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Is your home plagued by unsightly white stains on bathroom taps? Sounds like limescale. The easiest, and often cheapest, method of kicking it to the curb is to use the very best limescale remover for the job.
Any white or copper-coloured markings near home-based water sources are likely to be limescale, particularly if you live in a hard-water region. As we’re sure you know, these stains just don’t seem to budge when using ordinary cleaning products. Limescale leaves an unsightly finish to otherwise clean rooms and appliances, which can even develop into serious plumbing problems down the road, so it's best to deal with any outbreaks promptly.
Fortunately, descaling products – or limescale remover – can fight this problem head-on. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the very best options for whether you’re cleaning your toilet, dishwasher or pipes. Before that, though, any first-time limescale-busters or readers looking to learn more about this pesky substance should read our guide to what exactly limescale is and why it occurs.
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To best understand how to get rid of limescale, it’s good to know what it actually is.
Limescale is essentially a build-up of calcium and magnesium called calcium carbonate and usually deposits as a white, chalky substance.
Build-up is likely anywhere in your house where water is present, such as boilers and radiators, but particularly in areas where water often lingers before evaporating later on, like tap ends or showerheads. It can deposit quickly, too. In fact, the average family of four generates around 70kg of limescale in just one year, so it’s best to keep an eye on the limescale-prone areas of your home.
Limescale problems are worse in parts of the country where hard water is found. Hard water contains high concentrations of mineral ions, usually magnesium and calcium. These chemicals are perfectly safe for you – in fact, bottled mineral water is often packed with the stuff – but it is only heavily concentrated in water from certain regions of the UK since it needs to pass through ground rock like chalk and limestone. These rocks are filled with the “hard” minerals and so the water picks them up along the way. When water evaporates, these hard minerals are left behind on surfaces and slowly build up to become visible matter like crusty layers caked on your shower head.
It should be noted that even soft water areas can get limescale; it might just remain invisible to the eye for longer, so a descaling session is always worth doing if you suspect there to be a problem.
The regions with the hardest water tend to be in the East and South of England; however, parts of the Midlands, the North East and Scotland are also affected. Check out the water hardness in your area here.
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Don’t fret if your kettle contains any chalky matter as limescale won’t cause you any health scares. However, it can create problems for your home. Left to fester, limescale could block water flows in boilers, radiators, taps and beyond, making them much less efficient and therefore increasing energy bills as you look to make up for the shortfall.
According to British Water, just a 1.6mm coating of limescale on a heating element can decrease efficiency by 12% and cost you at least £200 extra in energy bills per year. In the most serious cases, prolonged limescale damage could even crack your pipes or cause your boiler and radiators to stop working, so it’s best to deal with the problem before it gets serious and costs you too much money.
Unfortunately, unless you up sticks and move house, you’re stuck with the water your region provides. This means limescale will always be a problem, though limescale removers make it an easy fix.See related Best washing machine cleaner 2022: Remove limescale and mould from just £3.30 Best carpet cleaner 2021: Get rid of stains, grime and pet hairBest vacuum cleaner 2022: The finest corded, cordless, bagged and bagless vacuums tested and reviewed
The most common descalers are acid-based bottled liquids, but there are also powder sachets (often used for dishwashers, kettles or the inside of other appliances) and sprays made for easier application. Whatever form of descaler you pick will tend to have safe acidity levels for any surface, although it’s always worth checking the label since some materials such as chrome can be damaged by higher concentrations of acid. More natural alternatives also exist, though they may be less potent.
For a higher price, there are also electronic descalers, which are usually used for piping so as to avoid the hassle of deconstructing or replacing the pipes themselves. Meanwhile, an even larger lump sum can get you a more permanent fix in the form of a water softener. These devices reduce the hardness of water as it comes into your home to prevent any limescale degradation from the off but often cost between £300 and £1,000.
Read on for a list of our favourite limescale removers.
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Price: £6 | Buy now from Amazon
For top dollar cleaning power, the Viakal classic limescale remover beats all competition. While other descaling products also do quality jobs, ridding your bathroom and kitchen of limescale is an effortless task after applying the Viakal solution for just five short minutes while also leaving an anti-limescale film to prevent future deposits. Application is easy, too: this limescale remover comes in a spray bottle.
