Are your clothes stiff after washing? Do they feel unclean? This might be because you live in a hard water area. 85% of the US is affected by hard water (1).
Hard water has a higher mineral content. So, if you live in an area with hard water, there are a few lifestyle changes you might need to make. One of those will be on laundry day, because hard water can affect your clothing.
Thankfully, though, by using the best laundry detergents for hard water, you can still have a shot at lovely soft laundry.
- Natural detergent
- Works well with hard water
- Cleans sewer lines
- Removes tough stains
- Leaves no residue
- Formulated for hard water
- Standard or HE wash compatible
- Works with cold water
- Good for whites & colors
- Great stain remover
How Does Hard Water Affect Detergent?
What exactly is hard water though? The area you live in affects the quality of your water.
Your water is “hard” if it has a high mineral content, including calcium and magnesium (2). The water has collected these mineral particles from rock and soil that it passes through. Soft water, the opposite, is water that contains less of these minerals.
Unfortunately, hard water can affect your laundry and make it harder to deal with. What hard water can do to laundry and detergent:
- It makes it hard to mix the detergent: Hard water isn’t great for laundry because it stops the water from mixing with your detergent (3).
- It leaves behind soap residue: If the detergent doesn’t mix well, you’re left with a soapy residue on your clothes. Not pretty. If you’ve ever noticed chalky, streaky stains on your clothes, you could have hard water!
- Your clothes will be stiff: Hard water can leave clothes stiff and rigid. We’ve all had that one towel that is scratchy and icky after a spin in the washing machine. This is unsightly, and very uncomfortable to wear.
- It doesn’t clean your clothes properly: As opposed to soft water, hard water doesn’t end up cleaning your clothes properly since the detergent doesn’t mix well. That’s not what we want at all.
Choosing the Best Laundry Detergents for Hard Water
Which is best for hard water? Powder, liquid or even homemade?
Regular powder detergent doesn’t mix well with hard water. Therefore, you might find yourself using hotter water and more laundry detergent to clean your clothes properly. This is a waste of energy. Plus, it’s not as kind to the environment.
However, we can recommend some good powder detergents specially formulated for hard water.
Liquid detergent, on the other hand, is generally easier to use with hard water. Liquid laundry detergents are better at mixing with hard water. This is because of the nonionic surfactants which can resist water hardness better (4).
Perhaps you want to go down the route of making your own laundry detergent. Unfortunately, this might not always be the best option. Soap doesn’t do well with hard water. If you do still make your own laundry detergent, you can increase the amount of Borax by at least one third for better results.
The Best Laundry Detergents for Hard Water of 2020
We’ve gathered the best of the best when it comes to laundry detergents for hard water. Take a browse through this list to find the best option for you and your washing machine.
1. Rockin' Green Hard Rock Natural Laundry Detergent
We know we said that regular powders don’t work that well in hard water, but Rockin’ Green is an exception to this rule. If you have sensitive skin, it can be hard to find the right detergent. Especially one that works in hard water.
But this laundry detergent is different. It’s gentle, but powerful. It will be kind on your skin, and efficient on your clothes. Specially made for people living in hard water areas, you can rest assured that this powder will dissolve in your machine and clean your clothes.
- Natural detergent.
- Works well with hard water.
- Kind to sensitive skin.
- Lingering smell.
- Doesn’t get rid of strong odors.
|Number Of Loads||90|
|Item Dimensions||3 x 3 x 0.2 inches|
|Item Weight||45 ounces|
2. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
The amazing Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder is an eco-friendly option. It works great in hard water areas, too, even though it is a powder.
This detergent works on all kinds of fabrics — even delicates. It tackles stains, smells and residue from other detergents.
Being fragrance-free, you can rest assured that this detergent isn’t masking bad smells, but getting rid of odors completely. We love Charlie’s Soap for cloth diapers, too! It has the power to properly clean the stains and smells from them.
While customers with hard water love this detergent, some suggest buying the Laundry Booster to go along with it.
- Good for cloth diapers.
- Cleans sewer lines.
- Might need to add laundry booster.
|Number Of Loads||100|
|Item Weight||2.64 pounds|
|Item Dimensions||7.5 x 4.2 x 8.8 inches|
3. Biokleen Laundry Detergent Liquid
When it comes to the Biokleen Laundry Detergent Liquid, you are getting a lot of benefits. Not only is it great for hard water areas, but it’s biodegradable.
This liquid detergent is kind to the environment since it’s free of harsh chemicals. No phosphates, no chlorine, no ammonia, and no petroleum solvents.
This is a great choice for big families looking for an eco-friendly option that works with hot washes, cold washes, and hard water.
- Amazing scent options.
- Removes tough stains.
- Leaves no residue.
