How I Learned to Appreciate Water

homeright now

DSC_6553same room one year ago

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Clorox who just so happened to be a main character in our developing story and water woes here at the ‘farm’ in a post I was planning to write anyway.  All thoughts, opinions and stories represented in this post are my own. Carry on…

When you move to a new place it can be months before you notice some of the differences from your last house. It takes time to learn its quirks and work out the kinks.

I knew one thing when we moved to this dark little house with orange-colored wood floors–I needed as much white as possible to offset the shadows cast by the covered porches and amounts of wood around us.

I’ve become addicted to white walls and slipcovers, towels and sheets because they feel calm. When it comes to white slipcovers the most common question I am asked is “how in the world do you have white slipcovers with three teenage boys and a dog?”. And my answer:: Bleach! How in the world could I have any fabric in my house that couldn’t be bleached? White has become my friend!

Last August we moved to this fixer upper in the country and tried to be as normal as possible while renovating a kitchen. We moved in the white sofa, washed our clothes, got that green pool to turn blue, changed out that yellow toilet for a nice white one and used the mixer on the floor.


There were small inconveniences.

It didn’t take long for us to realize our phones didn’t get good reception so we changed carriers. No biggie.

Our internet choices were almost non-existent so we use a combination of three different sources to get online. A big pain, but at least we have some options.

But when we used the water in this house, it smelled like metal blood. If you have no idea what metal blood water smells like then consider yourself blessed. Imagine turning on your shower and it smells like the water has gone through a filter of 3000 hot pennies. Then infused with the smell of blood concentrate. (hold on, I have to gag).

Our water reeked.

Meanwhile, we noticed our new, nice white toilet was getting dark stains at the water line and below. And my toilet cleaning standby (anything and everything made by Clorox) wasn’t making a difference. I’ve lived in 14 different houses and Clorox products have never failed me. I knew something weird was going on, this was not normal.


By the time New Year’s Day had rolled around last year, I had moved out my favorite sofa, the one with the white slipcover, to the basement. I could no longer get it clean and white.

I longed for the days of municipal water when towels were bright white and all was right with the world.

So finally in March, Chad ripped out the old water system and installed a new top of the line system. No more hot penny baths!

At first the smell was gone YES!

But nothing else much seemed to change.

Our white dishes and clothes & towels seemed to get dirtier looking with each wash. WHAT WAS GOING ON?!

muga mug still warm after going through the dishwasher! this is how clean my dishes were :{

So we broke down and had the water professionally tested and it turns out we have a huge amount of iron in our water. Expectant mothers need only take a sip of our water to get their weekly recommended iron. And really, we were told it wouldn’t hurt us. But my white towels were becoming dingy no matter how much Clorox Bleach I added and our new white toilet and dishes were slowly looking horrible.


washer drawer

See that “Max fill” thing up there? This is the little drawer to my washer and that’s the part is where I would pour in the bleach. After a few weeks at this house it turned dark and I realized our white clothes and towels were starting to look dingy. So I stopped using bleach. Not only that, but the place where I put the laundry soap was also turning orange. Do I stop using soap too? We’ve had this washer in six different homes and this is the first time those little compartments have been anything but white.

So once again, instead of getting to purchase something fun like outdoor patio furniture that you and I could sit on together one day, and I could style and put on Pinterest, we paid our hard-earned money for something you can’t see (almost) A water softening system!!!!

And I am SO HAPPY!

Because we can be normal again!

washerThe laundry room that isn’t done because we have to keep blowing our money on water filters, water softeners, truckloads of fresh water, not to mention braces, car repairs and groceries for three teenaged boys. The nerve.

Y’all, Chad just installed the water softener and I’ve already gone Clorox Wild cleaning everything. I soaked our dishes in a sinkful of our own water and Clorox Bleach and the water didn’t turn brown!! Our kitchen sink is white and I always noticed the water + bleach = brown water in the sink. Our dishes are white again! My towels are already starting to come back to life. And they are FLUFFY! I forgot that towels can be fluffy! Y’all fluffy towels are such a luxury! We’re rich! Yippie for soft water! Not to mention, my hair is soft now because our water is soft! I’m not getting old after all, it was just hard water!

I was jealous of all of you who have normal water. Who can use bleach freely without any issues. Whose towels are bright white, disinfected and fluffy, but now I have joined you! My house is fresh again.

I’m in the process of washing and disinfecting all of our whites in hot water with Clorox Regular Bleach (holding myself back from thinking I need to add in a whole bottle to make up for lost time–I don’t)!! Funny how you can get excited about the little things when you go without them for a while.

So thanks for putting up with my whining all this time. And I’ll write another post telling you how this water affected our pool, because it is craziness.

May the soft water be ever in our favor. Go forth and disinfect with confidence. I know I will.

PS, I’m working on a post about how this affected our pool too (remember how it turned brown/red?), in case anyone is wondering or going through the same thing. So part two of this story will come next week.


*we purchased this water softener

*and this whole house filtration system

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  1. I am a pretty new devotee to bleaching ALL THE THINGS and am loving it! I’ve already told my husband that if we have to replace either of couches, it will be a white slipcovered version. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a washing machine that bleached efficiently until my current one. Now, whites come out WHITE and with a dark home interior (God bless all our shade trees), there’s nothing I crave more. I think your couch was the first time I heard someone talk about how easy it was to maintain with kids and pets and now I completely agree!

