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Does 'hard water' prevent washing machines from rinsing thoroughly?


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Hello, I'm new here.

My Zannussi washing machine does not rinse thoroughly. I have had it for 4 years, and a year ago I noticed the problem with inadequate rinsing, so I watched the rinse cycle and no matter how many times I rinsed, there was still visible suds in the machine.

I have it on extended warranty for 5 years . A new drum and several new parts were replaced - it made no difference. I use recommended cleaners(Zanussi Super Clean) on a regular basis and I use minimal detergent.

John Lewis(the seller) are now saying that as the machine has practically been rebuilt, then the problem must be because I live in a 'hard water' area, so there is nothing they can do further.

Do you think that this makes any sense about hard water causing the problem? Millions of people live in hard water areas and washing machine manufacturers sell their machines knowing there is hard water - and they are not saying you need a water softener installed. I have never had this problem with previous washing machines. I would appreciate any opinions on this situation, and would like to know whether anyone thinks hard water can play a part the inadequate rinsing?

Thanks

Frances

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Hi there. Traces of "soap suds" in the rinse cycle are not a reliable indication of rinse quality, unless there's a lot, in which case it could be a strong indicator of poor rinsing. This is because you can get certain minerals that cause a sort of wispy sud-like thing in the water when it swishes about. Also, the fabric softener causes the same.

Hard water is more associated with not creating enough soap suds. However, if you don't use enough detergent, that can cause problems in wash - and rinse. So I would definitely make sure you are using a good quality powdered detergent and ensure you use the exact amount it says to use for the level of hardness of your water and soiling of laundry.

I've been told that not using enough detergent can cause suds in rinse water.

Generally speaking, many modern washing machines have been poor at rinsing. So much so that I wrote this article about the problem Why can’t modern washing machines rinse properly?

Some other potentially relevant issues can be found here white streaks on laundry after washing

Also, make sure that the laundry is definitely not rinsing properly, and consider whether if you couldn't see anything in the rinse water, you may have never thought there was a problem or not? And bear in mind if you use fabric softener, that many are designed to add some fragrances to the laundry, and can cause the last rinse water to look anything but clear.

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Thanks for the thorough reply, Andy. I will consider your info and go from there. 🙂

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Feel free to come back with follow up questions if necessary. 

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thats seems very strange them telling you its because you are in a hard water area - if anything when you are in a soft water area you get more suds in washing and bars of soap froth up lovely in soft water area's - in the 80's I lived in hard water area Luton in the UK and I had a lovely holiday up the lake district I think it were and we stayed overnight in a B&B and having a wash the next morning I couldnt believe how the bar of soap frothed up . When you read the back of washing powder boxes it seems evident when you read the back of the box that you need less of a scoop of powder in soft water areas.  - but anyway i digress because it sounds like you live in a hard water area anyway. 

The only suggestion that springs to my mind (and I bet after I write this I will think of a dozen more) is that maybe somewhere along the process that over time soap powder detergent has built up over the years in places in a clump (so a big clump of undissolved washing powder) and water is running past that and allowing soap get into the drum. First place would be to look at (and this would involve removing soap dispenser drawer from its housing) its easy, most soap dispenser drawers pull out fully after pressing on a blue catch at the rear of the drawer (press it down whilst pulling out the drawer) - when the drawer is completely out get a torch and shine it into the compartment where the drawer slides into on the washing machine, any soap powder built up in there? if there is, with an old toothbrush and some hot water in a spray bottle dissolve it all thoroughly and get to every orifice with the toothbrush  (let it wash down into the large pipe at the bottom of the soap dispenser housing. - when thats nice and clean now inspect the drawer you pulled out. Is that free of detergent and nice and clean or has soap powder built up on that over time? take out the blue cap on the fabric conditioner side (normally on left had side on a lot of washing machines) cleat that in the sink with a lot of hot water get every last bit of powder / gunge / soap off of it (some people to save time put their soap dispenser drawer into the dishwasher to clean it totally!!)  when that is all clean pop the soap drawer back into the housing and then run a nice hot 3hr cotton 90'c wash without any soap detergent and no fabric conditioner and no detergent in the drum and no clothes whatsoever in the drum. So all that is going in for a really long 3 hour wash is just clean water. - if you can choose it then choose 3 rinses or more for the cycle (or press an 'extra rinse' button and even better if the machine has 'anti allergy' button press that instead - some washing machines also have a 'drum cleaning' cycle on them as well, I dont know if yours has - this normally selects a really hot wash and the drum spins at a much faster rate than normal to 'scrub' the inside of the inner metal drum and outer plastic drum this might dislodge some soap powder  if it has built up over time or greasy gunge if you have used liquid over an amount of time. - experiment , if you have a drum cleaning programme try that or if not use the 90c cotton wash with extra rinses . 
Its worth a go. 
The next where the soap powder could have lodged/compacted over time is the big black hose from the soap drawer compartment to the plastic outer drum tub and water could be running past that when filling up the machine with water and then putting soap into the drum even if you even have not added any soap pwder to the wash but there are still suds in your washing machine , this happens more these days especially on cold fill washing machines. The cold water sprays onto your soap in the drawer and actually 'solidifies' washing powder into 'clumps' rather than dissolving and diluting and mixing it fully as what it should do - you had more chance in the old days of 'Hot and Cold fill' washing machines because the hot water flowed in and dissolved all the washing powder in the compartment and washed it down nicely through the big rubber pipe at the bottom of the soap dispenser drawer compartment and straight into the drum mixed up lovely. 
Worth a try all this and sorry for the long post.
Good luck.
 

