How to Remove Water Stains From Your Walls Without Repainting

Photo:  Afanasiev Andrii (Shutterstock)
Photo: Afanasiev Andrii (Shutterstock)

Unsightly water stains will drag down the vibes in even the most beautiful bathroom. From shower humidity to internal leaks and ventilation problems, they have a lot of causes, but after you’ve identified what made the mark on your wall in the first place, you still need to remove it without making the aesthetic problem worse. Here are some ways to get hideous stain off your walls and restore your bathroom to glory. (These tips will work in other rooms too!)

The easy way to get water stains off walls

Water stains aren’t going to appear on tile; they need a more absorbent surface, which is why they show up on bare walls. Since your walls are probably painted, this presents a problem: How can you wash a wall without damaging it and risk needing to repait the entire room?

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According to Igloo Surfaces, you should start gently and only increase the intensity of your cleaning methods if basic remedies don’t get the job done. Start with a simple solution of dish soap and warm water, at a ratio of about one to two. Use a cloth dipped in the mixture to apply the soapy water to your stain. Gently rub it in from the top down, then rinse with plain water and dry thoroughly with a hair dryer on a cool setting.

If that doesn’t work, fill a spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. Shake it up and spray it on the stain. Leave it for about an hour, then use a damp cloth to rub it away. You may have to repeat this process a few times to get the stain all the way out, so do this when you have time for multiple hour-long soaking intervals.

How to get water stains out of wood

Maybe you have wood paneling or cabinets that are looking grody from water stains too, whether in your kitchen or bathroom. Per Better Homes and Gardens, you have a few options for removing water marks on your wooden surfaces.

  • You can let mayonnaise sit on your stain overnight, then wipe it away in the morning and polish your wood afterward.

  • You can also mix equal parts vinegar and olive oil and apply to the stain with a cloth, wiping in the direction of the grain until the stain disappears. Afterward, wipe the surface down with a clean, dry cloth.

  • Try placing an iron on a low heat setting over a cloth on top of the stain. Press it down for a few seconds and remove it to see if the stain is letting up, then try again until you’re satisfied. (Be advised that this works best for still-damp stains.)

How to get hard water stains off of tile

Traditional water stains won’t muck up your tile very much, but hard water can deposit minerals that lead to ugly brown or orange stains on tile. To get rid of them, Tile Giant recommends mixing white vinegar with water or baking soda until you have a nice paste, then applying it to your tiles with a scouring pad or sponge. Leave it on, checking on it periodically, and when you’re happy with its removal, rinse it off with clean water and dry with a towel.


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