Surprising Trick Removes Stubborn Hard Water Stains from Glass Shower Doors

Got stubborn hard water marks and stains on your shower doors that simply will not budge no matter what you try? You’re not the only one.

I’ve heard from readers who say they’ve tried everything from my magic soap scum cleaner to cleaning vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, oven cleaner, muriatic acid, steel wool, Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami and other expensive chemicals to get rid of the horrid, ugly, hard water stains and white haze.

Soap scum and tricks to clean it


While most of the time the Magic Soap Scum Cleaner takes care of the problem, even it cannot touch a severe situation where the hard water minerals have become so embedded, the surface of the glass has become permanently etched.

Some readers say it took multiple cleanings with the magic stuff to get their glass doors truly clean, while others report they’ve tried everything from magic stuff to 30-percent white cleaning vinegar; hydrogen peroxide, oven cleaner, muriatic acid, steel wool, Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami, and even razor blades to scrape away the problem, all without success.

I have to admit this has left me in a quandary and about this far from advising new doors to be the only solution.

Then I discovered the solution: Sandpaper.

Yes, you read that right but don’t stop reading yet. This is no ordinary sandpaper.

I’m talking about an automotive waterproof sanding wet/dry paper with such a fine grit, it is used in the automotive industry to polish the surface of a car to a mirror finish. You can use the same type of sandpaper to sand away the mineral buildup and return a glass shower door to its original clear, clean, sparkling self.

The best product I know of for this job is Wet/Dry Premium Waterproof Sheets. This is a 6-sheet assortment of finish sanding paper ranging from #3000 to #7000 grit. The grit on this type of sanding paper is so fine it will not scratch the glass, the way that woodworker’s sandpaper, steel wool or other abrasive products might.

For severe watermark stains, start with a piece of #3000 grit paper (cut it to a size that feels comfortable in your hand as you are going to scrub the glass with it). Wet both the glass surface and the sanding paper with water to provide a lubricant. You do not want to do this completely dry.

Using a circular motion, scrub the entire surface of the glass. You will immediately begin to cut through those stubborn deposits, prepare to be amazed.

Next, move up to #5000 and then to #7000 as needed to remove even the tiniest micro scratches that may have been left behind. At this point, you will be polishing the surface to that mirror finish, with what feels like a piece of paper—that’s how fine #7000 grit is.

Depending on the severity of the problem, this could take five minutes to much longer to finally achieve the level of success you have in mind. But know it will work. Your shower doors will look like new—no fumes or expensive chemicals.

To keep your glass shower doors looking beautiful, get a cheap shower squeegee or use a microfiber cloth to wipe the shower surfaces (walls and doors) to remove all standing water after every use.

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7 replies
  1. Harlean Greathouse
    Harlean Greathouse says:

    If the glass doors are stained, but not etched a great way to clean them so they sparkle is to clean them when they are still wet after a shower. Just wipe them down with dryer sheets. The cheap ones from the dollar tree are great for this. create a sudsy look as you wipe them down. Once you have finished this step, splash clear water on to rinse them and then polish them dry with a fiber cleaning cloth. My shower has two glass walls and the glass door, and I treat them this way after I shower and before I get out of the shower. No water spots since I started using this method,

  2. LuAnn Placeres
    LuAnn Placeres says:

    Thank you! I tried everything and I mean everything to get the hard water stains off of shower glass doors and NOTHING worked. Then I read your article, ordered the sand paper on Amazon and got it the next day. With just water, the sand paper and a little elbow grease, In one hour the glass looked crystal clear!!!!!! This is the ONLY thing that worked! I cannot thank you enough

  3. Sherry Batson Flowers
    Sherry Batson Flowers says:

    I read all the comments on Amazon in regard to this sandpaper. All comments said “NO” do not use on shower doors except two comments. My issue is with my granite counter top in the bathroom. I inadvertently scratched the surface while filing my nails. The comments on Amazon said “NO” do not use on granite. What is your opinion? Keep in mind that granite has a polished finish. I also have another issue with a large mirror in my dining room. It appears to be cloudy all the time regardless of what I clean it with. Will the sandpaper work on the mirror? Is there another fix for it? It’s pretty embarrassing when the sun hits it as it’s located close to the entry of our home and is very visible.

    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Sherry …. Just now seeing your comment/question here. Sorry about that. You can find just about anything you want in comments on Amazon and I would never tell you not to follow them. It’s your glass door at stake here. BUT … what is worse? Living with horribly etched shower doors or horribly etched shower doors where in an inconspicuous place you have tried to alleviate this. I know with certainty that with THE RIGHT PRODUCT it is possible to sand/polish out light etches and surface scratches. So … it’s up to you. As for the granite, it didn’t arrive from the quarry all shiny and beautiful. Check out how granite is finished and polished. It’s not with Comet. Ha! Yes it is sanded and poished to a high gloss with …. very very very fine sanding paper. Again, it’s up to you. Which are you willing to live with. I’m sure there’s a place somewhere where you can test treat your granite. Good luck!!

    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      I don’t know. But I know how to find out … test it using the finest grit sand paper—in an inconspicuous place.


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