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1 hour ago, andyr12345 said:

thats seems very strange them telling you its because you are in a hard water area - if anything when you are in a soft water area you get more suds in washing and bars of soap froth up lovely in soft water area's
 

I also think it doesn't make sense to claim the 'hard water' is the problem why lots of suds are being left after the rinse. I now think this is most probably not the case. I will have to contact a manufacturer and see what they think about washing machines and hard water being a problem.

The washing machine has had 6 new parts this year and the problem has not been resolved. I was going to receive a replacement machine before the engineer suddenly mentioned to Customer Care that me being in a hard water area is the problem. This had never been mentioned before when the engineer visited on numerous occasions to fit new parts, so I'm very suspicious of this claim.

Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. 🙂

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If anything it should be soft water that caused rinsing problems, because soft water would create far more soap suds. 

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Also, is it definitely not rinsing laundry properly, or just that you can see wisps of what looks like detergent in the rinse water?  

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On 18/06/2022 at 19:00, Whitegoodshelp (Andy) said:

Also, is it definitely not rinsing laundry properly, or just that you can see wisps of what looks like detergent in the rinse water?  

It's not rinsing laundry properly. I've rinsed up to six times and still seen lots of suds drum -- and then from the clothes when put in a bowel of water. It looks very obvious and severe. 

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56 minutes ago, francesmc said:

It's not rinsing laundry properly. I've rinsed up to six times and still seen lots of suds drum -- and then from the clothes when put in a bowel of water. It looks very obvious and severe. 

have you done a drum cleaning programme regularly on your machine?  - I done one on our samsung today , it started off clear enough water - but as it heated up to 70'c it was amazing how the drum frothed up ... bear in mind there was no detergent put in the drum at all - I reckon the fast action of the drum and the hot water 'scrubbed' the drum and that was the remaining soap it got off. It done 3 rinse cycles at the end (again no fabric conditioner) . 
Samsung recommend drum cleaning every 40washes - we have had our washing machine since feb 2022 , its gone well past 40 washes and I had just been putting it of and off and off, even the samsung phone app was 'nagging us' to do a drum clean (the washing machine is wifi connected and talks to the samsung smart thing phone app) 
I must keep on top of it and not put it off next time it does 40 washes.

Without sounding like a Samsung advert their line is "Cleaner washing starts with a clean drum" :) 

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If a washing machine is apparently working okay, and not producing any errors, then if it doesn't rinse very well it's hard to think of an actual fault that could cause this. There's a chance it's just one of the washing machines that is not very good at rinsing.

The only fault I can think of is if the pump filter is partially blocked, or there is some blockage somewhere inside the drain hose, or in the nozzle at the u-bend under the sink that is restricting the rate that the washing machine can pump the water out.

However, it would have to only restrict it by a small percentage. This is because washing machine software times how long it takes to pump out the water. If they don't pump it out within a set time then the washing machine will abort with an error. So this rare fault that I describe would have to restrict the flow of water just enough to affect rinse efficiency (by always leaving just a little bit of soapy water inside) but not enough to trigger the error.

Also, make sure you are using the correct wash cycle for the laundry that you are washing. It's very important to carefully read and understand wash labels inside laundry. They often give unusual and sometimes even ludicrous instructions that we would not expect. Also wash cycles are likely to be specialised to wash and rinse specific types of fabric which may have differing requirements.

