Hard water washing

alison_sunnydayJune 1, 2008

My hard Phoenix water continues to confuse my laundry routine. (Metro area hardness varies from 12 to 20 grains per gallon, where anything over 10.5 is "very hard".) I've just joined up so I can poll the laundry gurus for ideas!

Any tips to maximize cleaning and minimize residue? I've just read that carbonates are a bad idea in hard water. But my White King softener is a mix of sodium carbonate and tripolyphosphates. Also, is vinegar in the rinse a good way to help eliminate residues?

I use liquid Charlie's Soap or liquid Country Save. My rental home came with the laundry machines, and the washer is an older Maytag (Heavy Duty Large Capacity) with only a Regular and a Permanent Press cycle.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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I tried *everything* I could imagine to help with hard water washing -- white king, even STPP. The only product I found somewhat useful was Calgon liquid water softener. It is composed almost entirely of citrate, which is a common ingredient in detergents as well. I think it's possible to purchase citrate from The Chemistry Store in bulk quantity.

Ultimately, the only thing that helped with my laundry was purchasing a new house where I installed a whole house softener. Now my clothes are back to normal! :)

I don't suppose there's any way to hook up a water softener in your apartment? As a realtor, that's one of the requests I often get from buyers -- a house w/ a soft water loop or water softener is a must in this area.

Good luck, if I discover anything else I'll let you know. But the more chemicals you put into the water, the more there is to rinse out. The best option is to start with soft water to begin with.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Argh, Calgon is both expensive and perfumed. :( We're leaving this place in a year, so I don't think I want to rock the boat by asking the landlord for a whole-house softener. Is there such a thing as an in-line softener just for the washer? I guess I could do some research on that.

Hm, there's sodium citrate at The Chemistry Store but not the dihydrate form...wonder if that matters...

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 4:47PM
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I found this on this forum and thought it might interest you (see link below)

Here is a link that might be useful: http://ths.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/laundry/2003052601018823.html

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 11:54AM
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First of all be careful what detergent you pick. Some detergents can build up on the clothes real bad right along with the hard water to make the prob worse. Try alternating washing your clothes with just vinegar every other week, and use vinegar in your rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. It seems to help cut and remove the build up that makes eveything feel hard.

I got hard water. Mine is not as hard as yours. It averages at about 8. I found the STPP works really well and it doesn't take a whole lot either.

I've also switched to Charlie's Soap and that has made a huge difference too.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 10:23AM
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Thanks, guys. I'm quite tempted by the STPP, one reason I posted here. I think I'm a bit confused between TSP and STPP. I think the former is a good builder but isn't recommended in harder water?

happymomof2kids, I'm interested to hear that Charlie's is working for you in hard water. I'd heard a lot of anecdotes to the contrary, which is one reason I've mostly switched to a different "green" low-residue detergent. Though I guess I do recall Mr. Sutherland mentioning STPP when I emailed...hm.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 8:26PM
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I also have hard water (10.45 grains) and thought I would try Charlie's soap as I just purchased a new duet pair. Well, I washed a set of sheets and they smelled bad straight out of the washer. Washed the again and still not great so I called Charlie's and the guy I talked to made a few suggestions for hard water.
His first suggestion was to double the soap.
Second, he said to try washing soda (sodium carbonate)instead of double soap. No amount was mentioned but for my FL I'm thinking two tablespoons.
Third, he suggested I try trisodium phosphate (TSP). Yes, he said TSP. He specifically said Lowe's carries it and he said it was made by DAP (they make painting supplies). He was wrong about the supplier but Lowe's did have TSP. I don't recall any mention of the amount to use and the package gave no clue and it is obviously not the intended use. I don't think I'll try it.
He also stated a wash in vinegar now and then was a good idea but didn't see a vinegar rinse as necessary with Charlie's... although a good idea with soaps that leave a residue.
I snagged a box of washing soda and will be trying that with the Charlie's very soon.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 10:08AM
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The first ingredient in Charlie's Soap is washing soda. Whether you double the Charlie's or simply add washing soda to the normal dose of Charlie's, you're doing essentially the same thing. Before going out and buying more products, just double the dose of Charlie's -- if that doesn't work, I wouldn't go any further with additives. You would be defeating the natural, clean rinse nature of Charlie's Soap.

