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How to Clean Stainless Steel Sink Hard Water Stains


*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

You hate to see your stainless steel sink marred with stains. Unfortunately, hard water will leave behind unsightly blemishes on the shiny surface of your sink and more. 

Hard water is the term used to describe water that has higher than average traces of dissolved magnesium and calcium in it.1 These minerals leave behind white smudges when the water evaporates.

The good news is that hard water isn’t harmful to humans. 

However, it can damage your household items over time. If you are over the hassle, water softening solutions are your answer.

Cleaning hard water stains is quite simple and can be done with many products you already have around the house. There’s typically no need to use harsh chemicals or abrasive tools. Keep reading to learn more about how to clean stainless steel sink hard water stains and why it’s important to do so.

Use Kitchen Staples To Clean Your Sink

Anyone who has ever owned a stainless steel appliance or sink knows that it’s not really stainless. Spots, smears, blotches, and more appear with astonishing regularity. Luckily, you can shine up your stainless steel with natural remedies that you probably already have on hand. 

A few simple stainless steel cleaner you can use include:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Baking soda
  • Cream of tartar (yes, really!)

Let’s look at each of these and how you can use them to remove hard water spots.


Distilled white vinegar is one of the cheapest and most effective agents you can use to clean many areas of your home, including a stainless steel sink.2 To remove hard water stains with vinegar, you’ll need to:

  • Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water
  • Rinse out your kitchen sink with plain water
  • Spray the vinegar solution all over the kitchen sink
  • Let it soak for 15 minutes
  • Scrub the area with a non-abrasive sponge
  • Wipe with a damp cloth

This should leave your sink sparkling clean.

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If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, try a different, more scent-friendly, solution. Pure lemon juice is also more acidic than vinegar and may be more effective at removing tough stains. You’ll use the same process as you would for vinegar, and will be left with a fresh, clean, citrus aroma wafting through your kitchen.

Baking Soda

Like vinegar, baking soda is the natural housekeeper’s best friend. It’s useful for countless applications, including hard water stain and limescale removal. The steps for using baking soda include:

  • Rinse your sink to remove any debris
  • Sprinkle baking soda all over the sink
  • Using a non-abrasive sponge or an old toothbrush, scrub the sink
  • Make sure you’re scrubbing with the grain of the steel
  • Rinse the baking soda off

This method can help remove tough hard water residue without damage to your sink.


If you have particularly stubborn hard water stains on your stainless steel sink, you can combine natural cleaning agents to make a more powerful cleanser.3 The most common is an acid and baking soda. For this method, you’ll need to begin with a rinse of the sink. Then you should:

  • Spread the baking soda around the sink’s surface
  • Scrub thoroughly (with the steel grain) to loosen the mineral traces
  • Spray vinegar or lemon juice over the baking soda
  • Let sit for as long as it takes for the fizzing to stop (generally a few minutes)
  • Rinse with clean water
  • Wipe the sink dry with a microfiber towel

Alternatively, you can use cream of tartar instead of baking soda. This method should remove even the most stubborn stains. Plus, it costs you very little money and is non-toxic. This is also one of the ways on how to get hard spots off car.

Why Do You Need to Remove Hard Water Stains?

If you don’t remove hard water stains you risk causing permanent damage to your sink. Along with magnesium and calcium, hard water often contains iron. Leaving hard water stains on the surface of your sink allows them to oxidize. Oxidation leads to rust.

If your stainless steel sink rusts severely enough, it’ll eventually start to leak. As you know, water anywhere it doesn’t belong is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Regularly cleaning and drying your stainless steel sink will keep it in top shape and prevent a much more serious issue down the road.

However, an even better solution might be to add a water softener to your property to prevent the problems caused by hard water.

Soften Your Water with Rayne Water

Hard water can keep your stainless steel sink surface from looking its best. While you can remove stains easily if you’re diligent, wouldn’t you prefer to avoid the problem altogether? If your home has hard water like many others across the US, you may want to invest in a water conditioning system like a water softener.

At Rayne Water, we’ve been helping homeowners improve the quality of their water since the 1920s. Contact us today to see how we can assist you. We know you’ll be happy with the higher quality water and fewer stubborn stains.



  1. United States Geological Survey. Hardness of Water.
  2. SFGate. How to Remove Hard Water Spots From Stainless Steel Sinks.
  3. Bob Villa. How to Clean A Stainless Steel Sink.

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher