Save Money On Laundry Detergent

Best Laundry Detergent for Washing in Hard Water

According to the Map of Water Hardness Found in the United States (USGS, 2009), there is hard water to some degree in most regions of America. This makes it difficult to do the laundry since the mineral deposits that hard water leaves behind also affect the cleanliness level of your laundry.

In fact, the buildup of mineral deposits traps bacteria.

It also leaves stains, bad odor, and cause irritation for sensitive skin. It can also have an impact on the absorbency of certain types of laundry.

This is why you need to use the laundry detergent suitable for hard water.

The reality, however, is that there is no one product that hits the problem where it matters the most. It all comes down to the proper use of detergents in hard water.

Winner: Tide Ultra Stain Release

It has better hard water washing ingredients than the regular Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid. It also does a better job of removing stains and odor.

Runner Up: Arm & Hammer Clean Burst

Formulated with baking soda, it has built-in water softener suitable for hard water use. It may not be the best for removing stains, but it has an effective cleaning capability for its price range.

Also Great: Tide Coldwater Clean

Because it is perfect for washing in cold water, you get to save 90% of your energy consumption needed to heat water. Clothes are also guaranteed to come out smelling terrific and looking brighter.

Table of Content

How to Select Laundry Detergents in Hard Water

Know the hardness level of water in your area

As previously mentioned, most regions in America have some level of water hardness. Tests can be done in a pet store or through a water stripping test.

The American Society of Agricultural Engineers classified hard water as moderately hard, hard, or very hard. It is measured in grains per gallon (gpg) or parts per million (ppm).

  • Moderately hard water measures 3.6 to 7 gpg or 62 to 120 ppm
  • Hard water measures 7.7 to 10.5 gpg or 121 to 180 ppm
  • Very hard water measures more than 10.5 gpg or more than 180 ppm

By identifying the level of hardness of water in your area, you will know what to buy and how much to use.

Choose liquid instead of powder

When washing in hard water, most of the ingredients in powdered laundry detergent attaches to the minerals instead of cleaning the clothes. This makes powder detergent less effective in cleaning clothes.

In the study conducted by University of Wyoming Associate Professor of Textiles and Merchandising, Bruce A. Cameron, revealed that washing standard soiled fabric in 100 ppm hardness of water, the volume of powdered detergent has to be increased than the recommended quantity to clean fabrics effectively.

A powdered detergent with biodegradable surfactants and enzymes, for example, has to be increased by 14.5%. The amount is only reduced if the powdered detergent has built in water softeners.

Liquid detergent, on the other hand, performed equally well when used in both soft and hard water. This is due to the nonionic surfactants that liquid detergents contain making them resistant to water hardness.

The lack of ionic groups also means liquid detergents dissolve equally well regardless of the water temperature and hardness conditions.
This makes them most likely the best choice when doing laundry in hard water.

How to Use Laundry Detergents in Hard Water

  • Use liquid laundry detergent for better cleaning results and without leaving scum and stains on fabrics.
  • Use up to 30% more powdered detergent when washing in hard water and higher water temperature.
  • Soften water by using water, softeners such as borax or baking soda. 1/2 cup of borax for each load is the recommended amount.
  • Use only the right amount of water for each load so laundry use is measured just right.

Top 10 Product Reviews – Best Detergent for Hard Water

1. Tide Coldwater Clean

Unlike other cold-water formulas, this product performs the best in cold water conditions and even beat other detergents that need warm water to remove stains.

Despite being a cold-water formula, it can be used in warm or hot water as well.

It performs well in removing odors but may leave a strong smell on clothes as some consumers report.


  • A versatile option, regardless of the water temperature
  • Effective in removing stains and odor
  • Saves 50% energy use when switching from warm to cold


  • Smells strong for some

View latest price on Amazon.com

2. Tide Ultra Stain Release Free

Second best in removing stains and scored very well in removing bacon grease and odor, Tide Ultra Stain Release Free is definitely an excelent choice for a laundry detergent.

It also contains ingredients that grab dirt from clothes and minerals from water. How effective it is in which water hardness is unclear, but it remains a suitable choice washing in hard water.


  • Safe to use, especially for people looking for dye- and fragrance-free detergent
  • Recommended for people with sensitive skin
  • Effective in removing stains and dirt while leaving color brightness bright


  • Smells strong for some
  • Whiteness level is less than what the Tide with bleach offers

View latest price on Amazon.com

3. Tide Plus Bleach Alternative HE Liquid

Recommended for HE washers, this product comes highly recommended as a stain remover. It has been tested and proven to remove coffee, lipstick, and wine stains.

