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How To Clean Glass Shower Doors With Hard Water Stains

How to clean glass shower doors with hard water stains

We have glass shower doors in our master bathroom, and they get coated in water each time we shower. My husband has resorted to using the outdoor shower to avoid having to clean hard water stains (and I can’t blame him)! Luckily I’ve come up with a solution that allows me to shower indoors and keep the glass shower door looking great. I’ll show you how to clean glass shower doors with hard water stains and why these stains can be so difficult to remove. 

Supplies and Tools Needed

My Recommended Method 

The best way to clean glass shower doors with hard water stains is to use a combination of vinegar, warm water, and dawn dish soap. The vinegar, with its acidic nature, will loosen the bond the hard water minerals have made with the glass surface. 

Take a small bucket or bowl and add two cups of warm water, one cup of vinegar, and a tablespoon of Dawn dishwashing soap. Mix the solution. Use a rag to wash the entire glass door (even the areas where there are no hard water stains). 

I often wear rubber gloves while working with my microfiber cloth to clean the doors; the smell of vinegar can linger on your hands. 

Depending on how bad the stains are, scrub with a little force to scrub it off. Take a squeegee and get all excess cleaning solution off of the glass shower door. Take the remaining cleaning solution and dump it down the drain of the shower; it will help to clean the shower drain. 

Does Dawn & Vinegar Clean Glass Shower Doors?

Yes, Dawn dish soap and vinegar will remove hard water stains from glass shower doors. Mix the liquid dish soap with vinegar and water, place it in a spray bottle or bowl, and use it to clean shower doors. 

Other Methods To Remove Hard Water Stains From Glass Shower Doors

To be completely honest, vinegar does an incredible job of removing mineral deposits from hard water stains and leaving glass showers looking brand new. However, it does smell. I often wear rubber gloves, but if the idea of bathroom cleaning with a stinky natural cleaner like vinegar is not appealing to you, try these other methods.

Rain- X Soap Scum and Rain-X Shower Door 

This combo method using two different Rain-X products (Rain- X Soap Scum and Rain-X) is another method that we have used on our bathroom shower door. The Soap Scum remover works on shower glass to remove hard water buildup. Apply it with a microfiber cloth and rub in circles on the scum-covered glass. 

Rinse the soap scum remover off the door, then spray the Rain-X Shower Door product on. The Rain-X works as a protective coating on the glass. 

I find that white vinegar, dish soap, and water are almost just as effective (and a little less chemical smelling) than the Rain-X Soap Scum remover. However, even after I finish with my vinegar method, I will often use the Rain-X Shower Door spray because it works so well to prevent dissolved minerals from sticking to the glass. 

I would turn the bathroom vent on and open a window and the bathroom door when using any of these commercial products. 

Magic Eraser

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser allows you to use a little less elbow grease and see the hard water stains disappear quite easily. The great thing about the Magic Eraser sponge is that it uses the power of water and tiny micro scrubbers to break up those stubborn mineral deposits. 

Simply wet the Magic Eraser so it becomes like a damp sponge. Use it to scrub the hard water spots. Rinse the area when complete, and use a dry microfiber cloth to remove any streaks or marks that the Magic Eraser left behind. 

Dryer Sheets

The dryer sheet method for removing hard water stains became popular a few years ago. I tried this method and found that although it worked to remove stains, it would leave a bit of a film behind on the glass. 

The film was easy to remove and didn’t cause damage; it just created an extra step. I think depending on the severity of your hard water stains, the dryer sheets could be a good solution. More mild hard water stains may respond well. 

Use a dryer sheet that is very basic (not scented or coated if possible). Dampen the dryer sheet, do not soak it, and use it to remove stains from the shower glass. The dryer sheet should remain damp the entire time you use it. 

Vinegar and Water 

The vinegar and water option works well for weekly cleaning of your shower door; I find that adding in the Dawn dish soap, as shown above, leaves the shower door a little shinier and helps to get it clean. 

If you have a mild hard water build-up, simply mix two parts of water and one part of vinegar. Let the water and vinegar sit on the shower glass for a few minutes, and then wipe off in circular motions using the natural glass cleaner to remove the hard water stains. 

