Besides washing detergents, washing with hard water can have several effects on both your clothes and washing machines.
Hard water can cause your fabrics to become stiff and cause tears in fibers. It also leads to scale deposits on your washing machine, which reduces the life of your machine.
You need the right kind of washing machine that can withstand hard water and remain effective for longer.
There are several washing machines that are designed to withstand the effects of hard water. This article will highlight the best machines that work well with hard water.
What is Hard Water?
Hard water is water that contains dissolved minerals. Hard water gets its minerals from the soil and rocks, especially where the water is collected. Most of the salts present in hard water are calcium and magnesium. It is worth noting that the hardness of water comes in degrees. Depending on where you live, you should expect the water to have a degree of hardness. Soft water is water that has less calcium and magnesium minerals.
Most of the calcium and magnesium salts in hard water are mainly bicarbonates, sulphates, and chlorides. In most cases, you may also find iron. Ferrous iron contained in hard water is oxidized and will leave stains that are reddish-brown in white fabric.
Hard water that is mainly associated with calcium bicarbonate is termed temporarily hard. This is because boiling is enough to break down the bicarbonate bonds to form calcium carbonate, which is insoluble in water. However, boiling is not sufficient to remove hardness from the other salts present in hard water.
This is permanent water hardness. When hard water reacts with soap, it forms an insoluble scum. Scum is a gelatinous curd that arises from the reaction of long-chain fatty acids with calcium and magnesium ions in the hard water. However, some modern detergents are designed to minimize the formation of scum.
Effects of Hard Water on Your Laundry
Hard water takes a toll on your laundry if you don’t find ways to manage the stain-causing salts. You can use these as signs to determine whether you have hard water in your supply. Most people report that hard water causes skin irritation when used in laundry.
This may be caused by bacteria build-up associated with limescale. However, the characteristic that gives away hard water when you are doing your laundry is that it does not form lather with detergents and soaps easily.
Shampoos are ineffective because of the salts present. Hard water also gives your fabrics a stiff texture, and you may feel that they seem dirty even after thoroughly washing them.
Hard water is known to discolor fabric, especially bright colors. Doing laundry with hard water may cause your fabric to tear easily.
Generally, hard water makes it much more difficult for you to clean your laundry because it does not lather easily with most soap brands.
The scum that is produced causes damage to your clothes and can lead to permanent stains. In some instances, the scum might require you to rewash your clothes.
Once your clothes have dried, you may realize that they are stiffer and may cause skin irritation if you had washed them with hard water.
Hard water also damages darker fabrics because it encourages premature fading. The high iron levels found in hard water will make the clothes have streaks or spots that are reddish-brown and almost impossible to get rid of.
If the hardness of your water is at extreme levels, the salts present will make the fibers of your clothes weaker and prone to tear. If you wash your clothes regularly with hard water, you may notice that you require repairs or replacement frequently.
Effects of Hard Water on Washing Machines
Hard water is quite destructive to most home appliances. Washing machines are particularly exposed to damage from hard water. The first problem that you will encounter when using hard water with your washing machine is that you will require more water and detergent to wash the clothes.
This is because hard water contains chemicals that interfere with the proper working of your detergent—all this works to increase the energy that is required to clean your clothes.
Having to use more electrical power every time is one of the contributing factors that cause the laundry machine to have a reduced lifetime.
Hard water is also responsible for the build-up of limescale in different parts of your washing machine. This may attract expensive repairs.
Limescale build-up will greatly lower the efficiency of your washing machine by increasing the energy expenditure. Most of the limescale accumulates on the heating component, which will now be covered in a layer of limescale.
Limescale is a poor conductor of heat, and a lot of energy will be wasted in heating the limescale up that then indirectly heats the water.
The heating element of your washing machine will be overworked, increasing the likelihood of burning out. The degree to which limescale accumulates in washing machines will depend on the hardness of the water that you use.
Water that has extremely high levels of calcium and magnesium salts will increase the rate at which limescale accumulates on the heating element and other parts of your washing machine.
The limescale will continue to build up, and you may be required to do periodic descaling to improve the efficiency of your washing machine. All this makes laundry tiresome, forcing you to look for better alternatives.
