Gray is the New Black by Cindy Dittfield

Updated: Jan 14, 2019



I love to buy black clothing. Part of it is because black goes with everything, but also because when I’m standing in the store, and the dress I like is offered in multiple colors, I cannot decide. So, I just choose the black one. Black is a basic color and goes well with mostly everything so selection is always quick, and hopefully painless, for me.

Recently, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment and thought “why am I’m replacing my clothing so often?” I noticed the blacks just were looking more gray than black. I thought perhaps I was washing my clothes too often, but then after a little research, I realized it was the hard water.

This took me to the laundry room where I do most of my reflective thinking and detective work. You know the place you go to think about life and check pockets? It’s also a great place to get away from your family. How many really know where the laundry room is in their home?

Is Gray the New Black?

After I did a little more digging I got a much better understanding of why my black things began to look washed out or almost gray and the whites were looking dingy or yellow-ish. What I found is that hard water actually has quite a few different affects on your clothing regardless of the color or fabric makeup.

Dingy, yellowing or graying whites


Your whites take on some yellowing from bleaching; however, white clothes that are continuously laundered in hard water will eventually yellow. Think old newspaper.

White or gray streaking in dark clothing


Ever notice white or gray streaks in your dark-colored clothing? Those are residual mineral deposits. Yup, you’re walking around with magnesium and calcium on your clothes.

Hard socks


All I can say here is think teenager. Add teenager to hard water and you can break the socks in half…eventually.

Worn through clothing


Leggings are a cool easy wearable. But after they’ve been washed numerous times, you’ll begin to notice they are more transparent than when you originally purchased them. Think Kardashian.

Why is This Happening?

I took a look at my washing machine and noticed hard water scales in certain spots on the machine and realized the same calcium and magnesium that was destroying my appliances were most likely destroying my clothes. The minerals deposits were wearing down the fibers, and causing discoloration. My wardrobe was diminishing slowly but surely.

Ironically, in hard water, most of the laundry detergent used goes to actually first soften the water and not clean the clothes. The option here is to add more detergent but alas, you’re spending more money and producing more phosphates that affect the environment. After some more digging into a possible solution, what I found, was simple - a water softener.

After about 5 loads of wash and some pretty deep laundry reflection time, I started to realize just how much money I was spending on laundry detergent and how much I was spending to replace my clothes. I realized that installing a water softener would save me a lot of money as well as time.


The thought of being able to select the black dress each and every time knowing it would always look the way it did when I purchased it just by adding a water softener, made everything so much better. I may even spend less time ‘reflecting’ in my laundry room.

~ Cindy Dittfield, writer for Passaic Bergen Water Softening

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