- Thick consistency.
|Number Of Loads||64 normal, 128 HE loads|
|Item Weight||4.67 pounds|
|Item Dimensions||13.2 x 10.8 x 11.2 inches|
4. Water Boy Liquid Laundry Detergent
Enzyme-based cleaning products are all the rage right now. Enzyme-based laundry detergent is great at breaking down soils and stains so they can wash away easily (5).
The Water Boy Liquid Laundry Detergent is a fantastic choice of enzyme-based hard water laundry detergent. It was specially formulated for hard water areas, but works well in any water.
You can use this detergent in HE machines or standard washing machines. It’s a great product for any laundry room.
Users do notice that they sometimes have to use more than the recommended amount to get the desired results on their clothes.
- Formulated for hard water.
- Use for HE washers or standard washers.
- Might need more detergent than recommended.
- Tricky to pour.
|Number Of Loads||32 for standard machines, 64 for HE machines|
|Item Weight||9 pounds|
|Item Dimensions||7.5 x 5.5 x 9.5 inches inches|
5. Tide Coldwater Clean Liquid Detergent
We get it if you want to stick to brands you know, like Tide. Tide does a liquid detergent that works great in hard water areas!
Since it’s better to wash your clothes with cool or warm water, if you live in a hard water area, we can recommend this detergent. It’s formulated to work on cool settings, while protecting the color of your clothes.
Tide recommends that the water be at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit when using this product.
- Works well with cold water.
- Good for whites and colors.
- Great stain removal power.
- Customers complain about the smell.
- Doesn’t work in HE washers.
|Number Of Loads||100|
|Item Weight||2.64 pounds|
|Item Dimensions||7.5 x 4.2 x 8.8 inches|
|Product||Best||No. Of Loads||Type||Dimensions||Weight|
|Rockin’ Green Hard Rock Detergent||Sensitive Skin||90||Powder||3 x 3 x 0.2″||45 oz|
|Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder||Eco-Friendly||100||Powder||2.64 lbs||7.5 x 4.2 x 8.8″|
|Biokleen Liquid Laundry Detergent||Biodegradable||64, 128 (HE)||Liquid||4.67 lbs||13.2 x 10.8 x 11.2″|
|Water Boy Liquid Laundry Detergent||Enzyme-Based||32, 64(HE)||Liquid||9 lbs||7.5 x 5.5 x 9.5″”|
|Tide Coldwater Clean Liquid Detergent||Commercial Detergent||100||Powder||2.64 lbs||7.5 x 4.2 x 8.8″|
How to Do Laundry With Hard Water
If you’ve discovered you’re unlucky enough to live in a hard water area, how in the world are you supposed to do laundry? Fear not, because there are many ways to battle this issue with as little effort as possible.
- Use the right amount of detergent: Once you’ve found the best laundry detergent for hard water, read the instructions carefully. Too much or too little detergent could end up being pointless for cleaning your clothes.
- Get a water softener: You can easily add a water softener to your clothes. This will help remove the minerals that your hard water brings.
- Keep your washing machine clean: To prevent mineral build-up, regularly clean your washing machine. Every washing machine has different cleaning instructions, so follow yours carefully.
- Don’t do extra rinses: It’s tempting to rinse your clothes again if they feel stiff or unclean. But all that does is put more hard water minerals into the clothes, sending you back to square one!
- Wash clothes in warm water: Not too hot, and not too cold. Wash your clothes at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help keep the hard water minerals at bay (6).
- Use good detergent: Make sure you use a good detergent for hard water. This will be the key to getting clean and soft laundry.
Removing Hard Water Stains
It’s time to start fresh with your hard water laundry techniques. But what if you have hard water stains on your clothes right now? We can give you some helpful tips to remove hard water stains so that your clothes look brand new again.
- Baking soda and vinegar: You can make a paste using vinegar and baking soda. Rub the paste over the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Scrub clean and rinse with cold water. Wipe dry and wash as normal.
- Lemon juice: Lemon juice is a natural and powerful tool for removing stains. Spray lemon juice onto the stain and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse, and check if the stain has gone.
- Distilled white vinegar: If you don’t already have this product in your laundry room, it’s time to start. You can put one cup of vinegar into the detergent compartment of your washing machine and run the machine on the rinse cycle. Make sure to wash at a low temperature. Repeat until the stain has gone. Air dry when done.
You can rely on these tips to help you remove hard water stains.
Don’t Let Hard Water Win
It’s definitely annoying to live in a hard water area. Tap water tastes different, your bathtub needs vigorous cleaning, and your clothes might feel stiff and unclean. But there’s no need to fear now that you know the best laundry detergents to use.
Make sure to use the correct amount of detergent as recommended on the bottle for the best results. Keep your washing machine clean, use cool or warm water, and if all else fails, get a water softener to aid your detergent.