According to a USGS Water Science School geological survey, 85% of homes in the United States have hard water flowing through their pipes. Hard water may cause pipe issues, can damage your appliances, and shorten the lifespan of your clothes. In this article, we’ll explain how hard water affects your laundry and dishes and suggest some products that can save the day.
Negative Effect on Dishes and Clothing
Hard water is characterized by the high amount of dissolved minerals it contains, primarily magnesium and calcium. These minerals prevent the soap from lathering and getting washed off properly, leaving behind what’s known as soap scum.
Scum doesn’t damage the dishes and is relatively easy to wash off. However, you need to rewash the dishes after you take them out of the dishwasher and rinse off the leftover soap.
Not only does this waste way more water than necessary, but it also defeats the purpose of owning a dishwasher in the first place. Additionally, even after washing off the soap scum, hard water usually leaves very visible marks on the glass.
Doing the laundry is even more of a problem when you’re dealing with hard water. The minerals have the same effect on the detergent as they do on the dishwasher soap, and scum sticks to the clothes and traps dirt and sweat within the fibers.
A high concentration of calcium and magnesium in the water weakens the fibers of the clothes and makes them a lot more prone to tearing. White cloths start yellowing quickly, and colored fabrics begin to look dull and threadbare.
The easiest way to solve these issues is to get the right cleaning products. Several detergents and dishwasher soaps work well with hard water, and we’ll go over some of the best ones you can get.
Here are the three best dishwasher soaps you can use if you have hard water.
Finish Quantum Dishwashing Pods
The Finish Quantum packs can have up to 82 pods, and each pod has three sections. The first section contains an alkaline gel that can dissolve the grease on the dishes; the second section has a powder that breaks down food particles to make them easier to remove. The third section has a liquid that contains sodium citrate and sodium carbonate.
The chemicals in the liquid section improve the ph value of the water, making it softer to produce a good lather in mineral-rich water.
The only real downside is that the fragrance is a bit too strong.
Finish is a reliable brand when it comes to cleaning products, and the pods will definitely work and clean your dishes even in mineral-rich water. These pods are also pretty reasonably priced.
Cascade Platinum Dishwashing Pods
Cascade is another reliable brand, and their pods can definitely give even Finish a run for their money. The packs usually come with 62 or 92 pods if you’re willing to spend a few dollars more.
The three sections on these pods all contain a Cascade dish detergent that’s strong enough to dissolve all grease and food particles on your dishes. The list of ingredients includes sodium carbonate, so the pods can raise the ph value of the water.
The absence of sodium citrate does mean that you’ll need to set the dishwasher on a hotter setting in order to help the detergent lather the dishes more effectively.
Cascade Platinum is more expensive than most other pods on the market. However, they are very effective, so you’re definitely paying for quality.
Grab Green Natural Dishwashing Detergent
As the name suggests, this detergent is an eco-friendly option that doesn’t use any harmful chemicals. It’s a powder detergent that consists of sodium-based ingredients. In terms of price, Grab Green is right between the cheaper Finish Quantum and the more pricey Cascade Platinum.
Sodium-based ingredients generally work pretty well in hard water, and detergent powder has an advantage over pods as they don’t get stuck in the automatic dispenser.
On the other hand, the powder is a bit more of a pain to measure out, especially when it comes to hard water. Whereas a single scoop is a standard measurement for a single wash cycle, when it comes to hard water, you might need to add another half a scoop or even two scoops per cycle.
This also means that while the bag is good for 80 wash cycles, putting in more than the standard amount means that you’re more than likely going to get around 50 – 60.
Grab Green also has pods that you can get, which are much easier to use, are priced the same as the powder, and you’ll get 60 wash cycles out of one bag.
Here are the three best products that can alleviate the negative effects of hard water on your clothes and ensure they come out of the washing machine bright and clean.
Rockin’ Green Natural Laundry Powder
Rockin’ Green is an eco-friendly alternative to combat the negative effects of hard water on your laundry.
Thanks to its sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate formula, it’ll prevent fading and fiber damage.
Sodium carbonate raises the pH value of the water, and percarbonate is a natural whitening and oxidizing agent that protects the color of your garments.
A pack costs around $20 dollars and will last you for 90 wash cycles.
Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent
When hard minerals come into contact with regular chlorine bleach, they leave stains on your clothes in the wash. This detergent prevents that by using oxygen bleach or non-chlorine bleach.
The Arm & Hammer costs around $12 and lasts for over a hundred loads.
The one downside is that it can be pretty hard to find it in most stores, and ordering liquid detergent online sometimes results in receiving a leaking package in the mail.
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder is a “low-sudsing laundry powder.” Not only does this product soften the water, but it’s also hypoallergenic, doesn’t have any dyes or fragrances, and it’s made out of all-natural ingredients.
You can get a whole 300 loads out of this one 8-pound bag, so we’d say that it’s pretty easily secured its place as the best laundry detergent that you can use with hard water.
Hard water leaves stains on your dishes and laundry. You can easily solve these issues by switching to dishwasher soap and laundry detergent that works in hard water.
Finish Quantum is the most reasonably priced dishwasher soap, and its only downside is the strong fragrance; Cascade Platinum works well in hard water but is more expensive than other pods, and the Grab Green pods are a great middle ground between the two.
As for the laundry detergents, Rockin’ Green prevents color fading and fabric damage, Arm & Hammer uses a type of bleach that helps clean your clothes even in hard water, and Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder gets you the most bang for your buck.