Does CLR Really Work?

Does CLR work?Calcium, Lime, and Rust, that’s what CLR is supposed to remove easily from all types of surfaces. At least that’s what they say in their ubiquitous TV spots. At this point it’s been put to the test in thousands of homes across the country, so the reviews are in and we can make a determination on whether it actually works or not.

The big draw to a product like this is that these stains are usually quite a pain to remove, and you can spend a lot of time and energy scrubbing away at it, even using harsh and abrasive chemicals and cleaning products to try to get rid of them, but to no avail. At your wit’s end, you might be willing to try anything, and then you see a commercial for a product that is specifically designed for this purpose. It seems like all of your prayers might be answered, but then you remember that many “on TV” products end up not working out so well.

The Claim
The makers of CLR claim that it works wonders on all sorts of frequently cleaned and hard-to-clean items around the home, like tubs and toilets, coffee makers, shower heads, and dishwashers. Also they say it works on several different surfaces in the home as well as outside, like glass, chrome, and stainless steel. You can even run it through items like humidifiers and washing machines to clean them out from time to time when they get internal buildup.

The Hype
The hype is provided by how often they used to run the television ads for this, and how well they show it working. The most convincing display is when they show a crusted over shower head that they then dunk in a bowl of CLR. Moments later the clogs are all disolved and the shower head sprays perfectly. Of course the skeptics say that this is just trick photography, and they simply replaced the crusted up head with a new one that works just like new, or they cleaned it with something other than CLR.

The Cost
A 28 ounce jug of CLR can be purchased from Amazon for around $10. This is a rather peculiar price point, since it is supposed to work so well, most companies take advantage of a product like that and charge a premium for its effectiveness. Also, other cleaning products that make similar claims are twice the price or more, so it seems that they are pricing this at a level that makes you want to try it just to see what happens.

The Commitment
The whole point of using a cleaner like this is that it works almost instantly and effortlessly so you don’t have to apply a bunch of elbow grease to stains that have set in gradually over weeks or possibly months. If it can’t do that then it’s not worth the purchase price, and so most people that buy this will be evaluating whether or not it is as easy to use as it is depicted in the promos.

The feedback is split right down the middle on CLR, which likely means it won’t live up to your expectations if you are expecting it to perform like it’s shown to on TV. Those that say it works well seem to have used it on surfaces that weren’t heavily stained, and those that say it doesn’t work seem to have put it to real tests, so it’s basically a coin flip as to whether or not you will find success with it. As a worst case scenario you’ll have spent about $10 and wasted your time on a product that didn’t work out for you. As a best case scenario you might fall into the camp that says it worked for them. But with these odds it doesn’t make sense to try it when you can pay a little bit more and get something with an 8 in 10 chance of working, or perhaps even better odds.

Final CLR Review

We’re giving the CLR cleaner a Risky Try rating, it just hasn’t put up the sort of numbers we like to see on a cleaning product. Even at a low price point you don’t want to waste your time trying something that has such a spotty record of success. There are other cleaners these days that do a better job at wowing consumers, and there are also cleaners that are made from all-natural ingredients that help you be a bit greener.

Our Recommendation
You were probably interested in C.L.R. because you thought it would help you spend less time scrubbing and fussing over ugly stains around your home. In order to be happy with it the product would need to work consistently across many different types of stains and surfaces. We’re just not seeing that here and our recommendation is to look elsewhere for a better-reviewed product that makes the same or similar claims.

What do you think? Does CLR work or not?

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Helina April 4, 2013 at 4:55 am

I don’t know about coffee maker and dish washers, but anything in the bathroom is tough to clean. Especially the tub always gets dirty build up on the side and removing them is a pain in the ass. I was going to gladly purchase this since it’s fairly cheap, but is too bad it’s not receiving good enough reviews. I don’t know anymore…


RLG August 11, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I use the CLR on my coffee maker. My expensive coffee maker quit working and I couldn’t figure out why. My husband said it had lime buildup and he went and bought the CLR. I couldn’t believe it. We put a cap full of CLR into the maker along with water and ran it through a few times and the coffee pot works just like brand new. I use it in my bathroom for hard water stains. This is an amazing product and very reasonable in price too.


Phil May 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm

CLR contains very caustic substances (it has to). If it leaks on a rug or clothing, etc., it will probably stain/bleach it or burn a hole through it. It has also been known to dissolve the finish on porcelain/ceramics (like your toilet or sink). You will get a great clean only to find that a stain comes back that you have to work hard to get out now. That could be indicative that the coating on the porcelain/ceramic is gone. Stains on toilets shouldn’t take elbow grease to get out if the finish coating is still viable. If you haven’t used CLR on your bathroom porcelain/ceramics, I would suggest using something else.

