If you’ve ever questioned your laundry results because your clothes and fabrics feel dull, dirty or faded, you should be reassured that this is a common problem. When your towels feel stiff and your whites seem to be turning yellow or gray, the cause is usually hard water. Many people try to deal with this problem by adding more detergent, extending the wash cycles or turning up the heat. But, these measures will not fix the issues because the underlying problem of hard water remains. In this article, we will look at how hard water ruins your fabrics and what you can do to solve the problem.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water contains elevated concentrations of dissolved minerals including calcium, magnesium and iron. These minerals are naturally occurring and they are added to the makeup of the water as it passes through them. Water is a solvent; it dissolves many materials that it comes into contact with after it falls as rain. These dissolved materials remain in the water and they are not removed by the water treatment plant.

Why Does Hard Water Affect Laundry?

Hard water caused many problems in the home, including scale, soap scum, dry skin, corroded plumbing pipes, damaged appliances and more. But, one of the aspects that is less well known is the effects of hard water on clothes and other fabrics. A recent study from Purdue University found that fabrics washed regularly in hard water tended to wear 15% faster than those washed in soft water.

One of the more annoying characteristics of hard water is that the dissolved minerals prevent the mixing of soap and water to create a cleaning agent. Soaps and detergents rely on the formation of soap suds to deliver cleaning power. But, the minerals don’t mix, they bond with the soap to create a film that actually sticks to the fabric fibers. Because this material is sticky, it tends to draw more dirt to its surface and over time this makes the fabrics dirtier. This is why whites become gray or yellow and why colorful fabrics start to look dull and faded. This buildup also tangles in the fabric fibers which makes them stiff, inflexible, more prone to wear and rough on your skin. This is especially noticeable with thicker items such as bath towels.

What is the Solution?

Switching to soft water will fix your hard water laundry problems. In fact, you will notice that you need less laundry detergent and you can wash at lower temperatures. Fabrics washed in soft water feel softer, they look brighter and they last longer. Many people are surprised that they don’t need to buy as much laundry soap and their energy bills are significantly lower. Soft water is easy to work with, it’s kinder for your family and it saves you money in the medium to long term.

Contact your local water treatment specialist, ask them about hard water testing and a water softener installation for your home today.

By EcoWater Systems.
EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is the largest water treatment company in the state and is a member of Water Quality Association.