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Does Hard Water Affect Dishwashing?

Michelle LeGault
Written by Michelle LeGault
Updated October 30, 2015
Dishes in dishwasher
To find out if you live in a hard water area, you can bring a sample of raw water to a local water softener dealer in your area, says LeGault. (Photo by Katelin Kinney)

Is hard water leaving a white residue on your dishes? Here's what to do.

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If it seems like your dishes are always coming out of the wash with a white film or residue on them, it could be that you have hard water. If this is the case, scrubbing more or changing soap will not be enough to fix the problem. 

This white powder is called hard water scaling and it comes from minerals in your water that, while healthy for consumption, can cause a lot of problems for your household plumbing and appliances. 

The two minerals that cause hard water are calcium and magnesium. The best solution for preventing hard water scaling is to remove these minerals from your water. 

Water softeners are specifically designed to remove calcium and magnesium from your water through an ion-exchange process where sodium particles are exchanged for the hard water minerals. With soft water, your soap with lather more easily, your hair will feel softer, your clothes will be brighter and your dishes will finally be clean.

Bear in mind that if you can see hard water residue on your dishes, there are undoubtedly hard water deposits building up inside your other household appliances, too. Appliances like your hot water heater, coffee maker and refrigerator water dispenser are all places hard water can build up. 

A water softener is a valuable investment to protect your appliances and prevent maintenance issues that hard water build-up can cause. In some cases, having a water softener can double the life of your hot water heater.

To find out if you live in a hard water area, you can bring a sample of raw water (that is untreated water that has not gone through any filter) to a local water softener dealer in your area. Many water treatment professionals will do a free hardness test. 

You can also often find this information on the website for the city or town where you live. Just look for a recent drinking water quality report and you will find a listing for the water hardness along with other valuable information about your city's water.

As of June 5, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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