The hardness of running water can have implications of the effectiveness of detergents and cleaning products. Understanding the impact of hard water in the home or at work can allow individuals to make a more informed choice.

Hard vs. soft water

The hardness of water refers to the level of minerals in the water. Therefore, soft water contains a lesser amount of minerals than hard water. The hardness of water can build up over time, as the water contacts rocks, soil and other surfaces. Calcium and magnesium are the key types of minerals that contribute to the hardness of water.

Dealing with hard water

Hard water can have a distinctive taste if used as drinking water. For cooking, the harder the water, the more likely it is that it will leave spots on dishes. Water that has a high degree of hardness can reduce the effectiveness of soaps, detergents and other cleaning products, as the minerals can react with cleaning solutions. Hard water can also lead to buildup in pipes over time.

The main way to deal with hard water is to use a water softener or filter. For water that is marginally hard, it may be sufficient to simply use more detergent or cleaning solution, and to have regular checks conducted on pipes.