Salt & Vinegar : Enemies of Hard Water

After a hiatus of not blogging, I'm ready to get back to business! I just wanted to share with you all how much I love to use salt & vinegar around the house!

I'll start with salt. We don't have soft water, and as you know by now, we also use cloth diapers. We bought some really good detergent for the cloth diapers, Charlie's Soap, but it wasn't come out as clean as it should have (like they advertised). When Tips called the company, they asked if we had soft or hard water - and when he said we had hard water they told us that we would either need to use a double scoop of Charlie's soap, more oxi-clean or borax. That kind of defeats the purpose of using such good soap that isn't as expensive as the big brand names. Plus, we've been doing all of that for the last few months, but to no avail - they still had discoloration on them.

When we got our medium/large cloth diaper stash a couple of months ago, Ivy (the girl that made our cloth diapers) told us that she just pours in table salt with the detergent for her clothes & diapers.

A week later we were at Costco and Tips got a 25 lb bag of salt for about $2.30 or so. Well, I am so happy to report that our diapers are finally coming out white & clean since we've been pouring salt in the detergent slot! For some reason, soft water makes ALL brands of detergents work better. So if you don't have soft water and your clothes aren't coming out as clean, try pouring some table salt in with the wash next time!

Now I will move onto vinegar! About 3 months ago, I noticed that our humidifier's heating element was caked with calcified hard water deposits - Tips even tried scraping it off with a screwdriver/knife (just the thought of that is making me have shivers like when fingers scratch a chalkboard). I knew that probably wasn't the most gentle way to take care of our humidifier, so that night I poured vinegar in the water reservoir and put the humidifier in it and left it in the bathtub. The next morning when Tips went to take a shower, he pulled it out and all of the calcium deposits were gone! And we didn't have to do any real work like scrubbing or scrapping.

With that success, I decided to start tackling the shower - and spraying vinegar on the shower walls, letting it sit for a few minutes and then using a scotch-brite sponge to gently scrub it (believe me, you do NOT need to use elbow grease) really gets the hard water spots off. Then I just rinsed it with the sponge side and used the squeege and it looks fabulous. Still a few faint water spots, but the tile feels smooth and not so gritty. Now, if Tips would just squeegee down the shower every morning after his shower, it wouldn't be so bad, but we do what we can.

I also soaked my razor handle in vinegar the other night and it came clean. I really love this stuff!

One more tip about vinegar that I use with my cloth diapers. You can use vinegar as a fabric softener because it helps rinse away the soap residue in the rinse cycle. (You don't use fabric softener on diapers because it makes fabric repellent and you want diapers and towels to absorb, not repel). It's cheaper than fabric softener and if you have sensitivities to scents, it's a great alternative!

Aside from using 1 tablespoon in a cup of milk to make a buttermilk substitute, I think those are all the vinegar uses I have (aside from making pickles!). If you have any other uses for vinegar, please share them with us by making a comment!


Debbie said…
Mrs Tips,
Are you still using salt in your wash water and are you still pleased? I want to try it. Can you tell me how much to use? - Debbie K.
Debbie, I hope you check back here since I can't reply to you! I do still use hard water in my washing machine. I use about 2 Tbsps, but my washer is a front loading HE washer that only uses about 5 gallons of water per wash cycle. I imagine that I could use more salt so that cheap washcloths don't get so hard and scratchy, but the 2 Tbsp was sufficient to help the Charlies Soap really clean our cloth diapers. I hope that answers your question!
Anonymous said…
What kind of vinegar do you use apple cider or white?
MrsTips said…
I use white vinegar because it is cheaper.
Nyan said…
If you put salt inside washing machine, won't the steel machine drum become eroded with salt????
MrsTips said…
Nope, because hard water actually erodes metal faster than salt does - that's why having a salt water softener actually helps your dishwasher and washing machine last longer.
My parents didn't got rid of their water softener when I was about 8 and didn't put a new one in for another 20 years. During that time my mom had to have the mechanic come out to fix the washing machine more than once and all he really did was to remove the hard water deposits that had built up and were affecting the ability of the washing machine to actually do it's job.
Charlene said…
Vinegar is also a weed killer. Just be careful because it kills all vegetation. I have had great success spraying it on the weeds that grow between the driveway cracks, but limited success using it on the weeds that grow between the rocks in the rock garden. I think it is because I can't get close to the root without moving the rock. I will continue to use it though because it is better than the toxic weed killers. I suspect they don't do so well between rocks either.

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