How To Clean Calcium Off Faucets

Today’s post isn’t very pretty. It’s actually kind of gross. Unless you like the sight of calcium build up.

I spent the better part of Wednesday deep cleaning our master bathroom. When my husband came home from work he found me, his 39 week pregnant wife, washing the walls. Yeah, I went that far.

While on my cleaning bender, I tackled our bathroom faucets. I have to admit that I had neglected them so there was a crazy amount of calcium build up on them.

We have really hard water here in Indianapolis. A couple years ago we got a water softener to help with the water hardness. The water softener works well but it doesn’t keep the calcium from building up on our faucets and our toilets still need to be cleaned weekly.

So today I’m sharing how to clean calcium off faucets in case any of you are fighting the good calcium build up fight.

Now I know a more eco-friendly way some people swear by is using vinegar. I’ve tried that but it doesn’t work well in our house. I still find myself having to chip off the calcium with my nails, and even then I can’t get all of the deposits off the faucets. So I guess this is a good technique if you’ve tried the vinegar and it didn’t work for you.

how to remove calcium buildup

Here’s what you’ll need:
• water
• plastic baggie
• rubber band
• gloves
• magic eraser (optional)

how to remove calcium build up

Fill your baggie with 1 part CLR, 1 part water. You don’t have to be exact, just guess.

Secure it on the faucet spout with a rubber band.

Leave it for a few hours.

how to remove calcium build up from faucet

Here’s what the faucet looks like after soaking in the CLR solution for a few hours.

(I hope you aren’t reading this post while eating.)

removing calcium build up

Then I grab a Magic Eraser (generic is fine) and rub off the build up. You could probably get by with a rag. I just like my Magic Erasers.

removing calcium build up on faucets

And here’s how your faucet should look afterward.


As a precaution, read the CLR bottle and make sure it’s compatible with your faucet material AND spot test the CLR on your faucet before beginning to make sure it won’t take the finish off of your faucet.

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  1. Nice! I do about every 3-6 months on our faucets and shower heads due to our hard water but rather than CLR I just use Vinegar. Same result – a lot less time and money 🙂

    1. I use Lemi-shine . I wet the faucet and sprinkle it on til it hardens and becomes a disc shape and you can use it to scrap off the calcium … Also great in the dishwasher in the pre wash portion

      1. We love Lemi-shine! We use it in the regular portion and Cascade in the pre-wash portion. Works like a charm on our dishes!

        1. Speaking of Cascade. Cascade powder is great to use if you have a little burnt food in the bottom of a pan. Sprinkle a small amount of Cascade in the bottom of the pan and then add about an inch of HOT water (enough to cover the crusty stuff). Let set for 24 hours, pour out and scrub. Anything remaining, retry..

      2. Lemi shine rinse additive takes it off in like 5 secs, no scrubbing, no gloves.

  2. An Earth-friendly alternative to CLR is vinegar or citrus. I had heavy calcium build-up in the drip tray of the ice/water dispenser in the door or my fridge. I squeezed in half of a lime, let it sit 1/2 hour, and wiped it clean.

  3. We also live around Indianapolis and the hard water is horrible. We use to do vinegar once every few months but it never did the touch jobs that well for us, mostly our kitchen sink and our master bath shower are the worst. For those tough jobs, we also have to use CLR!

  4. Your faucet looks great! Our water here in Columbia, Missouri is so hard, I sometimes think I hear rocks coming from the tap! 🙂 I tried the vinegar route so many times, to no avail. I was wondering about the CLR, does it have a big horrendous smell to it? I am allergic to the small of many household cleaners. I’m wondering if the CLR might be a task better done by my husband?

    1. I also have terrible allergies and cannot tolerate most cleaning products. I can tolerate CLR in small doses, but usually leave it to my Hubby.

      I find that vinegar and scrubbing with Bon Ami work well on calcium deposits in my house AND are things I can tolerate.

      1. Do you make a paste of the vinegar and the Bon Ami?

        1. No. I use them separately. Use the vinegar to wipe things down weekly and the Bon Ami to scrub when things get “crusty”.

          I make it a practice not to mix cleaning solutions because some harmless things can become very hazardous if mixed.

      2. Agamblenfool says:

        You should never mix vinegar and Bon Ami. Bon ami contains soda ash and Reacts violently with acids to form carbon dioxide. So since vinegar is acid base mixing these 2 products releases Co2. CO2 is an asphyxiant gas and not classified as toxic or harmful.

        1. Teresa Heinrich says:

          Wow, thanks for the tip.

  5. I love cleaning with magic erasers. You can buy them in bulk on ebay for an insanely cheap price, like 50 of them for $5. Just check the dimensions so you get what you want. They are generic but the ones I got (I think from Hong Kong) are the same size and density as the $1/brick ones in our stores.

