Even well water that is softened might have some iron and harsher minerals left in it. This can cause staining in your pipes, sinks, and ceramics. A bathtub with red iron stains is a really terrible sight! You don’t want to have to throw out dishes or replace the dishwasher because of staining.
The problems can get worse if the sink or faucet is outdoors, beyond the water softener. But don’t worry, you can clear up the ugly red iron stains with a few simple fixes!
Where Are The Stains From?
Toilet bowls are often one of the worst offenders, because they have water sitting in them all day. Iron, calcium, and magnesium in the water can start staining the porcelain and can become almost impossible to clean.
Stains on Ceramic or Porcelain
The water isn’t always the offender here. If you have other metal objects that interact with the water, they can cause iron staining together. The best way to remove staining from porcelain and ceramic surfaces is through a chemical reaction! It works on sinks, tubs, and all kinds of showers.
Simply use a bit of hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar. You should use about two tablespoons of cream of tartar for every one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide. You just need a little bit of the paste so that you can lift the stains. Apply the paste with a brush and let it sit for about an hour before rinsing and scrubbing with a soft brush.
Cleaning the Toilet Bowl
Toilets often gain the kind of discoloration and rust that is really, really difficult to remove. There are chemical iron and rust stain removers that can be really helpful—but it depends on the offending chemicals and minerals that have built up.
Do not apply bleach to your toilet! This actually makes the stains in your toilets even worse. Bleach has chlorine in it which can actually speed up the process by which iron oxidizes. Yep, this will make your red stains even redder and more pronounced. It will make rust way worse, especially on white surfaces.
If regular stain removers aren’t your speed, you can also make a home remedy by using vinegar or lemon juice. The acid will react with the stains and help clear them away with a bit of elbow grease.
Stains on Stainless Steel
If your water is staining your supposedly stainless steel, then baking soda is your best bet. The coating on stainless steel does break down over time, especially if it gets scratched. The baking soda alone is enough to clear away the rust. Baking soda is a bit abrasive and has the right pH to cut down the color. Just use a cloth to scrub down the sink with water and about a tablespoon of baking soda.
Iron Stains on Concrete
If hard water interacts with concrete over time, it can streak and stain by leaving an iron deposit behind. This especially occurs through sprinkler systems (which are often not hooked up to a water filter) spraying on driveways and walkways.
There’s only one really good solution for red staining on concrete, and that’s a chemical called trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is used as a degreaser. The chemical is harsh so make sure to wear gloves and glasses while handling. Let a combination of TSP and water sit on the stain for about 15 minutes before scrubbing with a broom.
Install a Hard Water Filter
The best way to get rid of stains on your appliances from oxidation is through softening your water! If the minerals don’t build up in the first place, you’ll have a lot less scrubbing and mixing on the back end.