HARD WATER HELP - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 01-05-2012, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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About a month ago I moved in with my parents and they have well water. It leaves a white residue on almost everything over time, like my water bottle lid looks crusty but it doesn't just 'wash off'. I think this is hard water but I'm not sure.

Over the past week my sons cd's have started leaking and they never have before. We use hemp and bamboo prefolds with wool covers if that matters. I have also noticed his bum getting pinker each day like he is starting to get a rash.

I CAN NOT strip with dawn since it's my moms laundry machine and I'm grateful I am able to wash my cloth here. It is a newish (2 year old) super large HE top load machine but it is like a front loader and does not have the bar in the middle like most top loaders. We use trader joes liquid detergent for everything and no one uses liquid fabric softner. Oh and I have to use bleach on the diapers since diapers are gross;) I usually use half the amount of detergent than recommended for a large load.

So here are my main questions: Is this problem due to hard water? or Is it the trader joes detergent? How do you wash if you have hard water? How can I strip without dawn (or any other dish soap) and without boiling (because diapers are not allowed in the kitchen)? How can I stay sane with so many diaper washing rules?

Thanks for the help!

 


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#2 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 07:48 AM
 
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Ive heard Calgon works on hard water. I have not personaly tried it but it couldnt hurt. Ive seen calgon at walmart and various other stores.

I think Dawn is really bad for your machine. You may need to switch detergent as well since you have different washing needs at your new home.

Good luck!

 

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#3 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 09:49 AM
 
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I don't have hard water, but I have heard Rockin' Green can be good for hard water situations.  Also, maybe it's because the diapers are not rinsing completely, due to the new washer? Some washers don't use a whole lot of water.  You could try adding a few rinses, or adding some vinegar to the rinse, which is supposed to break up the bubbles. I hope you find something that works for you!


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#4 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 09:56 AM
 
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We're you using bleach before? That might be what is making his bum red. Bleach is really hard on a baby's delicate skin. I would use vinegar and baking soda instead it will also get rid of residue and prevent leaks if that is the issue. Here's a link: http://www.diaperpin.com/howto.asp#vinegar

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#5 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 01:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We're you using bleach before? That might be what is making his bum red. Bleach is really hard on a baby's delicate skin. I would use vinegar and baking soda instead it will also get rid of residue and prevent leaks if that is the issue. Here's a link: http://www.diaperpin.com/howto.asp#vinegar



Thanks for the advice but since I'm at my mom's house and it's her washer I HAVE TO use bleach if I'm going to wash dipes here! Is it okay to use vinegar in a rinse after washing with bleach in the machine? And Is it okay to use baking soda with bleach?

 

I've never used bleach for anything before and I want to keep it safe:) I used to use bs and vinegar with ecover, charlies or even salssuds depending on what i was using for laundry and was on sale.

 

Also I read somewhere last night that with hard water you want to use more detergent. Does anyone know if this is true as I have always been skimpy on the detergent and used half the required amount.

 

Thanks!


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#6 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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I am a bit of a hard water guru, ours is absurd.

 

I would never use bleach, especially with hard water! That is one of your biggest problems right there.

 

"Also I read somewhere last night that with hard water you want to use more detergent. Does anyone know if this is true as I have always been skimpy on the detergent and used half the required amount."

 

With hard water you want to use LESS soap not more. You will also want to use a soap that is specifically for hard water such as Hard Rockin Green detergent. It sounds like you already have a build up and an ammonia problem which is what is causing your sons red bum. That red bum will turn into burns soon if the diapers are not stripped. You might want to hand wash / strip the diapers if they are not allowed in the kitchen. Just use water at boiling temp and dawn soap in a bucket outside and agitate with more hot water and stirring then give them a wash.

 

BTW - if you want to get rid of that "white stuff" that appears everywhere you just need citric acid. Sodason makes a citric acid wash that is safe for HE machines which may help.

