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Best Laundry Detergents for Hard Water of 2022

Updated
Is hard water ruining your clothes?

Hard water is a common issue across much of the United States and around the world as a whole. Its mineral content can leave stains on your worktops, and marks on your glasses, and could cause limescale buildup in your plumbing system.

If you have a hard water supply, you have probably noticed these issues at some point. However, it could also affect your laundry, as it can react badly with some detergents, so it is important to use the right ones.

To ensure your clothes are as clean as possible, this article will explore the best laundry detergents to use if you have hard water, chosen for their effectiveness and value for money. We have also shared some tips on choosing a detergent and how to minimize the effects of hard water.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder (100 Loads, 1 Pack) Fragrance Free Hypoallergenic Plant Based Deep Cleaning Laundry Powder – Biodegradable Eco Friendly Sustainable Laundry Detergent
Best Overall
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder
  • Safe for all washing machine types
  • Works in all water conditions
  • Phosphate-free
Product Image of the Charlie's Soap Booster & Hard Water Treatment (2.64 Lbs, 1 Pack) Natural Powdered Water Softener and Laundry Booster – Non-Toxic, Safe and Effective
Best Booster
Charlie's Soap Laundry Booster
  • Eco-friendly
  • Safe in septic systems
  • Reduces limescale
Product Image of the Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, Mountain Breeze, 2X Concentrated, Pack of 2, 252 Total Loads
Best Application
Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Penetrates for deeper cleaning
  • Safe for everyday use
  • Easy to measure and pour
Product Image of the all Liquid Laundry Detergent, Clear for Sensitive Skin, 2X Concentrated, 110 Loads
Best for Sensitive Skin
All Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Hypoallergenic formula
  • Free from perfumes & dyes
  • Washes effectively at any temperature
Product Image of the Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent Plus OxiClean, Fresh Scent, 70 loads
Best OxiClean Formula
Arm & Hammer OxiClean Detergent
  • Contains non-ionic surfactants
  • Low-sud formula
  • Removes more than 10 types of stains
Product Image of the Rockin' Green 45oz (90 Loads) Hard Rock Laundry Powder Detergent for Hard Water - All Natural Laundry Soap Powder - Biodegradable & Vegan - Safe for Sensitive Skin, Lavender Mint
Best Powder Detergent
Rockin' Green Natural Powder
  • Natural formula
  • Low pH level
  • Free from parabens & phosphates
Product Image of the Persil ProClean Liquid Laundry Detergent, Original, 75 Fluid Ounces, 96 Total Loads (Pack of 2)
Best Deep Clean
Persil ProClean Liquid Detergent
  • Deep clean
  • Can be used in cold water
  • Brightens clothes without damage


Product Reviews

Laundry detergents are among the most widely used products on the planet, so it is impossible to count how many different brands are available. Still, after conducting a great deal of research, we have chosen what we consider the seven best laundry detergents for hard water you can buy today. We chose these detergents based on their effectiveness, cost, and how many washes you get per pack.

1. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder

Best Overall

If you want a laundry detergent to overcome hard water issues, Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder is an excellent option. Its concentrated formula contains biodegradable surfactants that are plant-based to reduce the effects of hard water, such as dullness.

This powder can be used in standard washing machines as well as high-efficiency washers. HE washers use less energy and water while washing, so they require a low-sudsing detergent (1).

This product contains 2.64 pounds of powdered detergent — this should last for up to 100 washes. Simply put two-thirds of a tablespoon of detergent straight into the washer. However, it could take up to three cycles per item to achieve a deep clean if this is the first time you use this detergent.

This detergent leaves a fresh scent on the laundry. It is less overpowering than other brands, but it is also long-lasting.

One downside of this product is that it can be tricky to pour precisely because of the package’s large opening. To overcome this, scoop the powder using a measuring cup or tablespoon before adding it directly to the washer, rather than pouring it into the machine’s dispenser.

Pros

  • Safe for all washing machine types
  • Can be used for hand washing
  • Suitable for any water hardness
  • Phosphate-free

Cons

  • Some people might prefer a stronger scent

Product Specs

Size 2.64 lbs
Number of Loads 100
Safe to Use in Standard and HE washing machines
Scent Fragrance-free
Form Powder

2. Charlie’s Soap Laundry Booster

Best Booster

Sometimes, our usual laundry detergent only needs a small boost to reduce the impact of hard water. Charlie’s Soap Booster does exactly that, and it is both effective and environmentally friendly.

This powder contains an eco-friendly phosphate that prevents the stiffness and white marks that are often caused by hard water. Some detergent boosters leave unsightly residue on dark clothes, but this product will be rinsed off completely during the wash cycle.

You can use this booster in any type of machine, whether it is an HE model, or front or top loading. You only need to add half a tablespoon to each load, and it will manage the minerals present in the water.

