When you shop through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. This educational content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

Best Laundry Detergents for Hard Water of 2023

No more stiff laundry, thanks to these detergents.

Are your clothes stiff after washing? Do they feel unclean? This might be because you live in a hard water area. Eighty-five percent of the US is affected by hard water (1).

Hard water has 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, by using the best laundry detergents for hard water, you can still have a shot at lovely soft laundry. We have five recommendations to share with you. We compiled our list after spending hours researching real customer reviews and expert advice.

Our Top Picks

Oh So Spotless earns a commission through the following independently chosen links at no additional cost to you.
Product Comparison Table

Product Image of the Rockin' Green Hard Rock Laundry Detergent (90 Loads), Plant based, All Natural Laundry Detergent Powder, Vegan and Biodegradable Odor Fighter, Safe for Sensitive Skin, 45 oz (Lavender Mint Revival)
Best for Sensitive Skin
Rockin' Green Hard Rock Detergent
  • Natural detergent
  • Works well with hard water
  • 90 loads per bag
Product Image of the Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder (300 Loads, 1 Pack) Fragrance Free Hypoallergenic Plant Based Deep Cleaning Laundry Powder – Biodegradable Eco Friendly Sustainable Laundry Detergent
Best Eco-Friendly Detergent
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
  • Eco-friendly
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Cleans sewer lines
Product Image of the Biokleen Laundry Detergent Liquid, Concentrated, Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic, Plant-Based, No Artificial Fragrance or Preservatives, 64 Fl Oz (Pack of 6)
Best Biodegradable Detergent
Biokleen Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Enzymes cleans white clothes
  • Removes tough stains
  • Leaves no residue
Product Image of the Amazing Natural Based Laundry Detergent Liquid (128 Loads) - Powerful Natural Enzymes - USA Made (32oz Bottle)
Best Enzyme-Based Detergent
Absolutely Clean Enzyme Laundry Detergent
  • Handy pump bottle dispenser
  • Formulated for hard water
  • Hypoallergenic
Product Image of the Tide Coldwater Clean Fresh Scent Liquid Laundry Detergent, 92 oz, 48 loads
Best Commercial Detergent
Tide Coldwater Liquid Detergent
  • Works with cold water
  • Good for whites & colors
  • Great stain remover

Product Reviews

We’ve gathered the best of the best when it comes to laundry detergents for hard water. These laundry detergents are specifically designed to work in hard water, cleaning your clothes and tackling stains.

After hours of research into real customer reviews and expert advice, we put together our thorough list.

Whether you want a liquid or powder, we’ve got you covered. Switch up your laundry routine now by using one of these fantastic detergents.

1. Rockin' Green Hard Rock Natural Laundry Detergent

Best for Sensitive Skin

Many powders don’t work that well in hard water, but Rockin’ Green is an exception to this rule. It can be hard to find the right detergent if you have sensitive skin. Especially one that works in hard water.

But this laundry detergent is different. It’s gentle but powerful. It will be kind to 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.

Similar Articles
Woman's hands with a laundry detergent rashLaundry Detergent Rashes: Are You Allergic?


  • All-natural detergent.
  • Kind to sensitive skin.
  • 100 percent biodegradable.
  • 90 loads per bag.
  • Leaves behind no residue or mineral deposit.
  • No need for water softener.


  • Not strong enough for cleaning cloth diapers.
  • Doesn’t remove the ammonia smell in hard water.
  • Packaging leaks easily.

Product Specs

Number Of Loads 90
Cruelty-free Yes
Type Powder
Scented Alpine breeze, lavender mint, watermelon, or unscented
Item Weight 45 ounces

2. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder

Best Eco-Friendly Detergent

The amazing Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder is an eco-friendly option. It also works great in hard water areas, despite being 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 eliminating odors completely. We love Charlie’s Soap for cloth diapers, too! It has the power to clean stains properly and smells from them.

While customers with hard water love this detergent, some suggest buying the Laundry Booster to go along with it.


  • Eco-friendly formula is kind to the planet.
  • Hypoallergenic and kind on skin.
  • Good for cloth diapers.
  • Cleans sewer lines.
  • Suitable for all fabrics, including delicates.
  • Removes smells, stains, and detergent residue.


  • Might need to add a laundry booster.
  • Might need to pretreat stains first.
  • Unscented formula.
  • It doesn’t remove heavy-duty stains.

Product Specs

Number Of Loads 100
Cruelty-free Yes
Type Powder
Scented Unscented
Item Weight 8 pounds

3. Biokleen Laundry Detergent Liquid

Best Biodegradable Detergent

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 an excellent choice for big families looking for an eco-friendly option. It works well with hot washes, cold washes, and hard water.


