smelly laundry due to hard water

Does Hard Water Make Your Laundry Smell?

Hard water is formed by the bedrock being made up of sedimentary rocks, such as limestone, sandstone and chalk, amongst others. 

It’s easy to find out how hard your water is based upon your location—just refer to this hard water map

The hardest water in the UK is in the South East and East of England, so if you live there or are just wondering why your laundry smells strange, this article is for you!

Does Hard Water Make Your Laundry Smell?

Yes, washing in hard water can make your laundry smell. It’s not the water itself that smells though—the smell is caused by the fact that it’s harder to clean your laundry effectively in hard water.

The minerals found in hard water clog the fabric of your clothes, meaning the soap and water struggle to work their way through during the wash cycle. 

This leads to a build-up of soap, which allows dirt and grime to accumulate in the machine drum, door and around the rubber seal. 

All of this causes a sweaty, mouldy, cheesy smell both in your washing machine and on your clothes—nice!


How Can You Get Rid of the Smell?

get rid of smell due to hard water with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda

If you find that your clothes smell “a bit off” after washing them in hard water, try rewashing them in your machine with a cup of white vinegar, or a cup of bicarbonate of soda. This will remove the odour. 

If the bad smell persists, go for the strong stuff! Mix half a cup of borax substitute with one cup of warm water, add to your washing machine and rewash your clothes.


How Can You Prevent Hard Water from Making Your Clothes Smell in the Future?

Now that you’ve removed the odour from your clothes, it’s time to prevent the same thing from happening again!

prevent laundry smells from hard water

Here are a few tips on how to do this.

1. Choose the right laundry detergent

First of all, choose a detergent that is specifically formulated to reduce the effect that hard water has on your clothes. 

A couple of recommended detergents for this are Tide HE Turbo Clean and Tide 3 in 1 Pods

2. Use more detergent if necessary

Secondly, hard water sometimes requires you to use more detergent than you would with soft water, so make sure to check the recommendations on the detergent bottle/box.

3. Use higher temperatures if necessary

Washing your clothes in hard water is often more effective at higher temperatures, but as mentioned previously, it’s best that you check the detergent label and the label on your clothes. The detergent may work fine at 30 degrees, which is better for the environment and your wallet! 

4. Add a Calgon tablet

Finally, adding a Calgon tablet to your wash on top of your chosen detergent is a great way to combat the effects of hard water, both for your clothes and your washing machine. Doing this will prevent the build-up of soap scum, dirt, grime and mould!



So, the answer is yes, hard water does cause your clothes to smell. However, following these tips will ensure that you don’t have to take any drastic measures (like moving house!!) in order to keep your clothes and machine from smelling nice and fresh! Enjoy!