How do I Remove Water Scale from my Shower?

Shannon Kietzman

Water scale is a coating that forms on areas of the shower that make contact with hard water. This hard water contains calcium or magnesium, which becomes rocklike when allowed to set. This build up can develop inside pipes and water heaters. As a result, it can clog pipes and cause a reduction in a home's water pressure. In addition, it can make a shower look grimy and dirty.

Some homeowners install a shower filter to help prevent water scale deposits caused by hard water.
Some homeowners install a shower filter to help prevent water scale deposits caused by hard water.

White deposits on the shower head are usually water scale. It can also look like a soap film on the shower doors or on tiles that is particularly difficult to remove. General spotting within the shower may also appear, making it clear that it is time to this build up.

White deposits on a shower head are usually water scale.
White deposits on a shower head are usually water scale.

To remove water scale, cleaners can enlist the help of a variety of different industrial acids, including sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, glycine acid, and barium nitrate. These cleaners help remove the build up by breaking down the deposits left on your shower. It can also be removed with the assistance of high pressure steaming, which causes the water scale to loosen and fall off.

A high pressure water jet can also help remove water scale from a shower. Care must be taken, however, when using this method. Otherwise, it can cause damage to the tiles or faucets of your shower.

It can be quite difficult to remove water scale once it has formed on the shower. In fact, it may be necessary to replace certain pieces, as a homeowner may never get them cleaned properly or it may not be possible to clean them without damaging them. Therefore, prevention is more important. In order to prevent water scale build up from occurring, homeowners should install a water softener in the home. This will remove the calcium and magnesium before it ever reaches the water pipes or shower.

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Discussion Comments


@ Aplenty- I have used CLR and lime-away, and my experiences were not as good as your experiences. Don't get me wrong, the products work very well, but I was unaware that it would react with so many materials.

I used it to clean the reservoir of my cappuccino maker, only to have it tarnish the metal. The reservoir on my cappuccino machine is aluminum, and I didn't realize that the product reacts with aluminum; among other metals. After calling the manufacturer, I learned that the product reacts with aluminum, zinc, cast iron, lead, and some stone surfaces.

The stone surfaces make sense since stone is a mineral, but I was surprised to find that it reacts with so many metals. My advice to everyone is to be careful when using these products on anything other than coated stone, steel, plastics, and glass.


When I moved into the condominium I live in, the guest shower stall had a serious coating of lime scale across the bottom half of the stall. I tried scrubbing with soapy water and bleach, but had little luck. I talked to the store associate at my local home improvement store, and they recommended using a calcium rust and lime remover. I tried the product and it worked great. The water scale came off easily. The product is also septic safe and biodegradable.

I was warned however to test the product on one tile first because unsealed stone and tile or colored grout will become stained by using acidic calcium lime and rust removers. Luckily, my tile is glazed and the grout is white, so there were no adverse reactions with the cleaner. After using it on the shower, I used it to clean the dishwasher and my espresso machine. It worked great on those appliances as well.

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