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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.

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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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 Glass.com for help connecting with companies near you.

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers has been involved with the glass industry for nearly 20 years and is the editor of USGlass magazine and Architect’s 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.” Find out more about Ellen on Linkedin.

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21 Responses

  1. I am currently trying out microfiber cleaning cloths with not much luck. I still have water marks on my glass tables.Can you help

    1. Hi Jeanette,

      What solution were you using in combination with the microfiber cloth? It’s best to start with the least abrasive possible and work your way up. If you’ve tried all the solutions in this article, take a look at our shower glass cleaning article for more power cleaning methods.

  2. Use baking soda or borax. Nothing else works as well. Sprinkle a liberal amount on a towel and dampen with water and start scrubbing. After about 20 seconds either product will even the ph in the water spot and voila marks are gone.

  3. Hi Ellen,
    I’ve cleaned my glass shower it looks great, but when the light hits it I can still see water spots.
    Can the glass absorb hard water after a period of time?
    If so what’s my next step?
    Thanks so much

    1. Hi Lorri,
      This is common of hard water spots. You’ll want to use a cleaner that is specifically formulated to remove hard water spots. They typically contain a mild abrasive or a mild acid. You’ll want to check with the manufacturer of your shower to see what they recommend.

  4. I have a Koehler glass door and it has a special coating on it that does not allow me to use cleaners. I have looked on the website and there is no information on how to clean it. Can you help

    1. Thanks for the question Laura! Unfortunately, without being able to use a cleaner on the glass we won’t be able to offer up much help. You may wish to reach out to the company directly via phone to verify care instructions with their customer support as it seems rather restrictive not being able to clean the door. If it is indeed the case that a cleaner of any kind cannot be used (soap, vinegar, etc.) then ask whether or not wetting the glass with water, squeegeeing it, and buffing it dry with a microfiber cloth would be acceptable.

  5. I own a small food business. We boil our glass bottles for sterilization . Problem is that the come out with water spots. Is there a commercial product that I can to my boiling water to avoid water spots. Thank you

  6. I have tried everything. Nothing works.
    I read when nothing works, try automobile dry/wet sandpaper 3000, 5000 & 7000. Start with 3000, then 5000 and finish with 7000 which feels like paper. Car dealers use it on the paint to get off all spots and not take off paint, leaving a shine.
    I ordered some.

    1. Hi Marie,
      We’re sorry to hear that the watermarks are so difficult to remove on your glass! We can’t recommend using sandpaper on glass as this could etch the glass and actually make it look worse. However, we can recommend some additional tips:
      1. You’ve probably ensured that you’re cleaning the surface of the glass that the watermarks are on, but this is something some may overlook. For example, if the glass is from double-page windows the watermarks could be trapped between the two panes of glass where there is no access to clean them. Or, if it is shower glass, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if the marks are on the surface that faces the inside or the outside of the shower.
      2. If you haven’t tried a polishing compound designed specifically for glass, now is the time. This technique also takes its cues from the automotive world where a polishing compound is used for paint correction. It is a less aggressive technique than sanding. Just be sure to use a compound formulated for glass.
      3. If you insist on testing out the sandpaper method (which we don’t recommend), it’s smart to always start with the least aggressive sandpaper and work your way up until the contaminant is removed. This helps to ensure you don’t disturb the surface more than necessary. For example, start with 7000 grit. If it doesn’t work, move to 5000 grit. If it works, stop there. Then you’ll want to polish it out again by moving back up to the 7000 grit and probably following up with a polishing compound. Again, do so at your own risk.
      4. Call a professional. Glass pros have years of experience focused on a single expertise. Many times they’ve learned tips and tricks over time that those outside of the industry would never learn of.

  7. “Glass rescue” is the correct product name from Diamon Fusion line of products.

    It come in a 4oz bottle in past form.

    This works!

    Google search “Glass Rescue”

  8. Dear Concern,

    This is Raju from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am dealing with Industrial Water Treatment Chemicals & Related Products. I have an inquiry from one of our Customer to Remove hard spot from the Production floor Glass. The customer is one of the Beverage Industry.

    Is it possible to Clean that types of Spot from the Glass? Could you please let me reply with the proper solution for that?

    Thanks & Best Regards,
    Raju

  9. I used a razor blade to scrape shower doors. After washing rinsing and drying they looked good. I then applied Rainex to doors. After a shower, just wipe with dry towel. It will last a good while.

  10. The best defense for water spots in the shower we have found is a squeegee. After you shower, it takes 30seconds to flick all the water to the floor. Hardest part is training the family to do it every time.

    1. Hello Lidia,
      Thanks for the question! Water stains can typically be prevented by adding a hydrophobic coating to the glass.

  11. I was spraying Tempo outside for box elder bugs and accidentally dprayed over my window screen onto the window itself. The window is now spotted and cloudy, how can I remove the residue..please I hope there is a solution so U don’t need to replace the window!!

  12. This worked so spectacularly, thank you. I had a glass jug that I was considering giving out but once I used the vinegar solution it cleared right up

  13. 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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