There are few things in life as inexplicably wonderful as a new, fluffy towel hot from the dryer and the subsequent burial of your face into its soft and plush wonders. It’s love at first embrace. You gladly wrap yourself in its luxury, breathing in that amazing detergent smell. But fate can be cruel, and, over time, you notice how the fluff stiffens. What once was plushy is now thin, and even the beautiful color begins to fade. You were so careful! Your measurements were precise! But now, even the fabric softener has no effect. It’s enough to have you shouting, “I am fortune’s fool!” to the heavens. But try not to. (You’re scaring the neighbors.) The good news is that this doesn't have to happen. Your towels, and the rest of your laundry, can stay softer and brighter long enough for you to grow tired of them the old fashioned way. It’s not your detergent. It’s not your washing machine. It’s your water.
If you’re looking to lay blame, give your hard water a good talking-to. First, it reacted negatively with laundry soap, a natural dirt-suspending and fabric-lubricating cleaning agent, to form and leave a nasty soap scum on all of your clothes. Then, synthetic detergents were made specifically to combat all of hard water’s clothes-washing shortfalls. Added surfactants and suspension agents attempt to aid in the necessary lathering of soap, but you can’t beat the real thing. These detergents are doing their best, but that’s not saying much. They’re created with more water-softening builders, which neutralize the damaging effects of hardness ions than soap. So once the builders allow the soap to actually do its job, there’s an insufficient amount to properly clean soiled laundry. This snowballs into you using more detergent than you should, which aids, but isn’t the main culprit, in the not-so-gradual fading and stiffening of your beloved towels.
So, what’s a little dirt left behind? Hard water doesn’t just drop the ball cleaning-wise, it adds to the mess. All of those hardness minerals will deposit themselves on your laundry in the washer and stick around to fade and shorten the life of everything they inhabit. You can count on your clothes and towels not only losing color but also wearing out 15% faster than they would with soft water. Homes with soft water coursing through the washing machine can use the suggested amount of detergent for satisfactory cleaning. Without the hardness minerals interfering, everyday dirt can be suspended in the water and drained away. Your clothes and towels won’t rub, scratch or wear thin prematurely any longer.
If you want to keep your towels softer for longer, consider making the switch to soft water. (It has ‘soft’ in its name, after all!) Your appliances, dishes, skin and hair will also benefit from the absence of that smothering and insoluble soap scum. Contact your local water softener company for information on what size and series is right for your home. Then you can get back to fresh, hot towels for all blissful and drama-free drying.