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How to remove limescale

It tarnishes our taps, clogs our kettles and can really take the shine off our shower doors. Ridding your home of limescale can feel like a never-ending battle of rinsing and scrubbing, only to find chalky deposits still stubbornly clinging to surfaces - or lurking inside the coffee machine.

But limescale not only looks unsightly, it can also prove expensive. Left to build up, it can hinder the performance of household appliances, making them less effective and therefore more costly to run long-term. Ultimately, it can cause serious damage to some of the internal components, costing both time and money to put right.

So what is this chalky white crust that stands in the way of us achieving a spick and span home? And is there a way of tackling it that doesn’t involve throwing away the kettle or replacing the bathroom tiles? We’ve delved a little deeper into the murky world of mineral deposits to find out – and suggested ways you may be able to lose the limescale for good.

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What is limescale?

Rain water is naturally soft when it lands, but once it reaches the ground it passes through numerous types of rock like chalk and limestone, picking up calcium and magnesium along the way, which change the water’s composition. The minerals that make the water ‘hard’ are soluble in water, but when they evaporate from a surface (or are heated inside a kettle or central heating system) they leave behind calcium and magnesium deposits, more commonly known as limescale.

If you live in a hard water area , you’re probably most familiar with the struggle to clean limescale. Because more of these minerals are found in hard water, more limescale will find its way into your home - and wreak havoc with your squeaky-clean surfaces.

But with the right technique and a few secret ingredients (vinegar and lemon juice are your new best friends), you can keep your kitchen and bathroom streak-free, and your kettle and washing machine working efficiently.

How to remove limescale form a kettle

There’s nothing like getting a mouthful of limescale instead of that last sip of tea to make you realise it’s time to tackle the crust in your kettle. Once chalky deposits are visible, the only effective way to get rid of them is by performing a manual descaling.

To do this, fill your kettle halfway with water, top up with white vinegar and then leave overnight. The limescale will come off easily the next day – just remember to rinse thoroughly with boiling water to get rid of any lingering tangs.

The more often you descale your kettle, the less limescale will build up, helping you make the perfect cuppa every time.

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washing machine
How to remove limescale from a washing machine

Washing machines spend their lives heating water and, if you live in a hard water area, you can practically guarantee that the limescale left behind by the heating process will build up on some of its components. Over time, this will lead to higher energy bills as you’re forced to run more intensive washes. And if your washing machine isn’t properly cleaned, your household could be at risk from the harmful E. coli that lurks in the limescale.

You can help prevent a limescale build-up inside your washing machine by adding soda crystals to each wash, or even using white vinegar or lemon juice in the place of fabric conditioner to remove limescale effectively.

If you live in a hard water area and don’t have a water softener installed in your home, you might need to step it up a little. The best way to help beat tough limescale is to run a monthly hot wash, just with soda crystals.

Not only will a good cleaning routine remove limescale, it’ll keep your clothes clean and smelling fresh. 

How to removed limescale from taps

Ever wondered why your taps don’t have that perfect, sparkly finish, despite your best cleaning efforts?

When warm water passes through taps, it leaves that unpleasant build-up of crusty limescale deposits. It’s tough to get rid of with standard cleaning products, and you can risk damaging your taps if you rub too vigorously with abrasive scrubs.

But this is where you can bring your trusty vinegar or lemon juice into play. Put some vinegar in a plastic sandwich bag, tie it around the end of the tap, then leave to soak. Or try soaking a tea towel in vinegar and wrapping it over the tap. Alternatively, you could cut a lemon in half and squash it onto the tap, allowing nature to work its magic overnight.  

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How to remove limescale from bathroom tiles

Good news – flat surfaces are much easier to descale than fiddly taps and household appliances. Simply fill an old spray bottle with warm water and vinegar and add this homemade product to your bathroom cleaning cupboard.

Spray your new secret cleaning weapon directly onto the bathroom tiles and leave it to soak for a few minutes before washing off with water. This will protect your tiles from damage incurred by over-vigorous scrubbing, and keep them looking as good as new for longer. 

How to prevent limescale long term

Softening water at the point it enters your home is the only long-term, hassle-free and permanent solution to losing the limescale for good. 

Water softeners using ion exchange stop the problem before it happens. Using resin beads where your stopcock is located, they attract the minerals, replacing them with sodium ions, giving you beautifully soft water.

This means you’ll automatically have limescale-free water running through your home, ensuring appliances have a longer life, pipes and heating systems can run more efficiently, and your bathroom and kitchen continue to look amazing.

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