Does Vinegar Soften Water? August 8, 2020 23:00

Does Vinegar Soften Water?

vinegar soften hard water

When water contains a significant amount of calcium and magnesium, it is known as hard water, which is the main cause of clogged pipes, clothes wear-and-tear, increased soap usage, and decreased appliance lifespan.

Traditionally, water softeners, most frequently ion exchange water softeners, are the most common and widely recognized way to treat hard water. The technology is highly developed and in most cases works well to reduce the hardness level.

Are you looking for an alternative to investing in a water softener? If you don’t want to install a water softener, there's still hope for you! Keep reading to learn how vinegar can temporarily solve your hard water problems.

Does vinegar help with hard water?

vinegar soften hard waterSince the majority of hard water is composed of negatively charged calcium ions, it is highly reactive with acids like vinegar.

Try it for yourself: Place any small appliance that is covered in scale buildup into a bowl of hot, vinegar to dissolve the calcium deposit in about an hour. A simple rinsing with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts filtered water will do the trick. Vinegar will prevent mold, bacteria, germs, and help clean dish-ware through regular wash cycles. Use white vinegar in your rinse aid dispenser in your dishwasher to soften water when washing dishes.

Can you use vinegar to soften clothes?

vinegar soften laundry clothesFor softening laundry water, it is best to use distilled white vinegar. Other types of vinegar may stain or discolor your fabrics, dishes, and dishwasher. Using inexpensive distilled white vinegar for laundry will whiten, brighten, reduce odor, and soften clothes without typical harsh chemicals. Vinegar is safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers and the discharge is less harmful environment. 

Note: All types of vinegar contain acetic acid that works to brighten, soften, and kill odors in your laundry. The highest acidity vinegar is Apple Cider, made from the juice of apples, and has an acidity in the range of 5-6% and can be purchased at any grocery store.

How to use vinegar to soften clothes:

Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to the final rinse cycle when using for laundry. Using vinegar to soften water in your washing machine or dishwasher increases the effectiveness of your detergent, resulting in cleaner clothing/linens or dishes.

But won't Vinegar make my clothes smell?

Although Vinegar has a very pungent aroma, the smell washes away completely so your clothing, linens, and plates will be odor-free! Vinegar doesn't just soften water and increase the cleanliness of the clothing you wash, when used in laundry, it softens fabrics and whitens whites, and in the dishwasher, it acts as a rinse aid for spotless dishes.

You can also use vinegar to clean your washing machine that may be dirtied from hard water's mineral deposits. A clean washer equals cleaner laundry. Soap scum and mineral deposits can build up in the mechanisms of your washing machine restricting water flow and decreasing performance. To freshen up your washer, remove soap scum and clean the hoses, run a full wash cycle with the washer empty using hot water, and two cups of distilled white vinegar.

How to use Vinegar to soften hair:

vinegar soften hairYes, it's even possible to create DIY vinegar solutions to negate the damaging effects hard water has on hair. A vinegar rinse works because of vinegar acidity, it removes the scaly buildup of hardness minerals such as magnesium and calcium, which dry up your scalp.

Note: Distilled white vinegar will work, but the preferred type for this rinse is apple cider vinegar. To create a vinegar rinse, just combine 1 tablespoon of vinegar with 3 cups of water. Apply this solution to the scalp after shampooing and allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing it. You can apply this rinse once a week for long lasting benefits.

How do you soften water naturally?

Asides from using vinegar to soften laundry and dishwashing water, there are also quick fixes to softening your water at home.

Here are some quick fixes that some hard water homeowners have used:

  • Try bottled water instead of tap water for smaller uses: This is usually not advised due to the environmental impact
  • Soften your kitchen water by boiling: Boiling will make the salts in water sink to the bottom of the boiler. You can then scoop out this water or pour the water in another pot leaving the deposits in the end. 
  • Install an ion-exchange filter to your kitchen faucet or use a water pitcher filter
  • Install a showerhead with a built-in shower filterSoftened shower water has many benefits for your skin and hair health
  • Use a moisturizer after showering to keep your skin from drying out due to hard water.
  • Incorporate apple cider vinegar or lemon juice into your hair wash final steps to remove the hard water minerals
  • Shut off the hot water valve to your washing machine and only wash your clothes in cold water: without the heat, hard water is less likely to damage your clothes, fade them or cause wrinkling.
  • Set a low drying temperature on your dishwasher: again this mitigates the effect of hard water leaving white water spots
  • Scrub hard water spots with vinegar: Try apple cider or white vinegar to remove stains, white spots on fabric, and mineral build-up on the appliance.
  • Get professional cleaning to remove limescale buildup inside your pipes. If you're comfortable with plumbing, this could be a DIY project, otherwise, call a professional. This will keep your appliances running longer.


The only long-lasting solution

As you can see, there are many solutions to temporarily alleviate problems caused by hard water, but for permanent results, installing a water softener is the way to go. For the long-term, protection from home headaches, the best thing to do is invest in a whole house water softening system.

Water softeners work to remove calcium and magnesium in your home’s water supply, leaving you with soft water, manageable hair, smooth skin, clean clothes, spotless dishes, and longer-lasting appliances.

 If you’re tired of using quick fixes like vinegar every time, don’t wait any longer for a permanent solution! Call Aquatell today for more information on installing a water softener that’s right for you!