  6. I used to try and get the bag to fit around the faucets and then realized that they come unscrewed. I twist them off, shower heads too and put them in a bowl of vinegar for a couple of hours. Calcium etc just falls off.

    1. I’ve tried CLR but did not get good results. I just unscrew aerators & showerheads & soak in vinegar. I also clean weekly with equal parts blue Dawn & hot vinegar. Works wonders!

  7. So,how does this work on the little holes where the water comes out on toilets?

    1. Debbie, a product called The Works, will take off all the stains from the little holes. I get it at Walmart its under 2 dollars.

  8. I can tell you something that works in minutes!! I own a cleaning company and we use The Works (its really a toilet bowl cleaner) on shower doors and faucets. It works in seconds! The only warning is don’t leave it on any metal for any extended periods as it might tarnish it. Just squirt it on the calcium deposits and you see it work right before your very eyes. Use lots of water to wash it off and you will be fine. I use it all the time with no problems.

    1. The Works does work but it is very harsh and you should have lots of ventilation. After living for 5 years with hard well water only to move to Indianapolis and still have hard water I thank my lucky stars to have been introduced to vinagar and dawn

  9. Love these suggestions! We’re a military family and we move A Lot, so I’ve seen my fair share of cleaning problems. But nothing has come close to the nastiness of Florida that is my current nightmare. I’ve been told by my neighbors that it’s the combination of calcium and lime scale(?) that make this so horrible. Vinegar has always been my hero, but I guess I’m headed to the store to buy some CLR! Keeping my fingers crossed, thanks ladies.

  10. I have shower doors. What can I use to clean the shower track? No problem cleaning the doors. Thanks

  11. We have horrible well water as well – – – What do you recommend using on toilets? We have a softener and an iron curtain filter but they do not help with the mineral build up on our toilets …. let not even get into what it has done to my hair! Any suggestions for the toilets and our hair??

    1. Elisa,you might want to try baking soda, I use about 1/2 tsp mixed with shampoo and it helps soften my hair.

    2. I have used pumice on the build up we have here in Indianapolis. I only use the pumice on ceramic, toilets, sinks, tubs, as it would scratch any stainless steel fixtures one may have! And as for my hair, I use a gallon of salt water, 1 gallon warm water to 1/2 tsp salt, shake till salt is dissolved. I use this as my final rinse After the vinegar, Rosemary, lavender rinse. Works like a charm! We have a softner but we don’t use it, don’t like the taste and feel of softened water! I use vinegar to clean the build up on my stainless steel fixtures.

    3. Katherine says:

      For your water softener, get the yellow bag of salt, it has no iron on it. Also, there is a product super iron out that cleans ring off toilets. You can get it at Home Depot.

  12. Indianapolis does indeed have very hard water. You, as well as your readers, have provided good tips for caring for plumbing fixtures.

  13. If you are still seeing calcium build up with a softener, make sure you have enough salt in the softener. I would also check if you are using the right kind of salt. The Yellow bag of pellets might be best. Or mix one green bag with one yellow.

  14. I use vinegar for my shower heads, but nothing seems to work on the the waterspouts on my windows. any suggestions? I’ve tried vinegar, lemon juice, steel wool, baking road and even oven cleaner!

    1. Sadly, I have read there is no remedy for water stains on windows. The only option, I have read, is replacement.

      1. Ceramic stove top cleaner!

    2. Joy Magnino says:

      We moved into a new home. It had been a rental for 10 years and the water spots on the shower door and windows were terrible. Thought we were going to have to replace them all. Was told about a product called Bio Clean. It took the water marks off s well. Just a little scrubbing with the Bio Clean and then use a clean cloth to wipe it off. Can’t say enough about it.

  15. in Utah our water is so hard and what splashes on your Windows is almost impossible to remove. Any ideas to help? Our windows downstairs have been sprayed by our sprinkler system and I can’t find anything to get them clean. Not even cLl or a fine scouring pad

    1. Zud works wonders for scummy shower doors, windows, any stainless steel pots and pans, etc. I use the powder on pots and pans and the liquid on shower doors and windows.

  16. I am so excited to try this. We also live in the midwest and I’ve wanted to tackle this cleaning problem but wasn’t sure how. Thank you.

  17. The same trick works with distilled vinegar. I learned about this when I met the love of my life. He’s had a saltwater reef tank for 18 years, so knew this trick way back then. Vinegar gets rid of the calcium and salt buildup on tank fixtures! I have my own freshwater tanks and I use vinegar and the scrubby side of a sponge to clean the calcium buildup off of my glass tank lids. I normally remove shower heads and soak them in a rubbermaid kitchen bowl filled with distilled vinegar… gets the calcium buildup right off.

