How to Remove Limescale and Prevent It from Settling in Your Home

Posted by on February 17, 2017 in Household Enemies

Limescale buildup

Source: Flickr, image by Lee Haywood Title: Kettle. Used under CC BY 2.0 SA license.

If you find yourself wondering whether you reside in a hard water area, simply count the white flakes, floating in your tea in the morning. Yes, their number will indicate how badly your kettle has been affected by limescale.

But don’t worry if this is the case, because with this post, we’ll go through everything that there is to know about the annoying whitish scales – from how they form to how to rid of them for good.

What is Limescale and How Is It Formed?

The off-white hard crust you can spot around faucets and fixtures in the bathroom, at the bottom of your kettle and in other household appliances that use water, is called limescale.

How does limescale build up in our homes and why?

Well, water contains different impurities and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. The term ‘hard’ is often used to describe water, which contains a higher concentration of dissolved magnesium and calcium ions. The chemical composition of limescale contains exactly that – calcium and magnesium carbonates. We all know that water evaporates quickly under high temperature and when this happens, the minerals left behind create a layer of limescale on the affected area.

Water Hardness

Water hardness is determined as the density of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water. There are 2 types of water hardness – temporary and permanent:

  • Temporary hardness is caused by dissolved calcium hydrogen carbonate and can be removed by boiling the water. During the process, the soluble calcium hydrogen carbonate disintegrates into carbon dioxide, insoluble calcium carbonate and water. That is when the insoluble calcium carbonate forms a layer of limescale on hot water pipes and boilers.
  • Permanent hardness (known as non-carbonate hardness) is caused by dissolved calcium sulfate but it can’t be removed by boiling the water. So, no wonder why the heating elements of most of our household appliances facilitate the buildup of these hardened mineral deposits.

Moreover, limescale “attracts” new limescale, which sticks easily to already formed encrustations, making it even harder to get rid of them.

Where Does Limescale Commonly Build up and Settle?

We’ve made it clear that domestic equipment, small electrical appliances and machines, which operate with water that is heated in the process, are prone to the formation of limescale if minerals concentrations in water are high. Therefore, dishwashers, coffee makers, washing machines, kettles, even pots and pans are the household items where we can first notice the unpleasant opaque coating.

But limescale settles on a variety of other surfaces around the home, which are in daily contact with water. That’s right. Although, it may take a bit longer for the mineral deposits to build up, due to the slower process of water evaporation. Still, eventually, the unsightly hard-to-remove concretion forms in the pipe system; around kitchen fittings and bathroom accessories, as well as on tiled surfaces and in the grout.

What Are The Adverse Effects of Using Hard Water?

Let’s be honest! Limescale on visible sites and surfaces is simply unpleasant to look at. It makes your home feel unclean and neglected. However, there are more hidden repercussions from using untreated hard water for your household needs. If ignored over time, the hard scaly layer of calcium carbonate deposits in electrical appliances jeopardise their working efficiency to the detriment of their overall operational condition. This potentially results not only in a less efficient energy consumption and higher utility bills but also contributes to the decreased lifespan of household equipment and the need of repairs.

The slow buildup of limescale in pipework may also cause blockages in the household water system that can be costly and difficult to deal with.
The consequences of hard water use on human health are proven to be innocuous. Moreover, some researchers claim that drinking it can be even beneficial for heart disease suffers, as well as supplementary to our diet, in terms of essential minerals daily intake. On the other hand, hard water may dry skin quicker, so people with sensitive skin could suffer some negative effects.

How to Remove & Prevent Limescale?

DIY lovers will be happy to know that there are effective homemade remedies that can successfully fight limescale. We’ll focus on ways to remove and prevent limescale using household products that are safe to apply for descaling electrical appliances that we use for the preparation of drinks. You will also find out about some handy tricks, which help remove unsightly hard water deposits from other household appliances and surfaces at home without applying powerful chemicals.

