How to Get Rid of Lime Build Up in My Tub's Drain

by Julie Keyes
Over time, hard water will cause lime to accumulate in and around a tub's drain.

Over time, hard water will cause lime to accumulate in and around a tub's drain.

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Lime is the name given to mineral buildups around plumbing fixtures such as sinks, bathtubs and showers in areas where there is hard water. Lime usually consists of sodium, calcium and magnesium, but may include other minerals. Some basic household products work well to break up and eat away at accumulated lime, and most are safe for direct contact. When working to dissolve the lime, work in a well-ventilated area to offset the smell from the vinegar.

Items you will need

  • Medium saucepan
  • Plastic bowl
  • Measuring cup
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Clean cloth
  • Sponge
Step 1

Fill a medium sauce pan with clean water and heat it to boiling on a stove. Let it come to a rolling boil.

Step 2

Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/2 cup of powder baking soda into a plastic bowl. Mix the two substances slightly and then pour the mixture over and down the bathtub drain.

Step 3

Place a damp cloth over the drain and surrounding area. Allow the soda and vinegar to eat at the accumulated lime for five minutes. You should hear it bubbling and popping slightly signifying that it was working on the lime.

Step 4

Lift the cloth off the drain and place it aside. Carefully carry the pan of boiling water to the bathtub and pour it in quickly and directly over the drain. This will stop the reaction from the soda and vinegar and dislodge the remaining loosened lime.

Step 5

Hold a sponge over the tub and pour some white vinegar onto a clean sponge. Wipe the sponge around the perimeter of the drain to remove any remaining lime or soda. Run water down the drain from the bathtub faucet for a few minutes to fully rinse the drain.

Tips & Warnings

  • Only use plain white vinegar for the best results.
  • Ensure that the water is still boiling when pouring it over the drain.
  • Wear a face mask when working with the vinegar to avoid directly inhaling the strong smell for long periods of time.


  • "Household Tips, Home Remedies, Homemade Recipes, Money Saving Tips"; Chris Chenoweth; 2008
  • "Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things: 2,317 Ways to Save Money and Time"; Readers Digest Editors; 2007

About the Author

Julie Keyes has been a writer for over five years. She has written marketing content for the Michigan division of a large international company and also provides freelance writing assistance to personal clients who require a particular type of marketing message. Keyes holds a degree in sonography from Jackson Community College.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images