Sunday, December 27, 2009

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Living With Hard Water

When my family and I moved this past fall, we not only left behind our first home, but our water softener as well. The first week or so that we were living in our new place (a rental – so we can’t add a softener), I noticed my hair wasn’t getting as clean as it used to. Even after washing it, it was feeling rather greasy and not so clean. It donned on me that we must have hard water and I wasn’t using enough shampoo to get it clean. As I began to think about it, I realized if my hair wasn’t getting clean using the amount of soap I was accustomed to using, then my diapers probably weren’t getting clean either. I had noticed they were beginning to smell a bit when I put them up to my nose; but just chalked that up to needing to soak the inserts in Bac-Out overnight to kill any lingering bacteria. (NOTE: I never use Bac-Out on my pockets – only my microfiber inserts.) I knew that using Bac-Out on the inserts would solve the stinky problem at hand, but would not address the hard water problem, so I began looking for other solutions.

I knew I needed to begin using more detergent at fluff wash time, but I also needed to restore my diapers to a clean, fresh smelling state. I started using 3-4 tbs of Rockin' Green with each load of diapers, but didn’t like the idea of having to use so much detergent when I was used to using only 1 tablespoon. After doing a little research on washing diapers in hard water I noticed on the flyer from a recent Kelly’s Closet order that they recommend using Calgon water softener. I also read Calgon, when used alone (no detergent), can be used to strip diapers (just wash your diapers 3-4 times in hot water with Calgon only). I figured this was a relatively easy, fool-proof way to strip my diapers, so I headed out to the store to buy some Calgon.

I searched high and low for the Calgon water softener in the laundry aisle, and it wasn’t until my second trip to the store a week later that I finally found it. I picked up a bottle and got to work stripping my diapers a few days later. I have a rather large stash of diapers, so I broke it down into three smaller more manageable loads. I wanted to make sure my washing machine wasn’t overloaded, and drying too many diapers at once just takes too long. Since I wasn’t sure if I needed to dry the diapers between loads I just washed the diapers at the same time as other laundry so I could alternate the washer and dryer without feeling like I was wasting time. I used a capful of Calgon with an extra large hot wash, followed by an additional cold rinse, dried the diapers on medium heat and repeated the process three times. (If it hadn’t been raining, I probably would have put them on the line to dry and get some sun for the final drying.) I was pleasantly surprised when my diapers came out of the dryer for the last time smelling fresh.

It’s been a week since I stripped my diaper stash and I’ve finally got things back under control (hopefully). I am now washing my diapers every 2-3 days; I start with a cold water wash without detergent, followed by a hot water wash using 1 cap full of Calgon and 2 tbs of Rockin’ Green, and 1 additional rinse. Although I think I’ve got this hard water fluff wash under control, I can’t wait to get a water softener again once we buy a house here. Why would anyone want to live with hard water when you don’t have to?!?

By Katrina W.

16 comments:

Annie said...

Thank you for this post! I too have hard water and Tweeted to the maker of Rockin Green about my dipes smelling. I have used Calgon before but it gets expensive after awhile. Thankfully there is a Hard Rock in the works and sometime in the future I can't wait to use it.

Hard water is such a pain isn't it?

Brena said...

We have hard water too. It's awful! I cant wait to try Rockin Green's hard water formula (hopefully it's available sooner rather than later!)

Star said...

I've been having a lot of problems with this issue and I was just wondering if you have a front loader or top. I finally gave up and got some Tide to try. I've only used it a couple times now, but it seems to be taking care of the problem.

Megan said...

We have hard water too, and it was hard to get a good wash routine figured out - our diapers always came out smelly. So glad we got it all worked out!

fancygrlnancy said...

WE also moved to a hard water home a few months back, but lucky it came with the water softner. But I now have to remember to put the salt in. NOt used to that part yet.

Jenney said...

This was a VERY helpful post for me. We too have hard water and I have tried several methods of stripping. I will have to add Calgon to my list of "must haves" next grocery day.

Michelle said...

I've got hard water problems too...the ONLY thing that finally worked was some bleach soakings. NOw that I've knocked out the smell I'll try this better method.

Delanea said...

We have hard water from a shallow dug well and an HE washer. The only thing that works for our diapers is NaturOli soap nuts (18x concentrated liquid or just soap nuts) and Calgon. I also had success with Tiny Bubbles and Calgon, but I prefer the soap nuts.

Arizona Girl said...

I'm going to have to try this. We have hard water too.

bubu mama said...

I am new to CDing and I've been having stink issues. I live in AZ, so I'm pretty sure its the hard water. I just bought some Calgon to try out your method. I hope it helps. Thank you.

KaraD said...

I've changed to Charlie's Soap powder rather than the liquid and have been adding water softner powder (I can't find Calgon locally). My microfiber was feeling really rough and not very fluffy before using the water softner. Now they seem to be getting better each wash. I have a front-loader and I think it really doesn't use quite enough water for diapers.

KaraD

!♣!F®om †he In§ide ou‡!♣! said...

I'm still researching about cloth diapers....just wondered if I would need to use Calgon in the city? I really don't like all the chemicals in our water, which is why I refill some gallon jugs at Culligan, and have noticed even our clothes are stiff. How will this all affect cloth diapers if I were to switch? I'm getting a little overwhelmed..lol..

Lil Mouse said...

I'm worried about moving (again) and relearning our CD'ing washing routine with our own washer and dryer. It's an adjustment every time, but hopefully we will move to our new house for the last move! Yeah!

Crystal said...

Thanks for posting this! We had hard water before, but we just moved to a new house with even harder water. :-P We may get a water softener at some point, but it's not in the budget yet, so I have to learn to deal with the hard water and dipe washing. I tried your method of stripping the diapers with a little calgon in each cycle, and, although I didn't dry between cycles, it worked wonders on my diapers! Staining that I thought was permanent came right out and my DD's rash that I had been dealing with for weeks went away! I use charlies soap because I bought a 5 gal bucket of it to start out with, but I may try rockin green sometime soon.
aboverubies15 at yahoo dot com

Cloth Diaperer Extraordinaire said...

Star: I'm not sure what types of diapers you use but most manufacturers do not approve the use of Tide - more oftentimes than not you'll end up with a residue problem from the Tide...

From the Inside Out: Hard water can complicate your washing routine with cloth diapers - however, the level of hardness of your water will vary (for instance some areas will have harder water than others - where I live it's as bad as it can get). Here's another post about hard water from last year if you want to refer to this one.

Ultimately so long as you find a good detergent and wash your diapers regular and do a periodic disinfecting then you should be okay.

I hope this helps!
-Serena

Viluc said...

I living in the desert and have this problem but its great to hear a new way to clean cloth diaper in harsh water. I am going to start cloth diapering for the first time and its good to know alternatives I can use for this problem.
Thank you!
Wish me luck!