How Does Hard Water Affect Your Laundry?

2 May 2018


Using a washing machine is simple; you put in whatever it is you are washing, add some cleaning products and then press the button. This is the same for homeowners and those who use commercial washing machines; you expect the results to be great as you have followed the manufacturer’s instructions!

If you aren’t getting good results you might think the washing machine is faulty or that the brand of detergent you’ve used is rubbish. But the problem can actually be the water your home or business is supplied with.


What is Hard Water?


Hard water is water which contains a high level of calcium, magnesium and other dissolved minerals. Over time, hard water leaves behind mineral deposits on surfaces it comes into contact with. This is what’s known as ‘limescale’. Limescale is the white stuff that you might see around your bath, taps or on the inside of your kettle.

There are an estimated 13 million households and businesses in the UK who have a hard water supply. This is caused by the geology of the local area. Widening of water networks also means that some areas which were once soft water areas are now supplied with hard water.

Hard water isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ – but it can cause annoying limescale problems! This is especially true when it comes to laundry and washing machines.

Some people don’t like to drink hard water, and some think it makes a big difference to their beauty regime if they use hard water. For instance, some might choose to use spring water or filtered water to wash their face or hair!


How Do I know If My Water is Hard or Soft?


The hardness of water is measured by the number of mineral deposits it contains (parts per million – ppm). A hard water area typically has more than 150ppm and a soft water area will have less than 60ppm. You will generally know if you have very hard water as you will have had to deal with limescale build up quite a lot!

If you want to check the hardness of your water, a Google search of your local area and ‘water hardness’ will provide lots of results. For those of you who are Sheffield based like us, you can pop in your postcode on the Yorkshire Water website.


What Laundry Problems Can Hard Water cause?


Pesky hard water can cause multiple problems with your washing! Here are some of the problems you might be encountering with your laundry:

Clothes don’t seem to come out as clean as they should

Your laundry cleaning products won’t work as well as they could in hard water. The dissolved minerals interfere with the effectiveness of lots of detergents meaning you won't get the fresh clean laundry you were hoping for.

Clothes fade quickly

Mineral residue and detergent build up can make your clothes appear dull or faded. Of course, over washing can also cause this so ensure you’re only washing when you need to! It’s also better for the environment.

Clothes or bedding feel scratchy

Hard water gives clothes that characteristic scratchy stiff feeling. This is especially annoying when it comes to bed linen and towels. You can thank limescale and mineral build up for this!

Skin problems

Hard water doesn’t directly cause skin issues, but the build-up of limescale and detergent residue on clothing can be very irritating to some – especially anyone who suffers with eczema or psoriasis.

Using too many cleaning products

Hard water means you are likely to pour more detergent, especially fabric softeners in with your laundry. Most detergents are bad for the environment so you should limit their use and it will save you some money too!

Washing machine breaks

Eventually, the mineral build up in your washing machine can lead to breakdown and failure of the machine. People tend to look after their kettles or other items where limescale is visible but often forget about the insides of their washing machine.


What Can I do If I have Hard Water?


If you have hard water in your home or business there are a couple of things you can do to help combat limescale issues.

You can purchase products to keep your washing machines and dish washers free of limescale and last longer. These are usually in a tablet or liquid form. You can also buy laundry detergent that is formulated for hard water.

The same goes for toiletries; hard water stops shampoos and soaps foaming properly if you don’t like this there are several products now on the market for hard water (some people swear hard water makes their hair look different!)

A more permanent solution is to have a water softener installed. These pieces of equipment will filter out and break down the unwanted minerals in your water which cause limescale. These are available to both homeowner and businesses. Due to their expense, they are better suited to commercial use.  


Commerical Washing Machine Care 


If you are concerned about hard water and its effects on your commercial washing machines then please get in touch with us and we will be happy to advise you on what to do. 


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