Softening water is removing or countering minerals (calcium, magnesium, and even iron). Mechanical water softening systems are available, but vinegar can also be used to soften water for dishes and laundry purposes.
For softening your water, it is best to use distilled white vinegar. Other types of vinegar may stain or discolor your fabrics (when used for laundry), dishes and dishwasher (when used for dishwashing).
Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the final rinse cycle when using for laundry. Use white vinegar in your rinse aid dispenser in your dishwasher to soften water when washing dishes.
Using vinegar to soften water in your washing machine or dishwasher increases the effectiveness of your detergent, resulting in cleaner clothing/linens or dishes.
Vinegar has a very pungent aroma, but don't worry -- the smell washes away completely so your clothing/linens and plates will be odor-free.
Vinegar doesn't just soften water and increase cleanliness of the articles you wash. In the laundry it softens fabrics and whitens whites, and in the dishwasher it acts as a rinse aid for spotless dishes.