  • Biodegradable formula.
  • Removes tough stains.
  • Leaves no residue.
  • Enzymes clean whites and colors in cold water.
  • 128 high-efficiency loads, 64 standard loads.


  • Citrus scent doesn’t linger on clothes.
  • Thick consistency is hard to pour out.
  • Doesn’t remove gym odors well.
Read This Next
Common laundry detergent alternativesLaundry Detergent Alternatives That You Already Have In The House

Product Specs

Number Of Loads 64 normal, 128 HE loads
Cruelty-free Yes
Type Liquid
Scented Faint citrus smell
Item Dimensions 4.67 pounds

4. Absolutely Clean Enzyme Laundry Detergent

Best Enzyme-Based Detergent

Enzyme-based cleaning products are all the rage right now. Enzymes are great at breaking down soils and stains so they can wash away easily (2).

The Absolutely Clean Enzyme 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 achieve their desired results.


  • Enzyme-based formula removes stains.
  • Use for HE washers or standard washers.
  • Hypoallergenic formula is kind on skin.
  • Handy pump bottle dispenser.
  • Works on all types of fabric.
  • Removes sweaty odors from gym clothes.


  • Might need more detergent than recommended.
  • You might need to pre-soak extremely smelly clothes.

Product Specs

Number Of Loads 128
Cruelty-free Yes
Type Liquid
Scented Unscented
Item Weight 2 pounds

5. Tide Coldwater Clean Liquid Detergent

Best Commercial Detergent

We understand if you want to stick to brands you know, like Tide. Tide makes 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.
  • Six times the cleaning power of other brands.
  • Suitable for all garments, including delicates.


  • Customers complain about the smell.
  • Doesn’t clean cloth diapers well in cold water.
  • Could be better at removing odors.

Product Specs

Number Of Loads 100
Cruelty-free Yes
Type Powder
Scented Fresh scent
Item weight 6.85 pounds

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best No. Of Loads Type Scented Weight
Rockin’ Green Hard Rock Detergent Sensitive Skin 90 Powder Alpine breeze, lavender mint, watermelon, or unscented 45 oz
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder Eco-Friendly 100 Powder Unscented 2.64 lbs
Biokleen Liquid Laundry Detergent Biodegradable 64, 128 (HE) Liquid Faint citrus smell 4.67 lbs
Absolutely Clean Enzyme Laundry Detergent Enzyme-Based 128 Liquid Unscented 2 lbs
Tide Coldwater Clean Liquid Detergent Commercial Detergent 100 Powder Fresh scent 2.64 lbs

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 (3). 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 (4).
  • 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.
  • 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.

Is Liquid or Powder Better for Hard Water?

Which is best for hard water? Powder, liquid, or even homemade detergents?

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.

On the other hand, liquid detergent 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 (5).

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.

Take Note

If making your own laundry detergent, test it each time to ensure it’s performing well. Clean clothes are the goal here!

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: Read the instructions carefully once you’ve found the best laundry detergent for hard water. Too much or too little detergent could be 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.
  • 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: 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.


What Does Hard Water Do to Your Hair?

Washing your hair in hardwater can leave you wiith a dry scalp, brittle hair, and a dull shine. Where possible, always use a water softener if you want your hair to feel healthy.

Can Hard Water Make Your Laundry Smell?

Hard water can make your laundry smell. The water doesn’t smell, but it makes it tougher to clean your clothes, which leads to laundry odors. Hardwater minerals clog your fabrics, making it harder for soap to pass through your garments and clean them.

Can Hard Water Damage a Washing Machine?

Hard water can damage a washing machine because it leaves mineral deposits that scale up the internal components. When this happens, the washing machine can malfunction and need expensive repairs or need replacing.

How Can I Protect My Skin From Hard Water?

The best way to protect your skin from hard water is to install a water softener. Hard water contains minerals and heavy metals that can cause skin damage, and the best water softeners remove them to leave you with soft water.

Does OxiClean Soften Water?

OxiClean does soften water. It also boosts the performance as your laundry detergent, leaving your clothes feeling super clean. It works by releasing oxygen to create small bubbles that penetrate deep into fabrics to lift dirt.

What are the Disadvantages of a Water Softener?

There are a few disadvantages of a water softener. They can increase the salt content in your water, which some people may react to, and they are also expensive to install and maintain. They also use a lot of water.

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.

Feedback: Was This Article Helpful?
Thank You For Your Feedback!
Thank You For Your Feedback!
What Did You Like?
What Went Wrong?
Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!