If you have hard water in your home, buying a water softener shouldn’t be an option! Hard water is aptly named for its higher levels of calcium and magnesium in the water and can take a toll on your hair, skin, and plumbing. 

That said, let’s take a look at the signs of hard water, and how to check for hard water in your home. 

What is Hard Water? 

Hard water is water that’s rich in mineral content. It contains calcium, magnesium, and trace amounts of other minerals, which accumulate during the water cycle in well water and even city water. 

Water that contains more calcium and magnesium is harder than water without these minerals. This is why the water hardness can vary in certain cities and counties within the same state.

80 percent of homes in America have hard water! You can find your water hardness by contacting your municipality if you have city water, or simply with a water hardness test kit. 

What are the Signs of Hard Water? 

signs of hard water

There are several telltale signs of hard water issues in your home, most notably: 

Your Water Doesn’t Taste Good or has an Unpleasant Odor

If the drinking water in your home has a strange odor, you have a water conditioning problem. This can either be hard water or bacterial contamination

For example, if your water smells like rotten eggs, it could indicate the presence of naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide and/or certain bacteria. 

If your water has a nasty metallic taste or tastes like dirt, there’s probably too much iron in it. 

Brown or Red Stains 

Ugly brown and reddish stains on the porcelain stick out like a sore thumb and are caused by the iron in hard water. 

This is probably why those stains look like rust spots, which is the iron in the water coming from rust pipes. 

Getting rid of these stains is a daunting task, and even if you do clean them, they won’t disappear until you fix your hard water problem. 

Showering Experience Suffers

hard water on a shower head

One of the most peaceful moments of each day is when you’re taking a shower. Even if you have the best soap, it will not lather well when you bathe in hard water, but in fact will leave a filmy, soapy residue on your skin. 

But that’s not all, mineral deposits from hard water can clog your shower head too, resulting in weaker water pressure. 

And it goes without saying that you won’t get as clean and your hair may be difficult to manage, so if you’re having a bad hair day, you know why! 

Soap Scum Everywhere

soap scum

Have you ever noticed those unsightly, white hard water spots on your bathroom walls? 

Well, those are calcium deposits resulting from water evaporation. This nasty soap scum accumulates all over the place and can be found in your dishes and dishwasher too. 

What’s worse is that soap scum on shower curtains can contain disease-spreading bacteria, which may be harmful to you and members of your home. 

Pipes Keep Getting Clogged

Apart from showerheads, your pipes can get clogged too with hard water. It can also cause major and expensive to fix plumbing issues. 

Skin Irritation Issues 

Washing with hard water leaves soap behind on your body, causing the skin to get dried out and itchy. 

These mineral deposits left on your body can also absorb moisture from your skin and can cause eczema symptoms to worsen

Hard water also strips moisture from your hair, making it dry and frizzy. In worse cases, hard water may also cause hair loss owing to the calcium deposits on your scalp. 

Signs of Hard Water on Hair 

signs of hard water on hair

Have you ever noticed a film on your hands after washing them? Well, that’s hard water! Now imagine the considerable damage hard water is doing to your hair. 

This damage to your skin and hair is caused by the mineral buildup in hard water like calcium and magnesium. 

These minerals produce a film on your hair and skin, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate, resulting in dry hair that’s prone to breakage. 

Neglecting hard water issues could make things even worse, and could even lead to hair loss. 

Even though hard water isn’t harmful, there is a slew of disadvantages when it comes to hair and skin. 

A 2016 study involving 15 females indicates that hard water damaged their hair, more specifically the hair from the samples decreased in thickness. 

Apart from that, there are several other ways in which hard water can cause damage to your hair like breakage, tangles, thinning, dry scalp, dullness, and/or frizziness. 

These short-term issues can lead to long-term problems that will inevitably affect healthy hair growth. 

How to repair hair that has been damaged from hard water? 

If your hair has been damaged as a result of hard water, there’s no need to break a sweat just yet, because there are several techniques to fix the issue (s). 

The first, easiest, cost-efficient technique is to install a water softener shower head. However, highly recommended that you install a water softener to purify the water in your home, but this can be expensive. (promote the product you want)

Water softener shower heads are fitted with cartridges that remove the minerals before the water touches your hair. 

Use a clarifying shampoo

Clarifying shampoos are formulated to give you a hair detox and to remove residue, minerals, and oils. 

Clarifying shampoos can be used by anyone, and are a great way to revive hair that’s been damaged by hard water. 

Apply a hair mask

You can apply a nourishing hair mask to restore moisture and shine in your locks. Make sure you massage the hair mask well into your scalp, and through the tips of your hair. 

After using a hair mask, you can use a leave-in-conditioner to soften your hair, but make sure you use a conditioner that has a low pH to lock the moisture in and keep the minerals out. 

Try and citrus and vinegar rinse 

A mixture of water, vinegar, and citrus of some type work really well to combat the damage from hard water. Apple cider vinegar is a good option, since it lowers the hair’s pH, and is rich in hair-healthy vitamins such as vitamins B and C. 

How to Wash Hair with Hard Water? 

Even though you may have hard water in your home, there are a few ways to prevent damage when showering with hard water using these hair-washing techniques. 

