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How To Clean and Remove Iron and Manganese Staining From Your Appliance and Porcelain

Iron and manganese are non-hazardous elements that can be a nuisance in a water supply. Iron and manganese are chemically similar and cause similar problems and if you do not get your water tested it is possible that a water quality problem can cause the manufacturer to NOT honor the warranty of your appliance.

Iron is the more frequent of the two contaminants in water supplies; manganese is typically found in iron-bearing water. Iron and manganese are common metallic elements found in the earth's crust. Water percolating through soil and rock can dissolve minerals containing iron and manganese and hold them in solution. Occasionally, iron pipes may also be a source of iron in water. In deep wells, where oxygen content is low, the iron/manganese-bearing water is clear and colorless (the iron and manganese are in a lower oxidation state which makes them more soluble). Water from the tap may be clear, but when exposed to air, iron and manganese are oxidized and change from colorless, dissolved forms to colored, less-soluble solid forms.

Oxidation of dissolved iron particles in water changes the iron to a white color, then yellow, and finally to red-brown solid particles that settle out of the water. Iron that does not form particles large enough to settle out and that remain suspended (colloidal iron) leaves the water with a red tint. Manganese usually is dissolved in water, although some shallow wells contain colloidal manganese (black tint). Upon exposure to the oxygen in air, the manganese will oxidize to a less soluble form and create solid brownish-black particles. These iron and manganese particles are responsible for the staining properties of water containing high concentrations of iron and manganese. These precipitates or sediments may be severe enough to plug water pipes. Iron and manganese can affect the flavor and color of food and water. They may react with tannins in coffee, tea, and some alcoholic beverages to produce a black sludge which affects both taste and appearance. Manganese is objectionable in water even when present in smaller concentrations than iron. Iron will cause reddish-brown staining of laundry, porcelain, dishes, utensils, and even glassware. Manganese acts in a similar way but causes a brownish-black stain. Soaps and detergents do not remove these stains, and use of chlorine bleach and alkaline-based cleaners may intensify the stains.

How do I clean my dishwasher?

1 Kool-Aid

First check with the manufacturer of the equipment.
A Pour a packet of unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid into the soap dispenser.
B Run the dishwasher through a hot-water cycle.
C After you are done - open the door and see the results.

2 Vinegar

First check with the manufacturer of the equipment.

A. Pour 1 cup of white distilled vinegar into a bowl. Set the bowl inside the bottom rack of the dishwasher.

B. Run the dishwasher on a regular cycle. As the vinegar sloshes around and creates steam with the hot water, it will help loosen remaining hard-water stains while washing away the manganese stains.

One of the easier solutions to avoid this staining problem is to avoid the use of chlorine-based detergents.

Use "chlorine-free" products - check the list of ingredients printed on the package and if it contains chlorine, don't purchase it.

Products we like that are "chlorine-free":  Seventh Generation, Lemi Shine,  and Bi-O-Kleen.

How do I clean my porcelain of Rust, Green, Blue-Green and Black Stains?

If you have a stains on your porcelain surface, we suggest the following:

A. Wearing Gloves: Take lemon juice or a citric-acid-based household cleaner and cover the stain with it.  It may be necessary to soak a non-abrasive sponge with the liquid. After a few minutes, try to gently rub (do not scrub) the surface and see if the stain is being removed.

B. If this does not work, try adding some table salt and adding more lemon juice or the citric-acid-based cleaner. Allow the mixture to set covered for about 1 to 2 hours then add some more lemon juice or cleaner and try wiping with the sponge.

C. Rinse and wipe clean.

Note -This is what my grandmother taught me. In this litigation culture, please test this out first before using it on all your porcelain and seek a second opinion from the manufacturer.

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