four cups should do it), and if possible, allow it to sit overnight. White vinegar won’t harm septic tanks and it will also neutralise any not-so-nice smells as well!
A limescale-free bathroom is no use if your plumbing’s not working! Contact Yarrow Plumbing today on (07) 3277 5742.