    1. i have glass shower doors and vinegar doesnt put a dent into the water spots.. nor does CLR.. any other suggestions out there????

      1. Val, if vinegar is not removing the spots then you’ve got something else going on with your water. Do you have a dishwasher, and if so does your silverware and dishware have the same type of spots? If it were me Id take a sample of your water to your local water municipality and have it tested. They should be able to tell you what type of minerals are in your water. That should at the very least give you some clues on where to go from there.

        1. the dishwasher is great and so is everything else.. its just the glass shower enclosure.. water spots..
          thank you for your response.. i will find a way..

  18. What about the build up on the handles?

  19. Hope you can help me with my bathroom counter . I sprayed kaboom on the top of the bathroom vanitie and it took the finish off where ever the chemical hit . I’ve tryed everything , polishs for granite etc nothing works can you solve my problem ? Love learning from your vast knowledge of household problems !

    1. Oh no! I wish I could help but I don’t have any experience with granite. So sorry! Maybe call a local granite supplier and see what they say. Best of luck!

  20. An easier way to clean the tip of your faucet is to just unscrew it and pop it into a small container with either vinegar or CLR.

    No need for the baggy.

  21. U have chrome so I am wondering if it would hurt my nickel?

  22. Actually I think this post is quite beautiful – the after anyway! We have a ton of lime in our water (or I suppose it’s calcium and we just call it lime)
    our problem comes in with our sink in our main bathroom – the sink is copper so I can’t use harsh chemicals without harming the sink. Even using the bag and rubber band trick – which I’ve tried – I still manage to drip some on the sink. So we are to the point of taking the faucet out to get it cleaned up. Love the tip about the CLR – vinegar works on a lot of stuff here but not all. I think what works depends on each persons water. Great post – thank you!

  23. I use Lysol toilet bowl cleaner or a product from MC LEODS HOME HARDWARE (this is Canadian)industrial strength toilet bowl cleaner.

    this works very well I have very hard water with lots of rust. I am looking for a product called Limeshine that is used for dairy barns=in the milk area to clean the tanks i used to use 1 cup to wash load of clothes and they would come out just like new no rust stains. i can’t find it. . do you have any suggestions.

    1. There is a product called Lemi-Shine sold at Taget, eBay, Amazon and walmart. Hope this helps..

  24. Hot Vinegar and hard detail brush of any quality 2 in 1 steam mop should do the trick.

  25. We have very hard water in Kansas city, ks as well. My problem is the dishwasher. It’s a higher quality brand but still can’t clean the dishes b/c of the build-up, I think. It worked perfectly for 2 years and now this. Any recommendations ?

  26. Cheri… I have the same problem with my dishwasher. The arms that swing around have a hard white crust of crystals underneath them, I have spent all morning trying to scrape it off. We have very hard water which leaves white powdery residue on everything. I see you did not get any responses to your question but I hope someone will eventually come up with some good advice for you…and so for me too! :).

  27. Someone told us to leave water in our bathtub and sinks in our AZ vacation home and we came back to a NIGHTMARE of calcium buildup! The only thing that helped us was filling the bottom of the tubs (fiberglass) with white vinegar.

    I couldn’t breath around the CLR but for those that can it works! For the people who are chemically sensitive white vinegar works. I also bought a plastic/rubber paint scraper to help get some of the calcium off the bottom of the tub without hurting the tub’s surface.

  28. Does this work on chrome as well?

  29. I totally needed this! So glad I found you. I bought a new house in the spring and there is a serious calcium problem in the water faucets. I have tried everything. But soaking in CLR is genius! Thanks for the tip.

    1. If you are having a problem with hard water and notice things like white deposits a cleaning agent is only doing a quick fix not getting to the route of the problem or shall I say the main vein which are your pipes. A water softener will help tremendously with that call 609-758-1110 ask for Denise I can give you some tips.

  30. Phoebe McIlvain says:

    After watching a commercial for Nuvo water softener I decided to try lemon juice instead of vinegar and it worked great. Much faster than the vinegar.

  31. What exactly is CLR please? I live in Barbados where much lime in our water. The vinegar treatment doesn’t do the trick if one isn’t vigilant! I don’t care for harsh chemical solutions.
    How does one get lime scale off acrylic fuxtures( eg soap dish, shower caddy) without damaging , and if scratched, how to remove please?

