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This is a guide about keeping well water from staining clothing. Well water can contain a variety of minerals that can leave stains on your laundry.
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I live on a farm, which is on well water for washing. I find my clothes are not soft and are not comfortable to wear. Also I have an odd orange stain on my clothes. Is there anyone in Ontario, that is on a farm and experiencing this? Do you have a solution? Detergent or soaps that are better? Any help, would be appreciated.
By Sheila from Ontario, Canada
You must have a lot of iron in your water. How about using Iron Out? This is only for whites though.
We have well water. We do run a water softener. I wash everything in cold water to reduce the stain on the clothes. I never buy expensive clothes, because they never last or look new for long. At least we save on the water bill, right?
You definitely have a lot of iron in your water! If you use a cup of distilled vinegar in the final rinse cycle it will break down the iron (and other minerals at that) and soften your clothes too.
My parents were on well water with the same problem. My mom found not using liquid bleach kept the whites whiter and there is a person in the Ottawa area that sells attachments to reduce iron in the water. Not sure of his name maybe google it. Also washing in cold water helps as it does not set stains.
When employed at a laundromat one customer would come every few weeks to undo what her well water had done to her clothes. She'd dump in Liquid Plummer which got rid of the orange color. She'd apparently done this for years and swore by it.
We have well water, with a higher than usual iron content. We have no water softener. My clothes are always soft and normal, but about once every 3 months, I run my whites with Iron-Out, be so careful if you do, as the fumes are toxic. Maybe you are using too much detergent, and do you use a dryer sheet, or a wadded up piece of tin foil in the dryer? Try a smaller load. Try a cup of white vinegar instead of fabric softener-I actually never ever use liquid fabric softener.
I have well water and I cannot keep my bright colored clothes bright and my whites white. I started to take them to my parents because they have city water, but it would be much easier if I could do it at home. Any ideas or some tricks to help me keep the brights bright and the whites white?
I would start with having your water tested. Your local county extension office could tell you who would test it. It must contain a mineral that is in a higher concentration than normal, such as iron or sulfur. Once you find what that is, then you would have a better idea of what you may need to add to your wash to counter act that. It could be something as simple as just adding some epson salt, or vinegar, but if you add the wrong thing to some chemical it makes the problem worse.
THere is a remedy to well water. I had the same problem. With my regular washing detergent I add "Oxiclean".
We have bad well water, and have yellow gray, white clothes. I use hot water with bleach. They still look bad. What can I use to get them white again?
I too have well water and the main problems with mine are iron and sulfur. I use a product called "Iron Out" and I get it from Wal-mart. It is found in the plumbing/paint area. I quit using bleach on my "whites" 20+ yrs ago when we moved here due to the well water! I only use cold water and my nursing uniforms are still bright and white using the Iron Out and my homemade laundry detergent. (Available on this site under "laundry." May also be found under "old topics") Just remember to mix the Iron Out product in WARM water and DON'T breathe the fumes. The fumes are awful! Add to your machine on the whites, and like I said, I use cold water in my wash.
Good luck. Hamnurse
I lived in town when my oldest daughter was a baby, and couldn't use bleach in the laundry because the water would turn brown. The first time I did the laundry and used bleach on white clothes, my husband's underwear, daughter's diapers, etc. came out a rusty-pink color.
I used a product called "Miracle White" after that. The whites that had changed color gradually got quite a bit better, and I used that instead of bleach for whites as long as I lived in that town. I don't know if a person can still purchase the Miracle White or not.
I also have iron and sulphur in my well water. We have a filter on our well at the tank that filters out the sulphur odor, and improves the iron content, but I still get orange stain on my clothes and on my dishes. I use "Iron Out" for both, from time to time. In between times, I use the new Chorine Free Bleach that is on the market now for my laundry. It is actually peroxide, and it doesn't really make your clothes white again, once they are discolored from the iron, but it helps with socks and underwear if you start using it when they are still new and nice and white. I use about a cupful in a large load. I also use "Iron Out" to clean the tank and toilet bowl.
Harlean from Arkansas
I have well water and for some reason when I wash my clothes I am getting large reddish brown blotches on my clothing! I can't figure out why. Our iron is fine and we have no hard water so what could cause this? See picture attached.
You say "Our iron is fine and we have no hard water" so how was that determined? Did you have your water tested?
You may have to buy a water softener but if you do, be sure it will take care of this problem as many types do not.
How do I stop my black cotton clothes from turning brown when I wash them? This is happening because I have well water.
