The less fastidious will not be familiar with limescale. But those who like to admire their reflection in a gleaming chrome appliance will hate the milky white deposit.
It is possible to scrub off the limescale deposits. However, scrubbing is also likely to damage the finish of the material underneath. You can buy brand-name limescale removers, but many common household substances will also do the trick. Two of the most effective substances are lemon juice and ordinary vinegar. Lemon juice is usually the best (and will also leave a lovely smell behind). Stronger pickling vinegar and lime juice are both even more acidic and can be used for really stubborn deposits.
The problem with removing limescale is not usually finding an appropriate acid around the home, but making sure the acid stays in contact with the surface for long enough to do its job. Limescale is not so easy to remove that you can simply wipe it off with a cloth soaked in juice. Instead, you need to leave it soaking for an hour or more to really do the trick.
Washing machines and dishwashers
Both vinegar and lemon juice will do a great job of removing any limescale deposits and freshening up your machines’ innards at the same time. In a washing machine, use a large cup of either liquid in place of your usual detergent and run a normal washing cycle (without clothes). In a dishwasher, pour the liquid into the base of the machine rather than the detergent dispenser.
The tricky part is keeping the taps in contact with your descaling liquid. The best method I have come across is to take a small plastic cup of vinegar, immerse the tap in the vinegar and wrap a tea towel around both cup and tap to hold it in place. For limescale build-up around the posts and other parts of a tap, soak a pad of cotton wool in your descaling liquid and wrap this firmly around the relevant parts. Leave it there for an hour or two, giving it a squeeze now and again to make sure the acid gets into all the corners and grooves. After this time, all parts of your taps should be able to be wiped clean, though you may need to scrub with a plastic scourer to loosen the more stubborn bits of scale.
Another effective method uses a couple of lemons. Cut them in half then squeeze them gently into a bowl to gather some juice. Don’t use a lemon squeezer, as you want to make sure the fleshy parts remain intact for the next stage. Then take a lemon half and shove it on to the spout of your tap, twisting gently until it stays in place. The fibres and chambers inside the lemon should catch on the edge of the spout, preventing the lemon falling off. Now you can simply leave it to do its descaling job. (If the lemon won’t stay in place, use the tea-towel trick.)
Meanwhile, use the juice you collected to create a cotton wool “dressing” for the rest of the tap, as before. Wait an hour then rinse and scrub your tap clean. If any scale remains, simply replace the lemon for longer and scrub again.
Tiles and other surfaces
Limescale deposits on flat surfaces are much easier to get rid of. In most cases, scrubbing gently with vinegar or lemon juice will get them sparkling again