Can Ordinary Washing Machines Handle Hard Water?
Ordinary laundry machines perform quite poorly when used with hard water. However, there are tips and tricks that you can use to make this a little easier. One way of doing this is by picking the right kind of detergents to use with hard water.
You can also choose to buy water softeners that you will add to the clothes as you wash them. An ordinary washing machine can perform better if you use the right amount of softener or a detergent that has this property.
All kinds of ordinary washing machines will soon get covered in limescale, requiring you to descale them once every few months. This is especially the case when you have a machine with the heater component installed for spin-drying.
If you’re going to use an ordinary washing machine with hard water, it is recommended that you do monthly descaling.
One of the biggest issues that you will face when using an ordinary washing machine with hard water is that other components of the machine will get clogged and, in extreme cases, cause failure.
Limescale will gradually accumulate in areas like the pump mechanism, lint screen, and washing tub, among other moving components of your washing machine, and cause friction and damage.
Using hard water with an ordinary washing machine also poses a risk of damage to the valves, waterline, and the hose that supplies it. The salt component of hard water also increases the rate of rusting that poses a danger to any metallic parts of your washing machine.
When the supply hose of your washing machine gets clogged, the water flow rate will be highly reduced, and this also increases the likelihood of water damage to your property.
Even though it is quite possible to use an ordinary laundry machine with hard water, this has been shown to highly reduce its lifespan from an average of eleven years to about seven years.
Best Washing Machine for Hard Water: Our Top 5 Picks
Whirlpool 7.5kg 5 Star Fully Automatic Top Loading Washing Machine
This washing machine is fully automatic and comes with a capacity of 7.5 kg. The machine features 12 wash programs.
- Daily wash
- Heavy wash
- Eco wash
- Woolen wash
- Rinse & Spin
- Aqua store
- Express wash
Whirlpool washing machine also comes with a hard water wash program made especially for hard water problems. It also has 6th sense smart sensors, which are designed to sense conditions such as voltage, load, and water level to determine when to change the detergent dosage or spin speed.
The spiro wash feature creates circular washing motions, and this increases cleaning efficacy by up to 20 percent.
There is also a child lock feature to ensure young children do not interrupt the wash cycle. You are required to clean the washer tub at least once a month with the auto-clean feature. This machine comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Has a special feature for hard water
- Easy to use
- It uses a lot of water
Whirlpool 6.5 kg Washing Machine with Heater and Hard Water Wash
This machine is also from Whirlpool, but it has a smaller capacity. It comes with a special feature which is a built-in heater. The heater allows for the use of hot water when washing. Like with other Whirlpool washing machines, it comes with a hard water wash program.
The built-in heater feature makes this machine a favorite for many. Washing with hot water has several benefits, including cleaner laundry, easier penetration of detergent, and killing of any bacteria or harmful allergens in your laundry. Despite the heater, the machine is quite power-efficient, meaning you get to save energy.
- Special built-in heater
- Express wash
- ZPF technology
- Smaller capacity
IFB 7 kg Front Loader for Hard Water
Front-load washers are pretty popular due to their efficiency, low water consumption, and relatively better cleaning. This specific model takes up to 7kg, and you can wash clothes for three people. It also comes with 11 wash programs designed to meet different needs.
Special features to take note of include the Crescent Moon Drum with grooves on the washer drum shaped like a crescent moon, a tub clean for cleaning the washer with hot water, a cradle for your delicates, and a child lock. This machine comes with a 4-year warranty, and you can opt to buy a hard water filter to use with the washer.
- Built-in heater
- More efficient
- Low water consumption
- Poor customer service
IFB 6 Kg Star Front Loader for Hard Water
This is also a front-load washer with all features similar to the previous one. The difference is that this is a smaller capacity as it takes up to 6 kg of laundry. The 3D wash system increases detergent action by spraying the water detergent solution from a nozzle. All wash programs and advanced features associated with front-load features are present in this machine.
The hot water feature is suitable for hard water. The child lock feature also ensures children do not interfere with the machine. Unlike most front-load washing machines, this one allows for the addition of more laundry in between washing cycles. It also comes with a 4-year warranty.
