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How To Get Rid of Calcium Buildup in Shower Drain

Hard water can lead to calcium buildup in shower drain and other areas of your home. The good news is there are steps you can take to clean and prevent those calcium deposits in the first place.

Calcium Buildup in Shower Drain

You can dissolve calcium deposits with white vinegar, lemon juice, or even Coke. Then, if needed, you can replace the old shower drain or take steps to prevent the deposits in the future.

Signs of Calcium Deposits

If you can see hard white or gray deposits on your shower drain, you’re dealing with calcium buildups. They usually appear in areas like your showerhead or bathtub faucet.

Calcium buildup can cause a slow drain in your shower by restricting water flow. They can make some appliances, like your water heater, less efficient. In turn, this can impact your energy bill. 

You might also notice stains on your clothes when you pull them out of the wash, or see signs of damage to your hair and skin caused by hard water. 

For instance, showering in hard water can cause calcium deposits to damage your scalp, resulting in dandruff. These calcium deposits are a common issue since 90% of homes have hard water.

What Causes Calcium Buildups in the Shower Drain?

Calcium buildups in shower drains are the result of hard water. Hard water is tap or well water with high mineral content, like calcium, potassium, or magnesium.

A concentration of more than 150mg/L of calcium results in hard water. A high calcium concentration usually occurs when rainwater seeps through a calcium-rich bedrock and then hits the local water table. 

Drinking hard water isn’t a health concern. Yet, high levels of minerals can form deposits in your plumbing or appliances, and these minerals react with soap and detergent.

 Over time, these deposits will become hard and difficult to remove. They can restrict water flow and cause your appliances to use more energy.

How To Get Rid of Mineral Deposits in Your Shower Drain

You can use a few methods to dissolve the calcium buildup in your shower drain. It’s essential to address this issue right away as calcium deposits can become harder to remove as they age and harden.


A descaler is a cleaning product that can remove calcium deposits. You can get good results by pouring a small quantity of descaler down your shower drain once a week.

White Vinegar

White Vinegar

White vinegar is one of the most effective ways of eliminating calcium deposits. The acidic content will dissolve the minerals. You can mix white vinegar with baking soda to create a chemical reaction, which will eat away at the deposits.

Note that you’ll get better results if you use distilled white vinegar. If you don’t have any distilled white vinegar, you can try pickling vinegar.

You should let the deposits soak in a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda for one or two hours. If you have hard water, you can tie a plastic bag around your showerhead to clean it with this mixture.

Soaking your drain isn’t possible since the mixture will just go down. But you can still get good results by pouring a cup of this mixture down your shower drain.

Mixing white vinegar and sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda) creates an effective cleaning solution, sodium acetate. The sodium acetate can remove stains, rust, and calcium deposits. Place a towel over your shower drain after pouring this mixture to avoid breathing in carbon dioxide, which results from the chemical reaction.

Pouring some warm water down the drain can help further dissolve the loosened buildup. Do this after using the white vinegar and baking soda mixture.

Lemon Juice

Lemon or lime juice is another acid that can dissolve mineral buildup. Research shows that lemon juice is acidic enough to dissolve calcium carbonate, the main element in calcium buildups.

The downside is that lemon juice can corrode metal. If you have a home with an old plumbing system that uses galvanized pipes, it’s best not to use lemon very often. It’s a safe method if you have PVC pipes.


Coke is a great all-purpose cleaner thanks to its acidic content. The popular soft drink has a pH of 2.6 to 2.7, thanks to the use of phosphoric acid in the recipe.

You can boil a cup of Coke and pour it down your shower drain to remove limescale. Coke is gentler on the pipes than lemon juice. And it’s something you can do often with minimal damage to your plumbing.

Replacing Your Clogged Shower Drain

If calcium deposits clog your shower drain, it might be best to replace the drain entirely.

Removing the old drain flange can be difficult. The best way to do it is to use a hacksaw to cut the old flange and pry it loose from the drainpipe. Be careful not to damage the drainpipe in the process.

You can then install a new piece. Depending on the models you selected, you’ll likely have to connect it to the drainpipe with two screws and add some caulking to seal it.

If possible, choose a new shower drain with a larger grid. This choice can prevent calcium deposits from clogging it again.

Cleaning Shower Drain

How To Protect Your Shower Drain From Calcium Deposits

There are steps you can take to prevent calcium deposits from clogging your shower drain:

  • You can use a silicone drain protector to catch some soap scum before it hardens on the shower drain. The drain protector will also prevent hair and debris from clogging your shower drain. Make sure to clean this silicone drain protector often.
  • Get into the habit of cleaning your shower and drain often. You can wipe mineral deposits before they have the time to harden.
  • Pour some white vinegar, lemon juice, or Coke down your shower drain at least once a month. This practice will dissolve mineral buildup before it gets a chance to clog the drain.

Do You Need a Water Softener?

If hard water is a serious issue in your home, a water softener can help. Water softeners are filtration systems, typically installed in the kitchen, that remove minerals from your water. It will remove minerals and other impurities from your drinking water. However, you can also opt for a whole-home filtration system.

A whole-home system makes sense if calcium deposits have damaged your plumbing and appliances. Typically, they use a resin filter to catch minerals and soften your water.

It can also prevent clogs in your shower drain as well as in your appliances. You will avoid costly appliance repairs and extend the lifespan of your home goods with a water softener. 

It’s best to have a professional install your whole-home water filtration system as they will probably have to make changes to your plumbing.


Calcium deposits can continue to build up and completely clog your shower drain if you don’t take action. 

If you notice white or gray deposits in your shower drain and other areas, the best thing to do is use a descaler. In a pinch, you can also try some white vinegar, lemon juice, or Coke to remove the deposits. 

To avoid the problem entirely, you should consider installing a whole-home water filtration system.

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