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Goodbye, gunk: How to clean mineral buildup in your sink and shower

Minerals are great for the human body, but not so great when they turn into an unsightly ring in your sink or shower.

If your home has hard water, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Bathtub rings, gunky faucets and dingy shower doors can turn an otherwise spotless bathroom into a scene fit for a cheap motel.

An introduction to acidic cleaners

You can wave buh-bye to your mineral deposits by using an acidic cleaning agent, because acid busts right through the rocky formations created by hard water. Your best bet, however, is to stay away from store-bought cleaners. These cleaners both promise and deliver quick results, but that’s because they usually contain diluted oxalic, phosphoric, hydrochloric or sulfuric acids. These harsh acids are not only a safety concern; they can permanently strip the sheen and luster from your bathroom fixtures for a dingy appearance.

Thankfully, acid isn’t a “go big or go home” type of ingredient. The safest and most effective way to remove mineral deposits is by using the mild acid found in a kitchen staple: white vinegar.

How to use white vinegar for a spotless shine

First of all, make sure your bathroom windows are open, because the smell of white vinegar can be overpowering. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and add a splash of lemon juice to cut through the scent. You’ll also need Ziploc bags, rubber bands and an old toothbrush on hand.

Chipping away at rocky faucets: Open your spray bottle and pour the white vinegar mixture into a Ziploc bag until the bag is about one-quarter filled. Submerge your faucet or showerhead in the vinegar, using a rubber band to tie the bag in place. Allow the faucet to soak in the mixture for one hour, then remove the bag. Use an old toothbrush to scrub away any remaining deposits, which should be soft and loose after soaking.

Scrubbing bathtub and sink rings: Spray unsightly rings with the vinegar mixture and let it sit for an hour. Try to wipe away the rings with soap and water. If the rings show no sign of budging, continue to spray the affected area once an hour until it wipes away.

A solution for dingy shower doors: Spray your shower doors with the vinegar mixture and immediately wipe them down with a paper towel. Repeat once or twice or until the doors appear pristine again. This method can prevent dingy doors if you make it a once-weekly cleaning habit.

You’ll have the best luck if you regularly use white vinegar as part of your cleaning routine, since old hard water stains are challenging and time-consuming to remove. Don’t forget that hard water stains are preventable as long as you wipe down your fixtures with a towel after you use your sink or shower.

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