Pentair Moment: Eva washes away her hard water blues
Don’t be soft on hard water
Like most Europeans, Eva now lives in an area with hard water. As someone used to soft water as a child, she recognised the difference more than most. Laundry that feels rougher to the touch. Clothes that become dull and discoloured over time. The need for extra detergent and fabric conditioner, not to mention the toll on her washing machine. When her son developed sore skin, she decided enough was enough and had a water softener installed. You could say it has been a lifesaver.
So, what is hard water, how can it impact your laundry and how does softening it make the difference?
Hard facts about hard water
Hard water is a hard fact of life. But our water doesn’t start off that way. Rain is pure and soft. Water hardness is caused by minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron that dissolve with the flow as it makes its way into your home water supply. While those minerals don’t cause us harm, life is a lot better without them in your water, especially when it comes to laundry.
Can’t get your laundry clean?
Soap simply doesn’t mix well with those minerals. That’s all soaps – from facial soap to car shampoo, and laundry detergent is no exception. The hardness minerals prevent the soap mixing freely with water to form an effective cleaning solution and therefore they are not as active in your washing machine. The temptation is to use more detergent but that can compound the problem. Excessive soap is more stubborn to rinse from hard water and soap particles can actually ‘cling’ to the cleaned laundry, picking up even more dirt.
If you have traces of iron in your water, you may find your laundry develops reddish brown stains. It’s not a good look and if you use bleach with your white laundry, you may trigger a chemical reaction that causes rust stains in the laundry pile too.
Don’t accept the rough with the smooth
Hard water makes laundry feel hard and stiff. Over time, calcium deposits, seen as white chalky substance around your taps and sinks, accumulates in your towels and linen making them feel rough and scratchy. With hard water, they lose the softness and absorbency they had as new and you may find yourself replacing them more often.
Sick to the skin of hard water?
While hard water is not inherently harmful, washing in soft water is kinder to the skin. Calcium and magnesium in hard water prevents the fatty acids in the soap from blending well, so it’s harder to clean and rinse which can lead to skin reactions. Similarly, if there is a residue of detergent left in the laundry, that too can exacerbate the problem as the skin remains in contact with sheets or clothes. There is little doubt that hard water is more likely to cause rashes and soreness, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Is more detergent the answer?
Adding more detergent to try and soften the water may be masking the underlying problem. Excessive use of washing liquid and fabric softener, apart from being expensive and bad for the environment, can cause a build-up of scum. That requires a hotter wash (at more expense) to get your washing ‘soap-free’ and so begins a vicious circle. And your over-worked washing machine is now dealing with an excess of detergent as well as a build-up of limescale on its heating element.
Out with the hard, in with the soft.
If you experience any or all of these problems with your laundry, installing a water softener is the only permanent solution. It will eliminate the adverse effects of hard water on your laundry, whilst making it feel softer, fresher and cleaner. Through an ion-exchange process the minerals which make water hard are removed and replaced with those minerals which make it soft. With softened water, laundry will start to feel bouncier and fresher. Clothes will retain their vibrancy longer. You will notice a reduction in the dose of detergent you require and you should not need fabric conditioner at all. You may be able to dial down the temperature of the wash water and still achieve better results. And conditions that create sore skin stand their best chance of recovering with soft water running through the home.
A water softener is kind to your laundry and kind to your pocket.
There are plenty of good reasons to install a water softener, besides improving your laundry. If you spend your time scrubbing chalky limescale from taps and sinks with hard detergents, softened water will give you those hours back immediately. As well as your washing machine, dishwashers, boilers, kettles and all hot water appliances take a hit from the limescale that comes with hard water. Over time scale builds up on the heating elements making these appliances less efficient and more expensive to run. An excessive build up can make the appliance fail altogether meaning an expensive replacement.
A water softener will not only make your home a cleaner, softer and kinder place, it will quickly pay for itself in reduced energy and soap costs. But above all, it will give you and your family the pleasure of luxuriant laundry forever.
If you have a moment…
Pentair have a range of water softeners that will fit every size, shape, capacity and budget. Standalone cabinet softeners, bi-block softeners, under-the-sink and Wi-Fi enabled – we have all bases covered.