 

Good luck :)

 


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#7 of 17 Old 01-06-2012, 10:47 PM
 
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You say you *have* to use bleach... do you *have* to use it on the dipes?  After the load of dipes can you wash out the drum with bleach water?  Or run a load of something else with bleach (like towels or sheets)?  Regular bleach use is not nice to your diapers, or baby's butt.  Also, how much bleach are you using and how are you getting it into the load (i.e. pouring it on top of the dipes, diluting it in the water before adding the dipes, diluting it in water before pouring it over, built in bleach dispenser cup, etc.)? 

 

Also, with hard water, you may really need to do an extra rinse at the end.  You didn't say how old your LO is, or what your wash routine looks like, but I can tell you what I've discovered (and we also have hard water, though not as hard as yours). 

 

My little guy is over 2 now, and as he's gotten older, the diapers have needed more attention because he's drinking so much less liquid his pee is more concentrated, which can lead to build up (can also happen if the dipes sit a couple days between washings due to evaporation).  I do an initial rinse/spin to get all the poop and the bulk of the pee out of the dipes.  Then I do a "Heavy Duty" load with an "Auto Soak".  If you don't have an auto soak on your machine, fill it, let it agitate a minute, then turn it off (open the lid) and walk away for 10-15 minutes and turn it back on to proceed.  The soak helps dissolve any ammonia crystals that have developed between the layers of your dipes.  And then it gets an extra rinse at the end. 

 

You said top loader, which is great, but have you checked to see how much water is in the machine when it's running?  Are the dipes mostly covered?  I found I had to cut my load size in half or add a whole bunch of water in order to get good cleaning action.  If there isn't water movement through the dipes, they won't get/rinse clean. 

 

And I know everyone says to look for suds when you're rinsing - with hard water you probably won't see any regardless of whether there's soap or not.  The hard water interferes with bubble production (which you'll notice if you hand-wash dishes).  Stick your fingers in the water to get them wet and then rub your fingers together - you should be able to feel if there's a soapy residue, and if there is, do another rinse. 

 

I never had good luck with TJ's detergents (laundry or dish).  They did not seem to like the hard water at all.  I've had decent luck with Soap Nuts, Country Save is so-so (worked well for a while and then seemed to stop), Nellie's is pretty good, and right now I'm using Charlies, which seems to be the best one I've tried so far (I've found all of these but the soap nuts locally).  But I've heard that Rockin Green has a hard water formulation that might be a better choice.  Or, adding a water softener like Calgon to the load can make just about any detergent work a whole lot better. 

 

As for mixing the bleach with the BS/vin, I wouldn't, because what's the point.  In the washing routine I laid out above, if I really HAD to use bleach ON THE DIPES, I would put the bleach in that first rinse.  Then I'd put the vinegar in the last rinse (in the fabric softener dispenser, in my machine).  I don't bother with BS in my laundry any more, for the most part.  I never really noticed any difference. 

 

HTH


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#8 of 17 Old 01-07-2012, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by cristeen View Post

You say you *have* to use bleach... do you *have* to use it on the dipes?  After the load of dipes can you wash out the drum with bleach water?  Or run a load of something else with bleach (like towels or sheets)?  Regular bleach use is not nice to your diapers, or baby's butt.  Also, how much bleach are you using and how are you getting it into the load (i.e. pouring it on top of the dipes, diluting it in the water before adding the dipes, diluting it in water before pouring it over, built in bleach dispenser cup, etc.)? 

 

Unfortunatly my moms rule is bleach with the dipes. The machine has a compartment on the top for bleach to go in and my mom says I have to use 1/4 of a cup but I've been using a little less than that since that seems like a ton of bleach to me. The machine distributes the bleach into the main wash I think. I like the idea of bleaching the machine afterwords, I'm going to try to be sneaky and do that but she might flip out over non bleached dipes in the dryer, lol.

 

Also, with hard water, you may really need to do an extra rinse at the end.  You didn't say how old your LO is, or what your wash routine looks like, but I can tell you what I've discovered (and we also have hard water, though not as hard as yours). 

