I haven’t met too many people who enjoy removing hard water stains from glass, even among cleaning fanatics. Unfortunately, somebody has to do it. Otherwise, your once glistening glass shower doors will soon be covered in cloudy spots.

Of course, stained glass surfaces are never quite as irksome as when preparing for guests. You’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to prep your home for your out-of-town in-laws or your holiday party, when the sliding glass door, windows, and shower door suddenly look like they’ve been sprayed with fake snow. And not sprayed well. When did the unsightly hard water stains get so bad?!

If you can relate, keep reading to learn my tried-and-true strategy for removing hard water spots from glass.  

Don’t forget maintenance. 

An important part of any cleaning strategy is maintenance. Hard water stains become more difficult to clean the longer you leave them. Squeegees to wipe away excess water and regular cleanings can help you avoid the back-breaking work of scrubbing months or years of hard water deposits from your glass doors. 

If you’re moving into a new home, I recommend cleaning hard water stains ASAP. You don’t know how long they’ve been accumulating. Believe me, you will regret putting this off.

What are hard water stains?

Water with a high concentration of minerals is affectionately known as “hard” water. When hard water is left on surfaces, the water evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits.

The hardness level of your water is determined by where you live. Some areas have harder water than others. In fact, there are six areas in the nation that have notoriously hard water: 

  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Tampa, Florida

Using a water softener can help with hard-water-related issues, but some municipalities don’t allow them because they can create problems for water treatment facilities. If you recently moved to a new town or you are just curious if you have hard or soft water, you can do a DIY test for hard water. This information could help you maintain your plumbing and even get cleaner laundry. 

If you live in an area with especially hard water, my hat is off to you! I know how annoying those hard water stains can be, so… Let’s clean that up!

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What You’ll Need

  • Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser or MORE!
  • Scrub Mommy Sponge
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Microfiber Towel
man holding stack of gray microfiber towels

Don’t want to read on? Watch the video instead.

Let’s Get Cleaning!

1. Scrub the surface.

I like to put Bar Keepers Friend on the sponge and scrub the affected area. There are several other cleaning products that will do the job, but I like Bar Keepers Friend for its effective track record and usefulness for multiple types of jobs.

2. Wait 15-20 minutes. 

One of the nice things about this method is its built-in break time. Giving the solution 15 to 20 minutes to sit on the glass allows it to break down and soften the minerals and soap scum. Consider setting a timer for this step. If you leave the solution on for too long, it will just dry and defeat the purpose of cleaning in the first place. 

3. Wipe away dirt and grime.

Wipe away the loosened dirt and soap with a microfiber cloth. 

If you’ve seen some of my videos, you might have noticed that I use microfiber cloths a lot. They are the most effective material for wiping down surfaces because of their tiny, compact (one might say “micro”) fibers. I especially prefer them over single-use paper towels, which are less cost-effective, less eco-friendly, and less effective in general. 

4. Use glass cleaner and a microfiber towel. 

This step removes streaks and picks up any remaining residue. 

Bonus Tip #1: If you want to help make the cleaning process easier for yourself in the future, apply Rain-X Shower Door Water Repellent. It should last for a few weeks at the minimum. 

Bonus Tip #2: If you don’t have Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser, but you do have the powder (and you don’t want to go to the store or wait for it to arrive), you can make a paste out of the powder. Just add water to 2 or 3 tablespoons of Bar Keepers Friend until you have a thick paste that isn’t runny but can be smeared onto the glass. You’ll use the same steps listed above. 

Bonus Tip #3: If you are dealing with calcium deposits, I recommend trying my process with Bar Keepers Friends first. If you don’t get the results you want, mix cleaning vinegar (stronger than white vinegar) and a drop of Dawn dish soap and scrub scrub scrub.  

Need a break from cleaning water marks? Check out a satisfying video of cleaning window glass. Afterward, you’ll feel inspired to get back to cleaning! 

closeup of clean glass and beading water


Shower glass typically needs water stain removal the most. This cleaning method, however, can also be used on a bathroom mirror, glass windows, and surfaces outside of the glass category, like faucets. 

Toilet bowls are another surface that falls victim to stubborn stains from hard water. Rather than using a Scrub Daddy Sponge, however, an effective way to get rid of gross rings and stains is by scrubbing with a pumice stone and Bar Keepers Friend.

You don’t need special chemical cleaners or commercial products to take down mineral build-up and pesky magnesium carbonates. 

While car windshields can benefit from my method, there are other strategies that are safer on car paint. The Spruce offers a great guide and graphic for removing water stains from a car. This involves a vinegar spray using a spray bottle.

When it comes to drinking glasses and other surfaces that come in contact with food and drinks, I recommend using a vinegar and Dawn dish soap combination to reduce potential health hazards.  And sign up for my brand-new newsletter, Clean Freak Weekly. Every week content will be delivered to your virtual mailbox from yours truly and…my dad! Together, we have over 40 years of professional cleaning experience, and we are passing on our cleaning wisdom to you! We hope to see you there!

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