The Truth About Hard Water

Posted 06-13-2014 at 10:57 AM by toneylarson


It sucks.

How do I know we have it? I don’t. It’s what people tell me when I say the dishwasher leaves spots all over my dishes. But now I know the great evil that is hard water because my daughter has a diaper rash. WHAT? How could a cloth diapered, adorable baby have a diaper rash that won’t go away with all-natural creams, healthy diet changes, and teething remedies? Hard water. That’s how.

For all I know, I grew up with hard water. I couldn’t tell you the difference. But I do know that the house we just moved from and the house we now live in have very different water.

As any cloth diaperer discovers, every-so-often the diapers need to be stripped or deep cleaned to get out residues left from detergents, oils, and the ammonia smell that can occur. In our last home, we did it every couple of months with Blue Dawn Original detergent and an Oxyclean soak to knock out that ammonia.  It’s always been successful. We use a detergent for everyday use that is made out of equal parts Oxyclean, washing powder, and baking soda that hasn’t given us any trouble. We were careful not to use too much to avoid build up and I was quite proud of our routine. Then we moved.

Within a couple of months, our diapers weren’t doing so hot. Time to strip, I thought as I pulled out the Blue Dawn. In our last house, a strip would last all day. You have to rinse all the dish soap out and it was done when it stopped making bubbles. Here it stopped within one or two rinses. I thought that was odd, but stuck to my tried and true routine. Oxyclean soak, rinse, and then a nice, low heat tumble dry.

But for some reason, my daughter’s rash was getting worse. I didn’t understand the problem. We’d stripped the diapers and tried everything else, even yeast cream. What was the problem? Our diapers still smelled when they got wet, so we stripped them again. It still didn’t work!

That is when my husband and I learned about hard water. Hard water is when the water has more minerals in it. The pros? It tastes better and may have more health benefits than soft water. The cons? It can wear out plumbing faster and make soap less efficient. So spotty dishes, stinky diapers, and more shampoo in the showers.

So we did another strip using twice as much Dawn and more Oxyclean, but they’re still not working the way they need to. They aren’t absorbing water, which could be a build up from the minerals in the water itself, which is why my baby’s bottom is so bad.

We did a little research and some people recommend Calgon or RLR and doubling the soap all around, or maybe washing with white distilled vinegar, but I’m afraid to try it since my diapers are already taking a beating from the hard water and persistent buildup.

Has anyone else experienced this with hard water? What did you try?

Filed Under: Cloth Diapering


3 Responses to “The Truth About Hard Water”

  1. thetysonfamily on June 13th, 2014 11:58 am

    Reading this stuff makes me so sad…I am sure this mama is sincere as can be, but is misinformed. I don’t know when the crazy advice started, but I have cloth diapered for twelve years, in different countries and in all different water types, and I have never used Dawn to “strip” diapers. (Hard water just means you need more detergent to get diapers clean since the minerals are bonding to the detergent, too.) I can’t imagine how much water that must take to wash out and how bad that may be for the washing machine! Stripping diapers actually means they’re not getting clean in the first place. Diaper laundry is just that…reaaaally dirty laundry. It takes lots of good detergent and not letting diapers sit for more than a day or two so bacteria doesn’t multiply like crazy. If you have stinky diapers, you probably need to use a disinfectant like regular bleach in the wash so you can kill the bacteria causing the stink. I hope this helps someone! <3

  2. 247mom on June 14th, 2014 2:42 pm

    Most important thing to remember with hard water is DO NOT DO EXTRA RINSES after washing! This solved all the issues I’ve ever had with my wash routine!!

  3. lomelindi on June 14th, 2014 11:16 pm

    Darn, I was hoping to get some advice! LOL! We have well water and it’s extremely hard–you can taste the minerals, mostly iron and calcium (but not a bioavailable form so it’s not as good for us as it sounds). We get huge amounts of residue in the teapot if the water is boiled. I’ve never been successful using cloth diapers living here. I’m glad we’re moving soon so I can try using cloth again!

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