Detergents for Hard Water

i_dig_itAugust 30, 2008

I was wondering what detergents those of you that have hard water find work the best.

Our water is in the very hard range (above 10.5 gpg).

I have a FL Maytag and have been battling the mold problem and have always used Tide HE liquid. Now after reading through many posts here on the forum, I have decided to try a powder detergent. I never did like the Tide after they switched it to the 2x ultra and now think that may be part of my problem with clothes that don't smell fresh after being washed.

I liked what I have read about Sears detergent, so I did go buy a small bucket of the Advanced Formula Ultra Plus HE that is free of dyes & perfumes. I also ran a cleaning cycle through my washer using hot water and bleach.

Those of you that use the Sears detergent, do you think it will also remove any residue that may be on our clothes from the Tide? The bucket says to use 1 level scoop for HE washers. Do you usually use that amount or less? What about those with hard water?

I also have looked into CS and would like to hear from those with hard water on the results they get.

I haven't ruled out getting a new washer yet and am leaning toward an LG 0642, but for now I need to find something to use that will not contribute to more build up and mold in my Maytag.

Opinions and suggestions appreciated.


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I have hard water. Not quite as hard as yours, but definitely hard enough to pose problems for me. I have not tried the Sears either, but I know it has gotten good reviews here.

You have been using a liquid detergent up until now so the sears may help remove some of the stuff as most powder detergents have sodium carbonate. Sodium carbonate AKA washing soda has water softening properties and is a good degreaser. However, it may have a zeolite in it and that may build up in turn. Zeolites are suppose to replace phosphates for softening water, but I have read they can stick to clothing and washers and cause a build up problem. Not sure if this is true, just throwing it in there.

I have been using CS. It is actually pretty good. I usually add a little STPP with it for my heavily soiled clothes to boost the cleaning. However, my water is also chlorinated and the CS doesn't seem to counter act it, so I have had to use a different detergent for my nicer colored clothes. It's not the CS causing the slight fading. I know that is color safe as I have sprayed the Multi purpose cleaner directly on colored clothes with no color change, and it also says on their website it is safe to use on colors.

Your best bet is to try the Sears and see what happens. If you don't like can use it to mop the floors or something if the store won't take it back. If it does work, then problem solved. I would definitely recomend getting some type of water softener to add like TSP, STPP, or if you are worried about the phosphates in the two afore mentioned, get some Calgon Powder water softener.

My suggestions are the best I can make as I have not yet found the perfect detergent for me, although I have come close. My biggest issue was finding something that would clean well, protect my clothing, and make my clothes come out soft when line dried. The line drying part has been the biggest problem.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 12:35AM
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I started using the Sears Ultra Stain Fighting 6 months ago when I finally bought a FL. Before that I've been going to the laundry mat for 17 years and I always had trouble with stiff clothes when line drying. I now notice my clothes are really soft and clean smelling when I take them off the line. I firmly believe that it's because I'm using Sears, a low-sudsing detergent which has cleaned all the residue from my clothes, my own machine and an extra rinse. Didn't have those options at the laundry-mat. I only used a 1/2 scoop of detergent with my soft water and I use a little fabric softener too. With your hard water I would use a full scoop.

And for happymom with your line drying... I base my laundry days on the weather channel. I only line dry and when I switched to Sears detergent, after about a month, I noticed how soft my clothes felt when taking them off the line. It'll take time to get all the residue out of your clothes. I haven't tried CS only because I'm happy with Sears. I think anyone using a low-sudsing detergent consistantly will get the same results as CS.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 12:55PM
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I live in Southern California. I have bought the SEARS FREE & CLEAR powder for H.E wash machine. I have good results with the clothes. However I find with this brand you have to use 2 scoops for top-loader wash machine since i got to laundry mat. So right now I am saving the bucket until one day I get wash machine that may require H.E detergent.

For the price I pay seems seems expensive. I pay almost 20.00 for 150 loads. I noticed at Food 4 Less they have 150 load bucket for 10.00 so one day I may try that bright.

I like Sun Brand with Vanilla/Lavander

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 11:02PM
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I have used about everything there is. My water is extremely hard and I really like Charlie's Soap for my frontloader. My skin is very sensitive, so most of the commercial brands are just no good for me, even the 'free' versions. I think it is because the 'free' ones leave out the fragrance but still contain harsh chemicals.

