Here are two unusual, but useful links for the home keeper:
The Soap and Detergent Association -- articles about cleaning products, hygiene, cleaning to prevent certain illnesses such as swine flu, environmental concerns, health and safety, etc. This organization represents manufacturers of household, industrial, and institutional cleaning products.
Accessible Threads -- supplier of threads for people with special needs and handicaps.
Do you have hard water? If so, this will affect just about every cleaning process in your home, from laundry to personal care to dish washing.
There are specific classifications of hard water used in the water industry, and these categories range from soft water to very hard water. The hardness of the water depends on concentrations of certain minerals in the water.
If you would like to know just how hard your water is, you can ask your local water supplier or even your health department. Another way to find out is to have it tested by a home treatment company, but do be aware that this company, naturally, would like to sell you their service. A way to make an educated guess is by agitating water or toothpaste in water. These substances lather easily in soft water but not in hard water.
What might you notice if your water is hard?
A ring might develop around your bathtub or around your bathtub drain.
You will have trouble getting soaps and detergents to lather well.
Your hair might have a residue on it and might look dull even after washing.
You might find it hard to completely rinse shower doors so that all of the soap scum is gone and they look shiny and clean.
Your laundry might come out feeling stiff instead of nice and soft.
Your fabrics might look dull and gray.
Sediment could build up in your hot water heater.
On the other hand, it is a good thing to have some minerals in your water. The minerals that make water hard can actually be good for your health, especially for your heart. Minerals in the water can also be beneficial to plants. For that reason, it's not wise to drink only distilled water or use only distilled water or even softened water on your lawn or garden. Also, if you change water sources, you might notice that your body has to make some adjustments to new concentrations of minerals.
Certain methods of softening water raise the sodium content. This can be a problem for those who must restrict sodium because of high blood pressure, kidney problems, or other health issues.
The question is "How hard is too hard in order for you to keep a clean home?" Surprisingly, you might want to consult your physician when considering various methods of softening water, particularly if you do already have some difficulties with your heart or circulation. It is possible to use methods of water softening that bypass your kitchen faucets, so that your drinking water does not become overly saturated with sodium.
As mentioned above, distilled water is not the best for drinking. However, it is great for using in your iron. This will keep mineral residue from building up in your iron.
More about water in the next post.