Do I need to use a water softener in my washing machine?
In the UK, many of us are blighted with what’s commonly referred to as “hard water.” In some areas of London, for example, water hardness is over 300 parts per million (ppm), which means that for every million particles of water there will be over 300 particles of contaminants. This might sound like an insignificant number but even the slightest trace of contaminant can be enough to leave your water tasting funky and damaging your appliances over time.
Harder, unsoftened and unfiltered water can play havoc with your boiler, kettle, dishwasher and, of course, your washing machine. In fact, it’s thought that using a water softener can dramatically improve the lifespan of your machine and even protect your clothing. Given the current increased cost of living, it will probably also please potential customers to learn that softer water means you end up using less detergent too.
Investing in a water softener for your washing machine will: –
Protect your machine – When water is “hard” it means it has a large amount of calcium and magnesium, which build up in the water as it runs through the pipes on its way from the reservoir to your home. It will also go through a water treatment plant but that only gets rid of a percentage of the contaminants. As the water runs through your washing machine and pipes it will leave residue and limescale over time, not only leaving a nasty smell but doing damage to your machine and pipes over time.
Protect your clothes – Harder water can make the clothes you wash in your washing machine wear out faster, losing colour or developing an unpleasant mineral residue. Those with sensitive skin might also notice that clothes washed with harder water are scratchier and more irritating, whereas clothes washed with soft water are softer and fluffier. This is particularly noticeable on towels.
Protect your wallet – People using a washing machine without a water softener will use around 30% more detergent and a lot more water to get their clothes clean. Over time these costs will add up. You can also choose to use fabric softener, which will mitigate some of the problems caused by hard water on your clothes. But it won’t stop the hard water from damaging your pipes and your machine and it’s another expense to consider every time you run a fresh wash.
Hooking up a water softener
Installing a water softener is a job you might want to leave to a professional as the job will vary significantly depending on the layout of your home, your pipes and the type of unit you purchase. It’s a job that experienced DIY experts might be capable of but it’s a little more complicated than connecting the hot tap and the cold tap to it; you might have to cut through and redirect pipes. Basically, if you feel uncomfortable installing a washing machine, you should probably leave the installation of your water softener to the professionals.
Other water softener benefits
Of course, if you hook up a water softener it’s not only your washing machine that will reap the benefits. There are many water softener benefits that you’ll notice, particularly if you suffer from irritable skin conditions such as eczema. It’s a decision you will not regret and once you’ve worn a fluffy jumper washed in a soft water washing machine, you’ll never want to look back.