What to Use in a Washing Machine With Well Water

People move to the country or a rural setting to enjoy the pace and rhythm of living in proximity to nature. But living in this setting can have its drawbacks, one of which can be the quality of water from the well. Drilled wells are notorious for hard water and a host of minerals that can make it hard to get laundry really clean. The remedies for these problems depend on the specific minerals in the well water.

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Well water can cause staining and other issues with laundry.

Water Conditioners

Hard water can make your laundry look dingy or yellow. Dirt can build up in clothes washed in hard water, and your laundry can have a stiff, harsh feel. You might even find white or gray streaks on colored fabrics. To combat hard water and make cleaning more efficient, add a packaged nonprecipitating water conditioner to the load and use heavy liquid or environmentally-safe detergents in hot water to get clothes clean.

Oxygen Bleaches

Iron causes red or rusty brown staining on laundry. If you use chlorine bleach and notice that clothes have a yellowed appearance, switch to an oxygen-type bleach instead. Oxygen bleaches don't react with dissolved irons in the water to cause stains. The bleaching action isn't as strong as you get from using chlorine bleach -- which isn't good for your septic system anyway -- and stain removal may be limited. But used consistently, oxygen bleach helps to maintain the overall whiteness of clothes and linens.

Environmentally Safe Detergents

If you have well water you probably also have a septic system, so you need to think about the effects detergents and cleansers have on your septic system. Don't add harsh chemicals or phosphate detergents to you washing machine if you have well water and a septic system. Use the oxygen-based bleaches and environmentally safe detergents that say "safe for septic systems" on the packaging. Some of the environmentally safe detergents include a water conditioner or oxygen bleach.

Other Considerations

If your well water produces blue or green stains or the water takes on this appearance, it means you have acidic water, which is not healthy for your family or for copper pipes. Consider contacting a water treatment professional and adding a water conditioning system. It can remove problems caused by harsh minerals in your well water and make the water better tasting and odor free as well. Treatment systems can represent a significant initial cost, but you realize the benefits immediately.