When you shower with hard water, focus on your scalp first, and use a shampoo that’s sulfate-free if you’re not using a clarifying shampoo. 

Using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner will help remove excess oils and debris without stripping your hair. It’s however important that you use conditioner after your hair is completely rinsed. 

Signs of Hard Water on Skin  

hard water signs on skin

If you have hard water in your home, you’re probably already familiar with most of the skin issues associated with using hard water. 

The minerals left behind by hard water can affect your household fixtures, and can also cause skin problems. 

Some of the major issues include dry skin, clogged pores, irritated sensitive skin, and flare-ups. 

Hard water can affect your skin through the hard minerals, as well as via their reaction with the soap you use. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with skin issues caused by hard water, it’s helpful to understand how hard water causes dry skin, irritated scalp, and poor lather. 

Hard water disrupts the moisture levels of your skin, causing it to dry out. Furthermore, hard water also makes moisturizers and lotions less effective, resulting in dry and irritated skin that’s difficult to properly moisturize. 

When hard water makes direct contact with your skin, it dries and leaves behind mineral deposits such as calcium bicarbonate. 

This calcium left on your skin upsets your natural oil levels, which play a pivotal role in regulating your skin’s moisture. 

Apart from causing dry skin, these minerals can also clog your pores, cause further irritation, and acne.

Hard water also reacts with the soaps and shampoos you use, creating a precipitate of calcium and magnesium carboxylates known as soap scum. 

Owing to this reaction, it’s difficult to clean soap residue off your skin completely, again resulting in dry and irritated skin long after you’ve left the shower. 

If you notice your skin improves dramatically when you travel elsewhere, great chances are that your hard water is to blame. 

How to Wash Skin with Hard Water? 

Hard water can wreak havoc on your skin, and apart from drying out your skin can exacerbate existing skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and rashes. 

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do when bathing with hard water, starting with switching your soap to one that’s free from artificial colors or perfumes. 

Since hard water makes soaps less effective, you can compensate by moisturizing your skin regularly with an effective skin moisturizer. 

Rather than excessive hand washing, try using a hand sanitizer with aloe vera to eliminate germs and help with your skin. 

Long hot showers and baths can continue to dry your already irritated skin, so try and limit your time in a hard water shower or bath. 

Signs of Hard Water in Dishwasher 

Dishwashers bring a lot of convenience into our lives, but if you notice your dishwasher not cleaning your dishes properly, it may be affected by hard water. 

Check out the clouds 

hard water on a glass

Cloudy spots are a sure-shot sign of hard water on your dishes and are actually white residue from salts left behind when the water evaporates from your dishes. 

The mineral salt buildup isn’t just limited to your dishes, but can also plague the surface of your dishwasher, which can lead to rust, and damage of parts like pumps and heating elements. 

Your clean dishes have a foul smell

Another tell-tale way of identifying if your dishwasher has been affected by hard water is by smelling your dishes after they’ve gone through the cleaning cycle. 

If your dishes have a fairly harsh metallic smell, hard water is probably the cause of the issue. 

Shorter lifespan of your appliances

This is perhaps one of the biggest indicators of hard water. Typically, dishwashers offer a long service life, somewhere between nine to eleven years. 

If your dishwasher is affected by hard water, it will considerably shorten its lifespan. The buildup of hard water minerals not only takes a toll on the efficiency of your dishwasher, but you may need to call professional help to fix the damage to the parts. 

Detecting these signs early can help you increase the life of your dishwasher, and find a solution to prevent further hard water damage. 

How to Use Dishwasher with Hard Water? 

The best way to prevent hard water damage in your dishwasher is by removing spots, residue, and hard water film as it occurs. 

The Finish hard water booster powder is an effective way of removing mineral buildup plus touch, bleachable stains such as from tea or coffee. 

How to Check for Hard Water in My Home? 

If you’re not sure if the water in your home is hard or not, you can start by carrying out a water hardiness test. Once you’re sure that you have hard water, you can take the necessary precautions to convert hard water into soft water

hard water deposits

1. Quick in-home testing 

You can perform a quick home water hardiness test with a transparent bottle, liquid soap, and water. Fill the bottle with 360 ml of tap water, and add 10 drops of liquid soap to the bottle. 

Cap the bottle tight, and shake it vigorously to ensure the soap is mixed with water thoroughly. 

hard water home test

Allow the water to rest and settle for roughly five minutes, and if the water has proper soap foam, your water is soft, and the water is hard if it has plenty of soap scum. 

Even though this method of testing hard water is straightforward, this method isn’t accurate, and will only give you an idea of whether the water in your home is hard or soft. 

However, you can use this as a first step in determining whether your water is hard or soft, but not the hardness of the water. 

2. Using water hardness test strips

hard water test strips

If you want to dig deeper into the water hardness level in your home, using water hardness test strips is an accurate and cost-efficient option. 

These strips are also easy to use, where you simply dip the strip into the water and wait for the color to change. 

The VARIFY water hardness test strip is easy to use and provides you with results in a few seconds. Adding to this, it comes with an easy-to-read color chart, a ready-to-use bottle, and two separately sealed pouches of 50 strips.

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