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How to Remove Calcium Buildup in a Shower Drain

Have you ever noticed any chalk or cement-like deposits in your shower drain? They are pretty common, especially for homes that have hard water, but nonetheless, calcium buildups are an annoyance to every homeowner.

Besides this white buildup making your shower look dirty and unkempt, calcium buildup can also clog up your shower drain. These mineral deposits can even damage your metal drain if left uncleaned over time. To make matters worse, this buildup can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.

Once you notice any of these signs on your shower drain, you know you need to do something about it quickly.

shower drain calcium buildup

Why Is There White Buildup in a Shower Drain?

The chalk and cement-like stuff you see building up in the shower drain are calcium deposits. It’s a common occurrence in areas where they use hard water. Which is the term that refers to water containing high amounts of dissolved minerals, particularly magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

These dissolved minerals in your water accumulate around your shower fixtures, including shower drains, showerheads, and faucets. The white stuff is minerals left long after the water drains away or evaporates.

Although showering with hard water is usually okay, it can cause an unsightly buildup in your drains and pipes. These mineral deposits not only dirty up your shower space, but can cause severe blockages and corrosion when left unresolved.

What Dissolves Calcium Buildup in Drains?

Solving mineral buildup in the shower drain is sometimes as simple as using a cleaner that can dissolve any mineral deposit in its wake – like CLR cleaner. Which is calcium, lime, and rust remover that can easily dissolve and remove tough calcium deposits from hard water on any surface, including the shower drain.

Good against calcium buildup
Lime-A-Way Lime Calcium Rust Cleaner, 22 oz (x2)
  • Removes calcium buildup from drains, fixtures, showerheads, bowls, sinks, tubs etc.
  • Wait for 15-20 minutes after using to remove tougher stains
  • Also removes soap scum, rust stain, and limescale buildup
  • Great for regular cleaning
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
For particularly tough calcium buildup
CLR Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, 28 Ounce Bottle
$5.28
  • Apply directly to the shower drain, wipe, and rinse with cold clean water.
  • Great at removing tough calcium buildup, lime deposits, drain clogs and rust stains anywhere in the bathroom or kitchen
  • Use in well ventilated area. In case of contact with skin or eyes, flush with cool water for 15 minutes.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
08/10/2022 09:40 am GMT

Remember that CLR is acidic. This means that while CLR is effective in getting rid of calcium buildup, it can also cause damage when left on surfaces for too long.

Use CLR cleaner for calcium buildup in shower drains as a:

  • 50/50 diluted mixture with water for light calcium buildup
  • 100% CLR for stubborn calcium deposits

How to Remove Lime Buildup in a Shower Drain

If you don’t want to use commercial or chemical-based, and possibly toxic cleaners like CLR in your shower drain and pipes, there are other ways to get rid of lime buildup in your shower drain.

For this shower drain cleaning hack, you need a few pantry and kitchen staples: baking soda and vinegar. You’re also going to need hot water.

Step 1. Get Rid of Any Stagnant Water

If the calcium buildup in your shower drain is severe, it can easily clog up the drain. If that is the problem, there will be some water left in the shower drain. You first need to drain any stagnant water that’s there.

Get a plunger and start plunging the drain to remove the water. You can also insert a brush into the drain hole to brush away some of the mineral deposits, but just enough to open the drainpipe, allowing the water to drain away.

Step 2. Pour Baking Soda and Vinegar Into Your Shower Drain

Once you’ve gotten rid of any stagnant water in the drainpipe, pour ½ cup of baking soda into the shower’s drain hole, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. Whatever kind of vinegar you have available will work.

You can pour vinegar into the drain hole first, followed by baking soda. The sequence doesn’t matter as long as you pour one after the other, which will start a fizzy effect that can dissolve the calcium and limescale in the shower drain.

Step 3. Put a Damp Cloth on Top of the Drain

Cover the shower drain using a damp cloth and let the baking soda and vinegar dissolve any buildup in the shower drain. Covering the drain hole helps prevent the gas generated after mixing the two ingredients from escaping.

Once the drain is covered, let it sit for at least five minutes, allowing the fizzy reaction to dissolve the calcium buildup. You’ll hear bubbling sounds from the drain at this point.

Step 4. Pour Hot Water into the Drain

The bubbling sound should go away after five minutes, then remove the damp cloth covering the drain hole. Then, pour at least one gallon of hot water into the drain. This will help wash out any dissolved calcium deposits in the shower drain through the pipe and dislodge any remaining buildup.

Step 5. Scrub Remaining Buildup Around the Drain

If there is any calcium buildup left around the shower drain, spritz white vinegar in the area and use a sponge or brush to clean it up. Don’t forget to clean the shower drain cover as well, on both sides, because there may be calcium deposits in there as well.

Use the same vinegar + baking soda cleaning solution and a soft-bristled brush to clean the shower drain cover without damaging its metal surface.

How to Prevent Calcium Buildup in the Future

Removing calcium buildup in the shower drain will get rid of the problem, but only temporarily. It is, by no means, a permanent solution. So, unless you deal with the root cause of the calcium deposits in the shower drain, which is hard water, you’re going to be cleaning calcium deposits over and over.

Here are some excellent ways to prevent calcium deposits from building up in your shower drain.

  • Do Preventative Cleaning Frequently. Calcium buildups happen most often because you left the shower drain uncleaned for far too long. Cleaning the shower drain and the rest of the shower frequently can help prevent stubborn buildups.

You can make a DIY calcium and limescale remover using the same ingredients mentioned above: vinegar + baking soda.

  • Invest in a Hard Water Filter. This solution can be slightly expensive, but is the best method to prevent calcium buildups in the future. This unit will counteract the excess hard minerals in the water as it enters your home.

You can use different hard water filters and water softeners: sodium water softeners, potassium chloride water softeners, salt-free water softeners, and a reverse osmosis filtration system.

Final Thoughts

Of course, prevention is crucial. But if your shower drain is already accumulating ugly cement-like material that may be clogging the drain, the steps above should help you get rid of any calcium buildup.

But always remember, cleaning the calcium buildup in your shower drain isn’t the end of it. The problem will repeatedly occur if you don’t address the root cause and soften the hard water in your shower.

Mandy Phillips

As a frequent contributor to top US magazines and publications in the home improvement niche, Mandy has been known for sharing her expertise on how to clean, organize, and decorate bathrooms.

Additionally, Mandy has immense experience offering lifestyle tips and tricks to her readers.

About Loo Academy

At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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