With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.
Keeping a home clean and pristine can be a challenge at the best of times. But, if you have hard water in your home, it can make the job far harder than it should be. Hard water contains elevated concentrations of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and even iron. Water is an effective solvent; it can dissolve many types of materials, including soil and rocks that it passes through. This mineral content is then added to the makeup of the water. The hard water minerals inhibit the formation of soap suds which makes them less effective when showering, bathing, and cleaning your home. Hard water is a very common problem, hardness is not removed at a water treatment plant, and a water softener is needed to make your water soft and easy to use. In this article, we will look at five common cleaning problems caused by hard water.
- Iron Staining
Although it’s not as common as calcium and magnesium, iron can still be a cause of hard water in certain areas. If you live in an area where there are large concentrations of iron, it’s likely that your groundwater is affected. In nature, you can see iron in water sources where the water has turned a rusty orange color. This is the same color that you will notice on your plumbing fixtures and maybe even on your laundry too. These reddish brown stains can be found in the toilet bowl and around the drains of your shower and tub. Cleaning these stains can be tricky, but that effort is wasted because they always return quickly. Fixing the underlying hard water and iron contamination problems is the only way to stop the stains from returning. If you have high concentrations of iron in your water, it doesn’t represent a health risk, but it can be a nuisance when you’re trying to keep your home clean.
- Soap Scum
If your home is supplied with hard water, it’s likely that your plumbing fixtures and bathroom tiles are hard to clean on a daily basis. As we mentioned in the introduction, the hard water minerals do not mix well with soap and detergent. In fact, these minerals actually react with soap to create soap scum which is a sticky substance that’s hard to clean. Soap scum is often found on tiled surfaces, faucets, shower curtains, in the sink, around the tub, and other locations. It’s impossible to get a really clean bathroom when you have soap scum that’s hard to clean away. Another disgusting aspect of soap scum is that it forms a breeding ground for bacteria that can affect your health. So, if you’re showering or bathing with soap scum, you’re not getting as clean as you may believe.
- Spotty Glasses and Dishes
A dishwasher can be a real time saver, but if your glasses and dishes are covered with dirty spots after washing, the culprit may be hard water. This is caused by the mineral content that’s left behind on the surfaces after the water has evaporated away. It’s tempting to rinse the dishes in water to remove the stains, but this isn’t effective because you’re still rinsing them in hard water. In fact, over time, you may notice that your glass and plastic surfaces become cloudy and streaky. This is permanent; the hard water has effectively etched those surfaces and ruined them. If you care about your glassware, dishes, and plastic containers, it makes sense to switch to soft water.
- Poor Laundry Results
Hard water inhibits the effectiveness of soap and detergent, and this will result in poor laundry results. The cleaning power of your detergent is reduced, and the washer may need a longer and hotter cycle. Even after these efforts, the fabrics may not be clean, and they often look dull. This is because the mineral content is left behind on the fibers after the fabrics have dried, causing damage. Soap scum can also be found on the fabric, which makes your whites less bright and the colors seem duller. When you wash towels in hard water, they are less able to absorb water, and they may feel scratchy on the surface of your skin.
- Wasting Time and Money
Just writing about all this cleaning is exhausting, and the worst part about it is that the underlying problems simply return again and again. When you clean your home regularly, it’s natural to want the results to reflect the hard work that you put into the process. Using hard water with cleaning products makes them less effective, and in an attempt to compensate, people add more soap or detergent. Sadly, this is ineffective. It creates more soap scum and wastes money on more cleaning products. Over an average year, this can really add up, and a study found that a dishwasher using soft water needed around 30% less detergent! Another aspect of hard water is that it creates scale inside your water using appliances that make them less efficient. You may notice that cleaning cycles need to be longer and temperatures set higher. This causes the equipment to be overworked, which can lead to more frequent repairs and an earlier than expected replacement. When you use less energy to run your water heater, dishwasher, and washer, you will have a lower energy bill too.
Switching to Soft Water
When you clean with soft water, you will notice that soap suds are easily created, and you need less soap and detergent to get superior cleaning results. Soft water will make your clothes seem brighter, and your towels will feel fluffier. As you clean with soft water, you will notice that soap scum isn’t created, and this will make the process far easier. Emptying the dishwasher will be a joy, and you can protect your glassware and dishes from permanent etching. Washing cycles can be shorter and cooler, which will lower your energy bill. Given the advantages, installing a water softener starts to look like a real bargain.
If you want to install a water softener in your home, contact your local water treatment specialist today.