Porcelain is a highly durable, nonporous material, perfect for bathroom and kitchen sinks.
Although it’s easy to clean, porcelain isn’t resistant to stains. Some spots can be tough to get rid of entirely.
Hard water stains and the marks it creates over time are especially prevalent and challenging to remove from most bathroom sinks, no matter what you try.
So, in this blog post, I will discuss a few easy ways to remove hard water stains from bathroom sinks and a few other things you should know before proceeding.
What are Hard Water Stains?
Hard water is higher in mineral content than average, including calcium and magnesium.
Over time, these minerals will form a white or brownish crusty residue on your porcelain sink that is difficult to remove.
Not only on the sink, but it’s usually also seen as unpleasant stains around your bathroom’s porcelain toilets, bathtubs, faucets, and showerheads.
The residue formed is known by different names such as limescale, mineral build-up, hard water deposits, etc.
And remember that since these areas in your bathroom are always exposed to hot water, bath soap, laundry detergents, and other cleaning solutions, it only adds to the problem of creating ugly stains.
To clean your porcelain sink without scratching the surface, be sure to use the right methods and tools.
Removing Hard Water Stains from a Porcelain Sink
You can use multiple methods to cleanse hard water stains off your porcelain sink.
But before you attempt any cleaning solutions, wash your sink with regular liquid soap.
This helps pre-treat the area by removing dirt, build-up of soap scum, and other materials.
Use a soft sponge to work delicately along the sink’s surface, and make sure no suds or bubbles are left behind after rinsing it away.
After a quick wash, it’ll be easier to see the stains, and it does help in further cleaning of leftover hard water marks.
1- Spray Wash with Vinegar
Cleaning your bathroom sink with vinegar is simple.
To start, mix together 25% vinegar with 75% water in a spray bottle.
Spray the solution on your sink’s surface, focusing on any discoloration, and wait at least five minutes.
Gently scrub the area with a sponge or rag. Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse the sink completely.
2- Cream of Tartar and Vinegar
A mixture of vinegar and cream of tartar (a baking ingredient used for its anti-caking, anti-crystalizing, and thickening properties) can also serve as an excellent porcelain sink cleaner in your bathroom.
To clean the sink, mix equal parts of these two ingredients in a cup, apply the cleaner to a sponge or rag, and scrub in small circular motions.
Give the cleaner a few minutes to work and maximize its cleaning power. Then rinse the residue away thoroughly.
3- Baking Soda and White Vinegar
Homemade cleaners prepared using baking soda and vinegar work great to clean hard water stains on various surfaces, including porcelain sinks.
Take equal amounts of vinegar and baking soda in a cup to make a paste out of it. I used Arm and Hammer Baking Soda because it gives me great results.
You may use any other brand as well.
Now, apply the paste to your sponge or cleaning rag and start scrubbing in small circular motions over the stain.
Allow the mixture to settle for 15 minutes, then wipe the area when you see the stain changing color. Finally, rinse thoroughly with clean water.
TIP: If you do not have vinegar at home, you may try this recipe by mixing baking soda and a little warm water.
4- Lemon Juice and Salt
If you’re looking for a more natural way to clean your bathroom sink, a mixture of lemon juice and salt is your best bet.
Take half a lemon and sprinkle some salt over the cut surface.
Now, rub the lemon over the stained sink, faucets, or showerheads in a circular motion.
The citric acid and salt will work together to break down the minerals and loosen the bond between them and the porcelain.
Give it a few minutes to work, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. You may need to repeat this process for particularly tough stains if they don’t go in the first round.
5- Borax and Some Lemon Juice
Lemon juice and borax homemade porcelain cleaner recipe can be used on multiple surfaces, not just porcelain sinks in your kitchen and bathroom.
Mix Borax and lemon juice to paste, then rub the mixture into sink stains. If necessary, let it sit for a few minutes first; however, be cautious not to leave it too long as the citric acid in lemon juice can harm porcelain if left there for an extended period.
Borax is also an excellent homemade cleaning solution to fix clogged sink pipes.
Pour half a cup of Borax into your drain and add two cups of boiling water on top.
After approximately 15 minutes have passed, most clogs should be gone. Stubborn clogs may require repeating the process.
6- Use Bleach if it’s a Pure White Porcelain Sink
Everyday household go-to’s like hydrogen peroxide bleach can clean and whiten white porcelain very well.
You can use liquid oxygen bleach to clean colored porcelain sinks. But never use chlorine bleach or other acids on colored or vintage porcelain – they can damage the finish.
To begin with, pour the bleach into a spray bottle, as it will help control the amount of bleach you will use.
Then follow these steps to use this method…
- Line and cover the porcelain sink with some paper towels and place them on top of the stains as well.
- Saturate all the paper towels by spraying the solution. This will keep the bleach in contact with the area that needs to be cleaned.
- The minimum amount of time you should leave Bleach is 30 minutes so that it has a chance to work on tough stains.
- Once time is up, carefully remove the paper towels being mindful not to let any drips fall onto other surfaces as this could cause damage.
- Clean the surface with a brush, sponge, or old rag. Rinse off the bleach with clean water.
Caution: When using bleach cleaning agents, be sure to do so in a well-ventilated room and take care not to get it on your clothes.
Also, always wear gloves and goggles to protect your eyes and skin during this stain-removal process.
7- Use Tartar and Hydrogen Peroxide
Cream of tartar mixed with hydrogen peroxide powder can also be used for getting rid of stains (caused due to hard water, hair dyes, rust, molds, and mildews) from white porcelain sinks.
But avoid using these types of bleach cleaners too often on your porcelain surfaces, as they can dissolve the finish and make them dull.
To start with the method, mix 1 cup of cream of tartar with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to form a mixture.
Now rub and spread the mixture into the stain using a sponge or cloth in small circular motions.
Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes on the stained areas, then rinse with clean water and dry the surface with a soft cloth.
Additional Tips and Ideas for Cleaning Porcelain Sink
Other than the above methods, you can also use some gentlest abrasives and pumice stones.
Use these options only as a last resort, as there is a high risk of damaging the surface.
As an alternative, you can also use Bar Keepers Friend.
Although not a DIY cleaner made by yourself, it’s still gentle enough to work on delicate surfaces such as porcelain sinks and yet powerful enough to get rid of tough stains.
Using this cleaner is easy, but read and follow the manufacturer’s directions to maintain the integrity of your bathroom and kitchen sinks.
The Bottom Line
Vintage porcelain sinks are delicate and require special care when cleaning.
The best way to clean the porcelain sink is by using warm water, dish soap, and a soft cloth.
But for more frustrating and tougher to remove hard water stains, you can use either vinegar and water or lemon juice and salt.
You can use bleach on a white porcelain sink if all else fails. But be sure to take extra care not to damage the surface.
Fortunately, most stains only need light scrubbing with little elbow grease to make the glaze over the porcelain shine again like new!
You must however regularly clean the sink surfaces to stop gunk from building up over time.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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