With things that work wonders, there’s a price.


Jilly Jones March 18, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Thanks for that. I did think it would containing certain chemicals detrimental to stripping the Enamel, and and it may be problematic in an old house, where we have copper /lead and brass fittings. I watched a few mechanics who used this and swore blind to it, on youtube to flush cooling systems. However, I note many are brass, plastic, and ceramic. It may cause more problems than it solves.


Diane June 18, 2015 at 2:26 am

I’ve tried CLR a number of times….mostly I found it’s completely useless! I let it sit for quite awhille and although it took SOME of the very lightest accumulation off, mostly I had to scrub and scrub to get it off…If I have to do that anyway….why buy CLR? It doesn’t do whats claimed!


reef bismuth September 17, 2015 at 12:59 am

I’ve used it a lot. As I remember it used to work really well and the ingredients listed a real acid. Strong enough to work but not strong enough to hurt you unless you did something really stupid. Now it barely does anything and the “acid” in there sounds like a food product. I think that they weakened it so now it does nearly nothing.


reefbismuth April 1, 2016 at 11:43 am

In short I think that they dumbed it down a few years ago and now it’s basically works like vinegar except a lot more expensive. A very weak acid. I’ve been experimenting with diluted muriatic (hydrochloric) acid and it seems to work like CLR used to work before they dumbed it down.


Denny July 25, 2016 at 6:04 pm

I agree with reef bismuth-The CLR ingredients have changed and the product is no longer effective at removing calcium, lime and rust. However, the company did make CLR environmentally safe (it says so on the container) Save your money and don’t buy the new CLR.


Paul Dugas September 18, 2015 at 7:04 pm

Tried CLR (not a knock off brand but the real CLR) on a shower head that was pretty clogged up with the white crusty deposits of city water. I let it soak overnight when initial results weren’t very promising. Found it no more effective after 12 hour soaking so I tossed the shower head and the CLR in the trash. What turned out to work much better was a new shower head from Lowes. Worked much better for not much more than the cost of CLR.
Maybe I should have tried the AmWay CLR my neighbor is always peddling – NOT!


Lani Torio October 1, 2015 at 7:44 am

I tried this product over 10 years ago. Bought it from Canadian tire. I used a small amount to wipe off the stain and the yellowish grime on the bathtub/sink as well as lime build up on the shower head. Needless to say, it DID not work, I don’t know why it is still on the market, perhaps the marketing hype keeps fooling people. I returned the opened product to Canadian tire and they refunded the entire amount. Don’t waste your time and money!!


Vince Dumond January 12, 2019 at 4:03 am

CLR is useless. Don’t but it.


Yvonne October 18, 2015 at 4:43 am

I wouldn’t recommend this product. I had high expectations after watching tv ad and it didn’t even live up to half of my expectations. I used it in the shower and kitchen sink that have your typical calcium build up. I use it as directed (dilute 1:1), wipe and rinse. There was no difference at all! Then I used it as concentrate from the bottle and still nothing as per the tv ad! And finally I decided “that’s it” I’m putting on my elbow grease, concentrated clr, soaked for 5 minutes, and started scrubbing like there’s no tomorrow. Finally there’s some results! It most of the deposit off (more like I took it off with my heavy scrubbing) but there’s still residual remaining. So I’ll say 1/5 stars!


Janet February 2, 2016 at 11:16 pm

The yellow spray bottle for kitchen and bath is a total waste of my money. Scrubbed and scrubbed the lime didn’t come off. But I had a work out! Never again over priced non working product


Lou February 23, 2016 at 12:03 am

No it does not work. PERIOD
It does not take out rust and calcium deposits.

Safe for the environment ?
I highly doubt THAT statement also.


AG March 1, 2016 at 11:23 am

I’m honestly shocked by the negative reviews. I had a terrible stain on my toilet bowl that I couldn’t scrub out no matter how hard I tried. I really wanted to buy a new toilet because the stain looked like poop. I tried CLR just to see if it would make a difference before buying a new toilet. I drained my toilet water and filled it up with CLR up to where the stain was overnight. I scrubbed it a little in the morning and when I flushed my toilet, the stain was gone and my toilet looked brand new! Since it worked for me, I would highly recommend this product.


Lynne April 30, 2016 at 3:11 am

CLR didn’t do a darn thing!