Finally, if there are any option buttons (or even wash cycles) that claim to be "eco", or save water, do not use them. They're usually compromise results. It's fair enough if you don't have any issues, but when having problems with wash and rinse results it is best to avoid them at least to test out whether or not they are contributing to the problem. Likewise, if there are any option buttons that do an extra rinse then make sure you use them.

 

 

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In my experience, all washing machines that have been used for a while will have lots of undissolved detergent coating everything inside. The older it is of course, the worse it is. I've seen washing machines with a quarter-inch thick covering of a hard gel-like detergent deposit at the bottom of the soap dispenser. I've seen hoses caked inside with a thin, slimy and sticky coating of detergent and gunge.

So if you put a washing machine on a wash cycle with no laundry and no detergent in, I would be very surprised if you didn't see quite a lot of soap suds because they are coated inside with undissolved and amalgamated detergent - especially ones using liquid detergent. Even if after completing the cycle, if you put it on another cycle with no laundry or detergent in, I'd still expect to see soap suds in the water.

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Here's my washng machine,which is a Miele. I just put it on a 40 degree cycle with no laundry and no detergent inside. It's been on for just several minutes and there's lots of soap suds inside. However, neither myself or my wife have any issues with the wash results so it doesn't necessarily mean anything. 

 

A25899BD-6E4B-4C82-837C-2DB675D11C61.jpeg

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I'm not suggesting there isn't anything wrong - only that the presence of soap suds in the water in a test wash cycle, or even in rinse water, doesn't necessarily mean laundry is not being rinsed properly. This might be helpful as a general bit of information, maybe to others.

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This is the same empty wash cycle after about 15 minutes when the water is warmng up. Out of interest I’ll let this cycle finish and put it on again to test my theory properly 🙂

 

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Do you do drum cleaning on your Miele And, say once a month or after 40 washes for example? 

Also what is your take on these washing machines that 'shower' from the top of the drum in the rinse cycle or have a 'waterfall' from the top of the door rubber gasket that 'drenches' the clothes in the rinse, do you think they really do work / are effective in rinsing the clothes thoroughly or just a gimmick? - just want to hear what you think?

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Hi Andy. I do regular 90 degree wash cycles with detergent but no laundry inside. However, I confess I've not done them on a rigid regular basis, and have at times gone several months 'forgetting about it'. 

I don't know of any evidence that it actually makes a substantial difference, but I believe it has to help.

Proper research would need two identical washing machines side by side, doing the same wash cycles. One would also do regular maintenance cycles. Then after an appropriate time lapse they would be stripped down and compared. I doubt anyone has done that. 

I suspect that if you mostly use only liquid detergent and low temperature washes a washing machine is likely to suffer from gunge and slime building up. And in such cases I'm not sure how much regular service washes will help. It may do though. 

I feel it's likely to be one of those where prevention is best. I do know that once a washing machine is badly gunged up inside, no amount of service washes will restore the washng machine. 

The sprinkling of water has been used by most if not all manufacturers since the 90s. It allows lower water usage, in a similar way to the difference between a bath and a shower. On wash cycle it makes sense. But I believe they should go back to using lots more water for rinsing. Rinsing is totally different and needs lots of water. 

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BTW this is my washing machine on its third maintenance wash and still showing suds. We have absolutely no complaints with our washing. We have never thought it is not rinsed properly. No itching, no smell of detergent, and perfectly clean. Yet our washing machine is clearly full of detergent residue. 

IMG_9886.MOV

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Whitegoodshelp (Andy) said:

Hi Andy. I do regular 90 degree wash cycles with detergent but no laundry inside

surprised you put detergent in for maintenance washes - I think the manufacturers say use no detergent on a maintenance  wash .... I presume that's just to rinse the drum and components in the washer in lovely hot water at 90'c. 

Wish our new Samsung done what our old hotpoint done on the maintenance wash . 90'c at an hour. I done a maintenance wash on our Samsung yesterday 70'c at 2hrs 20 minutes it took! ☹️

I remember in the old days reading an article on Hotpoint washing machines saying that the rinse cycles on their washing machines were really what got the laundry clean ... so from that I presume that the detergent just diluting the stains and dirt but its the actual rinse and rinses that take it all away , and the better it does that, the cleaner the clothes are at the end. 




