How to clean limescale

There’s nothing better than walking into a perfectly clean bathroom or kitchen, but limescale can really spoil the pristine look.

With 60% of the UK having hard or very hard water, limescale is a big problem for many households. But if you feel like the chalky deposits are getting everywhere, we’ve got the tricks for keeping it at bay. Just read our expert advice…

Lemon juice and vinegar

Getting rid of limescale doesn’t require expensive cleaning products! Lemon juice and vinegar can help you tackle most of your limescale problems — a win for your pocket and for the environment.

Lemon juice and vinegar are both acidic, meaning that they can break down the calcium carbonate that limescale is made from. Here’s how you can use these green cleaners to your advantage.


Make up a spray bottle of half white vinegar and half water, and use it regularly as you would a general bathroom cleaning spray on tiles, basins, baths, showers and taps to keep limescale at bay. Always rinse thoroughly with plain water afterwards.

If limescale has already built up, soak a tea towel or cloth in the vinegar solution and wrap it around the tap, then leave for a couple of hours or overnight. You may need to scrub a little to remove all the residue. As an alternative for taps, or if you don’t like that vinegary smell, halve a lemon, squeeze out some juice, and put the half lemons on to the tap spouts. Then soak a cloth in the lemon juice and wrap around the rest of the tap. Always rinse well with plain water once cleaned.

GHI TIP: Don’t use it on plated taps, particularly gold plated. The acid in vinegar can damage their finish

Shower heads

Remove the shower head and soak overnight in a solution of half water and half white vinegar. Rinse with plain water after soaking and use a needle to poke any remaining scale out of the jet holes.

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remove limescale stains


For ceramic toilets, try removing very heavy limescale deposits by rubbing gently with an old toothbrush soaked in white vinegar, or for very hard and encrusted limescale, don the rubber gloves and use an old pumice stone to gently rub away the limescale below the water level.


Your kitchen sink and taps can be treated for limescale in the same way as the bathroom sink and taps.

Kettles and coffee machines

Fill the kettle with a solution consisting of half water and half white vinegar, and leave it overnight. In the morning, the limescale will rinse out easily. Rinse thoroughly to remove any vinegary odours.

For coffee makers, add the vinegar solution to the water compartment, run the machine through its process (with no coffee), and repeat twice with plain water.

GHI Tip: Some brands of coffee machines have their own branded descalers, so check the instructions to see if the machine states to use its own descaler. If you don’t use the branded one, you could invalidate the warranty.


For the dishwasher pour the white vinegar into the base of the machine and run a wash cycle. As well as removing the limescale, it’ll help freshen up your appliance!

Washing machines

For your washing machine use a large cup of white vinegar or lemon juice in place of your usual detergent and run the machine empty on a normal wash cycle.


First and foremost check the manual, most irons have built in ‘anti-calc’ or cleaning functions, so it’s always best to follow manufacturers guidance so you don’t invalidate the warranty.

Failing that, fill the water tank to around a third full with half white vinegar and half water, switch it on to a steam setting and iron an old towel until the tank is empty and all the vinegar and water has worked its way through. Repeat with fresh water to rinse the system out and get rid of any traces of vinegar.

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