CLR Cleaner – Uses, Dangers, Alternatives

If you have hard water or well water you likely know the damage that the minerals in the water can cause.  Hard water can clog up your coffee maker, shower heads and hot water heater.  CLR Cleaner is advertised as an easy way to get rid of calcium, lime and rust deposits.  I can say that it does work, but I don’t like how it works and the dangers it can cause.

CLR Cleaner Uses and Instructions

Coffee makers, pots, pans and tea kettles can all be cleaned with CLR.  Just pour in enough to swish around the item and rinse thoroughly.  For coffee makers, run it thru with 50% water and 50% CLR mixture. Although these are the instructions from the bottle, I highly suggest that you don’t use this on anything you eat on or with.

You can clean dishwashers and washing machines by running an empty load without any detergent and ½ cup of CLR.  Always run an extra full cycle with plain water to thoroughly rinse the machine.

Soak a shower head or faucet aerator in equal amount of CLR and hot water for about 2 minutes to clean out all of the hard water deposits and start the free flow of water.  You may need to repeat this on badly encrusted items.

The Dangers of CLR Cleaner

CLR is 8 to 12% lactic acid.  It is very corrosive if left on too long and can damage wood, clothing, wallpaper, carpeting, marble, terrazzo, natural stone, colored grout, painted or metallic glazed surfaces, plastic laminates, Formica or aluminum.  When using CLR always use in well-ventilated area, wear rubber gloves, rinse the area completely with cold, clean water and never mix with other household cleaners or bleach.  Mixing with bleach will release toxic fumes!  You can read about all the dangers and first aid measures on the CLR Material Safety Data Sheet.

CLR Cleaner Alternatives

CLR is an effective product but comes with some dangers to you and your family.  One of the best homemade alternatives to CLR is plain old white distilled vinegar.  Vinegar can do all of the things listed in the Uses section above.  Not only does vinegar work just as well and cost half as much, but it is completely natural.  I am always more comfortable cleaning things in the kitchen with a natural product like white vinegar because I know there is no chance of my food becoming contaminated with toxic chemicals.

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