- Built-in heater
- Increased detergent action
- 4-year warranty
- Poor customer service
Bosch 6.5 Kg Top Loading Washing Machine
This is a washing machine made with German engineering, which ensures maximum performance. It has a capacity of 6.5 kg, ideal for 2 people. Water is poured from two sides of the drum, allowing the water and detergent to soak evenly. Like with other top loaders, this machine will enable you to add or remove laundry in between wash cycles.
Another special feature is that the machine has an intelligent memory function. This way, if power cuts off mid-wash, the machine resumes the operation from where it left off when the power resumes. The machine has seven wash programs for different occasions. It comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Special German Engineering
- Unique intelligent memory function
- User-friendly control
- No 100 percent drying
How do I Deal with Hard Water in my Washing Machine?
Hard water presents quite a challenge to many people, especially when doing laundry. However, there are a few tips that you can use to improve the efficiency of your laundry machine when dealing with hard water.
If you want your washing machine to last longer, you will have to mitigate hard water damage to the appliance. The first thing that you will need to do is concentrate on regularly descaling your machine. You can do this using a water and vinegar solution. With the machine unplugged, use this to clean all the areas where there is a limescale.
Make sure to descale the dispenser and your washing bucket. Once you’re done, run one hot wash cycle with the laundry machine empty. Then disconnect the water and wash the lint traps in your laundry machine. Do not forget to also clean around the opening of your hose before running another hot cycle with the machine empty.
Another option is installing a water softener in your house to soften the water before it gets to your laundry machine. On top of protecting your washing machine from damage, this option will also prevent limescale from clogging your plumbing system and improve general water flow.
Most water softeners remove magnesium and calcium minerals from water using a method called ion exchange. It uses potassium and sodium ions which trap the minerals in hard water and make it soft. Other home waters softening systems use salt-free technology to do this.
The most effective method, however, is finding a machine that has a hard water filter installed. Buying a washing machine that has the technology to remove water hardness will make the process easier and cheaper compared to getting a home water softening system.
Benefits of Hard Water Washing Machine
There are many advantages that you should expect from a hard water washing machine. A machine with a hard water filter will help eliminate most of the problems caused by hard water on laundry machines.
There are a variety of different hard water washing machines in the market, and you should concentrate on finding the best one. The immediate benefit that you will observe is that your clothes will become easy to clean. You will not have to use a lot of detergent and power when using a machine built to handle hard water.
Fabrics that are sensitive to hard water like towels and white clothes will not become stiff or stained. A hard water washing machine will not cause the build-up of scale deposits on its parts which means it will last longer and also work efficiently while requiring little maintenance.
Some washing machines also come with a Nano water filter system which is self-cleaning. This means that it will not require to be changed periodically—most hard water filter cartridges for washing machines last about six to three months. There are different types of hard water filter cartridges that are used in hard water washing machines.
Activated carbon filters only require to be replaced annually. You can also choose reverse osmosis filters. These soften the water by passing it through a membrane typically lasting about three years. Reverse osmosis filters are self-cleaning, which makes them a favorite option for many people. There are also washing machines that use sediment water filters to soften hard water.
Different hard water washing machines will have variations that make them better than others. The most distinguishing factor here is the technology that is used to soften the water before it is mixed with detergent in your laundry machine.
Why Should You Buy a Washing Machine with a Hard Water Filter?
Hard water is pretty bad for laundry. Not only does it affect your clothes, but it also damages your washing machine.
Hard water leaves your clothes feeling dirty after you’ve washed them, and it also makes your machine run worse with every wash. Additionally, you’ll have to spend more on detergent. As such, buying a washing machine with a hard water filter is beneficial in many ways.
First, you get to protect your clothes from the effects of hard water. Hard water is rich in calcium and magnesium, which don’t work very well with cleaning products.
These minerals prevent the water from mixing well with the detergent, resulting in soap scum. This is a white substance that is left on your clothes, making them dull and discolored. This residue also holds dirt which will irritate your skin.
A hard water filter is also beneficial because it prevents damage to your machine. The soap scum created leaves several scale deposits on your washer, thereby impeding its performance.
