5 Simple Hard Water Treatments For Your Home

Hard water can have devastating effects on plumbing, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and other household appliances.

By: Alex VanScoy

Hard water – and we don’t mean ice – is a common issue faced by homeowners and renters in high sediment areas. Water is considered “hard” when high levels of dissolved minerals are found within its makeup. When that water evaporates, it leaves behind mineral deposits on the surface. These deposits are referred to as hard water stains.

A common misconception about hard water is that it is unhealthy. But in fact, it can actually help increase your intake of daily-recommended minerals and prevent disease – nature’s “one-a-day.” Although hard water is not a problem for the human body, it can have devastating effects on your home. 

To help you get rid of hard water problems in your home, we’ll explain everything you need to know about it including why it’s bad, the signs to look for and your options for treating it. 

Hard Water Problems: Why It’s Bad For Your Home

Though extremely hard water is toxic, it is very unlikely most homes would have water with this level of dissolved minerals. The main and far more common health issue associated with hard water is that it tends to dry out your hair and skin. Furthermore, most people seek to get rid of hard water because it presents several larger problems for their homes.

Damages plumbing and appliances

The most concerning issue associated with hard water is the damage it does to your home’s plumbing system. The continuous flow of hard water with a high mineral concentration means that over time, trace amounts of minerals will be deposited and build up on pipes. This is known as scale build-up, and it’s a chalky mineral-based substance that restricts water flow and accelerates rusting which can lead to burst pipes and expensive repairs for homeowners. 

Hard water also damages appliances that use water such as heaters, dishwashers, and washing machines by wearing them down at a faster rate than soft water. 

Leaves white residue on dishes

Another annoying issue associated with hard water is that it leaves white residue on dishes, glassware, and sinks. Even after hand washing it or running it through the dishwasher, you may notice white spots which come from the combination of soap and mineral deposits. 

Fades, stains, and damages clothes

The minerals in hard water react with the chemicals in laundry detergent, which reduces its cleaning power and accelerates color fading. The colors in your clothes will wear out faster, and stains won’t be easily removed by a trip through the washer. In fact, hard water can actually stain clothes just like it does for dishes, and it may also leave behind chalky mineral deposits that damage the fabric resulting in tearing and holes. Furthermore, hard water residue also traps oil from the body which makes the clothes feel stiff or rough.



Although hard water is not a problem for the human body, it can have devastating effects for your home.


Signs of Hard Water

In most cases hard water looks exactly like soft water, so you won’t be able to tell if you have it just through appearance. Your water supplier can send you a water quality report which will tell you whether you have hard water, but since this can take a while here are a few signs you can check for to determine if you have hard water:

  • Spots on dishes: Minerals in hard water combine with soap when washing, which leaves spots or streaks on dishes.
  • Faded, stained, or damaged clothing: Hard water causes clothes to fade faster, it leaves white stains, and causes tearing and holes along with a stiff feeling.
  • Dry hair and skin: Hard water dries out the skin and hair which reduces your hair’s natural shine and may cause the skin to feel itchy or irritated.
  • Low water pressure: Scale build-up clogs pipes and reduces water flow, which means your shower or faucets may have reduced pressure.
  • Appliances break down often: Hard water wears down appliances which causes them to work less effectively or break down entirely.



If one or more of the signs above apply, it could indicate you have a hard water problem. To determine the severity of your hard water, you’ll want to look at your water quality report. Specifically, the milligrams per liter (mg/L) measurement indicates your level of water hardness. In some cases, you may also see this measurement referred to as parts per million (ppm).

Here are the ranges for water hardness according to the Water Quality Association:

  • Soft: mg/L <17
  • Slightly Hard: mg/L 17.1 - 60
  • Moderately Hard: mg/L 60 - 120
  • Hard: mg/L 120 - 180
  • Very Hard: mg/L >180

5 Hard Water Solutions For Your Home

Now that you know why hard water is a problem and the signs to recognize, the next step is to get rid of it. Here are a few hard water treatment options you can try out in your home.

1. VINEGAR

Since the majority of hard water is calcium, it is highly reactive with acids like vinegar. 