When I had to deal with hard water, I used to add STPP, Calgon, White King, anything I could get my hands on to soften the water. The results were mixed, as I often ended up adding chemicals that were worse than the hardness itself.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 11:05AM
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So, that's what the strange white streakiness is on my shirts! Seems that bio-kleen premium will need some help with the hard water we have here.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 11:53AM
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I have incredibly hard water. I have just started adding STPP to my Charlies Soap with great results! Some older clothing that I thought looked somewhat shabby now looks years newer. Any dingy looking items are losing that awful look. I am delighted! I am using one part Charlies Soap to two parts STPP; that is, one scoop of Charlies and two scoops of STPP. If this works in my horrible water, it should work for anyone!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 2:42AM
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Some of my clothes did have a funky odor after the first wash with the Charlie's, but I kept using it as per some others suggestions, saying it could take several washes in Charlies before the desired results would begin to show, and the funk went away. I attributed it to the fact that the detergents I had been using had built up in layers. Each time I washed in the Charlies another layer of build up was removed, revealing what the previous detergent had not really gotten out or had left in. For example, when I had my top loader, I used mainly Arm & Hammer free and All Free Clear with the occasional Tide free if on sale. They seemed to get my clothes clean, there were no odors and no one here was having a reaction to them. After the Charlies though, I found some of the stains I had thought I had gotten out ages ago were still in the clothes and that something (most likely the optical brighteners) had just covered them up.

If you are using a regular ole' top loader machine you may need to use two tablespoons instead of one with the Charlies. If you do not want to do that then I strongly recommend a water softener so the Charlies can do it's job. Otherwise the hard water molecules will just zap the Charlies by bonding with it and rendering it ill effective in the cleaning process.

Also, did you clean your washer out with the Charlies before you washed your first load in it? The detergent funk can build up in your machine as well and that will make the first initial washes very difficult for the Charlies.

I had called Charlies Soap myself with many questions regarding hard water before I had even purchased it. The gentleman recommended either two scoops of the Charlies for hard water or using water softener additives like STPP, washing soda, oxi clean or borax. Anywhere from 1 to 3 tables spoons depending on type of washer and hardness. He also said under no circumstance should baking soda be used as a water softener. Baking soda, even though related to washing soda, will make hard water build up worse. He also recommended that it may help if I wash some of my loads in vinegar before starting on the Charlies (particularly the personals, if you get my meaning).

I wash frequently here, so many articles got washed over and over again in several days. My little ones have certain outfits they like to wear a lot. It took some patience to waite and stick with it. It was like breaking an addiction to commercial detergents, is the best way I can describe it. You get use to throwing clothes in with a commercial detergent and "Wallah!" the clothes seem to be clean....for a while.

My patience has paid off. The more I use the Charlies, the better it works and the cleaner my clothes are getting. Much cleaner, now I realize, then they ever were before. However, I do have a front loader now. If you have a top loading agitator washer, you will most likely have to have patience and experiment until you find what combo/routine is right for you.

I happen to know the gentlemen I spoke with at Charlies said they had an old agitating top loader and that the Charlies worked in their machine, so it should work in any top loader just as well.

I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 12:12PM
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happymomof2kids, did I neglect to mention that I've used Charlie's exclusively for 12 months up until I switched detergents last month? I think I've been through two bags of the powder and two or three gallons of the liquid. Perhaps your diatribe/testimonial was directed at another poster in the thread, it wasn't clear.

I've sourced TSP at my local hardware store and am considering that additive. However, a few small changes (White King in every load, using more Country Save detergent and a longer cycle for my cottons and doing a pre-soak for my synthetics) have made a great difference so far!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2008 at 9:25AM
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Sorry. I missed you originally posted you had been using Charlies. I apologize if my alleged "diatribe/testimonial" offended you. It was not intended to come off as such. I was only trying to help. Won't happen again.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 12:33PM
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