Remove stubborn bathroom stains
If you're prone to bathroom neglect - or you have stubborn stains seemingly beyond your control - don't throw in the towel. We'll show you how to dissolve three frustrating, yet common, water-caused deposits: rust stains and mineral buildup in the toilet bowl, hardened mineral deposits on taps and shower doors, and layered soap scum on shower wall tile.
The right product and technique can cut cleaning time by 30 percent. We'll show you how to remove tough stains in toilets, sinks and showers. We'll also show you the easiest ways to remove rust, lime and scum. Even if you've neglected detailed cleaning for months (or longer!), you can remove stubborn stains with these tips.
Rust-coloured stains form when air combines with iron particles. That's why you see stains below dripping faucets. White crusty scale on taps spouts and shower doors is a common buildup of calcium and magnesium. Grey scum layers in the shower area result when soap combines with calcium and magnesium salts and body oil to form a sticky soap curd.
Acids work best on neutralizing alkaline soils (tough water stains), such as lime scale, soap deposits, rust and more. Acids break stains into small particles to be washed away. Acidic cleaners range from mild (vinegar, lemon juice) to heavier cleaners such as phosphoric acid (found in toilet bowl and tub/tile cleaners) and hydrochloric or sulfuric acids (found in toilet bowl cleaners).
Lime scale on taps and fittings
Start off with white spirit vinegar in a spray bottle. Soak the entire faucet surface from base to tip. Leave on for approximately 10 minutes and then scrub the surface with an old toothbrush, pushing bristles into crevices on the end of the spout (aerator and screen) and on the handles, as well as at the base of the tap.
Once all deposits have been removed, rinse the cleaner off immediately by wiping the entire surface down with a dripping wet sponge. Dry and polish with a soft cloth.
If there is still lime scale on the fittings, repeat this process. Eventually the acidity of the vinegar will break down the mineral deposit. If scrubbing doesn't remove hardened mineral deposits on the aerator screen, unscrew the spout tip by turning it counterclockwise. Soak it overnight in vinegar, then scrub it with the toothbrush and flush with water before reinstalling.
Close water shutoff valve by turning it clockwise until it stops. Flush toilet and use a plunger to remove any remaining water.
Pour cleaner on a plastic toilet brush and spread it over the entire bowl surface. Most proprietary cleaners are hydrochloric acid based - not very good for the environment - and do a fairly good job. I have also been told that Coca Cola works just as well. Makes you wonder what it does to our stomachs!
Scrub the toilet with a brush by forcing the brush tip back and forth, especially along the toilet jets (holes under rim), around the water line and on visible stains. Scrub until stains are gone, reapplying cleaner as necessary, then flush twice.
For stains that have been absorbed into the porcelain, such as those left for a long time or built up over the years, use a pumice stone to remove.
GOOD TO KNOW: The above method is not recommended for all toilets, as it can remove the outer protecting glaze. For a more eco-friendly method try this alternative.
Be sure to use a toilet brush with stiff nylon bristles in a plastic base. Those old wire brushes scratch the bowl. Once the bowl surface becomes scratched or worn, stain removal becomes next to impossible.
Caution: Scrub slowly when using an acid-based cleaner as droplets that splatter outside the bowl can harm carpet, tile, vinyl and your skin. Keep a rag and a bucket of water handy to wipe up spatters.
Before cleaning, turn on vent fan and/or open window and put on chemical-resistant rubber gloves and eye protection.
Clean away soap scum
Spray on a mixture of white spirit vinegar. Coat the entire tiled surface. Wait 5 to 10 minutes to allow the product to work, which saves your scrubbing elbow. Scrub with a kitchen scouring pad. Stubborn areas can be scrubbed with Woodoc Fine Steel wool - not to be confused with ordinary steel wool, which will scratch the surface. Re-apply to difficult areas and scrub until clean.
GOOD TO KNOW: For built-up stains you can use a plaster scraper to remove layers of soap scum.
Remove build up on grout lines
Mix together white spirit vinegar and baking soda to make a paste. Apply this to grouted areas and leave on for 10 minutes. Remove by scrubbing with an old nail brush or toothbrush. Reapply product as needed.
Rinse the entire tiled surface thoroughly with a dripping wet sponge. Push it back and forth across the top of the wall so rinse water streams to the bottom of the wall. Repeat until all cleaner is removed. Then, start at the top of the tile with a bathroom squeegee and move downward to remove as much water as possible.
GOOD TO KNOW: For a quick and easy grout brightener, use toothpaste to clean grout lines.