Do you live in an area with hard water or soft water? If you know the answer we will give you some tips on how to use your detergent in hard water or soft water. If you don't know the answer, we will also show you what type of water will be in your region.

In this article you will learn not only about the difference between hard water and soft water but also how you can use detergent in different types of water without wasting quantity.

Water hardness: what does it consist of?

The hardness of water, according to EPAL – Grupo de Águas de Portugal , is related to the fact that there are calcium and magnesium salts that dissolve when they come into contact with rocks. Therefore, you are in the presence of hard water when these salts are present in large quantities.

But this hardness can be temporary or permanent, you know? According to EPAL, it depends on the composition:

  • Temporary hardness: can be eliminated by boiling water and derives from the presence of carbonates and bicarbonates
  • Permanent hardness: composed of nitrates, chlorides and sulfates that are not eliminated when boiling water

In the following table you can see the classification of water hardness, according to its composition.

Table showing the degree of water hardness

The hardness of water varies according to the geology of the land it comes into contact with and, therefore, hard water exists mainly in limestone areas.

And how do you know you are in the presence of this type of water?

Although it is not possible to look at the water and understand if it is hard, there are some signs that you can notice:

  • Cups or cutlery with small “stains” due to small deposits of calcium carbonate;
  • Clothing: may also have small stains;
  • Lower water pressure when it comes out of the tap: mineral deposits in pipes can reduce water flow.

Furthermore, soap, shampoo or detergent in hard water are difficult to dissolve. Furthermore, if you have more limescale you may be in a place with hard water, so you should pay special attention to plumbing, washing machines and dishwashers, irons and even taps or showers.

According to EPAL, “the presence of calcium and magnesium salts in water does not represent a risk to health, being both essential and beneficial, and may even protect humans from some diseases.”

In addition to this advantage for humans, water hardness can also have a positive effect on the aquatic environment as it reduces the toxicity of metallic ions such as lead, chromium and zinc.

What about soft waters?

Soft waters do not have levels of calcium and magnesium but rather a concentration of sodium and salt. So, when you live in an area with soft water you notice that:

  • The foam is “healthier” and more abundant;
  • Stain-free and less worn-out clothes;
  • Normal water pressure.

In the following chart from the Water and Waste Services Regulatory Authority (ERSAR) you can check whether your Municipality has hard water or soft water.

ERSAR. “data obtained from water quality control carried out in 2015.”

How does the type of water influence detergent use?

In areas with high water hardness, the minerals that make up the water can leave the fabrics of your clothes more damaged by accumulating in them.

Some of the problems you may encounter are:

  • Dirty or rough fabrics;
  • Accumulated dirt;
  • Weaker tissues;
  • White or gray spots.

These problems, arising from the fact that water does not dissolve easily with detergent, mean that each American family spends around 500 dollars on laundry per year (including electricity and supplementary products).

It is important to note that the ingredients in powder detergents bind to the minerals in the water instead of cleaning the clothes. In these cases, it involves much more use of detergent as well as a higher temperature than normal for effective cleaning.

Therefore, to avoid large amounts of unnecessary detergent and an increase in the use of light (with the need to increase the washing temperature) the solution is to use liquid detergents when washing your clothes. This is explained by the fact that detergents have non-ionic surfactants that are resistant to water hardness.

So how much hard water and soft water detergent should you use?

EcoX detergents include ingredients that “soften” the water and, in this way, prevent several of the problems mentioned above from appearing. However, the quantities for the two types of water are different:

Hard water: you should add between 15 and 25mL of detergent per kg of dry clothes

Soft water: you should add between 8 and 15 mL of detergent per kg of dry clothes

To avoid the accumulation of minerals or even fungi and bacteria that can accumulate over time, you should wash your washing machine regularly, according to the manufacturer's specifications. We tell you how you can do it in an ecological way here.

Do you know how you can increase the lifespan of your clothes?

In addition to removing stains from your clothes, you can also extend their life with bleach.

Natural percarbonate-based whiteners that help restore the original appearance of many fabrics and remove different types of stains. Unlike other more commercial bleach-based laundry whiteners, which wear down fabric fibers, or optical brighteners that only give the sensation of cleanliness and whiteness to our eyes.

Author: Daniela Matos