Well water is well-known for causing staining around your bathroom – but you don’t have to put up with well water stains anymore.
In this guide, we’ve shared the best ways to prevent well water stains in your home’s pipes, appliances, and fixtures.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Well water staining is most commonly caused by iron, manganese, heavy metals, and hard water deposits.
- You can prevent most staining by installing a water treatment system that removes the stain-causing contaminant from your water supply.
- To remove leftover stains from your appliances and fixtures, use white vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda.
Table of Contents
✅ How to Prevent Well Water Stains: Top 3 Causes & Methods
Below, we’ve highlighted the most common causes of well water staining, and shared the best methods to address these issues.
1) Limescale Staining
Cause: Hard Water Minerals
Calcium and magnesium in your water supply are the most common cause of chalky, white or yellowish mineral deposits. Hard water minerals are common in both city water and well water – most states in the US have high levels of hardness.
You’re most likely to find hard water stains on your bathroom fixtures, including in your toilet bowl, on your shower doors, and around your faucets. A simple scrub with a toilet brush won’t get rid of them.
Solution: Water Softener
There are various cleaners that can temporarily remove hard water stains, but if you want to eliminate limescale for good, you need a water softening system.
Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to swap calcium and magnesium minerals with sodium ions. This softens water, eliminating the cause of hard water stains, so no further stains can form.
Most water softeners are also capable of reducing or removing hard water stains that already exist on your plumbing fixtures.
- Best Water Softeners for Hard Well Water – The 2023 Comprehensive Guide
- How to clean stainless steel sink hard water stains
2) Orange Staining
Cause: Iron Stains
Iron stains are caused by elevated iron levels in your well water. Iron is much more common in well water than city water because most wells use a groundwater supply. As water seeps through layers of iron-bearing rock and soil, the mineral dissolves into the water.
Iron stains are orange, red, or brown. You’ll find them on surfaces that come into contact with water, like your sinks, bath tub, drains, and toilets. You might also notice iron stains on your laundry.
Solution: Oxidation & Filtration
The best way to prevent iron staining from your well water is to install a whole home oxidation filtration system.
Air injection/oxidation removes up to 10-18 PPM of iron (some systems remove even more than this), alongside manganese and hydrogen sulfide. The system works by sending water through an oxygen bubble, which converts iron into an insoluble form. These iron particles can then be removed by a filtration bed of birm or manganese greensand.
By removing iron, an oxidation/filtration system will prevent everything associated with iron, including surface stains and bad tastes or metallic odors in your water.
3) Black Staining
Cause: Manganese & Heavy Metals Stains
Manganese and heavy metals are the most likely causes of black staining in your well water. Like iron, manganese is naturally present in the rocks and soils underground. Some heavy metals are also naturally occurring, while others might pollute your groundwater supply due to nearby mining, waste disposal, and other industrial activities.
Manganese and heavy metal staining is usually black or very dark brown, and may look like mold. It’s common for manganese and iron to be present together.
Solution: Oxidation & Filtration or Heavy Metals Filtration
There are a few different options to prevent black-colored staining, depending on the cause of the water stain.
Oxidation/ filtration is the best way to prevent manganese stain formation. A good AIO system can remove 10 PPM of manganese or more. You can also use a chemical feed system with chlorine to achieve oxidation.
For stained surfaces caused by precipitated heavy metals, install a whole home heavy metals well water filter to protect your entire plumbing system and water heater from these contaminants.
❇️ How to Get Rid of Well Water Stains
So, you’ve implemented one of the above solutions to prevent well water stains.
But what can you do about the stains that already exist in your home?
Before you throw out your entire toilet or shower unit, try one of these methods to get rid of the existing staining.
1) White Vinegar And Baking Soda
There’s not much that you can’t remove with white vinegar and baking soda. This natural cleaning formula is incredibly effective at lifting even the toughest, most stubborn stains, including the reddish stains caused by iron and hard water mineral stains.
👨🔧 To use this solution, mix equal parts warm vinegar and baking soda in a bowl (you will hear it fizz), then dip a non-abrasive sponge into the liquid. Gently scrub the affected surfaces until the stains are lifted.
2) White Vinegar And Lemon Juice
You can get similar results from using vinegar and lemon juice. Just add a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice to a spray bottle, then spray liberally onto stained bathroom surfaces.
Let the solution sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub the stained area with a sponge or an old toothbrush, and wipe clean with a towel or cloth.
📌 Note: the above methods are both natural and highly effective, meaning that they won’t release toxic fumes into your home, but they also won’t require too much elbow grease. A win-win!
❔ How to Prevent Well Water Stains: FAQ
What causes brown stains from well water?
Brown stains in well water are usually caused by iron and manganese. These minerals are present in the rocks and soils underground and leach into well water as it seeps into the aquifer. You can remove iron and manganese with an air injection/oxidation system.
How do you keep hard water from staining toilets?
The best way to keep hard water from staining your toilet is to install a water softener. Water softeners work by exchanging calcium and magnesium ions (which cause tough hard water buildup in toilet bowls) with sodium ions, which is the most effective way to prevent stains.
We’ve covered a DIY guide for installing a water softener system here. 👈
Does well water stain clothes?
Yes, there are a number of contaminants in well water that are known to stain clothes, including iron (which forms reddish-orange staining) and hard water minerals (which form whiteish-yellow staining). You can prevent stains on your clothes by installing a water treatment system to remove the stain-causing contaminants.
Why is my well water turning my toilet black?
Your well water might turn your water black if it contains high levels of manganese. This natural element is known to cause black stains and can be removed with an air injection/oxidation well water filter.