Formulated with HE Turbo Clean technology, you get 6x the cleaning power in just half the time. Unlike other HE compatible laundry detergents, this does not slow machines down due to over-sudsing.

It is known to collapse suds quickly while targeting tough stains.

Its ability to combat stinky smell is lacking, however.


  • Best choice for a stain remover
  • Dealing with stain has just made easier
  • Comes with a pH balancer that ensures detergent is fully washed off upon rinse


  • Performs less in removing smell from stinky clothes
  • Does not dissolve fully when poured directly on clothing
  • Not suitable for use in cold water

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4. Arm & Hammer Clean Burst

Its popularity stems from its bargain price that most families consider a deciding factor.

But don’t be fooled by the affordable price because it offers effective cleaning capability that is gentle on clothes and leaves a long-lasting fresh scent.

With baking soda formulated into it, it not only freshens clothes and power out odors but also softens hard water. Protein-based stains have nothing against the Arm & Hammer Clean Burst.


  • Freshens clothes and removes stains easily
  • Doesn’t cause unusual wear and tear unlike other product with similar formulation
  • Gives more detergent for less money
  • Saves you money on multiple loads of laundry
  • Leaves the smell of fresh linen


  • Smells strong and nauseating for some
  • Less effective in removing oil stain and smell
  • May stain on certain fabrics

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5. Ecover Zero

If what you are looking for is a detergent that is most effective in stain removal, this product may not be the best choice. But it is the most recommended for being natural and eco-friendly, and for its capability to leave laundry soft and smelling clean.

With an A rating in EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, it poses little to no hazards to the environment or your health.

Free of dyes or fragrance, it is recommended for sensitive skin as well.


  • Best used for sheets
  • Removes stains in warm or cold water
  • Hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested
  • Bottled using recyclable plastic or plastic made from sugarcane


  • Reduce absorbency of towels
  • Some complained about the bottle’s design

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6. Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Another green pick on the list, it is effective in removing coffee and wine stains but not as much with other types of stains. Still, it outperforms other laundry detergents with natural or green ingredients.

The Method 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent was not tested on animals, so this factor strongly appeals to some.

Just be aware that this product contains methylisothiazolinone, a preservative that may cause allergy for some people.


  • Made with natural ingredients, eco-friendly
  • Cleans well for both standard and HE washers
  • Made of biodegradable and hypoallergenic formula


  • Less effective in removing stains and odors
  • Some variant can have overpowering smell
  • Packaging could be better

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7. Wisk Deep Clean

Reasonably priced, it is one of the budget laundry detergents on the list.

Many swear by how effective Wisk is in cleaning clothes and removing stains without leaving a strong smell.

It works well in breaking down grime and grease and washing out sweat and body oils that were trapped in clothes.


  • Comes with micro-cleaners
  • Safe for use in all washing machines
  • One 50-oz bottle lets you wash up to 33 loads


  • Too expensive for some

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8. Rockin’ Green Unscented

Designed for hard water, this product keeps minerals from redepositing on your clothes, making it effective as a powder detergent. What you get is clothes that look better and lasts longer.

It contains natural ingredients that cleanly rinse clothes even when hard water is used.

Unscented and natural, it is safe and strong yet ideal for sensitive skin and those allergic to chemicals.


  • Safe and natural ingredients
  • Highly recommended for washing cloth diapers
  • Free from harmful ingredients, such as bleach, dyes, fragrances, phosphates, and optical brighteners


  • Less effective in removing stains
  • Leaves a strong smell for some

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9. Biokleen Laundry Powder

Free of artificial fragrances, chlorine bleach, or synthetic colors, this product has the lowest concern of hazards to the environment or your health.

It contains sodium carbonate that can help soften hard water. The brand is well-loved because of its good ingredient disclosure.


  • Natural and eco-friendly
  • Removes stains and dirt
  • Ideal for people always looking to protect their health


  • Does not dissolve in cold water
  • Not as effective in removing stains as non-organic detergent

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10. All Ultra Free and Clear

Without harsh formula, this is highly recommended for those with sensitive skin.

It effectively removes stains and seasonal allergens, such as dust mite matter, pet dander, and pollen. In fact, it has received the NEA Seal of Acceptance by the National Eczema Association.
Contain sodium cocoate that has its share of pros and cons


  • Sodium cocoate is effective in reducing allergens in clothing
  • Powerful cleaning formula
  • No dyes, perfumes


  • More expensive than other similar products
  • Sodium cocoate can cause buildup, resulting in water repelling issues

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Regardless of the water hardness you’re dealing with, use liquid laundry detergent instead of powder. But don’t overlook the performance of a product based on removing stains and odors and in keeping clothes clean.

If the laundry detergent you choose is not as effective in hard water, use a water softener with it.

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