In the long run, the build-up decreases the washer’s functionality and cuts short its lifespan. With a hard water filter, your washer is protected from the harsh effects of hard water, and it is bound to last longer.
Buying a washing machine with a hard water filter is also a great way to save money. You save money on many fronts.
Washing machines are already expensive, so you do not want the additional cost of having to fix them when you experience problems caused by hard water. Additionally, you won’t have to spend so much on detergent or new clothes.
How to Choose the Best Hard Water Washing Machine
There are several factors that need to be considered when selecting the best hard water washing machine. Some of these factors include:
- Capacity and size
The load capacity of washing machines is usually measured in kilograms, and it corresponds with the number of people in your household.
If you live alone or with one other person, a 5-6 kg capacity washer is ideal. If your household has more than five members, you should get the 8.5-9 kg washer. The available space in your house and the size of your door also determine the size you should get.
- Wash Programs
Washing machines come with a wide variety of wash programs designed to meet specific needs. You should pay special attention to these features, especially when purchasing a hard water washing machine. You need to ensure the machine is suitable for hard water and has unique features such as a hard water filter.
- Manual Intervention
Washing machines are categorized into fully automatic and semi-automatic machines. The semi-automatic washing machines are more labor-intensive as they require you to fill the tank, add the detergent, and then set washing time.
After the washing cycle is complete, you have to take the clothes out and transfer them to the dryer section. Fully automatic machines require no manual intervention. The entire process, from washing to drying, all happens on its own using an automated program.
- Energy efficiency
You should also take a look at the machine’s energy efficiency to save your electricity bills. Some hard water washing machines come with features like a built-in heater that is bound to consume more energy. If you do not want to spend a lot of money on electricity, you should pay attention to such features.
How do I Get Rid of Hard Water Build-up in My Washing Machine?
Hard water causes lime deposits and rust in your washing machine, which can reduce your machine’s efficiency. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to get rid of hard water deposits in your machine.
Pour in a few cups of white vinegar or lemon juice. After that, run the machine in a hot water cycle.
Unplug the washing machine. This is to prevent electrocution. Remove the fabric softener receptacle and soak it in either hot water or laundry detergent. Use paper towels and a cleaning solution to clean the bleach dispenser as well. Wipe down the upper rim of the washing bucket and then run the empty machine on a hot water cycle again.
You can use special products made to clean washing machines. There are specially formulated detergents for hard water. Clean both the inside and outside of the machine using paper towels and lemon juice or vinegar.
Remove the lint to clean the lint traps inside the machine. Turn the water off, disconnect any hoses, and then wash their openings using vinegar. Remember to clean out any traps you find on the hoses as well. Once you have cleaned everything, reconnect the hoses and reassemble all the parts and then plug it back in. Run one last hot water cycle with no clothes.
How to Protect Your Washing Machine from Hard Water
There are a few steps you can take to protect your washing machine and your clothes from the adverse effects of hard water.
- Use high-quality detergent
The minerals in hard water make it hard for the detergent and water to mix evenly and facilitate effective cleansing. Most of the time, you have to use a lot more detergent compared to washing with soft water. While there is no detergent made specifically for hard water, buying high-quality detergent with a higher concentration is an excellent measure to take.
- Washing machine filter
Buying a washing machine filter is one of the smartest decisions you can make. Washing machine filters are effective at protecting your machine from hard water because they remove minerals from the water. Additionally, these filters will catch any dirt or stains, effectively protecting your clothes as well.
- Using water softeners
Water softening is an effective way of protecting your washing machine from hard water. This is a chemical process involving the removal of minerals in hard water.
This way, the water is made usable. One of the simplest ways to utilize this method at home is to use water-softening tablets. All you need to do is dissolve these tablets in the water, and the mineral quantity of the water will be reduced.
If you live in a hard water area, you are familiar with the many problems that come with it, especially when it comes to laundry. Thankfully, there are a number of steps you can take to lessen the effects of hard water on your washing machine and your clothes.
The first step is to get a suitable washing machine that is designed for hard water use. With the proper washing machine and a few maintenance tricks, you do not have to experience hard water problems with your laundry ever again.