Soften Up: How Hard Water Affects Appliances

Dishwasher. Washer. Coffee machine.  Ice maker.  Toilet. Faucet. Water heater.  What do you all of these appliances have in common?  They all consume water. The water used in these appliances can greatly affect the lifespan and efficiency of the equipment.

Hard water, water with high levels of calcium and magnesium, can have negative consequences on water-using appliances, especially equipment that heats or uses hot water.  Hot water causes minerals like calcium and magnesium to leach out of the water at a faster rate and cling to the internal parts of the washer, water heater, dishwasher, etc.

As minerals stick to the internal parts, build begins which can cause the appliance to be less effective, use more energy, and reduce its shelf life.

With high ticket items like washers (clothes and dishes) and water heaters, it is best to purchase a full-house water softener, because soft water helps these machines efficiency and lifespan. 

Most water softeners use salt to remove minerals from the water, but there are salt-free options for those who are more eco-focused and do not want salt added to their water.  Either way, salt or salt-free softeners will help protect your appliances.

While there are many water softeners on the market, Soft Water Labs lists the following as the best water softeners of 2016 (see links at the bottom of this post):

  • Nuvo DPMB Manor Salt Water Softener System
  • Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System 
  • Eddy Electronic Water Descaler
  • Fleck 7000SXT 64,000 Grain Water Softener
  • Aquios FS-220 Salt Free Water Softener and Filtration System
  • Aquasana EQ-SS20 SimplySoft Salt-Free Water Softener 

In addition to protecting your appliances from buildup, water softeners help with cleaning.  Hard water can leave a film on cleaned dishes, mineral build up can be visible around drains or in toilets, and increase the amount of cleaning products you use.  Soft water helps ensure buildup and residue does not form. 

A suspiring and budget-friendly solution for removing calcium buildup in sinks, showers, toilets, and coffee makers, and for removing the film on your dishes is a pantry staple—vinegar.  White vinegar is all you need.  Leave the Balsamic in the cupboard.

Like vinegar, the acid in lemons also helps remove mineral deposits from hard water, but vinegar provides more bang for the buck.

For small appliance like coffee makers and to remove the white film from dishes and buildup on showerheads, faucets drains and toilets, take a sponge soaked in vinegar or lemon juice and scrub the item.  Let it sit for a couple minutes and then rinse off.

For larger appliances like dish and clothes washers, put a cup or two into the empty washer and then run a cycle on hot. 

While vinegar and water do not help soften water or reduce buildup in pipes, it provides major benefits for cleaning and appearance of appliances and home goods.

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