Home « 

What is the Best Soap For Hard Water Problems?

Hands with soap water over a sink.
This post may contain affiliate links from the Amazon Associate program.
Spread the love
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Is your bathing leaving you feeling less-than-pristine? Is your hair looking lackluster? Your handwashing leaving you rubbing your hands on your pants? You may have hard water. It’s a trick to find the best soap for hard water, as traditional soaps often fail to live up to expectations. Read on to learn why hard water makes soap less effective and learn what the best soap for hard water is.

What is Hard Water?

Hard water contains dissolved minerals like manganese, calcium, and limestone. These substances aren’t harmful to ingest, but they do leave behind a residue in your plumbing, water-using appliances, skin, and hair. They also react poorly with most soap, resulting in a hard-to-remove film.

Why Use Special Soap for Hard Water?

According to the USGS, “The minerals in hard water often react with most soaps to create a “soap scum,” which is an insoluble substance that can temporarily adhere to your hands or the shower walls.” What does that mean for you and your soap? Unless you are buying products meant to work with hard water, you are leaving behind a tacky residue that water doesn’t rinse off. Ick.

That residue is more than just a gross byproduct of the wrong product. It can lead hair and skin to dry out faster. It impacts more than shampoo and body soap, too. Your household cleaners, dish soap, and similar products are also working less effectively. This means you use more and spend more on products to have a less clean home.

What is Soap Scum, Anyway?

When soap mixes with hard water, the sticky film that’s left behind known as soap scum results. That scum is calcium and magnesium salts. These minerals leave behind stains on your tub and shower. They leave residue in your hair, a sticky film on your skin, and stiffen clothes.

close up of hard water stain on bathroom faucet

Why Does Hard Water Make You Use More Soap?

Hard water prevents soap from a frothy lather. The lathering action in your soap is what helps you get clean. The air bubbles that are formed in soap when you scrub attract the dirt you want to remove and rinse away in the water.

Unfortunately, the mineral ions found in hard water sneak in ahead of the dirt and bond with those molecules. Since they’ve already partnered up, your soap fails to lather as much and it requires more soap to attract the same amount of dirt and oil.

What’s the Best Soap for Hard Water?

The minerals in hard water bind with the elements in most soaps, which prevents the soap from foaming properly and is harder to rinse off. A good soap for hard water contains added ingredients that soften the water, which helps them lather properly and allows the film to rinse off with ease.

Water droplets sprinkling out of a shower head.

Best Soaps for Hard Water to Consider

Body Washes

Liquid body washes don’t rely on sodium stearate that’s commonly found in bar soaps. Instead, they rely on detergents less likely to bond with the wayward minerals in hard water. Body washes are typically a better bet than bar soaps because their chemical formulas are different.

Mrs. Meyers offers a biodegradable, cruelty-free body wash that works well in hard water.

Native also has a hypoallergenic, sulfate-free, paraben-free, and dye-free body wash that can be used with hard water.

Bar Soaps

Bar soaps are often a bad choice, as many traditional soaps contain sodium stearate that is impacted by the loose ions in hard water. They fail to foam effectively and are most likely to leave behind the tacky film of soap scum. However, some brands, like Dove, use a different formula that avoids this problem. Look for bars that use a vegetable base for their formula.

If you love your bar soap and want to stick with it, one option to consider is Dove bars. These soap bars lack the detergent that bonds with loose mineral ions in hard water. They’ll lather and rinse properly, even in hard water. Mrs. Meyers also offers a veggie-based bar soap that can work well even in hard water.

Clarifying Shampoos

These are specifically designed to remove buildup associated with hairspray and other hair products, but they also work well to remove buildup associated with hard water. They use the ingredient EDTA to help bind and pull away the built-up mineral deposits on hair. It’s important to know that EDTA is a pollutant. An environmentally friendly version is called EDDS.

Malibu C offers shampoos and conditioners designed to help you keep your locks fresh and residue-free with hard water. They are vegan and designed especially to tackle the challenges hard water brings to soap, so you can feel confident that your mane will be cleaned properly. OGX offers a charcoal-based clarifying shampoo that’s sulfate-free and designed to remove the build-up of minerals from your hair.

Castile Soap is the Best Soap for Hard Water

This soap comes entirely from vegetable sources, rather than animal fats like tallow. Because of its ingredients, castile soap tends to work better to lather and rinse with hard water. You can buy castile soap in concentrated form and use it for more than just cleaning your body. Castile soap is also good for sensitive skin. You can find castile soap in liquid and bar form. It’s also affordable, usually much cheaper than other options for tackling hard water.

Dr. Bronner’s offers a pure castile soap in a variety of scents. These can be used around the house, not just in the shower, but they are perfectly safe for skin and hair. Dr. Bronner’s has an established reputation for quality and ethical business practices. You can use their concentrated castile soap from the kitchen to the laundry room as well as to wash hair and skin. They come in a variety of scents as well. Because they are triple concentrated, you are meant to dilute them to reach the strength needed for the intended use.

Kirk’s offers a gentle, sensitive-skin formula version of a Castile bar soap if you prefer a bar to a liquid body soap in the shower.

Soap suds in a woman's hair as she shampoos her strands.

How To Test Your Water’s Hardness At Home

It’s easy to do a quick test at home to test your water’s hardness.


  • A clear glass
  • Tap water
  • Liquid Soap – make sure the soap doesn’t have any detergents. Use a liquid castile soap.


  1. Fill the glass with water.
  2. Add a squirt of liquid soap.
  3. If the water turns cloudy, minerals in your water are attached to the soap. You have hard water.
  4. If the water remains clear, there are no excess minerals in your water. You have soft water.

There’s an Easier Way to Get Clean with Hard Water

Instead of replacing half the cleaning products and your beauty cabinet, consider installing a whole home water filtration system. ONIT Home offers a simple solution that tackles your hard water and filters out nearly every contaminant in your household’s water, so you can enjoy clean, healthy water from every tap. Your appliances, skin, and belly will thank you. No more worrying about the best soap for hard water. Instead, you can pick the soaps that you enjoy using.

ONIT’s Hard Water Softening System

ONIT offers a Guard Series system that eliminates hard water minerals in five simple steps. The water moves through a series of chambers designed to separate the mineral ions from the water before they go into your plumbing system. ONIT offers the Guard Series as a component of the Whole Home Water Filtration and it can also be installed as a standalone unit.

Benefits of Installing a Water Softener + A Whole Home Water Filtration System

  • Extend the life of appliances and plumbing – hard water and other contaminants can damage your appliances and degrade your plumbing system.
  • Healthier water – filtration removes contaminants that can damage you and your family’s health
  • Eliminate hard water stains – Hard water can leave stains on dishes, tubs, sinks, clothes, and skin.
  • Softer and healthier hair and skin – Hard water strips skin of natural oils that keep it moisturized and leave deposits on hair that leave it lifeless.
  • Say goodbye to soap scum – That tacky residue left behind in your tub that’s a pain to clean will be a thing of the past with a whole home water filtration system.

ONIT Home filtration system an onit home water filtration system used to filter out contaminants in our water systems

Call ONIT Home For Your Home Water Needs

ONIT Homes makes it easy to get started. Visit us online today or give us a call at 1-833-433-0331 and we can set up a free water testing and consultation. You’ll learn about your home’s unique water filtration needs and can select the system that works best for you. Affordable financing and professional installation are available to get you started with cleaner water today! 

Spread the love