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I live in a hard water area and I have been in the habit of adding water softener products (Calgon and the like) to my wash.

Last year I moved to a new build block of flats and I have discovered that everyone's water supply has a Liff Softest Magnetic Descaler fitted.

After I moved to this address, I kept getting white patches on my washing that would not wash out if I washed or rinsed again, so I figured that it was not the usual laundry product deposits.The stains were so stubborn I concluded they were bleach splatters from the upstairs balcony. Eventually I found a way of getting these marks off, by using a solution of 50:50 vinegar and water, or neat vinegar for the more stubborn stains. The cause of the staining remained a mystery.

I wondered what could have caused this problem because I wasn't doing anything differently that I did before I moved here. I had an idea that it might have been the water softening powder precipitating some kind of deposit. So I used the softening powder sparingly and I added some vinegar to the final rinse too and it seemed to keep the problem at bay.

Then I discovered the Liff Softest magnetic descaler fitted to the water supply.

What I am wondering is what does the magnetic decaler do to the water supply, in practical terms?

Does this mean that I don't need to use a water softening powder in the washing machine? Will it prevent the buildup of limescale in the washing machine? Could the treated water and the water softening powder cause some sort of chemical reaction that caused the white deposits?

I guess I just want to have stain-free clothes and prevent the buildup of limescale on the element and inside the machine.

Edited by Catastrophe Wife
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Hi. I've written extensively on hard water, including a section on anti limescale tablets. If you aren’t expecting to stay in a house for too long, or if the limescale isn’t too aggressive, it may be useful to use tablets. Generally, in areas where hard water is adversely affecting all products in the home where an element heats water (shower, dishwasher, kettle, immersion heater, washing machine) then I would not spend money individually using tablets. Apart from the inconvenience and cost, you can’t use tablets to protect the immersion heater and shower. In such circumstances it makes sense to tackle the problem properly, at the source.

White patches on laundry could be related to undissolved detergent. As you already have a water softening device installed, and if you are using the correct dosage of detergent (which has water softening agents too) then if you also add a limescale tablet, you may well be softening the water too much. If the water is too soft, then modern laundry detergents may not dissolve properly. This can lead to poorer wash results and detergent residue on laundry. This may be counteracted a little by using an extra rinse option on the washing machine if available. (This advice may also help if you live in a naturally very soft water area).

( Related: advice on causes of many marks and stains on laundry - Laundry Advice - Some Common Laundry Problems | Washing not coming out clean)

The electronic descalers work by electronically altering the properties of the calcium which forms the scale. The magnetic versions are supposed to work in a similar way. Electronic descalers are extremely common, some argue they don’t work, but many say they do. Some of them are very cheap and may not be very good.

(Related: Hard water & limescale in washing machines)

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Many thanks. My first thoughts were that the white deposits were due to the water softening powder, as they didn't seem to appear when I didn't use it.

I am not in any position to change the magnetic descaler, though. I live in a HA flat, so there are limits to what I am allowed to do. The descalers are fitted individually to each property's water supply, inside the service cupboard. I'm pretty much stuck with what I have.

I am unsure whether I still need to use water softening agents, like Calgon powder or tablets, now that I know that there is this magnetic descaler fitted to the water supply, or whether I would shorten the life of the washing machine by not using the Calgon.

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Most water companies will send you a free water testing pack. This will tell you how hard or soft your water is - Water companies' contact details

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Warning:  Read this before attempting any diy repairsNo representations or warranties are made (express or implied) as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of advice. I can't be held liable for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the use of, or any action taken in reliance on, any information on this website, which is given free of charge and in good faith.

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I have been having the same problem with white patches appearing on clothes.

We have made sure the detergent is completely dissolved, and have even switched to liquid detergent.

We have a water softener system, and I've been wondering if their could be a negative impact on the laundry.

You mentioned the possibility of the water being too soft.

I'm going to look into that.

The company that services our softener had checked the softness level, but perhaps it needs to be turned down a bit.

Thanks for the info.

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