When high-efficiency (HE) laundry washers were introduced a few years back, many consumers suddenly began paying more attention to the laundry soap they were buying. High efficiency machine manufacturers warned that using “regular” laundry soap rather than an “HE detergent” could void the machine’s warranty.
So what about a water softener system? Does it matter what type of soap is used after a water softener or conditioner is installed?
Why Hard Water Requires More Soap
Prior to the installation of a water softener, hard water probably made it difficult for you to get much of a suds. Hard water is known to complicate soap and detergent dissolving in water.
In fact, you may remember dumping a big scoop of laundry detergent into a top-loading washer and waiting…only to see very few suds form. That’s because nearly twice the amount of soap must be used with hard water to achieve the same results as when operating with softened water.
The minerals that make water “hard” (calcium and magnesium) interfere with the cleaning action of soap. Soap is attracted to these hardness minerals and that is why soap produces fewer suds and is less effective in hard water.
Hard water also makes it difficult to rinse soap from clothing. You may have noticed some of your clothes coming out of the laundry process feeling stiff or looking dingy. Yes, hard water limescale is clinging or adhering to that favorite pair of jeans! Washing clothes in soft water means you’ll not only need less soap to get your clothes clean, but also will be able to completely rinse the soap out of your clothing.
What Type of Soap Should I Use with a Water Softener?
If you’ve recently installed a water softener (by the way, you’ve made a great choice—congratulations), you should try to use as pure a soap as possible. Softened water actually maximizes the effectiveness of soaps and detergents. We recommend you use clear liquid soaps that are free of perfumes and dyes.
Many soap manufacturers assume their products are being used with hard water and add water softening agents and fillers to soaps, shampoos and detergents. This means that you’re paying for a filler or additive that you don’t need–and you’ll get a lot more for your money by purchasing pure soaps. A variety of online sites sell pure soaps and detergents, or there are many soap making do-it-yourself sites, if you’re feeling ambitious.
Softened water has the ability to remedy “hard water” problems.
Claims such as “softened water can save you money” were put to the test in an independent study funded by the Water Quality Research Council.* The study found that consumers can cut back on laundry detergents by 50 percent and reduce dishwashing soap by 70 percent when washing with soft water.
And when it comes to laundry stain removal, the study showed significant cost savings in energy expenses as washing machine temperatures were lowered from hot to cold and still maintained the same stain removal efficacy–when washing with softened water.
You’ll also find that with softened water, you can use less shampoo to create even greater lather and there’s no longer a need to buy “rinsing agents” for spot-free glasses and dishes!
Not sure if you have hard water? Our authorized WaterTech dealers can provide you with a free water test and help you understand the available water treatment solutions. Give them a call!
*The Detergent Savings Study was conducted in 2010 in conjunction with Scientific Services S/D, Inc. and funded by the Water Quality Research Foundation.