When you do a load of laundry, you expect your clothes and linen to come out looking, feeling, and smelling clean. In general, a simple machine wash should be enough to freshen up your clothes (perhaps a pre-treatment in some cases to combat strong stains and smells).

If you’re using fabric softeners, stain removers, and washing detergent but still finding that your clothes are leaving the washing machine with strange odors, fades, stains, or a crunchy feeling, the problem may lie with your water supply. 

In this blog, we will discuss some of the ways hard water can damage your laundry.

Common Hard Water Laundry Problems

The mineral build-up in hard water is known to damage household appliances and pipes, leave soapy scum on your glassware, dry out your skin, leave limescale on your shower or tub, and so much more. It also has quite a few adverse effects on your laundry, including:

  • Dinginess, graying, and yellowing of the fabric
  • Colored clothes may have white or gray streaks on them
  • Fabrics feel stiff, crunchy, and hard
  • Soil build-up in your clothes
  • The weakening of fibers makes it easier to tear your clothes

Why Hard Water is Bad for Your Laundry

An excess of minerals such as calcium and magnesium in water cause what is known as hard water, and this is the culprit of many laundry problems. The excess minerals in hard water don’t react well with laundry detergents, interfering with the detergent’s cleaning power. 

Hard water makes it more difficult for the water to mix with the detergent so that it forms an effective cleaning agent. When the calcium minerals bond with the soap, it creates a detergent curd that sticks to the fabric fibers, attracting more dirt and causing discoloration over time. 

This build-up is also the culprit behind the stiff or crunchy feeling on washed fabrics, which makes the fabric less malleable and more prone to unnecessary wear and tear. 

Often, the water may also contain iron, which, when exposed to chlorine bleach, will produce iron oxide or rust, leading to stains on your clothes. 

Unfortunately, homeowners who are unaware that hard water may be causing these problems just try harder to clean their clothes. So, they resort to using more detergent, more expensive detergents, and hotter water until they eventually have to replace the damaged clothing. All these factors just accumulate unnecessary expenses that could easily be avoided by softening the water. 

How To Fix Hard Water Laundry Problems

The first step in combatting the effects of hard water on your laundry is to make sure that hard water is actually the cause. Homeowners who are unsure if they live in a hard or soft water zone should keep an eye out for these common signs of water hardness: 

  • Grimy spots or film-like layers on your dishes
  • It is difficult to get soap and shampoo to lather, no matter how much you use
  • A ring around the inside of your sink or bathtub
  • Sudden degeneration of your hot water appliances
  • You are experiencing dry, itchy skin
  • There is a chalk-like build-up (known as limescale) around your faucets, showerheads, and drains
  • You are experiencing the laundry issues mentioned above
  • Your hands feel slimy even after washing them

If you notice these signs, you should perform a hard-water test by filling an empty, clear, and clean bottle with water from your tap (about a third of the way full). You then add a few drops of liquid soap, close the bottle, and shake it vigorously for a few seconds before checking it. If you notice that your water looks cloudy or milky and there are no bubbles, it could indicate that your water is hard. If there are a lot of bubbles on top of clear water by the end of the process, it is likely soft water. 

While you can use a special detergent designed specifically for hard water, finding ways to soften your water (such as a water softening system) is the best way to protect your home from damage and get access to cleaner water. 

Aqua Soft Water Systems Inc. are water treatment experts in the Palm Beach and Broward County areas. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with a water-softening system that protects your plumbing and appliances, keeps your clothes clean, saves you money, and keeps your hair and skin soft.