Homeowners or renters with well water may begin to notice that their clothes look dingy or slightly orange over time. Clothes may also may develop an odor, even after laundering. Fortunately, if you have well water, there are a few techniques that can get your clothes staying white, bright and fresh.
Your well water may have too much iron in it. You'll know it because it can turn your sink and toilets a reddish color. The problem with too much iron and doing laundry is you can't just use bleach because a chemical reaction that occurs that stains your clothes. There are a couple of alternatives to get your whites white. Wash your whites with regular detergent, add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide or a scoop of borax to each load, and line dry them in the sun. You can also purchase a product called Iron Out and add it to the rinse cycle after using bleach. In addition, you can purchase a couple gallons of store-bought water and add 1 tbsp. of bleach per gallon of water and let your clothes soak for about 30 minutes. Do this every few months, and your whites should remain white. Using bleach also removes any bad odors that may accumulate in your clothes.
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The problem with most well water is it is hard water that has extra minerals in it, like calcium, magnesium and iron. The best thing to do is to have your water tested and then purchase an appropriate water softener unit so that all your water is free of the excess minerals. Water softeners need to be filled on occasion with rock, solar or evaporated salt.