baby in cloth diaper

How to Wash Cloth Diapers in Hard Water


You use cloth diapers for your little one because they’re environmentally friendly, less expensive, or for both reasons! At Charlie’s Soap, we applaud anyone making the switch to cloth diapers – in 2018 alone, the EPA estimated that over 4 million tons of disposable diapers wound up in landfills.  

However, it’s not always easy getting used to cleaning cloth diapers. It can be even tougher if you live in an area with hard water. That’s why we’re sharing some information and tips on how to wash cloth diapers in hard water below.

What is hard water?

Hard water refers to water that may have a higher level of dissolved minerals in it. In scientific terms, water hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in your water. Hard water isn’t harmful or dangerous, but it can make getting things clean tricky.

You might have hard water if you notice residue on glasses or dishes after running them through your dishwasher. Cloudy glassware and dishes can result from hard water residue. Another sign you may have hard water? Finding white mineral buildup around faucet taps, in water pipes, or even in appliances like your coffee maker.

Where you live in the United States can influence whether your water is hard or soft. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a handy map of water hardness in the U.S. You can see on the map that water in the Southeast and East Coast has a lower concentration of hardness as calcium carbonate, while the Midwest and Southwest have a much higher concentration. 

That’s why the water can feel and taste different when you visit other places in the country! And of course, hard water can affect how you do laundry, and how you wash cloth diapers in particular.

How hard water affects your laundry

When you use hard water to wash your hands, take a shower, do the dishes, or do the laundry, sometimes more soap or detergent is needed to get things clean. Soap reacts with the higher amounts of calcium in hard water to form soap scum, which is why you can sometimes see or feel residue after washing.

One way to handle hard water when doing your laundry is to choose a natural, concentrated laundry detergent with minimal ingredients. If you have hard water, you may have to use slightly more laundry detergent to wash your fabrics. Choose a concentrated formula that uses less detergent overall, and you’ll get a more efficient wash.

Another tip for dealing with hard water? Try a hard water treatment to control the minerals in your wash water. A hard water treatment can soften water, prevent scale, and cut down on the amount of detergent you have to use for your cloth diapers and other laundry loads.

Tips for washing cloth diapers

Once you have your natural laundry detergent and/or your hard water treatment, it’s time to wash your baby’s cloth diapers. If you have any stained or soiled pieces, you should rinse with cold water and treat them with a stain remover as soon as possible so that the stain doesn’t set.

Then, wash the cloth diapers with hot water and your natural laundry detergent. If you’re using a hard water treatment, follow the directions for adding it to your wash water. Hot water is best to thoroughly clean and sanitize your baby’s cloth diapers.

If you’re not using a hard water treatment, try adding a little more laundry detergent than you’re used to using. Extra detergent can help combat hard water and get those diapers clean. 

After the diapers are washed, toss them into your dryer to tumble dry. You can also line dry cloth diapers outside in the sun to save even more on your energy bills. 

Pro tip: New to Charlie’s Soap natural detergent, but have been using cloth diapers with hard water for a while? Make sure that you wash your cloth diapers in Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Powder or Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Liquid Detergent, adding our Booster Hard Water Treatment to each load. Do this a few times to remove possible residues from the fabric, and to ensure you put only a super, deep-cleaned diaper on your baby.

Choose a baby-safe natural detergent for a deep clean

Doing your laundry with hard water doesn’t have to be complicated! Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Powder and Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Liquid Detergent are efficient, concentrated formulas that can last for hundreds of wash loads, including your baby’s cloth diapers. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic and gentle on skin (and the environment)!

For extra help when washing with hard water, don’t forget to pick up Charlie’s Soap Biodegradable Booster & Hard Water Treatment, too. Add a small scoop into your washing machine and get softer water and a better clean. Your fabrics and baby diapers will have a longer life and a greener clean!

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