Mike April 30, 2016 at 1:01 pm

I don’t like to be so critical, but what a totally useless post! I saw this page come up on Google, and assumed you had actually, you know, TESTED the product. Not just “evaluated” user reviews and given a common-sense “analysis” of product advertising claims. People really need to be told this crap? Oy…


Linda May 24, 2016 at 11:24 pm

This product was put through our dish draws as per the instructions.
Both Dish draws do not work now and our Fisher and paykel specialist has advised that it is due to using this product.
This has turned out to be a very expensive exercise-NOT HAPPY AT ALL.


Darryl July 1, 2016 at 10:50 pm

No it’s misleading and crap! It’s expensive and doesn’t work at all with out scraping and scrubbing… Might try oven cleaner on those nasty scale deposits; just won’t leave it on too long though.


Richard T July 16, 2016 at 4:53 pm

This product does not work. If it worked as good as the hyped-up ad it gets on TV I would be happy! I bought it to remove rust stains from concrete walkway caused by a fertilizer application that got on the path and was not swept off. Needless to say the stains are still there. I had bought a product out of the States that does work called F9 BARC. By the time I paid the exchange and SHIPPING cost plus brokerage it cost me $128.00 for a gallon!! I guess you get what you pay for.


Thomas Byrne September 14, 2016 at 6:08 am

This stuff is crap! Fucking hopeless! DO NOT BUY IT!


Dennis Needham September 18, 2016 at 4:05 am

I am surprised that they continue to be allowed to advertise this product and make the claims of it’s effectiveness. I have tried it several times without any success.


Joyce McLagan November 11, 2016 at 8:10 am

I used to. Us CLR for most cleaning problems but I bought one bottle after you changed the formula. The “environmentally friendly” doesn’t clean anywhere near as well as the original. Because the product doesn’t work as well and yet the price of the product has gone up with poorer quality I never bought it again. I have found several products that work as well or better than the formula used now at a lower cost.
I don’t even consider trying any of your other products because the cost and quality won’t match products I use now.


Ron December 14, 2016 at 10:02 pm

CLR Did a Number on Canadians, u should be able to take Canadian tire and all other sellers of CLR to Court, RCMP should look at the SCAM with this product, but heck itès Scamada, the land of the Big stupids.


Luanne January 17, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Your CLR KITCHEN & BATH does not work well at all plus the fumes are not good at all. It doesn’t remove Mold what so ever. Your oringinal CLR in the grey bottle does clean a little better but again the smell is not good. Sorry but that’s the truth.


Rick Eli January 18, 2017 at 12:36 am

I have bought CLR Twice and used it in the bathrooms it cleans up dirt but it does not remove stains ,lime scale ,rust and mildew.


Ken Dalton February 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I tried this product on a toilet bowl ring. I did not work. Then I tried it on two faucet screens. I soaked them for 24 hours in straight CLR. When I rinsed them off there was no change in the build up. What a waste of money!


Jimmybob April 8, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Doesn’t work much better than soaking in water for lime scale


CLH May 10, 2017 at 3:19 pm

This product works if you let it sit for a while say a couple days. I have used it several times and it does work eventually. Also as with most chemicals worming it up makes it work faster, and better.


Dee December 5, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Sorry but this product does not work as marketed. Sure, if you want to put alot of muscle into i.e. cleaning the tub it will help but any product will do that. Very disappointing.


Mike December 21, 2017 at 9:04 pm

I’ve tried clr half a dozen times and it doesn’t do much. Total garbage and a waste of money. Clr should get sued for false advertisement.


richard young February 8, 2018 at 11:58 pm

a few years ago i had a contract to clean an office building. we hada few sink stains at the time. so i tried clr. it did absolutely nothing. when my contract finished i left the bottle in the closet. it is probably still there. it is a totally useless product. i have no idea why they are allowed to sell this stuff. also i have read testimonials on this site where people saiys it is a wonderful cleaner. these people must be sharholders n this company.


Val February 11, 2018 at 5:37 am

I saw the commercial for CLR and got very excited because we have a lot of rust in our water which caused orange stains in the toilet, tub and sink. However even though I followed the directions and scrubbed and scrubbed, it did nothing to remove the stains. I might as well just used plain water and saved my money. It’s a totally useless product!


Trey White February 12, 2018 at 7:29 pm

When I first starting using CLR it worked great. I would put some in a plastic bag and then zip tie the bag around the shower head. You could see the bubbles as it reacted with the lime scale. A couple of hours later the lime scale was gone and the showerhead worked like new.
Now there are little or no bubbles and doesn’t seem to work like it used to. Ran across this thread looking to see if anyone else had noticed this. Looks like I’m not the only one.
So, what is everyone else using as a substitute?


