Hard Water Washing Woes? Have you tried Calgon?

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They say one of the first steps is admitting you have a problem… Well… I have hard water. Do you? What is hard water anyway? How do you know you have it? Wikipedia states that approximately 85% of the households in the United States have hard water. Hard water just means that it has high mineral content. It isn’t harmful, just a nuisance for getting laundry clean.

A super easy way to know if you have hard water is if your dishes are spotted after they dry. Hard water also leaves a soap scum film on showers and sinks. You can buy a water test kit at your local hardware store if you are wondering exactly where your water falls. Basically, soap doesn’t work as efficiently in hard water and is also harder to rinse out.

**Those with soft water can use vinegar to help with washing woes. But beware; if you have hard water, vinegar could make your problems WORSE. The vinegar can react with minerals in your hard water and cause yellowing and stink issues!

Calgon

Calgon is a water softener that promises to help make your laundry whiter and brighter and will get laundry cleaner than detergent alone… It says so right on the label. Ha ha!

I know you are wondering how can Calgon solve your cloth diaper laundry issues. It works because it removes the hard water minerals from your water allowing the detergent to more effectively to clean your diapers. Because the water will be softer, the detergent will rinse more effectively as well.

I have used Calgon off and on since I started cloth diapering. The loads I use Calgon in do seem to come out fresher and somewhat softer than usual. I use the same amount of detergent that I normally use, but it looks soapier using the Calgon. Which makes me FEEL like everything is getting cleaner, but that part is really just in my head.

Calgon can be used to strip cloth of detergent and mineral build-up. Throw everything in minus the covers and do a few HOT rinses with a capful of Calgon in each rinse cycle.

Like anything else, adding something to your wash routine will add to the cost of doing laundry. However, for those with issues the added expense may be worth it. Cleaner diapers with less buildup means less chance of rashes and more of a chance of keeping our sanity. I know that when I start to have laundry issues, it can drive me nuts trying to figure out how to fix them!

Calgon in the liquid version can be purchased in any grocery store’s laundry section. The powder version seems to be a little harder to find. Amazon stocks a reasonably priced 2-pack of the powdered Calgon.

If you have hard water, give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how fresh you cloth diapers come out! I haven’t been able to find a cheaper substitute for Calgon. Anyone know of any other substitute like it (not vinegar)?

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About Jennifer Reinhardt

Jennifer is a 33 year old SAHM to one beautiful little girl named Sophia. She closed her business, Curves, when she found out she was pregnant so she could stay home with her. Jennifer fell in love with cloth diapers even before Sophia was born and searches for ways every day to share the love!

View all posts by Jennifer Reinhardt

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16 Responses to “Hard Water Washing Woes? Have you tried Calgon?”

  1. Shauna Says:

    I have a front load he washer, I use tide powder for my cloth diapers and have hard water. Is there a way to add liquid calgon to the wash cycle with the tide powder?

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      You put your detergent in the usual spot and then add about a Teaspoon of Calgon on top of it. The water will rinse all of it out at the same time. You could create too many bubbles if you use too much in a HE front loader. If you need more you could always add it in tiny amounts in the next wash in addition to the original teaspoon you originally did.

      Reply

  2. Evin Says:

    I have recently found I really need to use Calgon and not just occasionally. Sigh. Somehow the old Tide Free and Clear didn’t always need it in my water, but I can’t find a detergent that doesn’t now. Is there ANY thing like Calgon that doesn’t have the awful fragrances added?

    (p.s. on warm rinses, I got my plumber to connect the hot and cold inputs to the washing machine with a valve and put a valve on the cold input. Now I can turn off the cold, open the valve between hot and cold and presto, hot wash AND hot rinse).

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      I haven’t found ANY other alternative to calgon for hard water. People use vinegar. But in some hard water it can cause stink and yellowing. I have this problem as well, I add oxiclean free to every load myself.

      Reply

  3. Bethany Says:

    I use pockets, I was wondering if I’m not supposed to use it on the shells? Also, I have a top loading HE washer, so I use less soap, should I use less calgon? (I currently use original Tide powder)

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Bethany, It is fine to use on shells. You can play with the amount of Calgon. Start with just a small amount, maybe a quarter capful. You can always add more if you need.

      Reply

  4. Mariah Says:

    How much Calgon do I need to use per load? I have hard well water and my stores only carry the powder Calgon, I’ve never seen the liquid. Also, I do a cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse…. Do you recommend using Calgon each time? I use liquid 7th generation detergent. Thank you!

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Mariah, I have used the powder version as well. I believe it says right on the box. I am going from memory but maybe 1/4-1/2 cup. I only add it to the wash cycle, the one with detergent. It will help the detergent work more effectively. I don’t think it is necessary to use it in the rinses.

      Reply

  5. Ashley Says:

    I use Rock’n Green Hard Rock detergent, which is especially for hard water. Are additional water softeners necessary?

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Ashley, only if you find that it is not working. If you have no problems, then nothing additional is needed.

      Reply

  6. Julie Says:

    I’ve tried it. It did nothing. :( The only thing that helps is adding extra hot water to the wash and a switch in my detergent. I now use one of the more “natural” costco brands. It didn’t completely fix the problem but it’s much better.

    Reply

  7. Donna Says:

    I figured out the hard way that calgon was a must in my wash. I had horrible mineral build up, major ammonia issues and stink. I stripped with bleach and started using calgon and tide and have not had issues since.

    Reply

  8. Shannah Says:

    We are battling issues caused by hard water now, stink and diaper rash. I have switched back to Tide and I have ordered some Mighty Bubbles to strip my diapers with becauae rlr didn’t work. I have not been able to find Calgon anywhere, but I was able to order the 32oz liquid for around $5 from walmart.com and shipping to the store is free. Amazon sells the same size bottle for $18 plus shipping which I think is way too much.

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      That’s right Shannah, the liquid is easily found in most stores. But the powder, which doesn’t seem to be anywhere is about $18 for two boxes on Amazon.

      Reply

  9. Gretchen Says:

    My washer doesn’t allow for hot rinses only warm. Do you suggest I do a couple of full cycles with hot water?

    Reply

    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Gretchen, that would work too! So to strip buildup, just run that instead with the calgon and no detergent. Make-sure the inserts are clean first though.

      Reply

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