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Hard water stains on stainless steel cookware

  • s

Whenever I boil water in my stainless steel cookware (All-Clad, Cuisinart), tiny hard water rings appear where the bubbles came up. Some really vigorous scrubbing with a nylon pad usually gets most of them out but I'd really rather not... I live in an extremely hard water area (LA city) and this is something I have to deal with a lot. I've tried ignoring the problem but it's really unsightly and was wondering if there's an easier, safer way to remove these stains. And please don't say to get a water softener. I'm putting that off until we remodel the kitchen. TIA

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  1. f

    Try Barkeepers Friend; I think that's what All-Clad recommends as a cleaning product for the inside of the pans.

    The other thing I used to do when I lived in LA was to cook tomato sauce in my pans when they got really ugly, because the acid helps get rid of that stuff.

    1 Reply
    1. re: farmersdaughter

      I second this recommendation. I use it for my all clad pot, but I also recently used it for stains on my shower tile (we have well water) and it helped get it off. Someone else here recommended vinegar- I've used that with success on hard water buildup in the shower so I imagine it would be good for your cookware.

    2. We live in an area with lots and lots of limestone outcroppings that translate into VERY hard water with many minerals. Every time I put water in a pan to do ANYTHING, I add a tiny bit of vinegar. If it really builds up, I just put water and a lot MORE vinegar in the pot and boil it. Seems to do the trick without any scrubbing.

      1. I had the same problem with my pan until one day I heated some lemon juice in there. When I cleaned the pan, all the spots were gone.

        1. I live in L.A. too. I don't usually bother but when I do want to eliminate those hard water stains and restore the shimmer and shine I use Zud. I also use it for the stainless steel on my boat. Works great!

          1. Make a tomato sauce. The acid from the tomatoes won't mar the stainless surface and will definitely clean every crevasse in the pot. If you can't do that, then boil the vinegar/water combination mentioned in another post. Cover the pot and make sure to set the timer, a stained pot is better than a burnt one. Try not to let the deposits accumulate for too long otherwise they'll become a part of the utensil.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BluPlateSpec

              I was looking for answers on how to clean hard water stains off of toilet & bathtub, this is the only link close I was able to find. My house is only two years old and the stains look like ten years old. I have tried everything from bleach to Lime-a-way, including as seen on T.V. products. Nothing works. Do you have any new suggestions? Any ideas would be very much appriciated.
              Thanks in advance for your advice.

              1. re: kattie

                Try using a toilet cleaner called "The Works". It is sold at Wal-Mart.

                1. re: kattie

                  Just to clarify, my msg is in response to the question on how to remove hard water stains from a toilet.

                  Try using a toilet cleaner called "The Works". It is sold at Wal-Mart. I found that it did wonders for the hard-to-remove stains in my toilet bowl. It has 20% Hydochloric acid in it, so make sure you wear safety goggles, a household face mask and gloves to protect yourself when applying the product.

              2. You might want to consider a small undersink reverse osmosis filter for drinking/cooking water. It's cheaper than bottled water. The softener is an ultimate solution for washing (yourself and clothes) - the single most effective and impacting expense I've ever made (I have hard/acidic well water), but even after softening, I still keep my R/O going in the kitchen for the ultimate in clean, filtered water.

                1. Okay so I had the same problem only scrubbing did nothing for my problem. I thought this really expsive stainless steel cookwear set that I just purchased was doomed. So I continued to try everything from scrubbing to using harsh chemicals like Pledge. One day I was in the mood for a little snack and I boiled Saurerkraut in one pan and hot dogs in another. The pan that I boiled the saurerkraut in was completely free of any water marks after I emptied and washed it out. I couldn't believe it! So now when the problem arises I go out and buy a cheap can of the stuff and boil it for a few minutes and wash it and...well brand new pans.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Jacky2221

                    If you don't feel like making sauerkraut, try Kleen King Stainless Steel & Copper Cleaner. Squirt a bit in your pan, scrub lightly with a sponge, and all the white spots are gone. Works much better than any of the other cleansers I've tried (or vinegar or lemon juice).

                  2. I use a product called LemiShine. You can find it at Target and some grocery stores. I have to use it in my dishwasher every time I run it, or I get hard water deposits on my glasses. I also run it through my electric kettle, coffee maker, washing machine, etc. And I dissolve it in water in my cats' water dishes and let it sit awhile to remove build up from time to time. I really need to soak my shower head in some, but I've been lazy.

                    1. Fill the pot with a white vinegar and water solution and leave it alone for a while -- overnight if you have to. This is how I clean hard water stains out of my SS electic kettle. They settle there quickly. The minerals should just dissolve, as scrubbing seems to be useless.

                      1. If it is just hard water mineral, you can juse white vinegar or Bar Keeper's Friend to remove the mineral/salt. If it is steel oxidization due to over heating, then try Bar Keeper's Friend.