by maipham

November 1, 2022

how to Wash cloth diapers with hard water

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You know how wearing a sanitary napkin is like.

Hot, sweaty, and smelly. You hate it and don't want it for your baby. 

Your baby's skin is too sensitive to wear a disposable diaper all day long. So you opt for some cloth diapers, hoping that your baby's butt gets some air for a few hours a day. 

Then a few days go by, you notice something odd. 

The cloth diapers stiffen only after a few times, rubbing against your baby's skin and causing diaper rash. They even become gray, yellow, and look dirty. 

What happens? 

Isn't cloth diaper the best solution for baby butt? 

Why does your cloth diaper cause diaper rash to your little one? 

Well, maybe it's not the cloth diaper. Maybe you are dealing with a hard water situation. Or more accurately, your hard water causes all those troubles to the cloth diaper. 

You can't change the water source. So how do you do it? Do you have to toss away the cloth diapers for good? 

Turns out, you don't have to. 

You still can wash cloth diapers in hard water. 

Only if you know how. 

In this article, I will show you how to wash cloth diapers in hard water, and say goodbye to the cloth diaper rash forever.

Ready? Let's dive in. 

What is hard water? 

According to Wikipedia, Hard water is water that has high mineral content (in contrast with "soft water"). Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone, chalk, or gypsum[1] which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates, and sulfates.

In other words, The hardness of water is determined primarily by the amount of calcium and magnesium it contains. The higher levels of these and other minerals, the harder the water becomes. 

Why laundry and hard water don't mix? 

The mineral content in hard water prevents water from mixing with detergent. As a result, soap is unable to lather effectively and soap scum is left between the fabric fibers, which creates a chalky and streaky substance.

It also makes the clothes feel dirty and stiffens them, attracting more and more dirt than before.

When being washed with hard water for a while, the colors in dark clothes will fade, while the white clothes will turn gray.

With our most sensitive items, ie.,  cloth diapers, instead of returning a clean and soft fabric after wash, the stain is still there and the color turns dark. Imagine the cloth diapers have some contact with your baby’s poopy, and then come out of the washer with a yellow stain!

Testing if you have hard water

You don’t need a lab, wearing a big pair of glasses or a blouse to test the hardness of your water. You don’t even need to buy anything. Of course, there are some test kits in the market but you can easily make one from home.

All you need is a clean, empty bottle with a cap or anything that can hold some water and some soap (liquid soap is ideal).

Fill the bottle one-third full, add a few drops of pure liquid soap and shake vigorously for a few seconds. 

Then look at the bottle.

If there is a lack of bubbles and the water is cloudy or milky, then your water is hard. If there are a lot of bubbles and the water remains transparent and clear, then your water is soft.

You can always purchase a test kit, which also tells you the hardness level of your water.

How to wash cloth diapers with hard water

How to wash cloth diapers in hard water?

Finding out the hardness level of your water doesn’t mean you shrug your shoulders and try to live with it. Especially when you or your baby suffers from hard water.

So how to wash cloth diapers in hard water? From the cheapest, easiest to the more complex solutions.

The cheapest solution: do nothing

Yes, hard water does a little damage to your clothes and your baby’s clothes. But that is it. No one suffers from skin irritation or diaper rash. Or no one needs to wear clothes looking like they come out from the spring collections! Then, that’s fine. Leave it like it is.

However, though, you will notice that the fabric colors change quickly and you might have to buy new clothes more often (or, of course, just wear the old stained ones until they are worn out!).

The next to the cheapest solution: shifting from powder detergent to liquid detergent

In hard water, most of the ingredients in any powder detergent are attached to the minerals in the water rather than cleaning the clothes. On average you need to use up to 30 percent more detergent at a higher water temperature than usual to clean the clothes. Having to use more detergent is expensive and higher water temperatures can damage clothes and costs more money in energy bills.

Therefore, the next step is to change from powder to liquid detergent. Liquid detergent contains some components that are resistant to hard water. 

Use a combination of liquid detergent, borax and hot water

If your water is way too hard, you will see that using liquid detergent doesn’t do the job. In this case, you can use borax for your washing process. Borax softens the hard water. 

If the liquid detergent and borax are not good enough, change the water temperature to create a full hit combo. 

Get yourself a water softener, and add water softener cleaner when needed

Some people still have to use well water. And God knows that more than often, well water is extremely hard.

If you’ve tried all the above methods and none seems to work well, maybe it’s time for you to think of getting a water softener.

A water softener uses ion exchange to remove minerals like calcium, magnesium and replace them with sodium ions. As hard water goes through the water softener tank, the hardness minerals will be trapped inside the tank, resulting in a line of soft water for your use. 

So what happens with the hard minerals now inside the tank?

To clean the beads in the mineral tank, the water softener uses a process often called regeneration, which consists of three cycles: backwash, recharge, and rinse. This process occurs every few days, and normally is initiated in the middle of the night. 

After the regeneration process, in the freshly regenerated mineral tank, the beads are now coated with sodium or potassium provided by the brine tank.

But the regeneration process doesn’t remove all ions. No matter how expensive and well the water softener is made, after some time, you will notice the stain, rusty color in the tank. 

That’s when you can put your water softener cleaner into use, such as Res Care.

Res Care is a specially formulated liquid resin cleaner designed to rid the softener of contaminants that salt alone cannot remove. Some people said that regular use of Res Care resin cleaner will restore the softener beads and control valve parts back to peak efficiency and maintain the life of the unit.

Using cloth diaper even when you have hard water is not impossible

You worry about your baby’s sensitive skin.

You worry about the diaper rash caused by disposable diapers.

You worry about the diaper bills piled up if using disposable diapers.

So you go for cloth diapers. And you’ve realized you made the right choice.

Every day, after each wash, the cloth diapers come out fresh as new, soft and clean and ready for the next use. Even with your hard water situation.

Your baby’s butt is happy. Your baby is happy. Your wallet is happy. 

And you are happy.

All of that is impossible. Only if you know the trick.

But you’ve got it. Now you know how to wash cloth diapers in hard water and still go with the eco-friendly and budget-friendly choice. Your search has come to and end.

It’s time to relax and go with cloth diapers, even with hard water.

About the author 

Mai Pham

Mai Pham discovered her passion for writing a few years ago and she never stop thinking about it ever since. She finally took the leap and created Live a Worthy Life to brag about her smart ass (mainly just for fun). Enjoyed the fun writing brings, now with her new interest in everything-baby-related, she created Mommy Instinct, to tell mamas that it's ok that they mess up, that they don't know what the hell they are doing, and that it's okay to sit back and relax for a while.

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