Close up of hard water stains sitting on a dripping tap.

How to remove hard water stains

Think you might be living in a hard water area? Not sure how to tell? You’re not alone – the differences between soft and hard water aren’t exactly well known. Luckily, we’re old hands at spotting hard water stains on clothes, and we also know how to keep hard water from affecting your laundry loads too.

So if you’re fed up with stubborn stains, scratchy sheets, and detergents that just won’t lather, you’ve come to the right place. Just follow our tips and watch these hard water problems disappear.

What is hard water, and how do you get hard water stains?

Hard water contains a large amount of minerals, picked up from the rocks it flows over on its way to your home. It may have a distinctive taste if the mineral concentration is high, but it’s completely safe to drink.

If that’s the case, why care if you’re living in a hard water area or not? Well, when the water itself evaporates, it leaves behind small whitish-yellow deposits known as limescale. If you live in a hard water area, it’s not uncommon to find these deposits in your kettle, your washing machine and therefore – you guessed it – on your clothes.

The minerals in hard water can also keep detergent from lathering up quite as easily as it does in soft water areas, so you have to use a little more to see the same results.

How to remove hard water stains on clothes

So, how do you go about removing hard water stains from your clothes? It’s pretty simple, but you’ll have to take into account some of the key rules of hard water laundry to get the best results:

  • Use a reliable laundry detergent. Whether they’re bio or non-bio, all OMO detergents work well in both hard and soft water.
  • Find the dose that’s right for you. People living in hard water areas usually need to add more detergent to their washing than those living in soft water areas. Luckily, most quality detergent brands take this into account, so you should be able to find the correct dosage on the product label.
  • Investigate water softeners. These come in either liquid or tablet form and are designed to be put in your detergent slot before you add the detergent. This may help to prevent hard water stains on clothes and hard water deposits in your washing machine. It may also mean that you don’t need to use quite as much detergent per wash.
  • Consider using a water filter. This may be a bit more of an investment, but it could help you limit your hard water stain removal efforts. Since limescale can build up to cause blockages in your washing machine, it’s definitely worth considering buying a filter if you live in a hard water area.

These precautions won’t just make hard water stain removal a little easier, they’ll also help you prevent these marks from turning up in the future. But what about the hard water stains that already exist? Try taking these simple steps:

  1. Do a vinegar rinse. Add a cup of vinegar to the detergent slot of your washing machine, pop your clothes in the drum, then run the machine on the ‘Rinse’ setting.
  2. Wash as normal. Wash the load on a normal, low temperature cycle with a high quality laundry detergent, like OMO Ultimate.
  3. Check for stains. If they’re gone, move to step 4. If not, and your garments are white and bleach safe, you can wash them again with bleach in the detergent drawer – check the product label for dosage, safety, and fabric suitability advice. If your clothes aren’t bleachable, do the vinegar rinse again. In both cases, wash again on a normal cycle (using your usual laundry detergent) before moving on to step 4.
  4. Dry naturally. Allow the clothes to air-dry, as the heat of a tumble dryer could set any remaining stains or discolouration.

That’s it – pretty simple, right? Now that you know how to remove hard water stains from clothes and how to keep your washing machine in ship shape, there’s no need to worry about living in a hard water area: you can still get brilliant results with every wash.