In many parts of the country, dealing with hard water is a necessity. Our well water is hard (it has a lot of calcium and magnesium in it), plus it has rust and particulates. Even with a softener and whole house particulate filter, over time deposits build up in the faucets and shower heads. I noticed recently that the kitchen and bathroom faucets and the shower head had reduced flow, plus a lot of the water was spraying the wrong direction. It was time for a good cleaning.
To remove hard water deposits from your faucet, start by unscrewing the end of the faucet (see above). This is our kitchen sink faucet, but all faucets should have a small, removable filter at the end.
As you can see, there’s a lot of buildup on this one. Remove any rubber gaskets (don’t lose the pieces and pay attention to what order they assemble in the unit). Manually give the filter a good scrub with an old toothbrush under running water. This will remove lose surface deposits.
Here’s the secret for removing the calcium and rust in a hurry. Because calcium is an alkaline earth metal (meaning it has two valence electrons in its outer shell), it’s highly reactive with acids, like vinegar. If we apply a little more kitchen chemistry, you’ll remember that chemical reactions require energy. So – heat up enough vinegar (I usually use white vinegar for cleaning) to fully submerge the faucet filter. Get it hot enough so that is uncomfortable to stick your finger it, not boiling. Place the faucet filter in the hot vinegar, and watch it go to work. See all those little bubbles?
Let it sit until it stops bubbling (I left mine in for an hour or so while I went and worked on other things). Give it a good rinse and scrub with the toothbrush, and it looks almost like new.
The water flows the way its supposed to again, too.
The showerhead was in much the same state.
Because we have hand-held showerheads, I just placed the showerhead in a basin on the shower floor.
If you don’t have a hand-held showerhead, you can use a plastic bag and a rubber band to secure the vinegar around the showerhead for soaking.
Scrub and rinse, and ta-da! Much better! Now the shower doesn’t spray sideways past the shower curtain any more.