Have you been putting off buying a water softening system for your home? Do you think that it's just a luxury that you don't need right now? The truth is that hard water is doing more than just making your skin dry, your hair brittle and your sinks yellow – it's also decreasing the life of your water-using appliances. If you've noticed that your washing machine or dishwasher have begun to lack in performance, there are some things that you can do to try to bring them back to life and get more use out of them before repairs and replacement are necessary.
White Vinegar Wash
If the damage isn't too excessive, you may be able to refresh the appliance simply by running a wash cycle with nothing but white vinegar mixed in the water. White vinegar is proven to break down the hard water, calcium and lime build-up that's clogging the jets and preventing the clothing and dishes from getting as clean as they should.
Just add a few cups of white vinegar and run the wash cycle with hot water. If the buildup is excessive, you may need to do this a few times before seeing any results.
Remember that the spray jets in your dishwasher can be removed and soaked in pure white vinegar to expedite the cleaning process. Just be sure to pay attention to how you disassemble the unit so that you can get it put back together properly.
Water Valve Filters
If you don't have the cash on hand to invest in a water softening system right now, you can pick up small water valve filters that screw onto the waterlines and catch much of the debris in the hard water before it enters the appliance. These filters are inexpensive and as long as you connect them tightly using Teflon tape, they will filter the water without leaking.
If your water is very hard, you may need to clean or replace this filter several times each year, so don't permanently attach it to the line – you want to be able to get it off for easy cleaning without having to cut the line and replace the piping each time.
If your problem persists, contact your local appliance repair professional. He or she will be able to inspect the unit and determine if the damage is too extensive to undo or make recommendations to improve performance and efficiency.