Even if the water coming out of your faucets is crystal clear, it can still create staining in fixtures, dishes, glasses, and countertops around your home. Stains from water contaminants are very common, but the color of the stain can provide insight into your water quality.

White Scale

White scale and water spots are likely to be the most common form of water staining. Whether it takes the form of foggy marks or clouding on your clean dishes or scale accumulating on fixtures, it is due to hard water. Hard water is a result of excessive amounts of minerals dissolved in the water. These minerals, particularly magnesium and calcium cause faucets and showerheads to lose shine and create a scale buildup. While it is possible to continue cleaning up these stains, the best solution is to tackle the underlying issue with a water softener. A high efficiency softener can remove the dissolved minerals converting hard water into more user friendly soft water.

Pink Staining

Pink staining is usually found in your bathroom, showing up on shower curtains, sink fixtures and the toilet bowl waterline. When you look closely or start to clean it, you’re likely to notice that the stain is more like slime and it is caused by airborne bacteria, Serratia marcescens. These bacteria can also be present in your pet’s water bowl. It needs moisture to develop, so it often shows up around water, but it isn’t actually a water problem. The best way to tackle pink slime or staining is regular cleaning. Try to dry off surfaces, where possible and use ventilation when bathing.

Orange or Red Staining

High iron concentrations in your water can cause orange, red, tan or yellow staining in fixtures. These rusty type marks can also cause discoloration on your laundry. Even when the water coming out of your faucet can look clear, it can still contain soluble iron. This oxidizes when exposed to air, creating the stains. The best way to address this issue is a filter designed for iron removal.

Brown or Black Staining

These types of stains are associated with high concentrations of manganese. Manganese is often found with iron, so you may find that you have both brown and rusty colored stains. Many iron filtration devices will also eliminate manganese, but it is a good idea to check that your chosen filtration system can tackle both issues.


A blue or green stain appearing on your faucets or fixtures is a sure indication of a water problem. These types of stains are typically caused by slightly acidic or corrosive tap water. When low pH water is passed through copper pipes, it can allow copper and lead to leach into your water. This type of problem is often compounded by hard water. The copper mixes with the hard water minerals to create a colored scale build up. This problem requires consulting a water expert. While a water softener may take care of the hard water minerals, you may need additional help to address the pH levels.

By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University. He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)