Thursday, September 20, 2012

How I Conquered Hard Water Woes of the Loo

Cleaners for the Hard-Water Plagued Bathroom.

"When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he's doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911."
Erma Bombeck

Scroll down to find:  
Mildly Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner
Heavy Duty Disinfecting
Hard-Water Mineral-Deposit Buster and Bathroom Cleaner
Gentle Effective Scouring Powder
Daily Shower Spray
My Bathroom Cleaning Routine
Short yet nonetheless meaningless rambling

( I can't find a way to make the titles click-able so you can jump straight to the subjects :-/ )



for hard water

( NOT suitable for kitchen and food preparation areas )

3 Cups Water - filtered or distilled, boiled and sufficiently cooled
1 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
1/8 tsp Tea Tree Oil*

Combine in a Spray Bottle
Store safely
Gently shake before spraying

Simply spray and wipe.  If using in bath or laundry rooms there is no need to rinse it away, and any residue may temporarily help ward  off microbes.

*For more disinfecting power, or if you simply love the smell,  increase the tea tree oil as desired up to a total of 1 teaspoon per quart of mixture.

I make my formula a gallon at a time and store it in empty vinegar bottles, thus 12 cups Water, 4 cups Vinegar, 1/4 cup Sal Suds, 1/2 teaspoon Tea Tree Oil;  shake gently to mix before pouring into spray bottles.

If you do not have hard water, you do not need this formula.  But if hard water is causing woe in your loo, you may want to to give it a try.



 for hard surfaces and wipe-off-able items
( NOT suitable for use on people!!! )

 Kept Separately:
Hydrogen Peroxide* in an opaque spray bottle
Distilled White Vinegar  in a spray bottle

Spray hydrogen peroxide
Spray vinegar on top of the hydrogen peroxide
  (or vise-versa)
Allow the mix to sit for at least 30 seconds and up to one minute
Wipe up!

Alternately, to make quick work of a large job, as needed you can mix equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar to wipe with BUT you must use immediately and discard any remaining mixture as soon as you are done AND be sure to wear cleaning gloves!

Important Note!
The reaction that occurs WHEN hydrogen peroxide and vinegar mix is where all the disinfecting power comes from;  if stored for any period you will instead have peracetic acid - an acid that WON'T do the job you want to do and that you DON'T want to have around - do NOT mix them ahead of time and absolutely do NOT store them mixed.

*Keep Hydrogen Peroxide in opaque containers as light destroys it (it will degrade into plain water).  To make it spray-able you can simply replace the original bottle cap with a clean new spray-nozzle (which you can re-use for subsequent hydrogen peroxide bottles);  if needed, cut the feed tube to the proper length for the bottle.




 for light bathroom cleaning and hard water woes

( suitable for any wet-able surface )


Fill spray bottle with vinegar
Keep remainder of jug under sink or likewise handy

Of course this is the same spray bottle of vinegar to use for the Heavy Duty Disinfecting described above, no need for two!

If you do not have hard water, i.e. you've got soft water,  for cleaning you may wish to fill the spray bottle with half vinegar and half water rather than using full strength vinegar.



for scouring of course

( suitable for anything that can be scoured )

Baking Soda  in a close-able

That's it!

Wet area to be scoured with water or cleaner, sprinkle with baking soda, and scrub
Sprinkle baking soda, wet with water or cleaner, and scrub
Sprinkle baking soda, scrub with a wet scrubbing implement
Wipe or rinse clean. 



for a cleaner shower between scrubbings

( found this here )

3 Cups Water  filtered or distilled, 
boiled and sufficiently cooled
1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar
2 tsp Borax
1 tbsp Dish Soap, e.g. Dawn
20 drops Lavender Oil 
    or other essential oil(s)

Combine in a Spray Bottle
Gently shake before spraying

I use half lavender oil and half grapefruit oil.  Lavender oil is antimicrobial, grapefruit oil is a brightener, they smell wonderful together, plus between them they are reputed to alleviate stress and lift the spirits.

Putting It To Use


for sparking a bathroom in next to no time

( suitable for bathrooms with hard water )

