How to descale a bathroom or kitchen faucet?

A real problem in some houses due to excessively hard water, the taps need to be descaled on a regular basis. Follow the leader.

limestone in water

Hard water has benefits: it is rich in calcium and magnesium, minerals both necessary for the proper functioning of the human body. Hard water even has anti-corrosive properties, limiting the rusting of fittings.

However, water rich in limestone also promotes the deposit of scale on the pipes and fittings, which can lead to a reduction in the water pressure and the alteration of the operation of the mixing valves.

Water hardness

The lime content of the water is commonly called “hardness”. The more calcareous the water, the “harder” it is. This rate varies according to your geographical location, depending on the nature of the soil through which the water reaching your taps passes. Calcareous soil, also known as “chalky”, loads the water flowing through it with limestone, unlike crystalline soil, based on sand or granite.

The hardness of your water is indicated on the report attached to your annual water bill. But very often, “hard” water can be seen: your taps and mixer taps are covered with whitish stains. Worse, in the corners of taps where limestone accumulates to form a thick deposit of several millimeters, soap residue or dirt from dishes cling to it. All of this is unsightly, even unhygienic. So you want to descale your kitchen or bathroom taps.

Acid-base principle

To treat limestone, a little reminder of the chemistry courses taken in college is necessary. pH, potential hydrogen, is the unit that measures the acidity of a solution. The lower it is (close to 0), the more acidic the solution, and conversely, the higher it is (close to 14), the more basic the solution. Neutrality is at 7.

The whitish or yellowish deposits observed on taps are composed of calcium carbonate. It is therefore a basic product which will be treated with an acid product. This chemical reaction will transform the limestone into a water-soluble product.

Natural products to descale a bathroom or kitchen faucet

Here are the acidic natural products that we advise you to use.

Vinegars are acidic products perfectly suited to descaling. For this use, the White vinegar first price will be the most appropriate. Its pH is 2.4.

You can pour the white vinegar directly on your faucets if the lime deposits are thin.

For thicker deposits and to treat vertical surfaces on which the vinegar runs, you can soak a piece of paper towel folded on itself in vinegar, then let it sit for a few minutes. Check the action of the vinegar by rinsing thoroughly then wiping the surface with a dry cloth.

If deposits persist, you can first rub these areas with a toothbrush soaked in white vinegar, then replace a vinegar absorbent paper that you will leave on, this time, longer (it can stay like this for a whole night).

The citron is an equivalent to vinegar because its pH is the same. The difference is in the smell. Those who can’t stand the strong sour smell of vinegar will prefer lemon. Squeeze the lemon to extract the juice and proceed in the same way as for the vinegar. Always remember to rinse and dry afterwards.

Coca-Cola is a product with an acidity comparable to vinegar and lemon. It can be used to clean scaled-up taps. However, choose it without sugar to avoid deposits of sugar crystals which could attract insects in the summer.

If you have copper faucets, you can restore their shine by adding a few spoonfuls of sel fin to your lemon juice.

If you have brass taps, i.e. copper with added zinc, you will start by rubbing the surface with a soft cloth soaked in water and Marseille soap, then you will proceed as indicated above with vinegar or lemon.

The special case of stainless steel products

To descale stainless steel taps, it is better to avoid natural acids and salt which can deteriorate them. If there has been contact with these products, it is best to clean the surface immediately, otherwise white spots or even small holes will appear. It all depends on the quality of the stainless steel used.

Prefer a descaling that replaces vinegar and lemon with baking soda.

Precautions for use

Acidic natural products react with basic materials. Kitchens can feature marble worktops. Generally treated on the surface to resist culinary acids, it is however necessary to check that such materials which have not received surface treatment do not come into contact with vinegar or lemon.

If one of the products mentioned in this article comes into contact with the eye, it should immediately be rinsed thoroughly with saline, or failing that, tap water.

Avoid the return of tartar

Once you have descaled your taps, if you wish to keep their beautiful shiny appearance, you have two options:

  • either dry them with a soft cloth after each use, which can be tedious in the long run,
  • or install a system to treat and make your water softer.

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