How To Clean Calcium Build-Up off of Faucets

By Subodh / May 13, 2013

Over time, it’s extremely common for faucets to acquire a nasty white or green build-up of chemicals. This is generally due to hard water which is characterized by having too many minerals in the water. You can fix hard water by installing a water softener, but that by itself won’t help clean off the deposits already on the faucets. Most of these deposits are composed of calcium or magnesium, and it can be difficult to remove the build-up with normal cleaning measures. Even so, the problem is both unsightly and unhealthy and should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Get Out Your Old Toothbrush

Most faucets should have a small, portable filter that can be easily unscrewed from the bottom of the faucet. With your old toothbrush, you can scrub away some of the build-up around that filter. Of course, this won’t cure all your problems, but it will get a lot of the grime of your filter. You can use hot water from the tap to assist you as you brush down the filter. Some of the particles might remain in the filter itself, and you shouldn’t screw the filter back on just yet.

Clean Calcium Build-Up Off Of Faucets

Vinegar and Kitchen Chemistry

Indeed, if you really want to get your faucet as clean as it can be, try using some vinegar. The calcium that is stuck onto the faucet filter will not react too kindly to the touch of vinegar. This is because calcium is an alkaline earth metal that undergoes a chemical change when it reacts with acids (in this case, vinegar).

Before placing the filter in a bowl of vinegar, heat it up. The heat will provide the acidic liquid with enough energy to produce a chemical reaction with the filter. The vinegar should be hot to the touch, but not boiling because that creates another set of issues that you don’t want to deal with. Once you’ve gotten the temperature to an adequate heat level, submerge the faucet filter in the vinegar. You’ll immediately start to notice whitish bubbles rising off the surface of the filter.

You can leave the filter as is for about another hour (or longer or shorter depending on when the bubbles stop appearing). You can take the filter out of the vinegar, rinse it off with some water, and take a good close look at it. It will likely need a little scrubbing down with toothbrush before replacing it back on the filter itself. From then on, you should have a clean faucet that sprays to its fullest extent. This is a job that doesn’t require an emergency plumber and it can be done almost completely for free. As long as you have an old toothbrush and some vinegar, you can clean your faucets.