Hard Water: Airing the Dirty Laundry
A washing machine is a fairly fool-proof machine. Water, detergent, and dirty laundry go in, clean laundry comes out. However, you have noticed that dirty, dingy, or heavily worn clothing has been coming out, instead. You try more detergent, less detergent, hot water, and a heavy cycle, to no avail.
It isn’t your machine or your detergent that is failing you, it may very well be your water. Many people think of hard water as a rural, well-water problem—but in fact, more than 80% of the water in the United States is classified as “hard”. Hard water is caused by minerals such as magnesium, iron, and calcium in the water supply.
There are a number of problems that may seem unrelated, but are all hallmarks of hard water.
Clothes Don’t Come Clean
Hard water reduces the efficacy of detergents and soaps. That’s because the minerals prevent detergent from dissolving and creating a cleaning solution with the water. This leaves a film of dirty soap scum on your clothes, much like the hard water stains on your shower, sinks, and dishes.
As a result, your laundry often comes out of the wash looking dirty, as anything that was initially washed off was made into a scum soup and redeposited on your clothing. Once your clothes have gone through the dryer, the scum will cook into the fabric and you will find yourself with dingy clothes until you finally give up and throw them out.
Red and yellow stains on your laundry are often caused by iron oxide in your water—more commonly referred to as “rust”. The iron deposits on your laundry and reacts with the chlorine bleach that you are counting on to make your whites brighter and whiter, leaving them instead several shades of brown and red.
Dark fabrics and bright colors will fade significantly faster in hard water. This is due, again, to hard water deposits. Additionally, you’ll find yourself using more expensive detergent to clean your clothes, which wear them out in both the color and at the seams. Your clothes will not only look faded, but will fall apart well before their time.
Rough Fabrics Rubbing You The Wrong Way
Hard water doesn’t only make your laundry less esthetically appealing, the rub leaves something to be desired, as well. Rough towels and stiff sheets take the comfort out of bed and bath time. Mineral deposits literally harden the fabric, and leave your towels less absorbent over time.
Rashes and Irritation
It is very common to blame ones diet for issues like sensitive skin and eczema, and a change in diet may be what the doctor ordered—but what if the problem is as simple as water? Your washing machine has a rinse cycle for a reason, and that is the fact that detergent is not meant to be worn on the skin. If your clothes aren’t washing clean, that very detergent is smothering your skin, causing chafing, redness, dryness, and inflammation.
Applying lotion only traps the irritation on your skin, increasing redness and your body’s natural immune response.
Using extra detergent doesn’t just cost more up front, but replacing the clothes that get worn out before their time isn’t at all cheap. The overuse of hot water and needing to re-run cycles that never seem to get clean add to your utility costs, and the adverse effects of harsh chemical detergents take an environmental toll that has yet to be tallied.
A water softener removes or neutralizes hard minerals like calcium and magnesium with ionized sodium and potassium. A cleaner clean, a softer wash, and a more environmentally (and pocketbook) friendly answer to your dirty laundry.