With the Charlie's I sometimes add some STPP, as it helps a lot with the hardness, and my whites come out whiter. And my skin is happy!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 1:47AM
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Have you tried Whirlout for the mold problem? It's cheaper than the Affresh, and it seems to work as well. I have a Duet, so I can actually watch what's happening when I run the "clean washer" cycle. I read about the Whirlout in a post online from an LG repairman who said that even though the company makes a specific washer cleaner, the Whirlout works better for getting the moldy crud out of front loaders. I bought it at Home Depot, in the jacuzzi tub section. You put four tablespoons directly in the basket, then run your longest, hottest cycle if you don't have a "clean washer" cycle. Oh--run it empty! If you have a lot of buildup, you may have to run it twice. I would think that would be the first step, if you are battling mold.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 6:45PM
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Thanks for the suggestion of Whirlout. I have heard of it, but didn't know it would help remove mold too. I may have to give it a try.

Today I used some powdered ALL dishwasher detergent that I had. I put two tablespoons in where the detergent goes and ran a long cycle with hot water. I don't really know if this did any good or not. The mold is still on the rubber and I can still see quite a bit of build up in the crevice around the drum that I'm pretty sure is from fabric softener.

Maybe the Whirlout will help with this.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 10:50PM
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To get rid of mold, it makes sense that you have to eliminate what the mold is growing on. Then you have to make the environment less "friendly" to mold, so that it doesn't come back. I have heard of people using different things for cleaning front loaders, and one of them has been the dishwasher detergent. I haven't tried that, but my machine is just a few months old, and I'm doing the "clean washer" routine every month. I also frequently wash with hot water, use Charlie's Soap, and never use fabric softener. Let me know how the Whirlout works for you--I'm very curious!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 5:46PM
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renee b,

Is the Sears color safe, or will it protect colors in chlorinated water? If so that may be an option for me to use on my color washes when I can't use CS.

Someone else told me that the Tide HE powder may be okay too, but I would have to use vinegar in the rinse to remove the perfume as my skin is a lil sensitive.

Who would have thought doing laundry could get so complicated. LOL!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 9:19AM
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Hi Happymom,

Yes, I would say that the Sears detergent is color safe. I, too, have my water chlorinated with my water softening system. My DH works construction and sometimes I debate on just throwing the clothes out or try salvaging them. I've seen some impressive results with Sears so now I don't have to think about throwing his clothes away. I also wash my daughter's nursing scrubs and some of them are bright and colorful. I use cold water with the scrubs which, during the summertime is luke-warm and hang them out on the line too. I haven't seen any fading of the clothes however, I've only had my front loader and started using Sears detergent for the past 7 months. I'm sure if there was any fading going on, it would have happened my now.

As for your water being chlorinated, I asked my well digging contractor if any chlorine will be getting into the drinking water and especially doing laundry. He said no, that the carbon filter takes the chlorine out. I haven't tasted or smelled any on the clothes.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Renee B,

Thank you so much for responding. I ran out and got some yesturday afternoon after reading your response and tried it. It is wonderful. Cleaned the clothes and no suds left over in the rinse. I even threw a load in the drier (it's been raining here) without fabric softener and the load came out soft. Another plus is it is not so heavily perfumed where it sets off my allergies.

As for the chlorine, if you take a bath here, you can smell it. We don't have a whole house water filter or softener so that is where my concerns were stemming from. Also if you have been using it for 7 months and no fading, its good stuff. That's what sold me on it to get some. Most clothes will either fade in one to two washes at my house if there is nothing to protect the colors from the chlorine.

I am finally happy. I have my CS and now I have the Sears. No more excess suds, no worries about fading, and both are easy on our pocket book.

Once again, thank you soooooo much. It is greatly appreciated. : D

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 9:43AM
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You are so very welcome. Isn't this forum wonderful??? Alot of helpful people here. I'm very glad that you like the Sears detergent. And I agree about the scent of this detergent. That also hasn't changed since I was young. Same cleaning and same smell. 35-40 years ago when my Mom had a front loader, she used Sears detergent also, except in came in a huge box, no bucket and she always hung out her clothes on the line too. The neighbors always commented on how white her white clothes were. She always told them that it was because of the front loader and Sears detergent. She got the rest of the neighborhood using Sears too. LOL!!

What kind of machine do you have?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 11:32AM
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Happymom-What is STPP?-I use Charlie's soap and have hard water.Thanks

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 12:24PM
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