How to Remove Limescale With Vinegar

Updated on April 6, 2016

Introduction

Removing limescale is most effectively done by using vinegar. There is simply no better liquid that is better for cleaning household items such as kettle, taps, baths and showers.

Chemical products sold in the supermarket may promise to leave everything at home sparkling clean. But anybody who has tried cleaning the glass in the shower of the taps in the bath will know that they can spend a very long time scrubbing without removing the limescale.

Vinegar on the other hand will effortlessly dissolve the nasty limescale residue effortlessly in seconds with only a little bit of pressure being applies. Vinegar is nature's miracle cleaning fluid.

Carry on reading to find out the most effective types of vinegar, the best places that vinegar can be used, how limescale is formed, the vinegar cleaning process works, what else vinegar can be use for... and a special story about the vinegar magic trick that amazed my housemates.

Vinegars for cleaning limescale in the home

Vinegar is used most commonly used as a condiment with food. There are many different types of vinegar used for this, the most popular being 'brown' vinegar. However, there are also different types of vinegar that are very effective for cleaning.

White wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and distilled white vinegar can all be used. However, the most popular vinegar for cleaning is distilled white vinegar. Unlike the brown vinegar used with food, white vinegar is clear and will not stain materials.

A young woman using vinegar to clean limescale from an outside window. The limescale is removed effortlessly with vinegar
A young woman using vinegar to clean limescale from an outside window. The limescale is removed effortlessly with vinegar

How to clean the limescale

To begin the cleaning process take the bottle of vinegar and soak a paper kitchen towel with the liquid. Paper towels are more effective than cloths because they absorb the vinegar rather than allowing it to run off which often wastes the vinegar.

Use the paper towel soaked with vinegar to wipe at the surface of the item where limescale has built up. If this is a shower, you will only need to wipe gently in circular motions before the limescale dissolves. The same with taps. If there are stubborn layers of limescale simply add more vinegar to the paper towel and press harder. Allow the vinegar to soak into the surface and dissolve the limescale. Return in ten minutes once it had begun working.

For more stubborn limescale in kettles pour the vinegar into the kettle and leave it for 30 minutes while the vinegar dissolves. After then use a metal wire scrubbing pad to remove the limescale from the elements.

Sometimes limescale will gather on outside windows. It can be too tough for window cleaners to remove with their soapy liquids but with vinegar and some hard scrubbing it will be removed easily.

Where limescale gathers - and ways to avoid it

The most common place for limescale to gather is in areas of the home where water is used. Bathrooms and kitchens can be particular hot spots for limescale that will need regular cleaning. Vinegar is the best way of doing this.

In the bathroom, limescale often gathers on taps. Sometimes there might be slight leaks from the mechanism of the tap that water is seeping through. It is then drying very slowly and leaving behind nasty deposits. If this is happening, before applying vinegar make sure the tap is fully repaired.


Households that use a shower with a glass or perspex plastic door will also notice lots of limescale gathering in this area. One way to prevent lots of limescale from forming is to use a 'wiper' to take away the excess water after using the shower.

There are a couple of suggestions to the right. It's quite fun having one of these in the bathroom, especially for kids, as they feel like the 'window cleaner man' and enjoy using them in the shower. Great fun way to keep the shower clean!

This is very effective, but not practical. Most people don't have time to dry the shower after they've used it. But a quick wipe every few days will stop limescale from gathering.

Kitchens are the other place where limescale often forms. Once again, the taps in the sink may be affected by the hard water deposits. Use the same rules as described above for the taps.

Unsightly limescale that has gathered on a glass shower door over a number of months
Unsightly limescale that has gathered on a glass shower door over a number of months
The sparkling clean shower door after the limescale has been cleaned with vinegar
The sparkling clean shower door after the limescale has been cleaned with vinegar

Kettles are also effected by limescale. This is because the water is regularly being heated and evaporated, leaving behind lots of deposits. Over time, this can become very unappealing, very unhealthy and expensive as the kettle will need to be replaced.

Limescale in the kettle can be minimised by cleaning it after every use. Once again, this is impractical. However, simply keeping a small amount of water in the bottom of the kettle will mean that water doesn't fully evaporate. The kettle can then be rinsed before each use and the old replaced with fresh liquid, which will wash out some of the limescale in the process.

Outside windows are another place where limescale can gather. This sometimes happen if water from a gutter, or other surface is splashing up at the window. This can be particularly difficult to remove as window cleaners will not spend the time scrubbing a single window with their soapy liquid.

My vinegar story

The shower in shared accommodation I once lived in kept getting covered in limescale. The other housemates had spent months scrubbing away with conventional cleaning products. But when I moved in they were amazed to see that I had removed the limescale within a few minutes.

Of course, I had used vinegar. I kept this secret from them for a couple of months, leaving them thinking I was a really good cleaner. Then I realised that because they didn't have the 'secret' vinegar knowledge, limescale was building up until it was my turn to clean and I was faced with more work. Needless to say, I quickly revealed to them the power of vinegar so they were using it every week for the cleaning.

What is limescale and how is it formed?

Limescale is an unattractive white residue that builds up in places that have regular contact with water. Sometimes it can be a tough off-white crust or other times it may be just a light covering on a window. Either way, limescale is not pleasant and it feels unclean.

Limescale is a deposit left behind in areas where 'hard water' is used. The type of water varies from place to place but if you live in a hard water area you will have experienced limescale. Hard water is the type of liquid that contains higher levels of dissolved minerals.

These are collected in the water when it runs over soft, spongy rocks, like limestone or chalk. The calcium or magnesium carbonate minerals are dissolved in the water, which is called 'hard'. Soft water is much more pure, and because it runs through stronger rocks it does not absorb so many of the minerals.

Limescale is formed when water is left on surfaces. The actual liquid evaporates but the minerals it contains are left behind. They solidify on surfaces and leave the limescale residue which is so difficult to clean.

P.S. This hub was already published a few weeks ago but there were some slight errors with the URL. So the original one has been deleted and this version is now live. It's all exactly the same and I'll add a video soon ;)

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        john 

        8 months ago

        Sheesh!

        I live in Arles, France, the same ville where Van Gogh resided.

        Our water is so heavy in "Calcaire," or limestone, it is incredible.

        Henceforth, it's vinegar for me!

      • profile image

        Tracie 

        8 months ago

        I have been soaking everything all day and even overnight in pure white vinegar and it does not soften or remove or prevent the scale even with scrubbing very hard. I have to use a metal paint scraper.

        This stuff is hard as rocks!

      • profile image

        zapata 

        5 years ago

        Before you go buy some expensive chemical product try plain old white vinegar. If what you are trying to clean can not be submerged in vinegar try soaking a paper towel and wrapping it around the taps and letting it soak for a while then take a cleaning brush and it should come right off.

        i have find this information in :

        http://uk-best-of.blogspot.com/2013/07/remove-lime...

      • SylviaSky profile image

        SylviaSky 

        6 years ago from USA

        Extremely useful. My water comes from a private well and leaves terrible limescale everywhere. Even our glassware has to be thrown out every year or so because it gets so cloudy.

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