Beth’s Helpful Household Tips: Cleaning Hard Water Stains without Caustic Substances


Pomice StoneSince the Town of Friday Harbor installed a new carbon filter system in the town water reservoir, the quality of the water has improved dramatically. They no longer need to douse the supply with high amounts of chlorine and chemicals. As a result, the water seems “softer” than before, and certainly tastes much better.

At the Inns, all the drinking water is run through reverse osmosis systems, and the building in which the Garden Room Cafe is located is served by a water softener system. So hard water stains are never a problem.

Not so for thoseĀ on wells in the surrounding countryside of San Juan Island. Unless they have a water softening system in their home, the minerals in the water can create stains within just a couple of weeks, requiring diligent scrubbing.

Beth, our Guest Services Coordinator, is the Queen of Clean, so I sought her advice to tackle the hard water stains in our toilet bowls. Beth says she uses a pumice stone, the same type you’d use on your feet, knees, elbows, or other dry body parts. There are other stones that are labeled as scrubbing sticks, but they are more coarse and harsh, and they disintegrate rapidly.

First, soak the pumice stone in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes; this will soften the pumice, making it work in a few minutes. Concentrate your scrubbing on the stain itself; this should not scratch the porcelain bowl. You can use baking soda, or lemon juice if there is still a stain from well water. Using reduced vinegar may work also. To sanitize the stone after cleaning, Let the stone sit in a bowl of boiling water for five minutes.

The vinegar is a good way to rinse every couple of months, to keep it looking clean, and you may like to use an old toothbrush under the toilet rim around the holes.

Voila! No more ugly stains!

The hard-working trinity of baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar have become standard staples in many San Juan Island homes, as more and more people become attuned to the effects of harsh chemicals on our environment. But we’re curious, are there other non-chemical solutions that you’ve tried? If so, our comments are open; we welcome your input.


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235 C Street Friday Harbor WA 98250 | 360.378.2783 or 800.965.0123 © Harrison House Suites | Photography: Michael Bertrand Photographer & Others