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How to Remove Watermarks & Stains on Glass

How to remove watermarks from glass
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We all may want those sparkling clean windows and glass shower doors we see on TV, but getting them isn’t always that easy. Instead, we’re often left with stubborn hard water stains. These water spots are caused when there’s a high concentration of magnesium and calcium minerals in the water. The minerals build up over time on surfaces, such as your shower door glass, that are in constant contact with hard water. Fortunately, there are lots of options for how to remove watermarks on glass. Even by using just a few household ingredients, you may find it’s easy to remove and prevent future watermarks on glass.

watermark-free shower glass

Try Vinegar or Lemon to Remove Hard Water Stains

One of the best household items for cleaning purposes is vinegar. This is non-toxic and can be used to clean many surfaces in your home—including watermarks on glass. Plain white distilled vinegar is ideal for cleaning. There are a number of recipe options for making your own cleaning solution. One of the most common is a solution of 50 percent vinegar mixed with 50 percent tap water. For extremely tough stains, you may find you need a higher concentration of vinegar.

It’s important not to spray any solution directly onto the glass (see “How to Keep Your Door Glass Clean”). Instead, spray the cleaner generously onto a clean towel or cloth.

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Next, scrub the glass. The towel even acts as an abrasive, helping remove the spots as the vinegar works on the mineral build-up. Once the surface is fully covered with the solution, allow it to soak a bit. The harder the stains, the longer this may take. Use a dry towel or squeegee to remove the cleaning solution, then wipe off with a clean, dry towel (or paper towel). You can also use a squeegee to remove the water. Be careful to not let the vinegar solution or water dry on the glass surface, as this could leave more spots.

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Vinegar isn’t the only common household item that can help you remove watermarks on glass. Lemon can also work. Like vinegar, it also has acidic properties. You may find that fresh lemon juice will work better than bottled. Rolling the lemon on a countertop will make the lemon easier to juice. You can then squeeze the lemon juice into a spray bottle with water. Spray onto a towel and then wipe over the glass.

You could also simply wipe the lemon itself over the glass surface. Once cut, rub it over the glass and let it soak in before removing with water or a traditional cleaner.

Essential oils are another cleaning possibility. Citrus oils such as lemon and orange may help in removing hard water stains, while also serving as a water repellent against future buildups.

Begin by mixing a few drops of the oil in water. Then apply to the glass with a towel or sponge. Allow the solution to soak and then wipe away.

Abrasive Glass Cleaners for Hard Water Spots

If you prefer to buy your cleaning products, there are plenty of options. Abrasive cleaners are available in powders and liquids, and either are sprinkled on the surface, or applied with a towel or sponge. Just be sure they are safe to use on glass to avoid damaging the surface.

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Typically when using these products, begin by wetting the glass and then sprinkle or wipe on the cleaner. With the powder in particular, wetting the surface helps it stick to the surface, forming a cleaning paste.

After cleaning, rinse the surface with water. Abrasives should not be left on the glass because they could leave a residue. However, these are just general guidelines. Always follow manufacturer’s directions and guidelines when using cleaning products.

Best Practices for Glass Water Stains

Finish with a traditional glass cleaner to make sure all residue is removed. Be sure to dry the cleaned glass to help prevent future stains and spots.

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Cleaning Cautions

There are a few considerations to keep in mind before taking steps to remove water spots from glass.

  • Be sure that store-bought cleaning products are safe to use on glass before applying them.
  • Since cleaning products may be corrosive or acidic, wear gloves while cleaning the glass surfaces in your home.
  • Always wash your hands after they contact any cleaner, and don’t touch your face after hands have been in contact with the cleaning products until after they’re washed.
  • Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area when cleaning; and
  • Always read and follow all directions and warning labels.

Keep Hard Water Stains from Coming Back

Once you’ve successfully cleaned and removed the watermarks from your glass, there are also steps you can take to keep your glass, shower doors and mirrors sparkling. If you start to see watermarks on your glass, treat the glass right away. This will help keep them from building up.

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You can treat spots regularly with a vinegar solution, as this will keep them easy to clean. Also, don’t let water droplets settle or evaporate onto the glass surface. Wipe them away as soon as you see it forming to help prevent future spots. You can also squeegee the water off the glass, to help keep it clean. Keep in mind that the longer the watermarks are on the glass, the harder they will be to clean.

Easy-Clean Treatments

You can also purchase products that are designed to repel water from the glass surface. These products treat the glass so that water droplets sheet away rather than settling on the surface. These are available in stores where you by cleaning products, specialty retailers or online.

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Basco AquaGlideXP Shower Door Glass Water Repellent Kit
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In addition, if you’re planning a bathroom renovation or to purchase new windows, there are glass products available that have already been treated with a special easy-to-clean coating.

Glass shops in your area are available to answer questions you may have about cleaning the glass in your home. They can also guide you in your search for a new shower door or windows. If you’re looking for guidance, assistance or product recommendations, look to for help connecting with companies near you.

Please note, this article may contain links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, earns from qualifying purchases.



Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers has been involved with the glass industry for nearly 20 years and is the editor of USGlass Magazine and Architects’ Guide to Glass magazine. Ellen received a degree from Peace College where she studied journalism.

Ellen enjoys running and competes regularly in races including half and full marathons. When not on the go, Ellen enjoys reading, wine tasting, true crime shows, and family game nights with her husband and son. Their favorite game is Clue. Ellen also bakes what is known locally as “World Famous Oatmeal Cookies.”

More Articles from Ellen Rogers

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21 Responses

  1. can recommend CleanglaS CG3 professional Lime remover or CG7 Glascleaning Polish. Both work excellent. We are using them to clean hundreds of shower glass in hotels across Germany, Austria each month. Best we ever tried and used

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