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The best ways to remove lime scale buildup

Lime scale — that chalky white film from hard water — can show up on your kitchen faucets, appliances and bathroom fixtures. Unsightly in the short run and potentially damaging in the long run, lime scale can be tough to eliminate. Here are the best strategies to get rid of the problem.

Lime scale on bathroom faucet

Lime scale is that gross, crusty white film that often occurs on faucets and in tubs, toilets and appliances. It is the result of hard water leaving behind alkaline mineral deposits which can, over time, lead to soap scum buildup and stains in tubs and sinks, lack of shine and eventual peeling of chrome faucets, and inefficiency in appliances such as coffee makers. But keeping it at bay means following just a few simple strategies. (Here’s a hint: Make sure you have a big bottle of vinegar on hand.)

In the kitchen


Soak a cloth or paper towel in vinegar and wrap it around the faucet, securing it with a rubber band or clip. Let it sit for an hour, then wipe clean with a soft, dry cloth, suggests Julie Edelman, the cleaning expert, author and blogger known as The Accidental Housewife. Another strategy: Create a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water, apply the paste to the faucet, leave it on for an hour and wipe it clean.

Coffee makers

To clean an average 10- to 12-cup coffee maker, fill the carafe with two cups of white vinegar and two cups of water and run it through one cycle. Dump out the vinegar mixture and fill the carafe with water, then run it through another cycle. Another effective strategy Edelman recommends is to fill the water reservoir with hot water and two denture cleaning or antacid tablets. Let the tablets fizz. Run the coffee maker through one cycle. Then run another cycle using clean water.

Aluminum percolators

Fill the percolator with water and add 1/4 cup cream of tartar. Run the percolator through one cycle, then rinse well with hot water.

Tea kettles

Fill the kettle with equal parts vinegar and water. Boil, then turn off the burner and let the kettle sit overnight. Rinse it out the next morning.

In the bathroom


Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and borax. Drain the toilet bowl and pour the solution in. Let it set for two hours, and then scrub with a toilet brush. Another method is to pour three cups of undiluted vinegar into the full toilet bowl and scrub it clean. Adding three cups of undiluted vinegar to the toilet tank will help keep it clean as well.

Shower doors

Spray the door with white vinegar, white wine or vodka (the cheap stuff, Edelman says). Let it sit briefly, and then rinse and wipe dry.

Cleaning with vinegar >>

Quick tip

Once you get rid of lime scale around faucets, sinks and tubs, dry these areas whenever possible with a microfiber cloth to help prevent further buildup, suggests Leslie Reichert, a green cleaning expert known as The Cleaning Coach and the blogger at Clean Green Talk.

More cleaning tips

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Deep cleaning for your bathroom

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