Is Hard Water Ruining Your Clothes?

Did you know that your hard water could be ruining your clothes? It sounds dramatic doesn’t it, but sadly it’s true. For the millions of Brits who live in hard water areas, washing your clothes could leave mineral deposits behind. 

What does this mean? Well, our expert team reveals all in this helpful guide to washing clothes in hard water, and keeping them looking newer for longer. 

Searching for more cleaning tips and tricks? Head on over to our blog for helpful cleaning guides on a range of different topics. 

How does water hardness affect my clothes?

When we throw our clothes in the washing machine, we don’t normally think about how they’re being washed, or how they could be ruining our clothes. When it comes to hard water, the high concentration of minerals stops your detergent from working to its full ability. 

mixture of clothes on rail

Using a large proportion of detergent will soften the water and help clean your clothes better, but if you live in a hard water area, you could start to see the following problems with your clothes: 

  • Weaker fabric fibres, leading to higher chance of damage. 
  • White clothes coming out of the wash grey and losing their brilliant white colouring. 
  • A stiffness to your clothes. 
  • Fabrics feeling harsher than they did when you bought them. 
  • Dull appearance to colours and textures. 

Does hard water fade clothes?

Over time, the answer is yes. You will see that your whites turn grey or yellow and lose that brilliant white colouring that the garments had when you bought them originally. You can buy white restorers or colour catchers in supermarkets and home stores, but the extra minerals in hard water does mean whites will see a change in colour over time. 

For darker or coloured clothing, you might start to notice white or grey streaks appearing on them as mineral deposits start to settle on the surface of the fibres. 

How to get rid of hard water stains on clothes

If you’ve started to notice unsightly yellow stains on your clothing, they are probably being caused by hard water. As well as those unpleasant stains, as we have already mentioned, hard water can also leave white streaks on darker fabrics. 

To banish these from your clothes, take a look at our top tips at getting those hard water stains out of your clothing. 

Prevention is better than the cure 

There are plenty of solutions on the market to get rid of hard water stains from fabrics – after the fact, but they are time consuming and require constant upkeep. A more permanent solution and investment is a water softener to eliminate limescale altogether. 

A water softener is designed to remove calcium and magnesium from your water supply, the two key minerals that contribute to hard water. In hard water areas like Hull, York, Ipswich and Lincoln a water softener will help you to make savings as you’ll use a reduced amount of detergent in each wash. 

hard water stained fabric

Tackling existing hard water stains on your laundry

For coloured fabrics, you can soak your clothing in a mixture of white vinegar and water. The recommended dosage is around 250ml of vinegar to around 4.5 litres of water. Always check the item’s laundry instructions prior to laundering being extra cautious with delicate fabrics.  

Take a bowl and fill it with the mixture above, letting your clothes soak for around 30 minutes. You can then add it to your washing machine as normal and as long as the stain hasn’t set completely, it should be gone by the time the wash cycle has finished. 

clothes in washing machine

Tips for washing clothes in hard water

Below are some of our top tips for washing your clothes in hard water and making sure you keep them looking newer for longer. 

1. Check the dosage

You may see on the back of your laundry tabs, liquid or powder that the recommended dosage per wash is higher in a hard water area. This is to mitigate the impacts of the higher mineral content in your water, so make sure you check the dosage to ensure you’re using the ratios for the load. 

2. Ditch the powder

If your water is particularly hard, it may be worth switching to a liquid detergent or laundry tab instead of powder. Liquid detergents are better prepared to deal with hard water than their powder counterparts. 

3. Keep on top of cleaning your machine

Descaling and cleaning your washing machine regularly will remove limescale and any detergent residue that may have built up over time in your machine. There are several products available to help you with this. 

4. Stick to lower temperatures

Limescale thrives in hot temperatures, that’s why you’ll see it forming around your shower, kettle and taps relatively quickly. Washing at 30 degrees Celsius instead of 40 and above will reduce limescale build up, and it’s better for the environment too! 

washing machine 30 degrees

While following these tips and tricks won’t completely stop the impacts of hard water in and around your home, you should see a clear difference in the way your clothes are coming out of the wash. For expert advice from the Harvey Water Softeners team or to book a free demonstration, get in touch with us today. 

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