Some water is deemed "hard," and other is considered to be "soft." And here's the confusing part: Hard water isn't better than soft in all situations, and soft isn't always preferable.
Confused yet? We explain the ins and outs of each below.
Hard water: Contains relatively high amounts of calcium and magnesium. This happens when the water comes in contact with rocks or soil. In the United States, 85 percent of the water is hard, according to aU.S. Geological Survey.
Soft water: Contains few or no extra elements. It can be naturally occurring, or produced with water treatment devices that remove hardness elements, such as calcium and magnesium.
Hard water: Certain minerals in the hard water interact with the soap or detergent, which keep it from interacting with soils, stains and dirty dishes.
Soft water: Softened water reduces the need for detergent by more than 50 percent because it doesn't contain the minerals that interact with the cleaning products. Washing in the cold water setting instead of the hotwater setting achieves the same or better stain removal compared to results in hard water, according to a 2011 study conducted by the Scientific Services S/D Inc, a New York-based laboratory focused on testing laundry detergents.