Can the kind of water you have affect your laundry? You bet. It depends on the water’s softness or hardness. Soft water aids cleaning. Hard water poses some obstacles to cleaning.
Hard water contains minerals (mostly calcium and magnesium) which react with soap to form a curd. Soap curd can show up on clothes as a white powder, make fabrics feel stiff, and attach to the inside of washing machines.
Tell-tale signs of hard water include a “ring around your bathtub,” soaps and shampoos do not lather easily, white residue forms around faucets and drains, and fabrics feel stiff, not fluffy.
Detergents are less sensitive to the minerals in water; so they perform better and don’t form a curd. Because of these features, detergents, instead of soaps, are used for laundry products.
If you’re doing laundry in hard water, even a detergent needs some help. Add slightly more detergent than the product label directions recommend. The extra detergent will help soften the water and allow the remaining detergent to do its cleaning job. You can also add a water softener or detergent booster to the wash water to increase cleaning power.