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No You Don't Have To Check Your Water Hardness

No You Don't Have To Check Your Water Hardness

Rant coming: Why on earth do cloth diaper groups keep telling poor frustrated mothers to check their water hardness to solve diaper washing problems?  I mean, if it sounds ridiculous it probably is.  You don't have to take a water sample to a pet store to have them test it, you don't have to buy water hardness test strips at a hardware store and really it doesn't matter that much what your water is.  

Why not?

Because if you live in a city in North America (Canada or USA), nine times out of ten your water is hard.  That's it, that's all.  And you know what?  Detergent companies already know this and accommodate for it in the ingredients of the detergent you're probably already using. 

If you end up with rashes, smells or ammonia and you were using a plant based, soap based, soap nut or homemade laundry powder then that is likely the root of your washing issues, not your water hardness. 

There are two small exceptions to this.

1) If you like on a farm or in a rural area on a well, then you might legitimately have hard water.  Why? Because your water isn't going through a water treatment facility like city water.  If you are on a hard water well, you likely already know it because your well water causes mineral buildup on taps and bathtubs, dish soap and shampoo won't foam well.  In these circumstances you likely have a water softener installed in your home in which case you water becomes more like city water. If this is you and you don't have a water softener, add a little extra detergent to your wash. 

2) Again, if you live on a farm or in a rural area on a well and your water is soft - either naturally or because you have a water softener that's overcompensating, then we adjust slightly for this too by using less detergent.  You'll know your water is soft if you get tons of bubbles with only a tiny amount of dish soap or shampoo in your daily activities. 

Otherwise, for the vast majority of people who are using and washing cloth diapers at home, use a real detergent found in any grocery store.  Do a pre-wash or first wash with either no detergent or a very small amount followed by a long hot heavy duty wash with the amount of detergent specified on the package for the size of your load. 

If you do end up with washing troubles and you need some pointers, your first stop shouldn't be a facebook group.  Contact the customer support of the brand of diapers you have.  For example, Thirsties, Kanga Care and Esembly have a washing expert ON STAFF that can help you adjust your washing routine for free.  

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