Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Well water and Hard Water: a challenge for cloth diapers

Water arrives at our homes from a municipal treatment center or from a well. Well water is becoming less common, but there are still many families living in remote and rural areas who are relying on well water. Most of us city dwellers have water that comes from a municipal treatment center.  Municipal water undergoes some level of cleaning and filtration before it arrives at our faucet.  Well water is different.  Well water is pumped from groundwater under a home. This can present a safety concern, and well water is frequently tested to prevent the ingestion of dangerous contaminates. Well water is in direct contact with rocks that pass minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, into the water. This process makes the water "hard." Even those with municipal water can suffer from hard water.  Water can pick up minerals in the pipes used for transportation from the treatment center to your home.  Some areas of the country are also more prone to hard water because of the rock composition within the region.

Cloth Diapers can suffer from hard water, but careful consideration of your water quality will allow you to use cloth diapers even with a home well.

Well water can be problematic for any home plumbing system, and it can be especially difficult for laundering cloth diapers. Hard water makes it more difficult for soap and detergent to clean dirt off of clothing and diapers.  Because of the high levels of mineral deposits, the soap spends more time aggregating around minerals in the water. This equates to less time interacting with, and breaking up, dirt and debris on soiled clothing.  Those with hard water will typically need to add more soap or detergent to get their clothing clean.  A water softener can be very beneficial for those with well water.  The water softener swaps out calcium and magnesium in the water and replaces them with sodium.  Sodium does not interfere with soaps and detergents, and it doesn't build-up within pipes and shower heads.  Installing a water softener, or using a water softener laundry additive (such as Calgon), can be the best way to keep your cloth diapers from suffering the effects of hard water.

Although well water is prone to hardness, it is also prone to variability.  Those with well water may notice a seasonal change in the hardness, smell, and taste of their water.  It is important to carefully monitor your water and ensure that you are having it tested frequently.  It may be helpful to keep water hardness test strips [aff link] on hand and get an idea of your water quality during the different seasons.  This will enable you to decide how much water softener additive to include in your wash.


  1. My parents have well water, and it's so annoying to do diaper laundry there! I've never tried Calgon, but I think I might invest for when we visit again soon. Thank you for the tips!

  2. This is good info to keep in mind now that I'm moving to a location with hard water...may need to invest in a water softener!

  3. Thanks for the info! For the longest time I thought my hard water was causing the problem to my build up issue/stink but it was because I didn't do a little wash w detergent first then a long wash! finally got it down!

  4. We have horribly hard water here and i was having ammonia problems. A friend recommended calgon too anf its made a huuuuuge difference.

  5. Luckily I haven't dealt with well water... but we've moved 4 times in the last year and a half and each time I had to change my routine based on the water! UGH! Such a huge pain to both me and my daughter.