What Kind of Water Do You Really Have?

When it comes to cloth diaper laundry, water hardness is a very common and sometimes touchy subject. Families often struggle with getting their diapers clean while experimenting to figure out what type of water they have, but luckily there are solutions to help take the guess work out of confirming your water type. Other washing issues can be avoided by keeping load sizes down, increasing the volume of water your washer uses and adjusting the amount of detergent.

I live outside the city limits in rural Missouri so after a little research in my early cloth diapering months determined I must have hard water. I honestly had never really thought about the hardness of our water prior to cloth diapering. We get white mineral residue relatively quickly on our shower heads, sinks and refrigerator water dispenser, so I was pretty confident we had hard water and have been washing accordingly over the years.

I recently felt I needed to actually put my water to the test. It was when I was shopping online the other week that I was lured in by the water quality test strips many cloth diaper retailers sell and felt the urge to be absolutely sure. At only 60 cents per strip I tossed one in my shopping cart and awaited its arrival. I wished I had grabbed a couple more to bring with me when we move next month, but I just realized we will probably live driving distance from a cloth diaper retailer for a change!

The water test is very easy to do and it only requires taking the strip out of the package, wetting the strip for one second then waiting for 10 seconds or so to see what color it becomes. Then you compare the strip to the colors on the package to determine the hardness or softness of your home’s water. Easy as pie.

My verdict? If you look below you will see that we have hard to very hard water. After researching water maps online I decided to explore the water in Washington State where we will be moving and it seems that is has predominantly soft or softer water. It will be interesting to experience two water extremes and fulfill my eighth-grade dream of being a scientist with additional cloth diaper washing experiments.

As many of you know hard water causes obstacles due to the high mineral content in the water which force the detergent to work hard getting through all the minerals to in attempt to clean your laundry and it may not clean as thoroughly as a result. Small amounts of water softening additives, hard water detergent formulas or in some case increasing the amount of detergent are solutions for many families.

Soft water, on the other hand, calls for less detergent since it has a harder time clinging to and rinsing out soaps and detergents. I am guessing that my obstacle when finding the right wash routine in the Pacific Northwest will be finding the right dose of detergent. To much detergent will not rinse out properly, but you do not want to get stuck using too little detergent and risk not cleaning your diapers thoroughly.

Looking for additional articles related to this topic? Visit my Care and Washing page or stop by some of my precious articles on washing cloth diapers in hard water and of course you can subscribe to my RSS feed to keep posted on future articles.

{If you enjoyed reading What Kind of Water Do You Really Have? I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. I really need to test my water. We have hard water but have a water softener. I’m not sure what that really makes my water.

    • I’d be curious how much a water softener softens hard water and I have never had a softener to know if you can adjust it since you don’t want it too soft either. Go test it, it’s only 0.60! Then report back 😀

  2. Michelle Wood says:

    I was able to find the same test strip for Free from http://www.diaperjungle.com. The prices on Amazon were crazy.

  3. Christy Perce says:

    We offer free water test strips on http://www.diaperjungle.com !

  4. Late comment, but I live in Vancouver WA and think we have the hardest water I’ve experienced. Mineral deposits on EVERYTHING – my neighbor waxes her toilet bowls to avoid the build up! I miss the water in my native Texas!

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