The Cure for Hard Water

Posted 07-31-2014 at 01:30 PM by toneylarson

Housework: young woman doing laundry

I recently wrote an article here about my woes with my cloth diapers in a hard water location, namely the entire state of Utah. Since I had recently moved, I had not yet found the way to clean my cloth diapers and hoped that someone would be able to give me the answer since my research had not found anything that worked. After talking with my sister-in-law, who works at a cloth diaper store, and consulting with many other cloth diapering mothers, I have found what worked for us – Tide original powder and Calgon.

Calgon is a liquid water softener found in the laundry aisle in Walmart. I haven’t found it anywhere else besides online. Calgon contains the active ingredients zeolite and polycarboxylate, which interact with the hard water ions in water to prevent them from forming limescale or interfering with soap lathering. The bottle says that it can also be used as a laundry enhancer, making whites more white and all that jazz. I’m not as fussed about those benefits, but I thought it would be nice if it helped my laundry be better overall.

I started off with a strip where I did a cold rinse to remove all the icky stuff and then added one tablespoon of Blue Dawn Original dish soap and did a series of hot washes until all the bubbles were gone, which took all day. I used a capful of Calgon with every wash. When I was done with the strip, I did one more wash using the Tide Original powder, then threw them all in the dryer for a low heat spin. And VIOLA! It worked.

What surprised me was how wonderful and beautiful my diapers were again. It had been so long (or felt that way) since I had nice smelling, absorbent, fresh diapers that I had almost forgotten they were supposed to work that way. My daughter doesn’t cry when she wets anymore and it doesn’t stink when she soils the diaper. I was even surprised when I did a routine diaper change to find a big stinky mess because I hadn’t smelled it at all! Her bottom is quickly healing from the rash caused by the hard water with no additional cream or salves and I keep resisting the urge to snuggle with the inserts that are now so soft and fresh! Weird, I know.

I am now trying to wash my diapers starting with a cold rinse with a capful of Calgon and then a hot wash with Tide Original powder and a capful of Calgon. Hopefully the long term will continue to be as successful as the short term strip was.

This might not work for everyone, but out of all the things I tried, including increasing my detergent, removing rinses, changing detergents, and stripping over and over again, this one was 100% successful for us.

If you have dealt with hard water, what has worked for you?

Filed Under: Cloth Diapering, General

Comments

2 Responses to “The Cure for Hard Water”

  1. skester88 on July 31st, 2014 11:46 pm


    Did you find that calgone worked for iron??? I have a horrible iron problem and calgone was recommended to me and I have yet to try it.

  2. Amissa on August 1st, 2014 8:57 am


    I too have hard water and after using too little detergent, the barnyard stink set in. Recently I had started using Borax with my diaper laundry and while the inserts seemed a bit whiter, the stink remained. I researched laundry science and hard water to get a basic scientific understanding of what was happening. To make it more complicated, I have a HE front loading washer.

    Bear in mind, I did this yesterday, so this worked to get the stink out, but I’m still going to tweak my routine to keep it at bay. I washed with a whole packet of RLR Laundry Treatment sprinkled on 15 diapers, 15 inserts, a couple of cloth wipes and a pail liner in the drum. The detergent dish was loaded with regular powder Tide filled to line 3 (instead of line 2 as was my routine) and a 1/2 cup of Borax. The heavy duty cycle washed on hot with one cold rinse – no pre-wash, no extra rinse. They smelled much better, but there was still a lingering odor on which I couldn’t pin down. Detergent? Barnyard? I ran a quick wash (29 minutes) on hot, no rinse. No smell of any kind! Yay!

    My plan is to continue with Tide to line 3, 1/2C Borax on a hot wash, maybe an extra rinse and use RLR once a week. I will also begin smelling the diapers before drying them – I’m on my guard now!

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Leave Your Comment Join Diaper Swappers or login to comment!