Q: Any tips on how to remove hard-water stains on my Formica countertops around the dish drainer trays?
— Marguerite Harrah
A: I would try Bar Keepers Friend. It’s a mild powdered cleanser that doesn’t scratch and is supposed to be effective on hard-water stains. The manufacturer says it’s safe for plastic laminate, such as Formica.
Make sure the surface is wet before you apply the cleanser. I’d also test it in an inconspicuous spot first.
Although soaking in vinegar removes hard-water residue from many surfaces, I wouldn’t try that on a plastic laminate counter. Vinegar is an acid, albeit a weak one. Plastic-laminate manufacturers caution against using acidic cleaners.
Chlorine bleach might work, but laminate manufacturers differ on whether it’s safe to use on their products. Since I know from our follow-up correspondence that you’re not sure of the brand of your countertops, I’d avoid bleach or at least test it in an inconspicuous place.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.