Been doing your best to keep your house in pristine condition, but can’t seem to get rid of those reddish and yellowish stains on your sink and toilet? The former is most likely rust stains while the latter is calcium build-up. They can’t just be scraped or washed away like normal stains. Luckily, there are more than enough ways to remove them.
Rust (also known as iron oxide) forms when iron is exposed to oxygen through water and calcium buildup and it occurs when the water has a high pH level, high calcium concentration, or high alkalinity. Thus,areas that are constantly exposed to water are prone to rust stains and calcium buildup. Your faucets, sinks, and toilets are the most vulnerable to rust and calcium buildup since they almost always have water running through them.
Beyond harming your house’s appearance, rust stains and calcium buildup can cause health issues — especially to sinks and faucets since you use them to wash dishes, your hands and your body.
While having rust stains and calcium buildup is highly annoying and unsanitary, there are multiple ways to clean and restore them. Most rust and calcium buildups occur in the bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
Rust is known to be easily removed by vinegar alone. This is because acids like vinegar takes the rust off metals while minimally “harming” the metal itself. Other acids that can also safely remove rust from metallic objects include lemon or lime juice and apple cider. Soaking things in cleansers with high acidic content will remove rust after a few hours. Acids have different pH levels though, so the stronger an acid is, the more efficient it is in removing rust.
For sinks, you can easily fill it with any acid — vinegar is the most common and most recommended — to a level where it reaches the rust stains. You can leave the acid-filled sink for a few hours or overnight and return to a rust-free sink. If your sink is too large or you don’t want to leave it full of acid for a long period of time, you can rinse as soon as you’re done scrubbing and cleaning.
Unlike sinks, toilets and faucets cannot be exposed to acid. Instead, one should use hydrochloride acid (also known as HCL or muriatic acid) which is a stronger cleansing agent than any of the aforementioned acids. You will have to pour hydrochloride acid over the rust stains and scrub the area to rid it of any stains. Make sure the water isn’t running while cleaning as this may cause the acid to splash and damage your surroundings or even yourself if unprotected. Once done, rinse immediately and thoroughly to remove any traces of hydrochloric acid. (It is best to use rubber gloves and old clothes to help prevent injury to yourself or damage good clothes).
Using baking powder is another popular method of removing rust. However, this only works for dry objects. Removing rust stains on faucets, toilets, and sinks with baking powder is less than ideal since they are almost always in contact with water. You will have to dry them up completely before spreading baking powder on the surface and scrubbing with steel wool. Electrolysis — using battery power — can also be conducted to remove oxidation (i.e. rust), but this is usually done on smaller objects such as tools and not recommended for newbie or amateur DIY’ers since it’s quite a complicated process.
Like rust stains, calcium buildup on different surfaces can be treated with different acids (e.g. vinegar, hydrochloric acid). There are also other practical solutions for removing calcium buildup. Other than using acids and acid-based products, you can use a pumice stone. Pumice stones work great on porcelain stains just make sure there is constant water on the area you are scrubbing. A pumice stone is used to remove the calcium buildup and then smoothen out the surface. Using a pumice stone is a little more risky than the other two as it involves manual labor and its effectively and efficiency are dependent on the cleaner’s skills.
Commercial calcium deposit removers are products made specifically to remove calcium deposits on different surfaces such as toilets, sinks, swimming pools, and the like.They come in different forms such as sprays or foaming cleansers as well.
While rust is inevitable, calcium buildup is highly avoidable. Calcium buildup occurs when there is an irregularity with your water such as alkalinity, pH level, or calcium content. Fixing these factors will result to lesser calcium buildup or may prevent calcium buildup at all. Using a water softener will lessen the calcium content in your household’s water, reducing the potential for calcium buildup significantly.
While there are a few ways to combat rust stains and calcium buildup, it’s always best to leave household problems like these to experts and professionals,especially for harder-to-reach regions of your house. Diamondback Plumbing can help you with rust & calcium build-ups amongst many other plumbing services we provide. (Read more about our services)
We have a well known reputation as professional plumbers in Arizona and have had great success due to our return customers that keep using and coming back to Diamondback Plumbing. They know they can trust us due to having a solid reputation and a well known name in the plumbing industry serving Phoenix for over 20 years.