Water dripping from a pipe.

The ultimate guide to washing clothes in hard water

Think you’re living in a hard water area? It’s not always easy to tell, but your clothes can probably give you some clues. If your clean laundry feels a bit crispy to the touch, if your laundry detergent doesn’t bubble up the way it should, or if you find whitish stains on your garments with no cause in sight, chances are you’re washing clothes in hard water. Luckily, all these problems have an easy solution: here’s the lowdown on hard water washing.


What is hard water, and why does it leave hard water deposits? 

Sometimes, water needs to travel quite a way before it gets to your home. If it flows over certain rock types, it can pick up some of their natural, harmless minerals. So hard water is just mineral-rich water: perfectly safe to drink and wash with. 

The only real issue is that when hard water evaporates, it leaves those minerals behind, creating whitish hard water deposits known as limescale. These deposits tend to build up on taps, surfaces, and any appliances that use water, like washing machines. So if you’re washing your clothes in hard water, you might find mysterious whitish stains on those, too. Finally, hard water can also make your laundry detergent less effective, since it doesn’t lather easily.


Washing clothes in hard water? 4 tips for the best results

If all that sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. There are easy ways around the problems caused by hard water:

  1. Use a high quality laundry soap for hard water. You can use Surf excel laundry detergent for hard water – or soft water – washes with no problems.
  2. Adapt the dosage. When you’re washing clothes in hard water, the laundry detergent dosage always needs to be slightly higher to make sure that a proper lather can happen. Check the packaging on your chosen detergent to find the right amount to use. 
  3. Look into water softeners. Available in liquid and tablet form, a water softener could keep hard water deposits away from your washing machine and let you use less detergent. All you need to do is pop the water softener into the detergent drawer before you add the detergent.
  4. Get a water filter. Investing in a water filter could help to sift out minerals, keeping your washing machine safe from a build-up of limescale. This means you’re less likely to find hard water deposits on your clothes, and your washing machine could have a longer lifespan, too. For more tips on looking after your washing machine, check out our maintenance guides here.


Even if you’re washing clothes in hard water, you can still get great results. Just give these tips a try!

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