Your Guide to Washing Hair in Hard Water + 8 Proven Tips

Healthy hair is one of the most prized possession of this Earth. Everyone wants lustrous, smooth, and shiny hair, but this is always not possible. And believe it or not, the area you live in has a major role in the way your hair looks.

The water especially has a lot to do with the appearance of your hair. Most areas have hard water, which is the main culprit for ruining your hair and making it all dry, brittle, and damaged.

Washing Hair in Hard Water

Today, we will share some tips for washing hair in hard water as changing the water isn’t a quick solution.

What Is Hard Water?

Before we begin anything, let us first learn what exactly hard water is. Hard water is water that contains high amounts of minerals, such as magnesium and calcium. It forms when rainwater filters through soil, rocks, and sand and naturally picks up all these salts.

Hard water might be beneficial for drinking, but it is hard on your hair. These minerals react with the ingredients present in your conditioner, masks, shampoos, and other hair products, making all their goodness dissipate. This is why no matter what product you use on your hair for whatever hair concern, it seems not to affect at all.

In layman’s terms, hard water is when you feel your hands greasy or dry after washing. Then it is quite evident that your area has hard water. Hard water is not typically dangerous, but it definitely can have adverse and severe effects on your hair’s health.

If you are suffering from dry and frizzy hair along with extreme hair loss, then this might be the reason for it.

How hard water affects the health of your hair

When you wash your hair with hard water, it makes it difficult to lather and rinse, and it also accumulates build-up after you wash your hair.

Post-washing your hair with hard water makes your hair scales stand up, thereby causing tangled, dry, and frizzy hair. Hard water also makes your hair less tameable and greasy, making it difficult to style your hair.

The minerals present in the hard water can make your hair rough and leave residue behind, which does not allow you to have a thorough rinse.

Several shampoos contain surfactants, which make the shampoos lather, and they react with the minerals present in the hard water leaving a film of soap on your hair. These minerals are insoluble in water, which is exactly the reason why your hair appears to be greasy right after washing.

You might believe in the misconception that the more you wash your hair, the cleaner it will appear to be. But the truth is that it will only make your condition worse. The more hard water touches your hair, the more damaging it will be. If you have colored hair, then hard water can also make your hair color fade quicker than usual. It also facilitates hair loss and thinning of hair, ultimately leading to baldness.

A study was also conducted to show the aggravating effects of hard water on your hair. In this study, the researchers took hair strands of about 15-20 cm long from female volunteers, and they were cut into half to show direct comparison.

The samples were kept in distilled water and hard water, respectively, for about a month. However, they were only submerged for 10 minutes a day. After one month, they used a strength tester to determine the strength and elasticity of the hair strands.

However, the study did not show any negative impacts on the elasticity or strength of the hair. Despite this, it is mentioned that it is best to take appropriate measures while washing your hair with hard water.

Tips for Washing Your Hair with Hard Water

If you live in a hard water area and bring you daily grief, then here are some tips for washing hair in hard water listed below. This will not eliminate the problem, but it will compensate for your situation to a huge extent.


This is one of the most effective tips for washing hair in hard water. Apple Cider Vinegar is the best choice for this. However, you can choose any vinegar as per your liking.

The acidity of the vinegar will effectively remove any excess build-up, thereby making your hair clean. It also softens and smoothens your hair.

Dilute equal amounts of ACV and water depending on the length of your hair and rinse with it as the last step of your hair wash routine. Towel dry your hair after it.

Lemon Juice

Just like vinegar, lemon also has acidic properties that remove build-up from your hair.

All you need to do is mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with 3 cups of water to mix. After shampooing your hair, pour this mixture to your scalp and tips and gently massage it. Leave the mixture on for a few minutes, and then rinse it off with cold water.

Also, you will want to ditch the conditioner for the best results. You will instantly feel your hair be a lot smoother, shinier, and manageable.

Water Softener

A water softener is an excellent way to solve problems with hard water. It is an expensive solution, but it is worth it.

It is used to turn the hard water into soft water by eliminating magnesium and calcium, and any other minerals present.

Soft water can make your hair happy and healthy, and it can get rid of dandruff, build-up, and other hair-related issues. It is one of the best tips for washing hair in hard water.

Shower Filter

A shower filter is yet another option to convert hard water into soft water. However, this is much cheaper than the water softener.

