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The Unexpected Item That Magically Cleans Hard Water Stains

Food52 logo Food52 9/27/2021 margareteby
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Recently, I bought a house. Yes, that’s a brag. But also, it is a preface to a real question: How do people house? After a decade in a Brooklyn one-bedroom apartment, there are so many things that I have to learn about it. Like how to clean a garbage disposal, how to properly load a dishwasher, and what to do with more than one bedroom. And then there are the more pressing queries, like—how do I get this far-from-new toilet to be less gross?

In Philadelphia, where the aforementioned house is, the water is pretty hard, which means that there’s mineral build-up in the bathroom, and that the bottom of the bowl of the toilet was coated in an extremely unappealing layer of brown-yellow gunk. When my partner saw it, he assumed it meant that the family in the house before us was a big believer in if it’s yellow let it mellow. But after attempting my usual toilet scrubbing methods—Scrubbing Bubbles and a toilet brush—I found out that hard water stains are a good bit more resilient than I’d hoped.

I tried Borax, and I tried baking soda, and neither did much—the stain might have gotten slightly lighter, but it was certainly not gone. And then I remembered an unlikely cleaning item recommended by the patron saint of clean homes, Jolie Kerr, who I would probably follow into war—if there was some kind of cleaning war. She has frequently extolled the virtues of denture cleaning tablets for everything from jewelry to pipes. And since denture cleaning tablets are a lot cheaper than buying a whole new toilet, I bought some online to give them a try.

a close up of a rack in a kitchen: The 30-Second Nightly Cleaning Routine I Never Skip © Provided by Food52 The 30-Second Nightly Cleaning Routine I Never Skip The 30-Second Nightly Cleaning Routine I Never Skip 11 Cleaning Tools You'd Be Delighted to Show Off © Provided by Food52 11 Cleaning Tools You'd Be Delighted to Show Off 11 Cleaning Tools You'd Be Delighted to Show Off

Here’s how it worked. Before I went to sleep, I dropped six denture cleaning tablets into the bowl of the toilet (various internet sources recommended “a few” and since they come six to a packet, six it was). They fizzed on contact, in a pleasing, and slightly sinister way. Then I left them there as I slept, until the next morning when I gave the stain a scrub with the toilet brush, and voila—no more gross hard water stains. One of the toilets (a house now means I have more than one of these!) had a more stubborn stain, so I repeated the process again the following night. To my delight, the toilet was sparkling white and looked clean again.

Since denture tablets are remarkably affordable—I got a pack of 126 for $6—it’s also a really budget-friendly way to make sure your bathroom stays beautiful, with pretty minimal elbow grease involved. As for the rest of the house, well, that might take a little more work. But at least the toilets are clean.

Have a surprisingly effective cleaning trick of your own? Share it with us—we're all ears!

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