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Hard Water Stains: All You Need to Know

Hard Water Stains: All You Need to Know

What is hard water?

Before we get into what a hard water stain is, we should first identify the true culprit: the hard water itself. What exactly is hard water, anyways? Where does it come from? In short form, hard water is just water with gunk in it.

That gunk could be anything, and it typically isn’t harmful. Hard water is created when water flows through heavy deposits of limestone, chalk, or gypsum. Some studies have suggested that hard drinking water may have moderate health benefits, but it sure can leave some nasty stains.

It’s worth noting, as well, that hard water is incredibly common. You’d be hard-pressed to find a home that doesn’t have some kind of hard water buildup on the property.

Where does a hard water stain come from?

So, the next piece of the puzzle is figuring out where hard water stains are coming from. It’s pretty simple — the water evaporates from a surface  and leaves behind its mineral deposits. Because the minerals in question often come in the form of iron, these hard water stains can typically resemble rust stains. The iron from your water oxidizes and grabs onto a surface, creating difficult-to-remove, unsightly stains. While these stains are basically harmless to your health, they certainly aren’t great to look at.

But fear not. There’s plenty of ways to prevent these hard water stains from forming, and even more ways to get rid of them once they have.


In a perfect world, we would all just prevent problems before they come up in the first place. While we know that’s not always going to happen, we do have a few tips you can use to prevent hard water stains from ever forming.

Our first tip is to just keep surfaces dry. Hard water stains come from the evaporation from water as it sits on a surface. So, by drying your sinks, showers, and countertops after use, you can dramatically decrease the mineral buildup. While this might take some dedication, it’s probably the most effective way to prevent hard water stains.

Another way to cut down on the stains is to avoid using cleaners containing bleach. While bleach may seem a like handy, effective cleaning agent, it reacts with water and can make rust stains much worse.

Home-Grown Methods

There are a few at-home remedies for getting rid of pesky hard water stains, some of which are more effective than others.

One option is installing a water softener. A water softener is basically a filtration device that removes minerals from your water supply. This can be a bit of a process though, and not every home is suitable for such a piece of equipment. Certain water softeners can be installed for around $500, but in other cases, you may be looking well into the thousands.

So, if a water softener isn’t right for you, there are still a couple more options. One popular cleaner is vinegar — and rightly so. Mixing vinegar with distilled water can form a decent cleaner for hard water stains. However, getting good results is going to require a fair amount of elbow grease.

Epsom Salts also work reasonably well as a sort of ‘bathroom exfoliant’, but again — this method will require a lot of elbow grease, a good bit of your time.

All in all, DIY hard water cleaners leave something to be desired. That’s where we come in. Iron Out cleans hard water stains quickly, safely, and easily. While a lot of hard water features pretty similar mineral content, the location of the buildup can necessitate a different type of cleaner. Luckily, Summit Brands makes hard water removers that fit perfectly for just about any space or spot in your home.

Iron OUT®: Hard Water Solutions

  • Iron OUT Rust Stain Remover Package Front; 1 lb 12 oz; SKU IO31B

    Iron OUT® Rust Stain Remover Powder

    Iron OUT®, the #1 heavy-duty rust stain remover powder, is specifically formulated to easily rinse away the toughest rust stains, eliminating the need to scrub. Learn More >>


Iron OUT® Rust Stain Remover Powder

Iron OUT® powder is going to be one of your best tools against hard water stains. As the leading rust stain remover powder, we’ve made this so you can easily rinse away rust stains — without even scrubbing. The Iron OUT® Rust Stain Remover Powder is one of the most versatile tools in your arsenal, working well in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms alike.

  • Iron OUT Rust Stain Remover Spray Gel Package Front; 16 fl oz; SKU LI03B

    Iron OUT® Rust Stain Remover Spray

    This convenient spray gel formula quickly and easily removes rust stains from vertical and hard-to-reach surfaces in and around the home, including bathtubs, showers, toilets and more. Learn More >>


Iron OUT® Rust Stain Remover Spray

The spray form of our product is going to be perfect for vertical or elevated spots where hard water buildup occurs. Unlike vinegar or Epsom salts, this stain removing spray does all the work for you. Simply spray on an affected area, let stand for a few moments, and wipe clean.

Iron OUT® Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Let’s face it — no one wants to be cleaning their toilet every day. But, the toilet bowl is one of the most common places for hard water stains to appear. There’s good news, though. We’ve created a version of Iron OUT® that prevents hard water stains in your toilet bowl — and you don’t have to lift a finger. Every time you flush, it cleans. Each one of our tablets lasts up to 45 days, repelling rust and stains before they even form.

Iron OUT® Outdoor Rust Stain Remover

The big guns. Iron OUT®’s Outdoor Remover is a pre-mixed formula that removes rust stains from concrete, vinyl, and other outdoor surfaces. This stain remover is professional grade, so it’s perfect on especially tough rust stains. But, rest assured — it’s perfectly safe for all plant life, so feel free to spray around vegetation. This formula applies with a tank sprayer, cloth, or roller. When it comes to vinyl siding, concrete sidewalks and driveways, fences, and outdoor equipment — this is your go-to.

Iron OUT® is here to help!

Hard water and rust stains are tough. There’s no shortage of home remedies or quick fixes out there, all of which will bring varying degrees of success. In an ideal world, we’d all have time of day to take preventative measures against hard water stains. But, at Summit Brands, we’re reasonable. We know that can’t always happen, so we’ve created Iron OUT® to do the work for you.