Reefbismuth June 5, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Muratic acid works wonders. . But be careful with it. It hurts skin and eats metal.


Laurie C February 13, 2018 at 9:55 pm

I’m surprised at all the negative comments. I’ve used it for years. This is the only product I’ve found that will loosen the mineral ring build up in the bathtub. After applying, very little elbow grease is needed to remove the remainder, it comes off easy. then. I also just tried it on the wood stove glass, which had a burned on, thick, orange and black film. It’s perfectly clear after two short rounds of one minute each, followed by an easy scrape with a razor tool. This is the first time I’ve ever seen through the glass. I spill it on my hands and nothing happens, not corrosive. According to the label, it’s safe for septic tanks and is phosphate free.


Gerard Landry February 25, 2018 at 7:47 pm

My wife purchased CLR for me to use at the hunting camp. We have well water with a lot of iron in it, leaving rust stains in sinks and toilets. This product is useless and totally ineffective, does not work at all. Tried diluted and full strength to No avail – Don’t waste your money.


Jilly Jones March 18, 2018 at 2:59 pm

I can’t believe this is nearly 3 times the price even accounting for 20% VAT, when given that GST would lower it down to a differential of from 0-8%. We just get ripped off for everything in England!


JK March 25, 2018 at 11:16 pm

I’ve tried the stuff a couple of times over the years. It works about as well as using plain water. Not at all.


Claude King October 5, 2018 at 8:20 pm

I purchased an old topless ammo can of ammunition reloading dies in a rusted, dirty and dismal state. They were unusable in their condition so my wife suggested I try CLR. I placed them several at a time into a tub with a lid and allowed them to sit submerged for 24 hrs. The rust and crud was gone inside and out. Some of the carbon dies appeared to take on a darker hue almost like bluing agent was applied but were otherwise unharmed. It worked GREAT for cleaning the rust off those old dies enough that I put them back into service. Dies have very close tolerances needed to reload live ammo and the CLR didn’t damage anything. Today I was looking into the idea of pouring CLR down a rifle barrel to dissolve lead, rust and crud from the bore and I happened across this post.


Cheryl Long October 29, 2018 at 9:50 pm

I used CLR on my tube fixtures and it turned them black. I had to get a plumber to come and change them out. It still did not remove the rust spot.


Dougal November 12, 2018 at 12:55 am

Absolutely and totally useless. Bought at Woolies,got full refund


Stanley Sarna January 27, 2019 at 5:19 am

I had a bad odor coming from my dish washer, tried numerous special cleaners for dish washers, to no
avail. I even thought of replacing my hot water heater due to this smell on my dishes and pans!
I spent a small fortune on these cleaners, waist of money. As a last resort, I tried clr in my dishwasher cups, ran it through the regular cycle, and to my amaze odor gone completely!!! It’s been 3 mo.s since the treatment and still no smell!!!



Ian Cameron February 11, 2019 at 5:12 am

If you are thinking of buying CLR, let me offer a suggestion. Put 50 cc’s of dishwasher detergent in a one litre container, add 50 cc’s of household ammonia, add 900 cc’s of water. You will have a far better cleaner at 1/10th the price.


annette April 5, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Save your money. No this product does not work. I am attempting to remove iron stains from a brand new toilet that are showing up after a few months. The stains are not even that bad. CLR not working at all.


Eric Galey May 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I tried it and it acted like I was just using water. This is one of those scam products that doesn’t work but they still make money because of the churning population. We are each victims at $8 or $10 so we go on with our lives, but a law firm could file a class action lawsuit and put a stop to this nonsense from Jelmar


Ken M July 22, 2019 at 12:13 am

I moved into a house that is on a well. The rust ring started building up right away in my toilets. I bought a jug of CLR after seeing the convincing results on the TV commercials. After an application per the instructions, the rust ring was still there. I tried more CLR and a scrub brush. Some of the rust came off but not enough to make it not visible as the commercials seemed to make it. After quite a few applications and letting it soak in for some time, the rust rings persist. I read the instructions again thinking maybe I didn’t buy the right formula, but the print on the jug says it will remove rust rings. Maybe my rust rings aren’t the kind of rust they are implying.
I sprayed a little CLR on a dust cloth and it seems to remove dust off my furniture with no problem. Perhaps that’s what their commercials are implying.


Leave a Comment