 

My LO is 16 months and poops his pants twice a day and pees about four other dipes. On occasion his older sister has an accident and I'll add her undies to the dipes. Overall there are about 12 to 16 diapers per load and six doublers.  This is usually one or two AIO's or pockets and then six hemp prefolds and six or more bamboo prefolds.

 

My little guy is over 2 now, and as he's gotten older, the diapers have needed more attention because he's drinking so much less liquid his pee is more concentrated, which can lead to build up (can also happen if the dipes sit a couple days between washings due to evaporation).  I do an initial rinse/spin to get all the poop and the bulk of the pee out of the dipes.  Then I do a "Heavy Duty" load with an "Auto Soak".  If you don't have an auto soak on your machine, fill it, let it agitate a minute, then turn it off (open the lid) and walk away for 10-15 minutes and turn it back on to proceed.  The soak helps dissolve any ammonia crystals that have developed between the layers of your dipes.  And then it gets an extra rinse at the end. 

 

The total wash time for one load is 96 minuets. There is a soak cycle, pre wash, main wash, rinse and extra rinse. The machine has compartments for the detergent and adds it at some point...

 

You said top loader, which is great, but have you checked to see how much water is in the machine when it's running?  Are the dipes mostly covered?  I found I had to cut my load size in half or add a whole bunch of water in order to get good cleaning action.  If there isn't water movement through the dipes, they won't get/rinse clean. 

 

I do not know how much water is in the machine as each time I open it it looks empty. It is a weird machine not like an ordinary top loader. It looks just like a front loader but pointed up. It is supposed to wash just like a front laoder but is top load so it's easier to put laundry inside of it.

And I know everyone says to look for suds when you're rinsing - with hard water you probably won't see any regardless of whether there's soap or not.  The hard water interferes with bubble production (which you'll notice if you hand-wash dishes).  Stick your fingers in the water to get them wet and then rub your fingers together - you should be able to feel if there's a soapy residue, and if there is, do another rinse. 

 

I have been going back and doing an extra rinse and spin cycle on the machine for the past two weeks and it's not been cvutting it.

 

I never had good luck with TJ's detergents (laundry or dish).  They did not seem to like the hard water at all.  I've had decent luck with Soap Nuts, Country Save is so-so (worked well for a while and then seemed to stop), Nellie's is pretty good, and right now I'm using Charlies, which seems to be the best one I've tried so far (I've found all of these but the soap nuts locally).  But I've heard that Rockin Green has a hard water formulation that might be a better choice.  Or, adding a water softener like Calgon to the load can make just about any detergent work a whole lot better. 

 

Okay it's not just me that dislikes the TJ's! I have used Country Save in the past and am going to keep my eye out for it again or Charlies, Trader Joes has to have one of them.  Is Calgon okay to use with dipes? I think I can find that at the local grocery if hard water is in the area.

 

As for mixing the bleach with the BS/vin, I wouldn't, because what's the point.  In the washing routine I laid out above, if I really HAD to use bleach ON THE DIPES, I would put the bleach in that first rinse.  Then I'd put the vinegar in the last rinse (in the fabric softener dispenser, in my machine).  I don't bother with BS in my laundry any more, for the most part.  I never really noticed any difference. 

 

I'm trying washing twice. Once per my moms request with bleach and detergent and pre soak, extra rinse and extra rinse cycle. Then once with no detergent and vinegar in the main wash but with an extra rinse anyways. Hopefully this will work until I am able to get to a health food store that has good detergent.

HTH

 

You were very helpful! I appreciate your reasoning behind your responses. Thanks


 

 


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#9 of 17 Old 01-08-2012, 01:24 PM
 
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Sorry your mom has such weird rules for you using her machine but I can tell you the hard water and bleach is what is causing the red bum.  Also, the HE washers do not use enough water.  Is there a way to add extra water to the rinse and wash cycles.  Also, the constant use of bleach is going to wear out your PUL and put holes in your prefolds much faster.  I know it is your mom's house but these rules seem a bit strange since you are CDing to save money.  Do some research and show her that vineger and baking soda disinfect as well as bleach without the harsh affects.