 

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2 hours ago, andyr12345 said:

surprised you put detergent in for maintenance washes - I think the manufacturers say use no detergent on a maintenance  wash .... I presume that's just to rinse the drum and components in the washer in lovely hot water at 90'c. 

The maintenance wash is supposed to clean the washing machine, and get rid of bacteria and dirt and grease. Basically of you want to clean something you need to use something other than just hot water.

The detergent should help because it contains water softener, and (should) also contain bleaching agents if you use   normal powdered detergent (not the kind to coloureds type). 

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I would suggest it's a bad idea to do regular hot washes with no detergent. The detergent contains vital water softening agents to protect the heating element and rest of machine from destructive limescale. 

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the odd wash once a month without detergent or every 40 washes is not what I would call regularly . 

as far as I know germs cannot survive (especially after an hour) in 60'c hot water , and i never heard of liquid or powder with water softener in (well unless its specialist stuff) nor know of limescale additive added to normal detergent (But I have heard of Calgon to cut down on limescale) - and I have heard of normal detergent having bleach in it for whites , and no bleaching agents in it for specialist colour detergent . 

The think is a hot wash at 90'c (or 70'c in the case of some washing machine drum programs) is that you want to 'hot rinse' all the gunk and caked on powder  ... you wont be  rinsing the drum (inner and outer) if you add more detergent if the aim is to rinse off all that caked on detergent inside the machine down the drain. 

Some people try the home remedy of white vinegar and baking soda too or specialist washing machine cleaner fluid but over the years of me doing drum cleans on washing machines I have never added any detergent on a maintenance / drum clean cycle personally and never would. 

Our last machine Hotpoint we bought in 2012 has a special drum cleaning cycle 90'c for an hour - (done it once a month, put a reminder in my phone to remind me)  never put any detergent in . 
Older washing machines than that without a special drum cleaning cycle I put 90'c wash for an hour again without detergent . 

Present Samsung 'reminds' app on phone every 40 washes. It does a drum cleaning program at 70'c for 2hrs 20mins and i would have to dig out instructions to be 100% sure, but I am pretty sure it says in owner manual do no use detergent on drum cleaning cycle and plus I am pretty sure it also turns off the auto dose mechanism totally on the drum cleaning cycle without you even doing anything and that you cannot turn on the autodose even if you wanted to when the program selector is set to ''drum cleaning'  cycle.

 

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Hi Andy. I can assure you that all washing machine detergent contains vital ingredients to soften the water, and protect the washing machine against limescale. Therefore, not using enough detergent, or in the case of doing regular maintenance washers not using any detergent, will potentially cause serious limescale buildup over time. Of course if you live in a soft water area you may not have too many issues 🙂 You might be interested in my article here Is Calgon worth using?

Also the point about heat killing bacteria is fine but the buildup of gunge and grime and grease and slime inside washing machines is not just bacteria. If you had a washing-up bowl full of horrible grease gunge and slime you wouldn't just swill around hot water in it and empty it out, you would use some sort of detergent. We use detergent of some sort with absolutely everything that we attempt to clean.

It's interesting if Samsung are recommending not to use any detergent in the maintenance wash. I'm not sure what their reasoning would be apart from the idea that getting rid of a buildup of detergent inside a washing machine would be better not to be adding more detergent. But it's not just old detergent deposits we are trying to clean up. I wonder if they've even considered how this will affect washing machines in hard water areas?

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On 22/06/2022 at 22:57, andyr12345 said:

the odd wash once a month without detergent or every 40 washes is not what I would call regularly

Ha ha - this definition of regular online is -

 

adverb
adverb: regularly

    1.
    with a constant or definite pattern, especially with the same space between individual items.
    "regularly spaced buildings"
    2.
    at uniform intervals of time.
    "the reunion has taken place regularly every two years"
        frequently.

 

So even once a year is "regularly" :)

But you are right of course I should have been a lot more regular.

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I dont think you should be using detergent in the drum cleaning cycle Andy (I know, i'm like teaching you grandmother to suck eggs LOL) 

but here are instructions for drum cleaning from Miele machines (you have a Miele machine yourself?)  - use no detergent :

1165445452_mieledrumcleaning.thumb.jpg.b52e664f40dd463733257203a59842c0.jpg


and Instructions for Beko machines - use no detergents:

50410872_bekodrumcleaning.thumb.jpg.e34bc4a9e5dfeac0210f59ad7f024f1c.jpg


 

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