Do your plumbing fixtures seem like they need cleaning all too often? If the source of all that extra work is a white or green chalky coating on your faucets and showerheads, you may have a problem with limescale — mineral-rich deposits that look unsightly and wreak havoc on your pipes and fixtures from the inside out.
The limescale you see in and on your household plumbing fixtures is a natural byproduct of clean water with an above-average concentration of minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron. This is commonly known as hard water. The mineral content in this buildup makes it resilient, and you’ll have a hard time scrubbing it away with just a wet rag. The preferred way to clean limescale is to weaken and dissolve it using a mild acidic solution.
Common household vinegar is extremely effective for this task. If you can remove your affected showerheads, faucets and other fixtures, submerge them in a bucket of vinegar for at least an hour. When you pull them out, any remaining limescale should flake right off after a vigorous scrubbing with an old toothbrush. This is the ideal method because it allows you to dissolve limescale inside and out. If vinegar isn’t getting the job done, you can always step up to a chemical cleaning solution — just be sure to look for one formulated specifically for calcium, lime and rust. Make sure to wear gloves if you have to escalate to this, since the solution will be harsher on skin than household vinegar would.
If limescale is a consistent problem in your home, it’s time to consider a water softening system. These systems mix sodium-based solutions into your incoming water supply to counteract the damaging effects of mineral buildup. That’s not just good news for your pipes and appliances, it also means healthier skin and cleaner clothes and dishes.