This product goes even further by reducing limescale in your washing machine and pipes. As the formula is non-toxic and soluble, it is also perfectly safe to use in septic systems.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Safe in septic systems
  • Works for all washing machines types
  • Very effective in small amounts
  • Reduces limescale

Cons

  • The main ingredient is phosphate, which puts some people off

Product Specs

Size 2.64 pounds
Number of Loads Not specified
Safe to Use in Not specified
Scent Unscented
Form Powder

3. Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent

Best Application

Purex is one of the most widely used and trusted cleaner brands in the United States. Although this formula isn’t made specifically for hard water, the surfactants it contains are still highly effective at reducing the associated issues. They penetrate the fabric to lift and dissolve tough stains, including white mineral marks.

You can use this detergent for every wash without worrying about wearing out your clothing’s fabric or color. The long-lasting Mountain Breeze fragrance will freshen up your laundry and eliminate the bad odors caused by hard water.

It is easy to measure and pour the detergent into the dispenser using the bottle’s spigot and cup. You receive two 82.5-ounce bottles, which should last you up to 252 washes.

Pros

  • Effectively removes stains
  • Safe for everyday use
  • Long-lasting scent
  • Easy to pour

Cons

  • Bottles are known to leak

Product Specs

Size 2 bottles of 82.5 ounces
Number of Loads 126 each
Safe to Use in Standard and high-efficiency machines
Scent Mountain Breeze
Form Liquid

4. All Liquid Laundry Detergent

Best for Sensitive Skin

If you have children or sensitive skin, you probably know how important it is to choose your detergent wisely. Strongly scented cleaners can irritate the skin, so it is always best to choose a mild formula (2).

All liquid laundry detergent is a hypoallergenic formula that is recommended by dermatologists and pediatricians. It cleans effectively and leaves your laundry residue-free.

One of the main positives of this detergent is that it can be used in cold water. Washing laundry in hot water increases the likelihood of issues such as white mineral stains. As the water is heated, the minerals form scales that stick to laundry, machines, and pipes.

One downside is that it is unscented, so you will miss out on the fresh smell that you might expect from clean laundry.

Pros

  • Hypoallergenic formula
  • Free from perfumes and dyes
  • Cleans effectively at any temperature
  • Can be used in any washing machine

Cons

  • Small bottle
  • Fragrance-free

Product Specs

Size 82.5 ounces
Number of Loads 110
Safe to Use in Any type of washing machine
Scent Unscented
Form Liquid

5. Arm & Hammer OxiClean Liquid Detergent

Best OxiClean Formula

Baking soda has long been used in homemade cleaners to remove hard water stains from various surfaces such as drinking glasses and drains (3). Arm & Hammer has incorporated that old trick into its detergent to reduce the effects of hard water on laundry.

This formula uses a combination of baking soda and OxiClean ingredients that help to keep whites white and other colors vibrant. Its ingredients include non-ionic surfactants that are highly effective at combating the effects of minerals (4). It is also a low-sud formula that rinses off easily without leaving residue and it is safe for both standard and HE machines.

Arm & Hammer claims this detergent will remove over 101 types of stains, and customer feedback supports that. Users appear very pleased with how thoroughly their laundry is cleaned in comparison to some other detergents.

One drawback of this product is its scent. Some customer reviews mentioned that it was too pungent for them.

There are also reports of customers receiving a bottle that had leaked into the packaging, but this might be an issue with how it was transported rather than the bottle itself.

Pros

  • Contains non-ionic surfactants
  • Low-sud formula
  • Removes tough stains effectively
  • Safe for all types of washing machines

Cons

  • Very strong scent

Product Specs

Size 122.5 ounces
Number of Loads Not specified
Safe to Use in Standard and HE machines
Scent Fresh scent
Form Liquid

6. Rockin’ Green Natural Powder Detergent

Best Powder Detergent

Rockin’ Green is a detergent that is gentle on your laundry but tough on stains. This powder detergent uses a strong but natural formula that makes it popular with parents.

As the cleaner uses natural ingredients, it won’t cause skin irritation or leave a residue. It is also safe to use with cloth diapers.

A little goes a very long way with this product. It is a concentrate, so it contains no fillers or dyes to dilute the cleaner. Rockin’ Green claims this 45-ounce bag will last up to 90 loads if used as instructed.

There are no phosphates, parabens, SLS, brighteners, or bleach in the formula. It is a simple vegan, biodegradable, gluten-free, and animal-cruelty-free detergent.

Rockin’ Green has also reduced the pH level of this powder detergent to make it gentler on fabrics.

The biggest downside of this product is the price. It is significantly more expensive than other products. Some customers also found that they needed to use more of it than instructed.

Pros

  • Natural formula
  • Low pH level
  • Free of parabens, phosphates, and other harmful ingredients
  • One bag provides 90 washes
  • Excellent for children’s clothes and cloth diapers

Cons

  • Pricey.

Product Specs

Size 45 ounces
Number of Loads 90
Safe to Use in All types of washing machines
Scent Lavender and mint
Form Powder

7. Persil ProClean Liquid Detergent

Best Deep Clean

Persil ProClean detergent is excellent for everyday use. It is a powerful formula that consists of surfactants and enzymes. These lift and dissolve hard water stains on clothes effectively while also brightening laundry that might have been affected by hard water.

