Cleaning Hard Water Stains On Marble and Granite

hard water stains around kitchen faucet granite countertops


Please advise tips to remove hard water stains on marble and granite countertops as I am facing a severe problem. I am unable to use any chemicals and acids in the market as they may harm the stone.


That's correct. Most common cleaners (and particularly those for removing hard water) will damage the finish of the stone. The formulations are much too caustic.

This Soap Scum / Hard Water Remover is your best bet... it's specially formulated for use on marble, granite and all natural stone.

It's the best product we've ever found for removing hard water deposits on marble and granite countertops. Very effective and totally safe... will not damage marble or any natural stone.

Excellent for removing soap scum in showers and baths too.

Both hard water deposits and soap scum are tough to remove. General cleaners don't work, which is why a product specifically formulated for this problem is needed.

It's easiest to clean the hard water stains and/or soap scum if you spray on and let sit for 5-10 minutes and then scrub with a soft-bristle brush or nylon pad. Repeat the process until completely clean.

But first, you should remove any large crusty hard water build-up using a plastic scraper to get the bulk of it off.

Once clean use the spray as your "regular" cleaner for the area where you get the hard water stains.

Regular cleaning with this product will eliminate or at least minimize any crusty build-up and keep your countertop looking shiny and clean.

Same for the tub and shower to keep soap scum at bay.

Nearly all common cleaners are too harsh (too acidic) for use on stone.

You may see ammonia suggested sometimes for hard water (and other marble cleaning issues), however, using ammonia will definitely damage marble immediately and if used regularly can damage granite countertops too.

This is true for other natural cleaners like vinegar (also too acidic) and generic (bleach, hydrogen peroxide) or name-brand products. And especially so on marble, travertine, and limestone, which etch immediately upon contact with acids.

All the products we recommend are safe for use on all stone including marble without any damage. For more marble cleaning tips (click here).

Hard water stains and deposits can be a maddening problem and if you have granite or marble countertops you need to be very particular about the product you choose to use.

Many people just start experimenting and end up with bad etch marks or corrosion of the stone finish. Now that you know what you can safely use you can easily remove hard water deposits and effectively manage this issue.

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Steel Wool
by: bmw

I saw Ryan's comment about the steel wool and tried it for removing hard water build up from our shiny black tile and the honed seagrass limestone in the shower. The finest wool I have is 00, not the 0000 he recommended, but it worked great. It took the build up right off with very little elbow grease.

When the pad started getting gunked up, I just shook it out and it was good as new. This is after I just spent the last hour trying to scrub the stains off with a baking soda and water paste that only sorta worked and was a huge mess to clean up.

I'll be steel-wooling it from now on.
Thanks RYAN!

Water spots on marble
by: Anonymous

I went in another direction. I have a mottled rose colored marble vanity top on which I tried a variety of solutions for water spots and then remembered I had rubbed in a bit of vaseline a year ago on the white area at the base of the faucet, and it still looks great.

Today I tried the paste of baking soda and water someone recommended to no avail.

And then. failing that, I just drizzled a bit of Argan oil (because it was handy) on the counter and rubbed it gently in with a paper towel till no excess and while the spots didn't disappear, the result for me was great, pretty close to the polished look it started with. Try only on a tiny area to make sure works on yours.

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

Thanks for your input, although, none of the solutions you tried are actual solutions for water spots on marble.

First, we have to define "water spots". Hard water mineral build-up can leave a whitish, crusty film and/or spots on the surface that are difficult to remove. Need to use a specific "Hard Water Remover" safe for marble (most are not).

However, those dull, clear or whitish spots most people call "water spots" or "water stains" are actually etch marks from acidic foods, drinks and harsh chemicals that have corroded the surface.

The surface must be restored in these etched areas much like sanding wood smooth.

On polished (shiny) marble use the Marble Etch Remover & Polisher to restore the shine and color.

The oil you rubbed in will make it seem as if the spots are gone but once the oil evaporates or is worn off the spots will return. In addition, the oil could absorb and leave a true stain.

Hard Water Stains / Build Up Removal
by: Mom In Nevada

I have been too scared to try the fine steel wool but my other tries so far have failed. Does the granite need resealed after this?

I have two kinds of granite counters in my home.

One color has a more polished finish while the other has a "leathered" more casual finish.

My polished granite counter has a spot that is dull. Not sure if it is simply hard water there or if my mistake of a cleaning lady ruined that spot?

If she did ruin it there, is this something I (a complete novice) can repair on my own? Or do I need to call in/pay a professional?

Also, I'm not sure if the products you recommend are your own line...or just what you like to recommend, but what about using the Advantage20x cleaners for granite and marble?

Their company claims them to be safe for both types of stones and have a neutral ph. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that!

THANK YOU for your advice! I am eager to learn more from you!

==== Countertop Specialty comment:

The 0000 grade steel wool will not harm your granite at all. Remember granite is super hard. Your diamond ring may scratch it, but not much else will.

The Hard Water Remover recommended in the article above is your best bet. It will safely (without damage) and effectively remove any buildup.

The products we recommend are those that are created specifically for use on natural stone and have proven to be the most effective with superior performance.

Many other cleaning product brands have products that may not harm the granite, but such products are made cheaply for mass-market use on multiple surfaces and, generally, do not do the job nearly as well.

It is also risky to use general household cleaners on natural stone as you never know which ones will be damaging.

Lastly, an all-purpose surface cleaner will not be effective on hard water deposits or soap scum. Even our stone-specific daily stone cleaner will not work to remove such build-up.

You need a specially formulated cleaner like the one recommended.

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