What happened to my laundry?

The impact of hard water on fabrics Wash cycle

Have you recently purchased a new white dress shirt only to have it look less than pristine after a handful of washes? Or what about your freshly laundered towels? Are they scratchier and harder than they should be straight out of the dryer? If you’ve noticed stiff, harsh fabrics, graying or yellowing of clothing, soil build-up and/or weakening of fabrics, hard water is most likely the culprit.

How hard water hinders the wash cycle

The minerals found in hard water (calcium and magnesium) deposit themselves onto fabrics, which cause discoloration and stiffness. Think of it this way: hard water is like rocks hitting your clothes and damaging them. Laundry detergent does not activate and perform well when used with hard water, which minimizes its effectiveness unless you add more soap to the wash cycle. This quickly becomes costly and wasteful.

Quick fixes

A chemical additive for the wash cycle is available. It breaks down the hardness minerals, allowing the soap to work more effectively and thoroughly to clean the clothes. However, once the water is drained from the machine, hard water comes back during the rinse cycle, undoing much of the initial work of the conditioner. This is less effective and not a permanent fix for your hard water woes.

The softening solution

By installing a water softener, the hardness minerals are removed before water is distributed throughout the house for daily use. Soft water will allow you to use less laundry detergent while getting cleaner, brighter and softer results. Your fabrics will last longer and look better, and you won’t have to go clothes shopping because you have to—only because you want to. Unsure what kind of water softener is right for your home? Answer a few quick questions about your home’s water use and get a personalized recommendation.