When many people think about getting the best laundry results, they focus on the detergent, softener, and washer that they use. But, there is a vital component missing from that list, and that is the water. The quality of the water can have a dramatic effect on the quality of your laundry results. If you’re not happy with your laundry, the problem may not lie with your choice of detergent, and it could be your water that’s a fault. Many homes are supplied with hard water that can damage your fabrics, washer, and even your plumbing pipes and fixtures.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water contains an elevated level of dissolved mineral content, including calcium, magnesium, and also iron. These minerals get into our water as it passes through various strata for rock, soil, and sand on its way to waterways, aquifers, and ultimately our homes. Even if your water comes from a municipal water treatment plant, it may be hard because the treatment systems we use do not remove the hardness. Around 85% of American homes are supplied with hard water, and many people have installed a water softener to make their water easier to use.
Degraded Soap and Detergent Performance
One aspect of hard water is that the minerals prevent the formation of soap suds. All soaps and detergents need to form suds in order to activate their cleaning power. So, if you’re using hard water for laundry, bathing, and any cleaning task, it will degrade the cleaning performance. Some people will try to compensate by adding more detergent, but this isn’t very effective. Another aspect of this problem is that the material left behind is a sticky residue of minerals and soap. This is commonly known as “soap scum” or “detergent curd” that will make clothes look dirty and feel unclean. In fact, this residue may even attract more dirt, and your fabrics may get dirtier at a faster rate than you expect, leading to more frequent washing.
Dull and Discolored Fabrics
Another aspect of hard water is that it can cause darker colors to fade very quickly. This is due to the soap scum and dissolved mineral residue that’s left behind on the fabrics after washing. When the water used for washing has been dried or evaporated, the mineral content is left behind. This is the same chalky white scale that you will notice on your plumbing fixtures. Some people also notice reddish/brown stains on the fabrics after washing which is caused by iron in the water. This situation is exacerbated if you use a chlorine based bleach when washing whites. The iron particles will combine with the bleach to create iron-oxide, which is commonly known as rust!
Hard and Scratchy Fabrics
The mineral content also settles into the fibers of the fabrics of clothes, towels, and sheets. As you might imagine, this makes them feel hard and scratchy on your skin. This is especially noticeable if you have a pre-existing skin condition such as eczema or sensitive skin. If you want your fabrics to feel softer, it’s a good idea to look at the hardness of your water supply.
If you want to install a water softener in your home, contact your local certified water treatment specialist 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.