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#10 of 17 Old 01-08-2012, 02:16 PM
 
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I agree with the pp about the bleach/hard water combo probably contributing to the red butt.  But it also sounds like you may be having some wash routine issues that are being made worse by the low water.

 

Think about it this way, you're putting a whole bunch of pee and poo into the machine with all this cloth.  So the very first thing you need to do is rinse all of that out and get it out of the machine, otherwise you're just using pee/poo water to wash your dipes.  I use detergent for this first "rinse" and the shortest wash cycle.  When I open the machine between washes (after the 1st, before the 2nd), I can still smell the ammonia, but it's not going to knock me over.  I have to sort my dipes at this point to be sure the pockets all ejected their inserts, obviously you don't need to worry about that if you aren't using pockets.  THEN I start my long wash with my soak and another round of detergent.  Before I started doing 2 full washes I was having a lot of problem with stink and rashes. 

 

I will also say though that if you can't ever see the water, then there's not enough.  My machine will allow me to pause the cycle and open the door, and I had to dump in 1-2 buckets of water (3 gallons/bucket) into the long wash cycle so that they get the soaking and agitation they need.  I just add enough that I can see it coming up amongst the dipes - they don't need to be covered, but they do need to have water movement.  If your machine has an "extra water" button, it'll save you some work, but most don't.  It's a pain, and that was when I figured out that if I wash smaller loads I don't need to add the water, just wash more often.  My machine can only handle about a dozen dipes (pockets/fitteds) before I have to add water. 


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#11 of 17 Old 01-11-2012, 11:51 AM
 
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Unfortunately, I think this is going to prove to be a major issue for you! I have a 'virtual front loader' too, and I wash on the bulky setting which uses a full load of water..u definitely need more water in there. It also sounds like u r using too much soap. Most diapers say to use a quarter the reccomended amount. Also, bleach is SUPER hard on bith your diapers and baby'skin. If you are washing with bleach each time, you can count on your diapers giving out on you VERY quickly, especially the elastic! What about usong vinegar which also has antibacterial properties if u can provide your mom some spporting articles? Otherwise I think u should just get some disposables while u are staying there or at least some cheap second hand dipes or something, cause u will ruin your stash and gave lots if diaper rashes! I hope u can work something else out with your mom!
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#12 of 17 Old 01-12-2012, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Unfortunately, I think this is going to prove to be a major issue for you! I have a 'virtual front loader' too, and I wash on the bulky setting which uses a full load of water..u definitely need more water in there. It also sounds like u r using too much soap. Most diapers say to use a quarter the reccomended amount. Also, bleach is SUPER hard on bith your diapers and baby'skin. If you are washing with bleach each time, you can count on your diapers giving out on you VERY quickly, especially the elastic! What about usong vinegar which also has antibacterial properties if u can provide your mom some spporting articles? Otherwise I think u should just get some disposables while u are staying there or at least some cheap second hand dipes or something, cause u will ruin your stash and gave lots if diaper rashes! I hope u can work something else out with your mom!


Good tip, I'll try bulky items next time! This dang smart washer even drains away the water I pour in it with a bucket. I spent twenty minuets filling it up to soak dipes and it started beeping and flashing lights and draining all the water I just poured in it! Oh I'm so mad at this machine!

For bleach, I've just put it in after washing the dipes. As long as the laundry room smells like bleach when she goes in there I doubt my mom will be able to tell;)

 


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#13 of 17 Old 01-13-2012, 01:59 PM
 
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Everything I have read on diaper laundry says that when you have hard water, you need to use MORE detergent, not less, because with hard water the detergent goes to work on the dissolved minerals thereby softening the water, instead of on cleaning your diapers.  That is why when you have soft water, you use just a little bit of detergent and you have suds suds suds! Bleach is ok in hard water as long as you haven't got a dissolved iron problem, in which case you'd get rust stains on your diapers.  Since you haven't encountered that, it's probably calcium/lime that makes the water hard, since you notice the white crusties on everything. 
 