It works considerably by reducing the amount of chlorine and limescale in the hard water. It filters these minerals and prevents them from coming out of the shower.

Bottled Water

If nothing works for you, you can use packaged mineral water for rinsing your hair for the final time. It is also a cheap option, and it can be a temporary solution for your hard water worries.

Instead of bottled water, you can also use filtered water to get temporary relief from your problem. This is one of the cheap and best tips for washing hair in hard water.

Rain Water

Rainwater is by far the best tip for washing hair in hard water as it is entirely free. There is no investment required, and you can obtain the benefits of expensive products for free.

Rainwater is the purest form of water available, and you can store this water in a bucket or harvest it for future use. The only limitation of this method, however, is that it is not available all the time.

Clarifying Shampoo

Apart from all the natural methods, there is one more thing you can do. And that is changing your shampoo. Switch to a clarifying shampoo made of natural ingredients and wash your hair with it.

These natural ingredients not only thoroughly cleanse your hair but also add volume and luster to your damaged and dull hair.

When you buy a shampoo from the drugstore, make sure to look at the ingredients and choose something natural and safe.

Leave-in Conditioner

Conditioners, when not applied correctly, can also lead to greasy hair. Instead of applying your regular conditioner, which requires rinsing to switch it up with a leave-in conditioner.

It will eliminate the problem of residue build-up and will also help style your hair. You do not always need to purchase conditioners from the market; instead, you can use essential oils such as coconut oil or argan oil.

Apply any of these oils to your damp hair, and this will lock the moisture in, keeping your hair soft, smooth, and shiny.

How do you soften hard water for washing hair at home?

We all saw what hard water could do to your hair. We also saw some tips by which you can protect your hair from hard water. Here are some ways by which you can soften hard water at home to wash your hair. Here are two methods you can try at home:

Shower Softener

A shower filter is an extra attachment that is fitted to your shower system. It is a cheap option, and it can reduce the lime content and magnesium from the hard water. These shower filters also come with an inbuilt softener that converts hard water into soft water.

These filters allow you to wash your hair instantly once you install these filters. These filters are ideal for confined spaces, especially if you have an apartment.

Water Softening System

It is a softening system that you can install to convert the hard water of your entire house. It provides long-term results, exactly why it is an expensive option compared to the shower filters.

The water softening system confines the conversion of water to the bathroom and converts the entire house’s water. This system eliminates all the minerals from the hard water leaving only sodium in the water.

This method changes the hard water into soft water, and it also increases the benefit of clean water.

DIY Homemade Chelating Hair Rinse

Making your own clarifying shampoo is way easier and cheaper than buying it from the market. The best part about this is that you will be well aware of the ingredients and know whether these ingredients will be suitable for you.

Citric Hair Rinse

Using citric acid is the most basic and preferred chelating recipe, easily made at home. For this, you need:

  • Lemon juice
  • Distilled water

How to prepare?

  1. Mix one part of lemon juice with four parts of distilled water.
  2. Wash your hair as you usually would, and then apply this chelating solution to your hair.
  3. Leave it on for a few minutes, then wash it off with cold water and use a conditioner.

Baking Soda Hair Rinse

Another method uses baking soda. For this, you need:

  • Baking Soda
  • Distilled water
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

How to prepare?

  1. Take one tablespoon of baking soda mixed with 500ml of distilled water and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
  2. Scrub your hair with this mixture, especially your scalp, and leave it on for 2 minutes.
  3. Rinse it off with warm water and use the conditioner as usual.

Try these hair rinse solutions once a month to get rid of all the build-up and freshen up your hair.

How can I protect my hair from hard water naturally?

You don’t always have to treat hard water with expensive methods. You can also deal with it the natural way.

The natural methods include ACV rinse. For this, you need one tablespoon of ACV with three cups of water and shampoo your hair as you usually would. Wash your hair as usual and use this concoction as the final rinse. Apply this mixture to your hair, leave it on for a few minutes, and rinse it off.

You can also use lemon juice, which has acidic properties. Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with 3 cups of water and rinse your hair with this after shampooing. Massage this mixture on your scalp, leave it on for a few minutes, and rinse off with warm water. Do not forget to use the conditioner after both these methods.

Bottom line

Hard water can be extremely damaging to your hair. If you are suffering from extreme hair loss and thinning hair, it might be because of your water. So, for the best results, follow my tips for washing hair in hard water and keep your hair healthy by trying out my hair softening DIYs.

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