How do descalers remove limescale?

If you live in a hard water area, you’ll know all about the unsightly and damaging effects of limescale. From chalky deposits to stains and build-up, it wreaks havoc on bathrooms, kitchens, appliances and pipes. It’s a problem anywhere that unsoftened mains water flows in your home, whether on visible surfaces or hidden inside.

With more than half of UK households suffering from hard water, it’s no wonder that there’s a huge market for special cleaning products to try and keep limescale at bay. But exactly how do descalers remove limescale in your home?

How descalers remove limescale

Limescale deposits are abrasive, so while you can remove them with a lot of scrubbing, there’s a good chance you’ll scratch or damage the surface beneath.

Limescale removing products usually contain acid to help dissolve visible limescale before you wipe or rub it off. Commercial limescale removers can contain high concentrations of strong acids like hydrochloric acid. Domestic descaling products that you can buy in the supermarket tend to contain milder solutions of acid. Organic descalers like lemon juice, vinegar or baking soda paste also contain acid that has the same effect. There are many different brands of descaler that you can buy; some are more effective than others.

Specialist descalers for hidden limescale

You can buy specialist descaling products to tackle limescale in appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and coffee machines. It’s difficult to know how effective they are when you can’t see the limescale that has built up inside an appliance. Regular descaling has the best chance of success – set yourself a reminder to carry out the descaling procedure according to the appliance manufacturer’s frequency guidelines.

How acid works on limescale

The acid interacts with the alkaline limescale to dissolve it, producing a mixture of salt and carbon dioxide gas from the chemical reaction. It goes without saying that you need to read the instructions carefully and observe all safety precautions when you’re handling descaling cleaning products and acids. You’ll need to use chemical descalers regularly and thoroughly to keep on top of visible limescale in your home. If there’s already heavy limescale build-up, it may be impossible to remove all traces.

Descaling with ion exchange is an effective alternative

Installing a Harvey Water Softener means you can minimise your use of chemical cleaning products in the home. Instead, you’ll prevent and dissolve limescale through a process called ion exchange, which takes place in your water softener. Mains water passes through the water softener and the deposits in it that cause limescale are removed before it flows into your pipes, appliances and taps.

Softened water not only stops new limescale forming, over time it also breaks down existing limescale deposits – both visible and invisible. It’s a long-term solution to keeping your home sparkling clean and maintaining the efficiency and performance of your appliances.

Find more cleaning and limescale removal tips in our blog.

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