By James Smith
Everyone has their own preferred daily bathroom routine, and this is a great way to keep up with personal hygiene. Of course, when you’re acclimatized to doing certain things a certain way, it certainly stands out the moment something interferes with it.
Although whatever gets in the way might not be a life-or-death situation, it can prove frustrating and irritating. It’s no different at all when it comes to your bathroom routine.
Many homeowners experience the very common problem of hard water, and as we all know about that specific issue, it can make bathroom routines more difficult. In this article, we’ll help you to recognize hard water and to offset its negative effects on your bathroom and your routines.
Recognize the Symptoms of Hard Water
As with many things, if you know what to look for, recognizing hard water is really simple. It comes with a few easy-to-spot characteristics, itemized below.
Lack of Suds
Hard water can make showers, baths and washes less enjoyable and render hand washing at least slightly difficult since soaps and cleansers won’t foam the way they ought to.
It may surprise you to learn this affects both the efficacy of handwashing and the degree of cleanliness of a shower; soap solutions may not distribute properly around the body, especially in hard-to-reach areas, or their efficacy may be reduced when there is not much foaming.
According to Kate Huber, editor at NJGamblingFun, who’s dealt with a hard water problem in her home, “It’s also worth knowing that some specialty cleansers developed for skin problems or for addressing fungal spores depend on a good foaming action; for example, if you’re using a product to address ringworm, thrush or similar infections, foam delivery is an important part of the process.”
Hard water contains minerals that make it tough to get that sudsy foaming action, and –at the very least– this is also going to take all the fun out of a bubble bath.
You may also find that your favorite toothpaste also does not achieve a froth. While this won’t damage your teeth, it may mean you use more dental products than necessary–and that’s expensive and wasteful.
Hard water means that a scummy white, gray or greenish mark or ring may appear around hand basins, around faucets and deep inside the toilet pan, around the waterline. Shower users can almost guarantee that hard water will create a build-up inside the showerhead — and the first you’ll know about this is when the water jets end up somewhere other than where you’re aiming them. It may also result in reduced water delivery–a meager, ineffective shower, in other words.
These build-ups — sometimes referred to by users as limescale or calcification — create places where bacterial growth can get a foothold. They are extremely hard to remove from the surfaces to which they adhere, often meaning the use of harsh or noxious chemicals or abrasives if left untreated for too long.
Using abrasive cleaning products can bring problems in itself. In brief, scrubbing surfaces in the bathroom can cause tiny scratches which harbor bacteria, so that’s to be avoided.
Of course, while this build-up on sanitaryware is unpleasant to look at, at least we can see it; you should worry even more about the unseen build-up inside pipework that can cause a blockage and which offers a spot for all manner of bacteria and filth to accrue unaddressed and unconsidered.
Dissatisfying showers and baths
Have you ever left a shower or bath only to realize you still feel unclean, or even greasy? This again is a likely hard water problem.
After you soap up and rinse off, hard water may leave a residue on your body. This may also be the case when you wash your hands, and it can lead to irritated skin.
This could even mean that you’re washing your hair too frequently, never understanding why it always feels oily. And as most people know, washing too often — whether the body or the hair — means you’re damaging your ‘good bacteria’, essential for the maintenance of healthy skin. This also then affects your bathroom routine in that when the skin balance is upset, greasiness or itching ensues, leading to more unnecessary washing and a perpetual, damaging, cycle.
So, if you notice any of these effects, they could be signs that your plumbing is pumping hard water to which you need to say goodbye.
Solving Bathroom Hard Water: Water Testing
The only sure way to know if hard water plagues you is to complete a water test. These are simple to come across and complete.
For a simple hardness test, strips offer the most user-friendly approach; these are simple to store, easy to use, and non-messy. Plus, they offer a definitive read-out, leaving no margin for misunderstandings.
Simply drip water onto the test strip and compare the colors it changes to with the colors indicated on the bottle’s helpful color chart. Different colors mean different levels of hardness and mineral content. It should be easy to match the level of hardness the strip indicates with the guidelines on the bottle.
If your water does turn out to be hard, there are a few methods you can use to reduce any effects on your bathroom routine. Below are some suggestions.
Use Hard-Water-Friendly Products
Since hard water impacts so many households, beauty, skincare and health companies have started making products specifically geared to counteract hard water’s negative effects.
A few ‘hard water’ shampoos are on offer to keep your hair healthy and shining, even when your shower releases water that can make hair dry and brittle, causing breakage.
Special shampoos, such as one from GiftWits’ list of “Best Shampoo for Hard Water You Need to Buy Today”, can truly make a difference.
Some people might find their skin very dry when they’re constantly exposed to hard water, while others suffer more oil and acne breakouts, or itching. While you can use bottled water for washing your face, it might be easier to use a micellar water from the drugstore.
Some skincare products also neutralize the skin to alter the effects of hard water, or you may find a wash or cream that’s gentler can make all the difference. Additionally, seek out hair and skin products targeted at babycare if you have especially sensitive breakouts.
Bring in a Professional
To properly assess the situation and any damage caused by hard water, call in someone professionally trained in treating hard-water issues. A professional will be able to recommend the best steps.
If the hard water is not too bad, continuing using the special products may be the way to go.
For more severe issues, a professional might have to repair the plumbing system and install a filter or softener.
These more permanent fixes will make your bathroom routine much easier because the water will be even closer to normally balanced water. You should still use special shampoo and soap, however, to make sure the hard water is still not leaving any residue.
Install a Water Softener
While some instances of hard water might not be too serious, consider installing a water softener to protect the water system, preventing faucet clogs that could really hinder your morning routine.
Water softeners also keep mineral buildup low so that all of your fixtures can continue to look shiny and new.
If you are pretty handy yourself, you could self-install a water softener easily. For those not so great with plumbing or handywork, leave it to a professional.
Integrated water softeners — the installation of which is another task for a plumber — can be costly, but this route should keep your bathroom routine running smoothly for years to come. Plus, you’ll save on any special products and cleaners.
So, there are quite a few fixes for this familiar but irritating problem; choosing the right action from our suggested solutions should mean you can revert to your preferred bathroom routine very quickly.
Overall, we do recommend addressing it. Even the costlier solutions can save you money and bigger issues in the longer term, and these will ensure your bathroom routine always goes off without a hitch.