Place small fixtures that are covered in buildup into a bowl of hot, all-natural vinegar to dissolve the calcium deposit in about an hour. Another common hard water treatment recommendation for white film and spot problems on your appliances is using distilled vinegar. This will kill mold, bacteria, germs, and help clean dishware through regular wash cycles. 

You may also notice a build-up of soap scum from hard water that vinegar can help get rid of. A simple rinsing with 1-part apple cider vinegar and 3-parts filtered water will do the trick.

2. LOWER YOUR WATER TEMPERATURE

Not many people realize that running hot water through the hot water heater contributes to hard water stains and mineral buildup. This is due to the mineral precipitation process that takes place in the hottest part of the plumbing system. Over time, the hot water heater will accumulate scale from hard water buildup. Reducing the temperature of the heater will help delay the accumulation. 

It is also important to flush the heater every so often to keep sediment from clogging up the fixture. In areas with hard water, this is especially problematic as it contributes to the amount of time it takes for your hot water heater to accumulate unnecessary junk at the bottom of the tank.

3. RINSE AID

Ever notice with hard water, you usually have to use extra soap for it to foam? This is because soap molecules are negatively charged on one end to help the molecule dissolve in water. 

The other end of the molecule works to keep oil particles suspended in the water. Hard water works against the molecule because it contains positively charged calcium atoms. The two form a bond with no charge, rendering the soap molecule unable to dissolve. 

To help get rid of hard water deposits on dishes and glassware, use a product similar to Lemi-Shine. Products like this work to treat years of hard water buildup, stains, and film. Products that are specifically formulated for hard water are made to withstand the positive charge of the calcium atoms so that soap can be rinsed off easily.

4. APPLIANCE CLEANERS

As mentioned above, it is important to treat hard water buildup on appliances. This rule applies to pipe systems as well. Over time, calcified buildup becomes hard to remove. We recommend cleaning pipes and appliances regularly to keep from having to replace them too soon with simple appliance cleaning solutions that are available from many brands. These solutions include cleaners that are acidic, abrasive, chlorine-based and more to help with hard water problems. 

As mentioned above, vinegar is an inexpensive substitute for some more expensive packaged appliance cleaners. For smaller appliances such as coffee makers, run two cups of strong white vinegar water through them on a regular basis to help prevent hard water buildup. This will ensure that it’s being cleaned thoroughly in areas that are hard to reach and will keep tea and coffee tasting great while lengthening the lifespan of the appliance.

5. AQUASANA WHOLE HOUSE SALT-FREE WATER CONDITIONER

For the long-term, comprehensive protection for pipes and all appliances against hard water, the best thing to do is invest in a descaler. The Aquasana Whole House Salt-Free Water Conditioner connects to your main water line and protects your entire home by dissolving excess minerals from hard water into microscopic crystal particles that easily pass through your plumbing system and don’t build up over time. 

Unlike salt-based water conditioners, the Aquasana Salt-Free Water Conditioner does not expose your immune system to excess sodium and it does not demineralize your water which affects its taste and health benefits. 

Furthermore, using our Salt-Free Water Conditioner means you won’t need to worry about purchasing heavy salt bags and doing complicated and frequent replacements (most water softeners need new salt every 6-8 weeks). In fact, our Salt-Free Water Conditioner is incredibly low maintenance, as it does not require electricity or wastewater drainage and the system lasts for 6 years. As a testament to the quality of our system, it comes with a 6-year warranty.   

Take a look at our Salt-Free Water Conditioner to learn how it can help get rid of hard water problems including scale buildup on plumbing, stains on dishes, and calcification that shortens the life of frequently used appliances such as your washing machine and dishwasher.

Which Hard Water Treatment Solution Should You Use?

We outlined several options to get rid of hard water problems in your home, but the one you should use depends on the severity of your issues. If you only have slightly hard water some of the signs may barely be noticeable so you could try some of the easy fixes like vinegar or hard water cleaning products. If your water is moderately hard or above, you should consider investing in a descaler to ensure hard water doesn’t damage your home’s plumbing system. 

We recommend our low-maintenance Salt-Free Water Conditioner to prevent scale build-up without affecting the taste and health benefits of your water. For questions about how this product can help get rid of hard water, check out the product page for more information or contact us!