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Hard Water Problems: How to Clean Yellow Stains from Your Clothes

Hard Water Yellow Strains

Ugh. Those yellow stains on your clothes and linens. It’s embarrassing and frustrating, especially if you aren’t sure what’s causing them. Chances are, it’s your hard water. In addition to those yellow stains, hard water can leave streaks of whitish residue on darker colors and make your sheets, towels, and clothes feel stiff and look dingy, too.

People have been tackling hard water problems for decades, and you may be surprised to hear some of the ways they’ve tried to rid their clothes of these pesky stains. While there doesn’t appear to be a magical solution, here are a few suggestions we like.

For Colored Clothes

Try soaking your laundry in a mixture of 1 cup of distilled vinegar per 1-gallon of water. Leave it to sit for at least 30 minutes, then rinse, spin, and run the load through a normal wash-and-rinse cycle. This is especially recommended to help remove white residue from colored items.

For Any Laundry

Fill your washer with the hottest water that won’t harm the material, plus 1 cup of fabric softener (not borax) and 4 times as much laundry detergent as you normally use. Add clothes and agitate only until everything is wet. Let the load soak at least 12 hours, or overnight. Then drain and spin. Do not agitate the clothes.

Now run the load through an entire cycle, using only 1 cup of the fabric softener (no detergent). If you notice soap suds in the rinse water, repeat this process until you no longer see them.

Preventative Measures

While these solutions may work, they can be tedious. Wouldn’t it be better to avoid stains in the first place? You could simply invest in a wardrobe that features only shades of yellow and gray so the stains and streaks blend in. But perhaps yellow and gray aren’t your best colors. Here are some other ideas to prevent hard water stains and streaks:

  • Use liquid detergent rather than powder.
  • Add a half-cup of laundry borax to each load, to improve your detergent’s cleaning ability.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach because it will set stains permanently.

There is a Better Way

These tips can help remove or avoid hard water stains and streaks, at least to some degree. But they are time-consuming and costly. There is one solution that ensures you will prevent hard water problems altogether — installing a water softener.

Not only will you reduce the chance of hard water stains and streaks, but you’ll get vastly improved water for washing dishes and yourself, too. Say goodbye to spots all over your glassware, silverware, pots, and pans. Too stiff, brittle hair that tangles easily. To dry, itchy skin. And to impossible-to-get-off limescale on kitchen and bathroom fixtures. And say hello to soft water.

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