I wanted to descale my bathroom faucet (for taking showers), so I put some vinegar on a tissue and put it on the faucet.

I left it for 7-8 hours and when I wake up my faucet looks like this:


It has indeed been descaled, but note how the color has vanished on the right part that controls the cold water. How is it possible that vinegar can do that? I think it is made of chrome, I thought vinegar should be OK for that?

  • Could it be that the faucet head is in fact stainless steel? something that should not be soaked in vinegar. if so, get some baking soda, a scotchbrite pad and some elbow grease. – Hightower Mar 3 '15 at 7:25
  • @Hightower I checked the manual, it says chrome. It even says that I can use vinegar, so I really have no clue where these spots came from?! – BillyJean Mar 3 '15 at 7:53

Im am no expert in this topic, But I do clean metals often. I can only say what I would try. Most of the time the answer is just to polish and clean manually.

From what I can see, you have relatively hard water, and you tried to clean mineral deposits off the faucet. The Vinegar was the correct application, however you are left with some residual mineral deposit which was not removed by the acid wash (vinegar)

I would try now to clean the excess deposits manually. what you don't want to do is damage the chrome surface so steer clear from any sand papers or rough pads you should only use sponge or cloth. Also recommended is to use some toothpaste as your abrasive additive, it will have just enough grit to get the chrome clean.

Try to find a long thin piece of cloth, put a dab of toothpaste and wrap the cloth around the tap, then pull both ends one at a time to make a diy polisher. If you could get one person to "shank" the cloth (pull-pull motion) while you use the back of a spoon to press the cloth harder against the tap (at a point) you will get some really good polish action going.

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  • Thanks for the very detailed suggestion, I will definitely follow it. I will say, though, that it seems the chrome layer has come off and what we see is the underlying brass. What I don't understand it how the chrome can just "come off". – BillyJean Mar 3 '15 at 8:31
  • yes, That is concerning, If you are seeing the brass colour then i also agree that you may be seeing the first coats. Polish a small area and see if it gets more bronze or more shiny. – Hightower Mar 3 '15 at 9:06

First of all, real "chrome" finishes are actually nickel. Secondly it is not a nickel finish, it is some kind of plastic or cheap metal engineered to look like nickel. Buffing with scotch brite might make the color more uniform, but the mirror look is probably gone forever.

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  • plus one. I think thats true. It definitely could be those plastic type finishes. how would one test for that? any clue what thats called? – Hightower Mar 5 '15 at 6:28
  • Actually it is plated with nickel then chrome. – blacksmith37 Oct 4 '18 at 20:51

I think you have a "chrome" film over the faucet. It looks like the film has corroded badly. I have fixed shower heads with auto body primer (spray paint), spray paint for the finish, and then a gloss coat. This being touched a lot you can try painting it but replacement is probably the better option - and never buy any plumbing fixtures that aren't a solid metal.

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