When you empty your dishwasher, you expect your dishes to come out sparkling and shiny. So what is that white film fogging up your glasses and building up on your plates? In many homes, the answer is simple: hard water.
While hard water doesn’t pose any potential threats to your health, it is notorious for leaving spots, residue, and buildup on just about anything it touches. In the kitchen, this problem becomes especially apparent, as water comes into frequent contact with dishes, appliances, countertops, rags, and towels -- not to mention your hands.
If hard water is putting you in a hard place, read on for some solutions on how to tackle the biggest issues created by this common household nuisance.
White film on your dishes.
If you notice that your dishes consistently look dingy and dirty, even straight out of the dishwasher, chances are that hard water is the culprit. Commercial rinse aids may do the trick if your water isn't too hard, but Adrienne from Whole New Mom recommends a more natural solution: vinegar.
According to Adrienne, placing a small cup or dish full of vinegar on the top rack of your dishwasher, during every cycle, will act as a natural rinse aid that will help get rid of that white residue. If for some reason your dishwasher still isn't doing the trick, wiping your dishes with vinegar or a vinegar/water solution is usually enough to get rid of buildup.
Crunchy rags and towels
Hard water can be very tough on fabric. Your kitchen towels and rags might end up with a stiff, crunchy feeling to them. In some cases, your detergent may seem to not rinse completely, leaving white streaks or globs on your linens.
One simple solution is presented by Heather at Home Ec 101. She points out that detergent dissolves better in very hot water. This means that the detergent will be able to more effectively do its job if the water you use is hot. She also says that dissolving your detergent in hot water before adding it to your washing machine can help.
Beyond that, there are some products that are specifically marketed to manage hard water buildup on fabrics. A DIY solution? Vinegar. Adding 1/2 cup to your rinse cycle can help keep your linens soft.
Spots on your appliances.
Hard water can also wreak havoc on your appliances, especially if they have a stainless steel finish. Gina Eykemans presents a brilliant solution on Kitchn, pointing out that vinegar, oil (mineral, olive, or any oil of your choice), and a soft cloth work wonders on getting hard water spots off stainless steel.
For an even more quick and simple solution that will work on any finish, invest in a very high-quality microfiber cloth. Wet it with a small amount of distilled water, and use a little elbow grease to wipe the spots away. For stubborn or old stains, add a little vinegar.
Wrap a vinegar-soaked cloth around the faucet to dissolve hard water mineral deposits, shares Crouton Crackerjacks. Let it sit for about an hour, then you can easily scrub away the mineral spots using a mildly abrasive sponge.
While hard water is certainly tough on your kitchen's residents, it can be hard on you as well! Washing dishes and washing your hands in hard water exposes your skin to the minerals in hard water, which can lead to them becoming dry and rough.
So, how to fight this? According to Alle on XoVain, choosing a hand soap that will lather up well, in spite of your hard water, is a must. She recommends a castille soap that seems to work beautifully!
In addition, choose a thick hand cream that will create a barrier on your skin, protecting it from the harsh chemical makeup of hard water.
Hard water can cause some truly annoying problems, but thankfully, there are plenty of easy and effective solutions. Try them out today, and make that hard water headache a thing of the past!