You can also use this detergent at cold temperatures. This will help to reduce the effects of hard water, such as limescale and white stains. As water is heated, scale is formed; this can linger on the machine, pipes, and laundry (5).

As this is a liquid detergent, it provides a deeper clean without leaving any unsightly or skin-irritating residue behind.

This packet includes two 75-ounce bottles of Persil ProClean — enough for 96 washes. The detergent has a fresh scent that you will immediately recognize if you already use Persil.

Persil ProClean is safe to use in any standard or high-efficiency machine. However, if you are cleaning a large load or dealing with tough stains, you might need to add some extra detergent.

Pros

  • Deep clean
  • Fresh scent
  • It can be used in cold water
  • Brightens clothes without damaging them

Cons

  • The scent isn’t long-lasting

Product Specs

Size 75 ounces
Number of Loads 48
Safe to Use in All machines
Scent Original Persil scent
Form Liquid

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best Size Number of Loads Safe to Use in Scent Form
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder Overall 2.64 lbs 100 Standard, HE washing machines Fragrance-free Powder
Charlie’s Soap Laundry Booster Booster 2.64 lbs N/A Standard, HE washing machines Unscented Powder
Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent Application 82.5 oz 220 Standard, HE washing machines Mountain Breeze Liquid
All Liquid Laundry Detergent Sensitive Skin 82.5 oz 110 All types of washing machines Unscented Liquid
Arm & Hammer OxiClean Detergent OxiClean Formula 122.5 oz N/A Standard, HE washing machines Fresh scent Liquid
Rockin’ Green Natural Powder Powder Detergent 45 oz 90 All types of washing machines Lavender and mint Powder
Persil ProClean Liquid Detergent Deep Clean 75 oz 48 All types of washing machines Original Persil scent Liquid

How Does Hard Water Affect Laundry?

Hard water is water that contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The extent of hardness is determined by the amounts of these minerals that are present.

Homes in areas with hard water will often suffer issues such as limescale buildup (6). In time, this can significantly narrow the pipes in your plumbing, forcing appliances to use more energy to compensate. This then causes an increase in your energy bills, making this a potentially costly issue (7).

However, the effects of hard water can eventually be visible beyond your home. It could affect your clothes, turning your whites gray. Colors might start to fade, white stains will appear, and fibers will weaken (8).

With clothing, it often isn’t the hard water itself that is causing the issue. Instead, it is the combination of hard water and detergent reacting badly to each other and creating scum that then damages the clothes.

Things to Consider (Buying Guide)

If you are living with hard water and want to clean your clothes without any issues, you will need a top-rated hard water laundry detergent. The following factors will also play important parts in how effectively your clothes will be cleaned.

Temperature

Hard water issues become far more prevalent when it is heated. You can probably find evidence of this inside your kettle or even a water heater. As hard water is heated, some of it will evaporate, leaving behind its mineral content in the form of scale, which initially appears as small white specks. When washing laundry, you can reduce this issue by using a lower temperature.

We recommend that you choose a detergent that can be used at low temperatures. This will not only help to keep hard water issues at bay, but it will also reduce your energy bills and is better for the environment. As washing machines are one of the largest energy consumers in most homes, this is well worth doing (9).

Liquid vs. Powder

Whether to use liquid detergent or powder has long been debated, regardless of water quality. However, evidence suggests that liquids are better if you have a hard water supply. This is because liquid detergents contain non-ionic surfactants.

Non-ionic surfactants don’t hold or cause electrical charges in the water. This means they won’t react with the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water — making the detergent more effective (10). You would need to add a larger amount of powder detergent to achieve the same results.

When washing in hard water, you don’t necessarily need to choose a product that is labeled as being for hard water. However, look for non-ionic surfactants, such as ethoxylates, to achieve the best results.

Softening Your Water

Softening your water is the most effective way to avoid any issues caused by its mineral content. There are a few ways to do this without investing in a large softening system:

  • Borax: One effective way to reduce the impact of hard water on your clothes is by adding half a cup of borax to the load. Borax will increase the pH level of the water slightly, bringing it closer to neutral (11). Hard water is alkaline, so this will neutralize it and reduce its side effects (12).
  • Vinegar: It is also possible to neutralize hard water by adding vinegar. Add one cup of vinegar for each gallon of water. The vinegar’s acidity will help to neutralize hard water, thus softening it.

Take Note

Borax and vinegar are both effective but they should be used separately. Mixing the two can cause a reaction, creating a salt.

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Headshot of Sylvia Jones

About the Author

Sylvia Jones

Sylvia Jones is a hands-on, DIY aficionado from Indiana. She is passionate about home improvement, gardening, and environmental conservation. In her spare time, you can find Sylvia getting involved in home improvement projects around the house with her husband, or spending quality time out in the yard.