How To Remove Calcium Buildup From A Faucet

Calcium buildup, mineral deposits, limescale, or whatever you might call it in your household. Regardless of what you call it, these deposits are a nuisance in homes with hard water. When the water evaporates, it leaves crusty white mineral deposits around the base of the faucet and drains.

Luckily, removing the unsightly deposits is a simple process. We’re here to help, so continue reading to learn more!

What Causes Mineral Buildup On A Faucet?

The calcium buildup you see on your faucet is likely the result of hard water evaporating on its surface. Many homes are operating with well or stream water deal with hard water issues, although this is easily fixable with a water softener. 

The buildup often occurs around the base of the faucet, where it meets the counter or sink deck. However, you might also notice deposits around the spout (often in the aerator) or near the base of the handle. 

These deposits occur when water is left to evaporate on these surfaces. So, if you shut off the faucet with wet hands, some of the water from your hands may run onto the faucet or pool near the bottom. When the liquid evaporates, it leaves behind its mineral content.

How Do You Remove Hard Calcium From A Faucet?

Removing hard calcium deposits from your faucet or sink drain is a fairly straightforward task. Generally, it’s as simple as applying something to dissolve the deposits and waiting for them to disappear. In some cases, you might need to use a bit of elbow grease to scrub the deposits away, but it depends on the severity. 

Here are a few methods for removing those pesky mineral deposits from your faucet:


Vinegar contains acetic acid and is the go-to solution for dissolving pesky mineral deposits. Many folks have white vinegar on hand in their homes for cleaning, so this might be your best bet. Vinegar is highly effective and works rapidly. 

Any type of vinegar will work, but most folks have 3 percent white vinegar, which is the strongest you can buy (other than 10 or 20 percent vinegar for killing weeds). A 3 percent mixture will work just fine. Here’s what you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Old toothbrush
  • Sandwich bag
  • Rubber band
  • Paper towel
  • Cloth

Start by saturating an old toothbrush in white vinegar. Apply it liberally to the problem areas, ensuring you cover every deposit. The toothbrush will help reach tight spaces, like between the handles or at the base of the faucet. 

Saturate a paper towel in vinegar, then wrap it around the problem area. This helps prevent evaporation and allows the vinegar to do its job. 

If the aerator is clogged, you can remove it and soak it in vinegar while you wait for the deposits to dissolve on the faucet. Or, if you can’t remove the aerator, simply pour a few tablespoons of white vinegar into a sandwich bag and secure it around the faucet spout, ensuring the aerator and spout are submerged. 

Let the vinegar work for an hour or so before scrubbing the deposits with a toothbrush. If you’re soaking the aerator, it’s best to leave it overnight (if possible). Once you remove the deposits, wipe the faucet with a clean, damp cloth to remove the residue. Wipe the tap with a dry cloth to remove moisture.  


Surprisingly enough, milk can also remove calcium deposits. However, while milk contains lactic acid, which will dissolve the deposits, the concentration is low. This means the process will take considerably longer than if you use vinegar or other options on this list. 

If you use milk, simply follow the exact instructions as the vinegar. You’ll need to let the milk soak on the faucet for longer, as the lactic acid isn’t as concentrated, but it should do the trick. 

Citrus Juice

Citrus, including lemons and limes, work wonders on mineral deposits. The juice of these fruits contains citric acid, which rapidly dissolves calcium deposits. So, if you have a few lemons at home, slice a few and squeeze the juice into the calcium deposits. Or, use bottled lemon juice the same way we outlined for vinegar above. 

Citric acid will dissolve the mineral concentration reasonably quickly, so you don’t need to leave it for too long. Follow the instructions outlined in the vinegar section. 

You can also use orange or tomato juice, but these take much longer to dissolve calcium deposits. 

Fizzy Soft Drink

Soft drinks contain phosphoric acid, which can dissolve calcium deposits (and nails, but that’s a different story). Cola soft drinks will do the trick, as they contain enough phosphoric acid to cut through the deposits. Of course, the sugar content in the drink makes the fix rather sticky, so you’ll have some cleanup to do after you’re done.

Remember, once you wipe down the faucet to remove the sticky residue, dry it thoroughly. If you leave hard water to dry on the tap, it’ll evaporate and leave behind deposits, bringing you back to square one. 

Commercial Scale Products

If you prefer to stick to commercial products, you can always use a product designed for dissolving scale (aka calcium or mineral deposits). These products are widely available, and you can often find them at your local hardware store or your grocery store in the cleaning section. 

CLR is a good option, as it contains lactic acid as one of its top ingredients. However, you can select whichever product works best for you; just make sure it’s designed for use on calcium deposits. 

How To Prevent Calcium Buildup On Faucets

If you have hard water in your home, calcium buildup is something you’ll deal with regularly. There are a few ways to prevent the buildup from occurring in the first place, although some are simpler than others. 

For example, you could install a water softener. These systems remove minerals from your water, including calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. Resin beads inside the softener trap these minerals and exchange them for sodium or potassium via ion exchange technology. 

However, a water softener can be an expensive solution to a simple problem, so it might not be the best fit for every home. If you’re not too keen on buying a water softener, try to stay on top of cleaning the faucets. 

It doesn’t have to be deep cleaning every day; just remember to wipe down the faucet after each use. The deposits develop when water sits on the faucet or sink deck until it evaporates, so keeping the tap dry will eliminate the problem. This can be tricky, especially if you have kids, but it’s a surefire way to prevent the issue.

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