Tips on How to Clean Dirty Faucets

Have you noticed a white chalky film or scale on your faucets? When you turn it on, is the water trickling rather than flowing freely? If you've answered yes to either question, you probably have hard water which is often the case in houses that have well water or are in an area where municipal water systems are high in minerals.

What this term, hard water means is your water has high contents of calcium along with limestone, and as a result, your faucet is supplying water that contains dissolved calcium salt. As you know when salt dries, it causes a white scale or a stain, that's why your faucet looks like it does. If you check your shower head, it probably bears the same signs of calcium buildup along with a little limescale thrown in for good measure. But not to worry, most likely you can clean it along with your faucets with DIY ingredients.

A Simple Home Recipe for Removing Calcium Buildup on Faucets

First, you'll want to gather the following:

  • White vinegar mixed 1-to-1 with water
  • Paper towels or rags
  • A sandwich bag
  • Several rubber bands
  • A sponge, magic eraser, or textured cloth

Wear protective gloves and fill the sandwich bag with the vinegar solution.

Use the rubber bands to secure the bag to the faucet spout or shower head (making sure it is submerged in the vinegar) and leave it on for at least three hours.

Rub the buildup off with the magic eraser, sponge, or cloth.

(Alternatively, you can dispense with the sandwich bag and just wrap paper towels or rags soaked in the same 1:1 water-to-vinegar solution, and you'll get the same results - a clean clear faucet.)

If the calcium build-up is slowing down the water flow in a faucet or shower, you will want to unscrew the head and aerator and soak it in undiluted white vinegar for at least 24 hours and preferably longer.

Words of Caution

Although there are chemical products on the market that will do the job quicker they are toxic, and bad for the environment. There is also muriatic acid which will work immediately, but it can cause blindness if it gets in your eyes. If you absolutely must use these, please please please, wear rubber gloves.

The Perils of Calcium-rich Water

In addition to making your faucets unsightly, calcium deposits in water can cause both structural and cosmetic problems

Cosmetic issues:

  • Clothes washed in hard water never appear quite clean, and wear out more quickly.

  • Sinks and bathtubs wear a perpetual coat of soap scum.

Structural Issues:

  • Shower heads and faucets clog.
  • Glass shower doors and pictures become damaged.
  • Water pipes develop clogs.

An Ultimate Solution

Since homeowners and landlords have no say with municipal authorities as to water supply, the only way to deal with hard well water is to take matters into your own hands. You can install a water filter on your faucet. Or you can call in a plumber from Pilot Plumbing and ask about connecting a soft water system to your main water pipe. This will trap the calcium and other minerals and replace than with sodium ions.

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