Decode the Color of Your Water Stains

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Even when our tap water is clear, it can still create stains around the home. Porcelain sinks, toilets, shower heads and faucets can all be affected by water contaminants. Your clean dishes and laundry might show signs of water staining too.

The stains can be nearly every color of the rainbow. It just depends on the type of minerals that are dissolved in the water. High levels of iron, for example, can cause red water stains, but low pH levels can lead to blue-green staining. The different stain colors are almost always a sign of water quality issues. Fortunately, there are certain water filters that can help prevent water staining. The best water system for your home will address those specific problems—whatever they might be!

White Scale Buildup & Water Spots

These kinds of water stains are probably the most common. (That’s why we’re listing them first.) The cloudy or foggy stains often show up on clean dishes, glass shower doors, and faucets. It’s all because of hard water.

Hard water has high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium. Those minerals cause shower heads and faucets to lose their shine, and can also leave a rock-like white scale buildup on fixtures. Needless to say, hard water creates some really tough stains! You can try cleaning them on a weekly basis, but most homeowners would rather stop the problem at its source.

Best Solution:

Get a water softener installed. A high-efficiency system can take the dissolved hard water minerals out of your tap water. This converts your hard water into soft water. With those minerals gone, your water will start to clean and rinse a lot better.

Pink Water Stains

The pink stains are usually found in the bathroom. They can show up around the toilet bowl waterline, on shower curtains, or on other sink and shower fixtures. When you clean it, you’ll see it’s actually more of a pink slime than a stain. It’s a type of airborne bacteria called Serratia marcescens.

You may have seen this bacteria before in a pet’s water bowl or even your own water bottle. It needs moisture to grow, so it’s fitting that it would show up around water—even though your water itself isn’t causing the pink stain.

Best Solution:

Since it’s not really a water problem, the best way to combat the pink slime is to clean regularly. It also helps to dry off the surface (when possible). The bacteria thrive in damp environments, so using ventilation while showering can also help.

Red or Orange Stains

High concentrations of iron in water can cause red, orange, yellow, tan, or rusty-colored stains in toilet bowls, sinks, or other fixtures. Iron might also cause discoloration in your “clean” laundry. These stains can even happen with clear water coming out of the faucet, which can be really confusing for some homeowners. It just depends on the type of iron problem you have. Soluble iron doesn’t oxidize until it hits the air, so high-iron water could still appear clear.

Of course, if the iron was already oxidized before coming out of the tap, the water can look dirty. Oxidized iron in water will have a reddish-yellow tint to it—just like the rust stains it causes. High iron levels are common problems with well water, but your city tap water could have iron issues too.

Best Solution:

Get a water filtration system that’s made for iron removal. An iron filter strategically uses oxidation to draw the contaminants out of your water before it reaches your shower or tap. That way you get clear, stain-free water.

Black or Brown Stains

Typically, the black or brown stains are caused by high levels of manganese. These colors can have a lot in common with some of iron-staining issues because both manganese and iron show up in well water. Like before, even water that appears to be clear can still cause stains.

Best Solution:

Check out water treatment systems made for well water. Manganese is often handled alongside iron, so getting an iron-type filter can usually tackle both issues for you at the same time.

Green or Blue Stains

Noticing any blue-green stains or scale buildup on your faucets is a sure sign of a water problem. These colors are usually caused by having tap water that’s slightly acidic or corrosive. When low-pH water flows through copper pipes, it can cause certain metals (like copper and lead) to leach into your home’s water.

This water problem is compounded if you have hard water. High levels of copper can mix with the other hard water minerals to create a multi-colored scale buildup. Instead of the regular white scale, you then get that blue or green stuff on your faucet.

Best Solution:

Talk with a water expert. A home water softener can take care of the hard water minerals and help balance out your tap water’s pH levels, but you might want to get a more powerful filtration system for you drinking water. The right filter can remove copper, lead, and other contaminants that a softener might miss.

Just remember: Each type of water stain can be an indicator of a different water problem. Once you know the corresponding issues, you can start planning your best water solution. With the right system in place, your water can be safe and clean every day!

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