This page looks at the effects of hard water and limescale in washing machines and plumbing. Limescale removing products are just dealing with symptoms and not causes. After research, I’m writing about limescale and hard water, in a non technical way and looking into water softener products.
A lot of people want to know if Calgon (or other similar anti limescale products) really work, and more importantly do washing machines really “last longer with Calgon” as their adverts insist they do?
It shouldn’t really matter but there are pros and cons involved. If you put detergent in the drum, make sure you don’t overload the washing machine because the detergent may get trapped inside laundry and be unable to disburse properly. This can prevent proper washing (washing not getting clean properly) | Am I overloading my washing machine?).
Washing powder, liquid or tablets?
Powder has been used successfully for decades. If liquid was definitely better than powder then you’d expect powder to have disappeared by now but it hasn’t. As far as I can see, the advantages of liquid are meant to be that the detergent is already dissolved into a solution. People using cold water only washing machines, or with poor water pressure, may find that the liquid is better as some powders may not dissolve as well in cold water or get properly flushed out of the drawer. However, I’ve not heard claims that liquid detergent washes any better than powder.
Sometimes the washer finishes its cycle and leaves the fabric softener compartment full of water. This is caused by a blockage, or a missing siphon tube. The small fabric conditioner compartment in the soap dispenser drawer has a plastic cap or tube at the back for the water to siphon up through.
Sometimes the fabric conditioner doesn’t seem to work properly, the laundry isn’t softened and doesn’t have the conditioner smell. This can be because it’s being taken into the machine too soon. It’s usually caused by stray water going into the conditioner compartment and starting the siphoning process.
If the fabric softener is still in the fabric compartment at the end of the wash and it hasn’t drained away into the machine it could be because the washing machine has aborted the program before reaching the section where the softener gets taken. If this has happened, you should get some flashing lights or a program selector clicking round, or some other error code display indication telling you the wash has aborted. Once this fault has been fixed the fabric conditioner should flush in OK. (Information on error codes)
Some people have problems with excessive foam in the washing machine and think the washing machine is at fault. However, the cause is likely to be due to the detergent – or how the detergent is being used. Apart from the nuisance of foam leaking out of the dispenser drawer, too much foam can prevent the clothes from getting properly clean. Excessive suds can also stop the washing machine from pumping out the water because the impeller just whips up more bubbles and cannot pump bubbles.
I just received a question related to connecting up a washing machine, which I’d like to answer publicly so as to help more than one person. People are generally aware that hard water is bad for washing machines so it seems on the face of it to be a good idea to connect one to a water supply which is being softened.