    1. Andrea Hughes says:

      Marg CLR stands for Calcium Lime and Rust. It is in a green plastic bottle but it is not a round bottle but more of an oval bottle. Hope this helps you out. Hope you have a wonderful day my friend. Andrea

  32. Hi, Chelsea! I’ve been reading your posts, questions, and answers. I have fiberglass bathtubs and surrounds, and keeping the soap scum off the surround and out of the tub bottom is an endless task. Also, using Olay shower gel is compounding the problem…it leaves an oily residue behind.
    Any tips for cleaning my fiberglass?

  33. Ginny, I also have fiberglass what works for me first scub with half vinegar half dawn. Then scrub with borax.

  34. Thanks for sharing your experience. I often use White vinegar. It can takes calcium off in only a few hours. And it is safer, easy to find, and very cheap. Or you can use lemon juice, I think you can get good result.

  35. CLR is a good option, but I prefer to clean more naturally at home. I often use vinegar and baking soda, and my mother uses lemons for scrubbing around the bathroom. The results are sparkling shiny bathroom and a fresh smell. Greets!

  36. Do not try this on brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze or Venetian bronze fixtures!!!! It will totally ruin the finish. Even vinegar can harm them if left on too long. I’ve learned the hard way.

    1. Shannon Morris says:

      I second that! The bottle doesn’t mention anything about this and I ruined a faucet! It would’ve been upsetting if it was mine but it was someone I cleaned for and now I have to replace their faucet in their custom bath. Ugh, not fun!

  37. I recently cleaned a brushed stainless steel faucet made by ALLORA USA and used household Vinegar with a PH of 5, the faucet finish came off ruining it! I contacted the manufacturer making a warranty claim and they declined coverage because they said Vinegar is too strong a chemical, I said look, I ingest it every day in my salad and its not hurt me yet! but they said sorry, no coverage, yu abused the product! they told me to buy WD40 and or bar stool cleaner and if I use these and it hurts the finish that I also void my warranty! Vinegar did the trick for me, it cleared all deposits and made the faucet turn again, however it did damage this poorly manufactured faucet, they told me the finish is sprayed on, no wonder!! cheaply made $300 faucet!!!

  38. Jackie Fail says:

    Thanks great post!

  39. Jan Tippins says:

    I use Bucko and it really takes the soap scum and deposits off of faucets and acrylic tubs. You do have to use some elbow grease, but there are no fumes. Best cleaner I’ve ever used for the bathroom. It is sold on Amazon.

  40. I am a chemist phd. all of you need to get a basic understading of what you are doing. it is simple. you are trying to remove layers of a base rock [typically Calcium]. you need to dissolve it by adding a certain amount of an acid which reacts and neutralizes the rock and releases it from the metal. Think people you have weeks or months of layers of splashed Calcium and then state you are dissasitfied with CLR, when you have only applied 5 or 10% of what is needed for the amount of rock on your glass.
    Start with a small 2 inch square area that you can easily get to and see with bright light. apply the clr; let it soak ; you determine the times, the see how much has dissolved. Repeat 10 or 20 times till it is free of the rock you have splashed on it.
    for those of you that say you have a water softener; do you know how it works? it has settings for the various water mineral contents found from different water sources. a rock acquifer needs a setting of 15 to max maybe. then you wont have any calcium coming out of your faucet and none to clean for years.
    all of these things can be found by reading the directions of the products you buy – especially the water softner. what could be more important than getting the contents fo the water you live by right?
    it is horrible to think anyone would consider replacing all windows for $10k to $40k for a home because they ‘heard; someone say the calcium or other minerals cant be removed. im sure some bad salespeople would say that to increase sales – how very corrupt.


  41. So, I cleaned off my faucet, but now it is leaking. Did I do something wrong or was it always like that? Do you have any tips for faucet repair that I could look at? Thanks!

  42. I read your article and knowing about calcium clean off faucets. I think it’s a good one for clean calcium off faucets. But i don’t try it before would you ensure me if i use this on my faucets there is no damage of faucets.? Thanks for the sharing your experience.

  43. I have tried everything. I am a ‘home grown’ girl and prefer to stick to basics, so I like to stay away from overuse of chemicals.

    Vinegar did not work for me on the ‘base’ of the faucet. The calcium deposits are still there. I have tried scraping, soaking, scrubbing, etc. The vinegar does work on showerhead; I leave it overnight in a Tupperware container filled with vinegar and a little water. Works like a charm. But, the deposits around the ‘base’ of the faucet, nothing touches. It is a new sink, fairly new faucet. Nothing works. Rental, so can’t replace. How frustrating. I clean regularly, so don’t understand this.

    On a positive note, Vim with bleach (light green container) works in the toilet bowl, removing rust from the little holes. You have to let it sit for a little while. Scrub with brush for a few minutes. Nothing else works on the rust on these little toilet bowl holes. FWIW.

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