Doing laundry with hard water vs. soft water
The hardness of your water is most likely something you just take for granted. If you have soft water you’ll see light, frothy bubbles in the washing machine, your clothes will come out that bit softer, the colours stay brighter longer and they bobble less. Whereas if you have hard water, you get virtually no soap bubbles, your clothes fade faster and they’ll get bobbly in no time at all. But you just assume that’s the way things are, right?
Hard water can have some pretty noticeable effects on daily life, with how we do the laundry being just one of them.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is Hard Water?
We’ve already talked at length about what hard water actually is, but if you’ve missed it (wake up at the back!) you can read all about it in our What Is Hard Water? section.
If you don’t fancy a full recap, hard water is basically water that contains naturally occurring calcium and magnesium minerals which add the ‘hardness.’ If you live anywhere in the Thames Valley, there’s a very high chance that you have hard water. Reading, Henley-on-Thames, Slough, Oxford and Swindon all have hard water; Berkshire actually rates high on the list of counties with the hardest water in the UK.
Hard Facts: the Water Hardness Scale
Water hardness is generally rated from soft to very hard and is expressed in terms of the equivalent quantity of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in milligrams per litre or parts per million. You may also see hardness expressed as Degrees of hardness in Clark (English) degrees, French or German degrees.
If you want to be spectacularly scientific, here’s a handy chart of drinking water hardness:
Fun, huh? 😉
So, Have You Got Hard Water?
Rather than get the measuring devices out and compare to the chart above, use these simple tests to check if you have hard water:
- Does your laundry come out feeling a bit stiff or not seeming totally clean and/or soft?
- Do you get a lot of limescale around sinks, taps and worktops?
- Do you get unsatisfactory lather from your shampoos and soaps and do you seem to use more than you’d like to?
- Does anyone in your family suffer from dry, irritable or cracked skin?
OK, it’s not the most scientific series of tests, but it’s actually a very accurate set of indicators that you may be living in a hard water area of the UK.
Carry Out This Easy Hard Water Test
If you’ve got a spare 5 minutes between worming the cat and putting the bins out, try this easy test to see if how hard your water is…
Fill a clear bottle (glass please, not plastic) and add about 10 drops of liquid soap (ideally unperfumed and colour-free) then give the bottle a good shake.
Put the lid on first 🙂
If you get very few bubbles, you’re likely in a hard water area. Keep adding a few more drops at a time and shaking until you get a good lather. The more drops your need to add, the harder your water is.
How Does Hard Water Affect Your Laundry?
Hard water hampers water from mixing with detergent. The soap doesn’t lather effectively and you end up with a soapy scum left on your washing – even if you can’t see it, you’ll feel the difference when you compare washing done in hard water to that done with soft water. It’s not exactly the Paris catwalk effect you might be aiming for this season!
It’s also the reason your bath towels can be less absorbent than those lush fluffy ones you get in fancy hotels.
As if that wasn’t enough, the harshness of hard water can cause premature fading of bright or dark colours. So those fabulous dazzling hues and deep rich blacks will very soon lose their oomph and start looking, quite literally, washed out.
There’s one more very unpleasant side effect to hard water. Because of those pesky minerals, you have to add a lot more detergent and use hotter water to achieve clean washing. Both of these have a negative impact on the environment, as well as on your household bills. So the planet suffers and your pocket suffers. It’s a lose-lose situation.
What’s The Answer?
Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot you can do about hard water by just changing detergents or descaling your appliances regularly.
But there is one highly simple solution – fitting a water softener removes those calcium and magnesium minerals before they enter your home. It’s a completely effective and highly efficient solution to the problem of living in a hard water area.
You’ll get no soapy residues on your laundry and the colours will stay rich and vibrant far longer. And because the detrimental minerals are gone, you’ll get a much better lather with far less detergent. Clothes will feel softer after coming out of the washing machine and won’t irritate your skin.
Now that’s much more the Paris catwalk effect isn’t it??
Banishing Hard Water For Good
There are many reasons to switch hard water for soft water, with improvements to your laundry being just one. Why continue to put up with an irritating house guest when there’s an easy way to get rid of them?
We install and service a wide range of softeners to suit all homes and all budgets, so give us a call today on 07967 009 838 or 01189 410 869 and start your journey to a life without hard water!