How to remove limescale and hard water deposits

Dissolve limescale the easy way with our tips for descaling kettles, washing machines, toilets, showers and more.

Updated 6 April 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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video: how to remove limescale from a kettle

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Remove limescale regularly with a specially formulated cleaning product like Domestos Zero Limescale for the toilet or Cif Bathroom Spray for household surfaces including taps.

Key Steps:

  1. 1

    Remove limescale from taps, toilets, and surfaces regularly to avoid strong build-up.

  2. 2

    Soak heavily affected areas, like the shower head, with your chosen solution to make limescale easier to remove.

  3. 3

    Use specialist products from Domestos to remove limescale from toilets and kill germs at the same time.

What is limescale?

Limescale is a calcium compound found on surfaces and appliances around the home that come into regular contact with water. It is particularly common in hard water areas. Although a household nuisance, limescale isn’t impossible to remove and even the hardest water deposits can be vanquished with the right cleaning agent and a bit of elbow grease. Just follow this advice on how to get rid of limescale in your home.

Safety Warning

Always use limescale inhibitors and biocides safely. Read the label and product information carefully before use.

What removes limescale?

Specialist limescale and detergent removers are available from most places and offer some of the best ways to remove limescale from household surfaces. If you need a quick fix and don't have any of these products to hand, then a few cupboard staples can also prove effective in removing limescale: a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water can be handy in de-scaling appliances like the kettle or coffeemaker while lemon juice can work well on kitchen and bathroom surfaces. 

How to remove limescale from kettles and small appliances

Get rid of limescale from kettles, coffee makers, and other small appliances with these easy steps:

  1. 1

    Fill the appliance 2/3 to the top with a water-vinegar solution or de-scaling agent. Always follow the instructions for de-scaling agents as they may require you to use more or less of their product.

  2. 2

    Switch the appliance on and let the mixture boil. 

  3. 3

    Once boiled, leave the solution to cool and soak overnight (if possible) or for a couple of hours.

  4. 4

    Empty the mixture and rinse the appliance thoroughly. You should see the hard water deposits run out of your appliance.

  5. 5

    Run your coffee machine or boil your kettle a few times with clean water to remove any leftover solution before using it again.

To see this process in action, watch our video below on how to remove limescale from a kettle:

How to get rid of limescale on washing machines, dishwashers, and large appliances

Limescale doesn't just affect small appliances like the kettle. Large items like your washing machine and dishwasher can also be affected. Allowing hard water to build up on these appliances could affect their performance and even lead to breakdowns so it's important to tackle any problems with these steps:

  1. 1

    Fill a cup with your chosen removal agent and pour it into the dispensing drawer where you would normally place the detergent.

  2. 2

    Run a standard cycle – empty, of course – to let your limescale agent do its job.

  3. 3

    For everyday maintenance, use a detergent that offers limescale protection where possible. 

How to remove limescale from taps

Ridding your bathroom or kitchen taps of limescale can be especially difficult because the minerals like to lurk in all sorts of awkward places. Try these hacks to help you:

  1. 1

    Using the best limescale remover you can find, soak some cotton wool or an old cloth in the liquid and wrap it around the tap.

  2. 2

    Fill a small cup with the cleaning solution and submerge the tap spout into it. Wrap a towel around the tap so that it stays in place.

  3. 3

    Leave the limescale remover to soak on the tap for up to an hour before rinsing.

  4. 4

    Tackle any stubborn areas that remain by scrubbing with a little more limescale remover and a gentle scourer or old toothbrush.

How to get rid of limescale from shower heads and baths

Limescale builds up in two main places in baths: behind the tap spout – particularly if it is prone to dripping – and in the corners of the bath where water can pool. It's also prone to clogging up the jets of shower heads which can make bathtime less than relaxing. Remove these stains by following these tips:

  1. 1

    Applying neat white vinegar can be effective in removing limescale in the bathroom but you should exercise caution on old enamel baths and sinks as the surface can be damaged by the acid.

  2. 2

    Try using a mild abrasive or limescale remover and scrubbing gently with an old toothbrush for small stains.

  3. 3

    Don't leave the product as long on enamel surrfaces to avoid damage. Always rinse thoroughly.

  4. 4

    Remove the shower head and soak it in a limescale remover or white vinegar solution for at least an hour before rinsing.

  5. 5

    Repeat these steps as necessary until all limescale has been removed.

How to clean limescale from toilets

Removing scaly deposits in the toilet bowl and underneath the rim can be tough and may require different tactics. Try these steps:

  1. 1

    Use a stronger limescale remover – either a gel cleaner or bleach manufactured specifically for the toilet – and apply it as close as you can to the water deposits, squirting upwards under the rim and into the bowl as well. We like Domestos Zero Limescale.

  2. 2

    Leave the product to soak for at least half an hour before flushing.

  3. 3

    Try rubbing a pumice stone on heavier build-ups.

  4. 4

    If you’re still finding you have limescale stains, purchase a heavy-duty powder cleaner containing compounds like trisodium phosphate or borax. These can either be measured into the bowl or applied directly to problem areas.

  5. 5

    Use all products substances with care, wearing eye protection and gloves at all times. Never mix cleaning products, especially not bleach.

Make limescale removal part of your regular cleaning routine, and leave your chosen solution to soak for as long as possible, to save you a lot of hard graft and keep your home sparkling clean.

Find Out More!

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