It’s incredibly potent – you might even feel a cough coming on while using it – but a quick dry with a microfibre cloth will get rid of any lingering odours. Crucially, this potency means a little goes a long way, making it a great option for general use throughout your home. Throw in the thoroughly appealing price and you’ve got a winner on your hands.
Key specs – Size: 500ml; Type: Liquid spray
Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon
An easy way of bringing your brown, limescale-encrusted toilet back from the dead is to use this powerful toilet descaler from HG. Many toilet cleaners use hydrochloric acid to get rid of grime, which can damage your toilet’s glaze and release vapours that can damage stainless steel or chrome fittings. However, HG uses a glycolic acid gel-type solution to clean down your toilet bowl without doing permanent damage.
All you need to do is spray the gel on the sides and under the rim of the toilet bowl, leave it to work its magic for around 20 to 30 minutes, and then clean the toilet bowl with a toilet brush, although many users note that just a good soak will remove limescale without any need to brush. All the same, once you flush, you’ll have a clean toilet free of dirt and any hard-to-see limescale or uric scale.
Key specs – Size: 500ml; Type: Liquid gel
Price: £4 | Buy now from Big Green Smile
If you like to keep things natural, the Eco Professional limescale cleaner by Delphis is the perfect buy. From boilers and dishwashers to stainless steel and porcelain, this plant-based descaler is suitable for just about anything needing a good clean and does a great job doing it. Through its low foam, rapid action style it gets to work in no time at all.
While it does smell a little peculiar, that’s for good reason. The Delphis formula forgoes any phosphates or ammonia and is readily biodegradable. This means you’re just as safe using it to clean a septic tank as you are pouring it out in your garden. It’s also completely manufactured in the UK for those looking to cut down on their carbon footprint.
Key specs – Size: 700ml; Type: Liquid
Buy now from Big Green Smile
Price: £9 | Buy now from Amazon
For great value, purchasing this multi-pack of All Purpose Descaler sachets from Oust makes a whole heap of sense. Best suited to kettles, steam irons, coffee makers and showerheads, the sachets get to work instantly. Each box gives detailed instructions for descaling whatever needs cleaning, but no matter the device you’ll find it limescale-free following a 10-minute wait. One thing we would suggest is that when using Oust in your kettle, boil and rinse away the water a couple more times than recommended to fully remove the smell of the descaler – no-one wants an off-kilter cup of tea.
Key specs – Size: 6 boxes (18 sachets); Type: Powder (sachet)
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
You may find that, especially on low-temperature washing, detergent fails to dissolve completely in your washing machine. Add in limescale build-up and you’re beginning to have a gunky problem on your hands. The same can occur in dishwashers, too, and the end result is always the same: blockages in tubes and general malfunction. So it's always easier – and less expensive – to stop a problem in its tracks early doors. Indesit’s Wpro Limescale and Grease Remover does a great job of ridding your washing appliances of these issues by providing a thorough clean.
All you need to do is put a sachet in your detergent drawer or directly in the washing machine and run on an empty cycle. It's recommended you use one sachet per month, therefore providing 12 months of cleaning at just over £1 per sachet, but it depends on the condition of your appliance. If you need reassurance that Indesit’s product works, you might be pleased to hear that it comes with a stamp of recommendation from big brands including Hotpoint and KitchenAid.
Key specs – Size: Box of 12 x 50g sachets; Type: Powder (sachet)
Price: £50 | Buy now from Toolstation
This scale inhibitor by Calmag should provide noticeable results after around a day or two, all for (just) less than £50. It works by bombarding your water supply with low-frequency radio waves emitted from coils that you wrap around your piping. As a result, the adhesion properties of limescale are altered to make it stick less easily to all your bathroom and kitchen surfaces.
This makes for easy installation compared to the more expensive and plumbing intrusive water softeners while not requiring the regular use and clean up of other regular limescale removers listed here. It is a little more pricey than those regular options, but since it is impacting water from the pipes, it should provide limescale protection for your whole house and over a longer time frame. Plus, most electric descalers, like this one from Eddy, cost at least £100, making this Calmag version a real bargain.
Key specs – Size: N/a; Type: Electric descaler
Buy now from Toolstation