How To Remove Hard Water Stains On Clothes

About 85% of the United States uses hard water every day.

It’s not dangerous, but hard water can leave stains on surfaces, especially your laundry.

If left untreated, these stains can grow and become off-putting, leaving your clothes plagued with dingy tones that more washing doesn’t fix, especially without laundry water softening.

Don’t worry, though. We’ve done the research, and learning how to remove hard water stains on clothes is inexpensive and easy.

You only need a few everyday household items to refresh your clothes and send your hard water worries down the drain.

What You’ll Need

You will need a few common household items to remove hard water stains from clothes.

Now that you have everything you need, read on to for step-by-step instructions on getting hard water marks out of your laundry.

1. Blot The Hard Water Stain With A Cleaning Cloth

Hard water stains come from the mineral deposits in the water, and blotting the stain with distilled water helps remove those minerals, reducing or eliminating the stain.

If the water stain has not dried yet, dampen your cleaning cloth with distilled water and gently blot the hard water stain.

As you are blotting, make sure to wet along the edges to reduce any chance of the water mark outlining itself into your clothes. 

2. If The Hard Water Has Dried, Apply White Vinegar

Rinse off any dirt with a damp cleaning cloth if your hard water stain is older.

Then, apply distilled white vinegar to the stain.

I really like Lucy’s Family Owned – Natural Distilled White Vinegar that I found on Amazon.

Use only a little at a time and only as much as necessary to make the stain disappear.

The vinegar helps lift the mineral deposits causing the stain, which will remove the hard water stain from your clothes.

Prop tip: If the hard water stains are all over your clothes, you can soak the entire garment in a water and vinegar solution. Combine one gallon of water with one cup of distilled white vinegar. Allow the clothing items to soak for about half an hour, and then wash like usual to remove the hard water stain.

3. Blot The Water Stain And Spread Cloth Over Stain

Once the vinegar has done its work, blot the area again with distilled water.

Then, dampen a fresh cleaning cloth and spread it over the stain.

Doing this will help to remove any lingering dirt or vinegar, which you do not want to set into your clothing. 

4. Iron Through A Cloth Until The Stain Is Gone

Set your iron to an appropriate heat setting and iron the water stain through the cleaning cloth.

The cloth acts as a protective barrier between your iron and the garment, which is especially useful if your garment is delicate.

The goal is to evaporate the remaining water to finish removing the water stain.

Continue ironing and checking your garment until the water stain is completely gone.

This process may take ten minutes or longer, depending on your iron temperature. 

If you are more of a visual learner, here is a video demonstrating how to remove water stains from clothes.

0:30—If the water stain is fresh, blot the water with a cleaning cloth.

0:44—Dampen the cleaning cloth and blot around the water stain.

1:13—Place a fresh cleaning cloth over the water stain.

1:39—Iron the water stain through the cleaning cloth to evaporate the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a laundry water softener help remove hard water stains from clothes?

Yes, a laundry water softener can help to remove hard water stains.

Hard water leaves stains on your laundry because it has minerals such as calcium and magnesium in it.

These minerals can attach to your clothes, leaving discolored stains and even holes if your water is exceptionally hard. 

A laundry water softener is designed to reduce the calcium and magnesium in the water, usually converting them to salt.

This process is generally done through a water softening system, which will soften the water for your whole house.

However, these systems can be expensive to install, so you can also check the laundry aisle at your local grocery store to see if they sell water softeners or conditioners designed to go specifically into your washing machine.

These may be labeled as Borax. 

Adding ½ cup of laundry Borax to your washing machine will soften your water and help prevent hard water stains.

Either way, the laundry water softener will help you remove hard water stains by reducing the amount of hard water you have to wash your laundry in. 

What can I do to prevent hard water stains on my clothes?

If you don’t want to invest in a water softener for your house, there are other ways you can prevent hard water stains on your laundry.

First, you can wash your laundry in hotter water.

The hot water improves the cleanliness of your laundry by increasing the rate of the chemical reaction with your detergent. 

Second, you can use more detergent, especially if you use powdered detergent.

Most of the cleaning chemicals attach to the minerals in the water instead of cleaning your clothes, so adding more detergent will help to make sure that your clothes get some soap.

Of course, you can also switch to a different detergent.

Liquid detergent is better to use with hard water because it is designed to resist bonding with hard water.

Check if your detergent is heavy-duty and intended for use in hard water.

Detergents designed for hard water help dissolve any mineral build-up and typically include vinegar in some form.

Suppose you elect to use a heavy-duty detergent. In that case, you can reduce your laundry water temperature, which will help save on your utility bill.

You can use the recommended amount of laundry detergent instead of using extra.

Whichever method you choose will help you prevent hard water stains on your clothes, leaving them fresh and clean once again.