There are no two ways about it: if you love a gleaming, sparkling bathroom, then you need to know how to remove limescale. Calcium carbonate’s milky white deposits gather everywhere there’s water, especially hard water, and can be stubbornly difficult to shift. But everything has its weakness. Where Achilles had his heel and Superman had kryptonite, limescale has acid.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be any particularly harsh acid to remove limescale either; the gentle citric acid in lemon or acetic acid in vinegar are your best weapons. Best of all, it means an impressively clean bathroom without any abrasive chemicals or expensive sprays that might damage the finish on your bathroom fittings.
What is limescale?
Limescale is calcium carbonate, a hard, chalky white deposit that remains after hard water evaporates. The harder the water in your area, the more likely you are to have limescale in your bathroom, dishwasher, kettle, coffeemaker, steriliser and anything else that is in regular contact with water. Not only is limescale an eyesore in an otherwise immaculate bathroom, it can also interfere with the proper working of your taps, pipes and showerhead. As it builds up, it can clog up the spouts on your faucets and the holes in your showerhead, which in turn limits your water pressure.
How to get rid of limescale
The trick to using lemon or vinegar to remove limescale is keeping the surface of whatever you’re trying to clean in constant contact with the acid. This can be difficult with surfaces that aren’t flat and horizontal but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
How to get limescale off taps
Taps are one of the trickier surfaces to clean. Spraying lemon juice or vinegar directly onto them won’t work as it will just drip off, not allowing the acid enough time to work on the scale. The place you’ll most often notice build-ups is the spout of the tap, often leaving a thick white layer of scale.
- Soak a rag or a cloth in vinegar or lemon juice and wrap it around your tap, making sure that all areas are covered.
- Secure it in place with an elastic band and leave for an hour.
- Occasionally squeeze the cloth to release more of the acid into the crannies of the tap.
- Remove the cloth and wipe away the limescale. It should come away easily.
- If the limescale around the spout still won’t come away completely, cut a lemon in half and screw it onto the spout until it stays in place.
- Leave for another hour and then rinse and scrub away the remaining scale. Use a scouring pad on tough limescale but only on the underside of the spout as it may scratch the finish on the faucet itself.
How to get limescale off tiles and plugholes.
This is less complicated than taps and is best approached by putting the acid directly onto the affected area.
- Put vinegar or lemon juice directly onto a cloth and scrub the dense build-ups on the tiles or plughole until the limescale comes away.
- Mix one part lemon juice or vinegar to four parts water and put in a spray bottle and spray onto the tiles or plughole or pour the solution directly onto a cloth.
- Polish the tiles or plughole with the solution until completely clean.
How to get limescale off a showerhead
See our thorough step-by-step guide to cleaning showerheads. Alternatively, Mira Clearscale™ technology has been specially designed to help prevent the problems that come with limescale, giving showers a longer life whilst giving you a better performance.
For other cleaning tips for your bathroom, see our deep cleaning guide.