I installed a whole house filter for my well water, also don't forget to Drain & flush your Hot water tank as needed since your on well water without a filter system.
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I have well water and every time I wash clothes, especially towels, they smell musty after a couple of days. What can I do?
Rosy B from Sutherland, Virginia
Our well water is just too cold to wash clothes clean in the winter, so I use warm water to fill while I am putting in soap, bleach, etc., then select cold water when I am ready to leave the laundry room. I get clean clothes and the benefit of using lower temperature water.
By Lynn (11/19/2004)
SA-8 laundry detergent, made by Amway, it even dissolves in ice water, plus it comes with a money-back guarantee. It's an excellent product, and concentrated. There's a website, www.quixtar.com, where you can get in touch with an independent business owner. (08/22/2005)
White vinegar helps too. It seems to get rid of the smell and keeps your clothing smelling better for longer.
I add about a 1/4 of a cup along with my laundry soap.
Does anybody have any great tips for washing clothes with well water that has iron? Please help. My clothes are being ruined.
Becky for WV
Try using a rust remover in your wash. Never use bleach as it sets the rust into your clothes. There are several brands of rust removers out there in the laundry section of the store. "Rust out" and RIT has a rust remover. I use borax or Washing Soda for my whites. (08/09/2004)
The only sure-fire way to prevent it is to get a water filter for your washer. I used to have so much iron in my water in Alaska (I wasn't doing laundry with it) my future husband complimented me on the beautiful red highlights in my hair. It took two $50 applications of chelation at the beauty parlor to get the iron out of my hair. I had to wash my hair with bottled water from that time on. It wasn't just the red color though; it was the fact that my hair was cracking off and being destroyed. (08/09/2004)
I searched for an answer and I found out that a product called Iron Out is what people are using. I hear it smells horrible, but it works. (08/10/2004)
My mom uses the Iron Out. It has a weird smell but it doesn't stay on your clothes. I've used it to brighten up my whites and it works great. When I lived in an apartment that had a lot of iron in the water my hair also turned red. I used just a dab of Dawn dish soap once a month to wash my hair then conditioned it well. It took care of the problem. My hair dresser told me to do this, it also takes the build up of gels and hairsprays off your hair. (08/14/2004)
Our water was red straight from the sink. My daughter and I had our blonde hair turning orange! We finally installed a rather expensive water softener in the house to take care of the problem. We are still having to deal with the sulfur smell and taste in the water. (08/15/2004)
Well water here is also orange from iron. For the clothes, allow the water to run until it runs clear. Expect to drain that water from the washer. Then, along with my detergent, in goes 1/3-1/2 cup each of white vinegar and baking soda. For clothes that are more soiled, a bit of Oxi-Clean and/or 20 Mule Team borax can be added. I'd start with a 1/4 cup or less until you learn which amount works for your needs.
To the rinse cycle is added the same amount of baking soda and vinegar, plus scented clothes softener. The water here smells, especially once the water is heated. To avoid setting in iron stains, I've had to use cold water only for both cycles.
From experience I've learned that detergents labeled for use only with warm or hot water works just as well in cold. There's no need to buy detergent made specifically for cold water, save your money.
If there's grease that needs to be removed, Dawn detergent works well. You can pour some onto the greasy spots. You might have to rewash the clothes. With the iron-based water, I've learned NOT to let the clothes remain in the water any longer than needed, as rust/iron spots can form. (10/14/2006)
I live in the country and we have well water. I don't drink it as it smells horrible (rotten eggs). Most of my whites have turned yellow. I read on this site to use Iron Out. Well, it works! "Use only on white clothing." For my colors I use a blend of vinegar and baking soda, that has helped my clothes smell much better. Thanks for the advice! (07/03/2007)
We have a lot of iron in our water and it stains everything! I have found that using 20 Team Mule Borax keeps it out of our clothes. I use a 1/2 cup for a large load. I use The Works on our shower, tub, and sinks and it takes it right out without scrubbing. And I use Lysol Power toilet bowl cleaner and that takes care of that.
But, it is turning my hair red! I have dark blonde hair and have noticed red streaks throughout it lately. My husband actually commented on how nice it looked and asked me if I colored it recently. Lol! Well, I guess at least it's not ruining it. I do think the water is drying my hair out though. I have naturally curly/wavy hair and I've noticed that I'm having to deep condition it more often since moving here over a month ago. (10/28/2007)
I have iron in my well water and get those awful iron-orange spots. I use Whink to treat the spots. Works great. But I wish I didn't have the problem. (05/09/2008)
By Jean R.