  • To remove limescale from your kettles and coffee makers is to run them, now and again, filled with a mixture of water and white vinegar or lemon juice (50/50). Then, rinse them thoroughly and they should be limescale-free.
  • You can eliminate limescale deposits from your lustreless jugs, jars, decanters, glassware and cookware using the same ingredients, as above. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and soak your tarnished glassware overnight. Rinse well on the following morning. You can bring back the shine to your pots and pans if you fill them with the same mixture and simmer it for about 15 minutes. Then, proceed by washing them as normal with a soft sponge and rinse them well.
  • To clean off limescale buildup from your washing machine and the dishwasher, you can try a mild limescale removal detergent which is the standard choice of the homemaker. Still, if you have suddenly gone green and environmentally conscious, use a cup of undiluted lemon juice and run the appliance empty on a regular cycle.
  • To keep your taps, sink fixtures and fittings limescale-free, it is best to resort to natural products like soda bicarbonate and lemon. Just make a paste-like mixture and use its abrasive properties to your advantage. Scrub gently the affected bathroom accessories, wipe, rinse and polish with a cloth. For really stubborn encrustations, say, on the faucet aerator, you can dip the spout into a cap, full of lemon juice and leave it overnight by attaching it securely with a tape.
  • For descaling discoloured tile and grout surfaces, sinks, shower bases and bathtubs, spray the mixture of lemon or vinegar (diluted) and water (50/50). Leave the solution to sit for awhile. You can scrub in some soda, too, for better effect and then rinse and wipe the surface.
  • You can quickly remove limescale from your shower screen and keep its crystal-clear look for longer, using a simple solution of 1 quarter white vinegar and 3 quarters water. First, polish off any excess grime and dirt with an old toothbrush. Then, apply the cleaning solution to your screen and let it sit for an hour. Finally, pour down a bottle of glass cleaner and gently wipe down the screen using a microfiber cloth.
  • To get rid of limescale buildup in your pipes, you can use the good old vinegar and baking soda solution. You will need about eight litres of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda per drain. Empty your pipes before you use the solution, and flush toilets as well. Put the baking soda into each drain and then slowly pour in the vinegar. Let it sit for at least 3-4 hours. To dissolve any grease or soap residual and wash away leftover calcium buildup, you can pour boiling water quickly and forcefully down the drains.
  • To successfully remove hard water deposits from your toilet bowl, you can use Coca-Cola. Just pour it into the toilet bowl and leave it to work for several hours. The drink contains high levels of phosphoric acid, which is proven to be effective against rust and limescale.

What Can You Do To Prevent Hard Water Deposits Buildup?

To keep your home limescale-free may require simply diligence and persistence. All the above cleaning tips can be used as preventive measures against unwanted water calcifications. If you treat your appliances kindly on a regular basis and apply extra care against the potential buildup of mineral deposits, you may never have to know what limescale even looks like.
In addition, you can use only purified water in your kettle, for instance, by treating it, first, through a water filter jug that uses replaceable cartridges.
Still, some people live in regions, where the water is really hard, so they may need to take more assertive measures to avoid its negative impact in the home and on the entire water pipe system.

As a large proportion of households in Britain are located in such areas, they resort to treating their water before it makes contact with surfaces and home equipment. Families generally rely on either the water softening or the water conditioning method. The first type of system works by a chemical process, where sodium quantities are raised in the water, replacing the calcium. The water becomes softer but it is not recommended for drinking. The water conditioning process uses a magnetic or a radio field device that is attached to the pipes. The treated water is still drinkable. Both systems are effective and prevent successfully limescale buildup in the pipeworks.

The Conclusion

So, to sum it up, no one needs to put up with the adverse effects of hard water, running through our homes. But if you’ve left it a bit late, due to your busy schedule, and your home surfaces are badly suffering from limescale deposits, you can easily find a solution in our signature one-off spring cleaning service, which is designed to deep clean, delime and descale your home.