How to Remove Hard Water Stains From Glass

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Wondering how to remove hard water stains from glass? Smears, stains, and chalky spots can stick out as an eyesore, undermining the beauty and cleanliness of your space. Whether it’s on your glasses, cups, mirrors, or shower screens, hard water stains can be hard to remove.

Typically, the reason is that your water supply is classified as hard water. In other words, it has a high concentration of dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, lime, and chalk.

Hard water collects these minerals from pipes, faucets, and the water system. So, you might clean a glass surface with water, but when it evaporates, its minerals may create hard water stains. Luckily, removing hard water stains is easy if you know what you’re doing. And we’ll give you the best ways to remove them.

What Is the Best Cleaner for Hard Water Stains on Glass?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but we’ll give you a rundown of the top cleaning methods.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

How to remove hard water stains from glass with vinegar. Vinegar and lemon juice are citric liquids, so their acidity can counter the alkaline calcium on your glass surfaces. In that sense, a white vinegar and lemon juice solution can remove mineral deposits caused by hard water. However, you can use either of them separately for hard water stain removal, but that won’t be as efficient.

We recommend a vinegar solution for faucets, glass shower doors, and other surfaces that won’t require constant cleaning. Otherwise, you’ll need lots of vinegar.

If you have cleaning vinegar, this type is 20% more effective than food-grade distilled white vinegar, thanks to its higher acetic percentage. Lemon juice is an option, too, and who doesn’t love its fresh scent anyways?

To clean the surface with the lemon or vinegar and water solution, you should:

  • Dilute one part vinegar or lime juice with one part water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the glass surface with the lemon or vinegar solution.
  • Give the solution a few minutes.
  • Wipe it with a clean cloth or use a soft-bristled brush. If you’re using lime juice, follow up with a glass spray to get rid of the residue and avoid leaving the glass sticky or slimy.
  • Rinse the surface with fresh water.
  • Dry it with a microfiber cloth.

Water and Salt

If you’re looking for the most simple and quick cleaning method, put together water and salt. Thanks to its abrasive properties, salt can take care of hard stains. It also works on countertops, wood, and iron railings.

To use this method, follow these instructions:

  • Pour two cups of water into a container.
  • Add three tbsp of table salt.
  • Mix them until the salt dissolves to create a paste.
  • Submerge a sponge in the solution.
  • Use it to scrub the stain until it’s removed.
  • Rinse the glass with water.
  • Wipe out any residue with a clean cloth to avoid leaving other stains.

Baking Soda

DIY a limescale remover using baking soda to get rid of hard water spots. This gentle abrasive is one way to remove hard water stains on glass (like a shower screen), thanks to its grainy texture and cleaning functions. However, it works best with small spots that aren’t too set in.

There are several ways to use it. For one, you can clean a stain with baking soda and water.

  • Mix baking soda with a small amount of water until you create a baking soda paste.
  • Rub the paste on the glass using a dry cloth.
  • Let it sit for at least five minutes.
  • Add vinegar to the water.
  • Sprinkle the glass to get it rinsed.
  • Repeat the process if needed.
  • Rinse the glass with water.
  • Dry it with a cloth.

Another mixture to try is baking soda and distilled white vinegar. Using vinegar with baking soda removes the vinegar smell and any chalkiness. We love this method for drinking glasses and drinkware in general.

  • Put undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the whole glass with it.
  • Give it 30 minutes.
  • Add one part of water for every three parts of baking soda in a small bowl, which should give you a thin paste.
  • Mix the paste before doubling the batch to avoid it getting too watery.
  • Use a scrub brush or towel to apply the past to the hard water stains, and rub it in a circular motion. If you’re using a brush, make sure it has soft bristles because hard ones can be damaging.
  • Re-apply the vinegar spray on the surface after the past has started to dry. This will cause foaming.
  • Once the foaming stops, rinse it with distilled water and dry it using a microfiber cloth.

Otherwise, you can use the same combination but mix the baking soda and vinegar as we’ll show you:

  • Fill a small plastic tub with half a cup of baking soda.
  • Add one and a half cups of white vinegar to create a paste, which will result in frizzing.
  • Once it’s over, spread the paste over the affected area using a sponge.
  • Give it 15 minutes.
  • Clean off the paste with the sponge.
  • Rinse the glass with warm water.
  • Dry it with a microfiber cloth.


Toothpaste can cut through the dissolved salts, watermarks, and soap scum on glass surfaces. It’s also gentle, so it’ll keep them in good condition. Aside from hard water glass spots, you can use this hack on coffee stains, too!

To try it, follow these simple instructions:

  • Apply non-gel toothpaste to a towel, and test it on a hidden spot to ensure it won’t damage your glass.
  • If no issues arise, spread the paste on all the hard water stains in a circular motion.
  • Let it sit for at least five minutes.
  • Combine one cup of vinegar with one cup of warm water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the affected area to remove the cleaning paste.
  • Repeat the process as needed.
  • Rinse the glass with water.
  • Dry it using a towel.

Store-Bought Cleaners

If you’re short on time, you can pick a commercial cleaning product. After all, there’s barely anything a quality multi-use cleaner, sponge, and elbow grease can’t fix! But what should you look for in such a product?


Chemical-free cleaners don’t contain harsh toxins that are dangerous if you have young children or sensitive skin. So, choose an eco-friendly, all-purpose cleaner that’s effective on any build-up and hard water stains you spot on your shower screen. As for drinking glasses and glass cups, you could use eco-friendly liquid dish soap.


Unlike liquid cleaners, paste cleaners don’t leave streaks on glass. So, if you want that streak-free shine, you should choose a paste glass cleaning product. But be sure to clean it off properly and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damaging your glass.


As we’ve mentioned, hard water stains are alkaline, so you can counter them with acidic cleaners. In other words, use glass cleaners with hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, and sulfuric acid. Unfortunately, acidic cleaning products are toxic, so you should only use them while wearing protective gear, such as gloves and goggles for eye protection.

Targeting Hard Water Stains

If you can find a solution made specifically for hard water stains on glass, that’s wonderful. After all, it won’t be harsh on your glass and will still be strong enough to break down its salts.

How to Prevent Hard Water Stains

Become proactive about glass cleaning, and take measures to avoid hard water stains. For that reason, you should install a water softener.

Although expensive, this device installed under your kitchen sink in the cupboard can control the pH level of your tap water, which solves the problem. After all, the formation of hard water stains and mineral deposits results from high mineral or pH levels, and a water softener can remove these minerals.

According to Harvey Bowden, the founder of Harvey Water Softeners Ltd., “A water softener works by removing the magnesium and calcium present in your water supply through a process of ion exchange, turning it from hard water to softened water.”

Note that there are different water softener systems available. When you choose the brand and capacity, consider your household size and water demand to select a water softener that accommodates your household needs. Finally, you can install the system yourself or hire a professional for help.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to remove hard water spots, you have various options. The trick is to use a cleaning solution with a mild acid to counter the alkaline spots. You can take the DIY route, fetching salt, vinegar, lime juice, or else from your cupboard and creating a cleaning mixture. Otherwise, you can go to the store and buy an all-purpose glass cleaner.

Either way, you want to take this a step further and consider investing in a water softener. This device will remove the extra hard water minerals and prevent hard water stains. So, you no longer have to worry about a dirty bathroom mirror, dirty dishes, or stained windows.

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