Mildly Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner
Baking Soda
Distilled White Vinegar
Hydrogen Peroxide
Daily Shower Spray 
Scouring Implement
Cleaning Rags 
  1. Quickly straighten the bathroom and get out everything that does not belong in there, including dirty towels.  (If this is difficult to accomplish you may need to de-clutter and organize!)  While you're at it, put out a clean hand-towel and give the floor a quick sweep.
  2. With mildly disinfecting bathroom cleaner and in order of ickiest to cleanest, quickly spray the sink, the tub if it needs it, into the toilet bowl, the toilet seat and any outer parts of the toilet that get grotty, and let them sit a minute while you clean the rest of the bathroom. 
  3.  With vinegar or mildly disinfecting bathroom cleaner, quickly spray and polish the mirror and any glass you're going to clean.
  4. With mildly disinfecting bathroom cleaner,  quickly spray and wipe down the hand-contact spots - door and cabinet handles, light switch, faucet handles etc.,  the horizontal surfaces - counter-top etc., and any dirty spots on the doors and walls etc.. 
  5. Returning to the sink, tub if doing, and inside the toilet bowl in order of cleanest first to ickiest last:  one at a time respray with mildly disinfecting bathroom cleaner and add a dash of baking soda for scouring power, then quickly scrub them up and rinse them off (in the case of the toilet, flush)  Don't labour over this or try to get mineral deposits or old stains out in one go, it should be quick and easy!
  6. When everything but the floor is done, quickly clean the seat and outer parts of the toilet with mildly disinfecting bathroom cleaner.
  7. Lightly spray the floor and quickly wipe it up.

The best time to clean the tub is as soon as it's finished draining from a bath. It really only takes one minute of easy work if done immediately but is so much harder after it's had a chance to sit.

After showering, spray shower walls and curtain lightly with daily shower spray.  (I was using Method's spray for this;  I love it but I'm all out and now and am trying out a new homemade formula)

Once a week give the shower walls a quick wipe with mildly disinfecting bathroom cleaner and, if needed, baking soda; rinse, and spray with daily shower spray.
Once a month clean all the walls, doors, cabinets and everything else (including wash the shower curtain);  divide it up over the course of the month so you don't have to do a marathon.

Use the heavy duty disinfecting technique described above for anything you might feel needs it.

For any hard water deposits such as on faucets and around fixtures, or for mold and mildew, when finished cleaning spray lightly with vinegar and leave the vinegar to do its work.

For extra work on deposits in the toilet bowl, when no one is going to be using it for an hour or more, perhaps overnight, pour in a cup of white vinegar and let it soak.  If the vinegar hasn't been flushed before you get back to it, add a good bit of baking soda and give it a good scrub for as long as the fun fizzing action lasts.  Flush!




Disclaimer!  My tried and true cleaning products and routine will not immediately eradicate hard water mineral deposits.  But I have found that, rather than allowing them to build up, it gently and gradually gets rid of them and keeps them away.

Further Disclaimer:  The formulas and uses of products are given with a hard-water problem in mind and some are not intended for nor the same as I would use in a soft-water situation.

A bottle of Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds goes a long long way so don't let the price put you off too much.  Essential oils go a long way too, but don't get tricked into paying too much for them!  All the other ingredients on this page should be inexpensive, especially if you can shop around and buy in bulk.

You should be able to pick up new spray bottles inexpensively if you don't already have old empties to reuse - don't be taken in by costly ones - I get mine at the Dollar Tree and they work better & last longer than ones I spent a lot more on.  And if you don't an emptied container for sprinkling baking soda from you should be able to find something inexpensive that will do for that at a bargain shop too.

These concoctions and methods should be safe for granite, which is a quartz based stone, but do not use them on marble or other calcium based stone, nor any other questionable material.  Not having stone surfaces, I don't know anything more than that about cleaning them!

Click to see Why I love Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds and Pure Castile Liquid Soaps for cleaning, besides that they are fabulously effective, natural, non-toxic, non-scary, organic, fair-trade, smell wonderful, their castile soaps have the most interesting labels anywhere, and, as they all go a long way, are economical to use.  I purchase Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds at my local Health Food Store and Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Peppermint Liquid Soap at Trader Joe's.  If you can't find the product you want locally you can order directly from the Dr. Bronner's website, though they require that you purchase at least $19.99 worth of products in each order - in return they offer free shipping in the continental United States.

I confess, on occasion, if the bathroom has lost a bit if its sheen because I haven't kept it up properly and just to cheer me up while I'm cleaning, I use Bon Ami scouring powder.  What can I say, I love the product and I love the package.


We have hard water and an aged sink and tub which are well worn.  For years I fought hard-water mineral deposits.  Waging a losing battle against relentless and remarkably quick build up, I would scour for ages with professional scouring blocks, chip away with screwdrivers, and sometimes even apply commercial products with lots of scary warnings on the label (and if you know me you know I do not like to do that) and which would sting the eye and cause one to gasp for breath - and that can't be good!  I also fought mildew (which seems to thrive on any hard-water buildup), bleaching it whenever got too out of hand, again blinking and gasping for breath, but it too always rebounded despite regular cleaning.  Finally, after a bit of research, a little trail and error, and some final tweaking, I formulated my "Mildly Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner" and switched to what is now my tried and true bathroom cleaning products.  I've been making my formula and using the same bathroom routine for a few years now and, if I do say so myself, it works wonders.  Our bathroom is clean and shiny, hard water mineral deposits are vanquished, mildew too is gone), and soap-scum and the mystery scums that the grandchildren bring in (think snail slime etc.) clean away easily.  My biggest problem with the bathroom now is the stuff people leave behind after they've used it.