Ammonia Solution 

Ammonia is a powerful household cleaner that will chemically react with hard water stains. Ammonia reacts with the calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water stains, and it breaks down leftover mineral deposits sticking to your glass. 

Always use household ammonia and make sure you are working in a well-ventilated area when you work on the glass door. Don’t box yourself into the shower with little ventilation. Use a half cup of ammonia in one cup of water. Mix ammonia and water in a well-ventilated area before applying it. 

Add the solution to a spray bottle and spray the glass doors down. Rinse with water and then squeegee to dry. 

Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

A lemon juice and baking soda paste can be effective because of the citric acid in the lemon juice breaking down the stain and the abrasive nature of the baking soda. I’ll warn you here that if you make a really thick paste, the baking soda could be a bit too abrasive for your shower door. 

Instead, make sure you combine enough lemon juice to make this more of a thinner paste. I would do half lemon, half baking soda (about a ¼ cup each) and see where that leaves you. 

Apply the cleaning solution to the glass, and then use a wet sponge to wipe it off just a few minutes later. 

Rinse with cool water if necessary, and then squeegee the glass well. 

Professional Cleaners 

If your glass doors have tough spots that have been there for quite some time, you may need a more advanced cleaning agent or an expert that really knows what they are doing. Use Anita’s Housekeeping to find a professional cleaning service that will help you get your bathroom looking like new. 

Tea Tree Oil 

If you are trying to move away from harsh chemicals and want to try something like tea tree oil, I wouldn’t recommend it. Tea tree oil doesn’t have anything that will help break down the crusty layer of minerals that is coating your shower glass. Instead, try to use something like vinegar or baking soda and lemon juice to stay more natural. 

Tips for Post Cleaning

Now that you have your hard water stains removed from your glass shower door, there are a few final tips to ensure your hard work does not go to waste. 

  • Rinse and dry the shower door thoroughly before completing this project 
  • Use a squeegee to make sure there is no additional water
  • Polish the glass to develop a streak-free shine
  • Treat the shower glass with something like Rain-X to prevent hard water stains  

What Removes Calcium Build-Up on Glass Shower Doors?

Calcium is just one of the minerals that will be left on your glass shower doors if you have hard water in your area. Vinegar is the best solution to use to remove hard water stains. Coat the affected area with one part vinegar, two parts water, and one tablespoon of dish soap. Wipe, rinse, and dry. 

Prevention and Maintenance

If you want to prevent hard water spots, there are some steps you can take. I will tell you that I have been able to make this process of removing hard water stains considerably easier by following these preventative methods. 

  • Squeegee every time you shower before the water evaporates and dries; find a squeegee you like because this is a critical step!
  • Clean your shower doors often and use bathroom ventilation when you shower 
  • Use Rain-X to seal the shower glass and prevent hard water stains from appearing 
  • Install a water softener or soft water system in your home to lower the risks of hard water stains developing 
  • Install a shower filter specific to the showers that spray water on the glass doors of the shower 

Understanding Hard Water Stains

A hard water stain happens when water is left to dry on a glass surface. The water contains minerals (calcium and magnesium), and as the water evaporates, the minters are left behind. To properly remove hard water stains, you need something that will break these minerals down and detach them from the glass. 

The best thing you can do after a shower is wipe the shower down with a soft cloth or a squeegee to make sure that the water does not dry on the glass shower doors. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are Hard Water Stains Harmful?

Luckily hard water stains are not a health hazard. The stains are mostly made up of calcium and magnesium and are in the water that we drink. 

Can I Use Bleach To Clean Hard Water Stains on Glass Shower Doors?

While bleach is a potent cleaner, it isn’t as effective for hard water stains on glass shower doors. These stains are mineral-based, which bleach can’t efficiently break down due to its chemical makeup. Moreover, bleach is non-abrasive, limiting its ability to physically remove such stains. It also presents potential health risks, such as skin irritation and respiratory issues.

More effective alternatives include vinegar and dish soap. The acetic acid in vinegar dissolves mineral deposits, and dish soap adds a gentle abrasive quality. Thus, these are typically better suited for treating hard water stains while also posing fewer health concerns.


Britt Olizarowicz