Are the diapers stinking? If so, they aren't clean enough and that would explain the rash. And it sounds like maybe you're dealing with minerals in the water that are causing a residue on the diapers and making them leak.    Or perhaps as anouther person said it could be the bleach not getting rinsed out. You may find that you get the same bacteria killing results with less bleach.  
 
Here are some things I would experiment with: 
RLR Laundry Treatment. Safe and cheap, you can get it online.  It's made specifically for mineral deposits on laundry. Good for stripping diapers.  many cloth diapering moms swear by it.  
Increase the amount of detergent you are using, and try Calgon water softener. 
Make sure you are washing in very hot water
Reduce the amount of bleach you are using
 
Here are some great facts, even if you don't use Charlie's soap:
good luck!  It must be a tough adjustment to have to move in with mom and abide by all those laundry rules. Sounds like you are staying positive about it!
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#14 of 17 Old 01-15-2012, 07:59 PM
 
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I vote for giving calgon a try. We have extremely hard water, and calgon has made a great difference for our diapers - they're clean and white again! Haven't tried TJ's detergent, we use either planet (powder) or soap nuts, and haven't had any trouble with rashes.

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#15 of 17 Old 02-14-2012, 10:32 AM
 
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1) I agree the bleach is an issue - I'd suggest, if you have to use bleach, run them through on another full cycle with hot water after the initial full cycle with bleach to get the bleach rinsed out. This will also help strip the dipes if you HAVE been using too much soap.

 

2)Vinegar and hard water actually makes my diapers WORSE, not better. I can't use vinegar at all.

 

3) I also have to use MORE soap with our hard water to get them clean - then I run them through on a 2nd full wash cycle to make sure they're rinsed well. The hotter the water the better with hard water too.

 

4) I also use a water softener product called So Clean (very much like Calgon, but cheaper where I live) and it helps me cut down on the amount of soap I have to use.

 

5) What kind of butt cream do you use? that can have a huge impact on the dipes - if you can get rid of the bleach issue you should be able to do away with butt cream completely!


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#16 of 17 Old 02-17-2012, 04:04 AM
 
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I definitely agree that you need to use MORE soap, not less with hard water.  If you use liquid such as Tide, you would use up to the 2nd line, or twice what you normally would use (whereas I only use up to line 1 for our clothes, but I'm not cleaning poop out of them nor do I have to worry about whether or not they will repel or leak).  I have the same super hard well water that leaves white residue on everything (I LOATHE it!!) and I do a cold rinse, then wash on hot with Gain up to line 2, then do two cold rinses.  My dipes come out perfectly clean and fresh every time and I haven't had any issues.  Good luck! 


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#17 of 17 Old 02-19-2012, 05:33 PM
 
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I have super hard water- the rusty lime kind.   I use the same amount of detergent on diapers that I use on everything else.  I also quit using bleach (due to the rust stains and it destroys everything- and I was only using a capful (like the tiny cap- it is what a Tablespoon?))and started putting a capful of Melalucas SolUMel in.  It is unbelievable- no ammonia smell- no rashes- no stains- amazing!.  It is a water-soluble tea tree oil.  Which is anti microbic/bacterial in nature.  Would your mom be ok with that?  What about using a clorox wipe and wiping out the washer and dryer after using them?  I find the rules weird- but you have to do what you have to do to keep her happy right?

 

Oh- I have a top loading high efficiency and I use the power wash cycle (high agitation with an extra rinse at the end)- with about 12 diapers.  When I don't have any pul to put in I use hot (which isn't really that hot- I think mine will only go up to 110 F) and when I have to wash pul I use warm.


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