  2. Are you also on septic??? We are and have been told not to use bleach… But I don’t want to give it up!!!! Blessings!

  3. I knew the moment I saw the pictures and read that your water smelled like pennies that you had a lot of iron in it. I didn’t grow up on well water, but both my parents did and both had a lot of iron in the water. One was worse than the other. So glad you got it straightened out! I’m also pretty sure a lot of iron isn’t good for women past menopause, but a many of the women in my family lived long lives, so I’m not sure.
    On another note, bleach isn’t good for a septic tank, so if that’s what you have, you may want to find out how to keep those little beneficial bacteria alive. I don’t use a lot of bleach, but was told when I had a new drain field put in that I should just put a package of yeast once a month. That guy said the yeast is the only active ingredient in all those bags of whatever-it-is that’s sold for treatment of the system. Not being an expert, I can’t confirm. :-)

  4. We had the same problem (though in a lesser amount) when we moved to the country last year. We finally got a water softener/iron remover too, and it was such a happy day to clean the orange shower and know I wouldn’t have to clean the orange off it again!!! Same thing with the laundry, though I did have to use an iron out product to get the orange/brown stains out of the whites because bleach just wouldn’t get them out. Yay for white whites again!!!

  5. I was going to mention the septic thing also. Bleach will kill all the bacteria in the system which you need to break down the waste. Meaning your septic could stop working properly. I use bleach only when/where I have to because it is not friendly to the environment (and the septic system LOL).

    Glad you got the water worked out!

  6. Vicki Crowe says

    Growing up my grandparents had iron water. It affects everything! I lived with them for 6 months when i was 18 years old and then i really found out how it affects everything it touches, and changes how you cook and what you drink. That was during a time when bottled water in a rural area was not an easy option. I never felt clean, especially my hair, and you dont wear light colors. When buying a house or in any friendly conversation, you would hear people ask ” “What kind of water do you have?” My family was lucky to have gotten good wTer when our well was drilled, then 30 years later “city” water came through and that changed everything again!

  7. We lived on a property when I was young that had iron water. You have my hugest sympathies…it was GROSS!!!! If you want to get everything clean of that icky brown quickly use wood bleach. It comes in a crystalline form and works wonders on getting that tinge out out porcelain and fabrics, anything really.

    Do be careful with bleach and septic, you will be spending your hard earned money on something else you can’t see, but you will smell it!

  8. YES!!!! Growing up, we had really hard water as well. My parents invested in a water softener after seeing the previous owners belongings and what damage it can do to all of your appliances, clothes, etc. It was worth EVERY penny! I’ve seen you post your woes about getting the pool situation fixed and I never stopped to think that the water was the issue. My parents have a pool as well, and they have to make sure to use the hose from the house (it’s filtered by the water softener) when filling the pool, otherwise that will throw off the chemical balance. Oh, the joys of living “rural”!!!! Blessings!

  9. Susan Cooper says

    Which system did you buy? I have always wanted a house system and can’t seem to justify the large $$ bucks they cost cause our water is not as bad as yours. It tastes horrible and toilets get pink in a week but nothing like your woes!

    • We had one of the brand name people come out and test, but it was like 10 million dollars or something to buy it, so Chad ordered a high rated system on Amazon, email me and I’ll forward your email to him if you want the exact name, we’ve only had it for a month so we can’t totally vouch for it, but so far it’s been great!

      • Could you post or email the name of the system as well? We are just getting ready to put a system in our daughter’s house and I have been searching!

  10. This is such good information. We are in the process of making an offer on a house that has well water, something with which I have absolutely zero experience. I’m glad to know in advance what types of problems we could run into. Thank you!

  11. Ugh. We have well water and we are NOT in the country. We are 30 min away from downtown Chicago but our neighborhood never got city water brought in and refuses to vote yes to it because of the crazy cost :( We put in a brand new water filter and water softener and it has helped some, but I still have to use super harsh cleaners to get my toilets and tub/shower clean, plus my blonde hair turns orange if I don’t spend a ton on special treatments and shampoos. I also have to use those harsh toilet cleaners on my white dishes once every 6 months or they turn orange. City water is something I always took for granted I guess!!! :(

  12. Ha! My parents just passed the 20 year mark of living in a house on well water (I lived there for about 9 of those years) and I/they can definitely attest to the magic of a water softener. We could ALWAYS tell when the softener was cycling. The water tasted and smelled SO. NASTY. In Michigan unsoftened water smells like sulfur (i.e. it smells like you’re drinking straight rotten eggs). Thank the Lord for technology :) I look forward to drinking some of your softened water someday at the Barn!

  13. Hard water is really the only downside to living in the country. I sympathize with you — water softening systems and bleach are lovely!

  14. Just don’t water your plants with the soft water, and keep bottled water on hand for any visitors who have blood pressure issues, or are sodium sensitive in any way.

  15. We have lived with well water full of iron for decades and we do not live in the country!
    Bleach actually is not the best thing to remove iron from your appliances and clothes.
    Get some Whink or Iron Out. You can run it through your dishwasher and washing machine to remove the iron stains.
    And the people who sold you the property should have disclosed that there is iron in the water and you needed an iron removal system. You should not have had to live with it for six months. Fie on the realtor!

    • Had forgotten about bleach not being the best for iron staines. True. I also wondered what the disclosure laws are in NC.

  16. We lived in our dream home for 12 years with iron in the water. We went through 6 water heaters(rusted the bottom) in those years, a dishwasher and too many baths with orange water. I never bought anything white. A whole house water filter was the only way to solve it. So glad your problem is solve!

  17. Liz VanKirk says

    We’ve had to deal with hard water since we built our home 14 years ago. Thank God for water softeners… We installed it after one year of living here and seeing all our white shirts slowly turn yellowish. We used to buy the Morton’s brand salt for the tank but have switched to the generic & still get the same great results. The only thing I couldn’t fix is the hard iron stains on my glasses. Soaked them in just about everything & no luck. Glad the water softener is working well for you. Gotta love well water!

  18. I will never live with well water again! We bought a house in northwestern VA that had huge amounts of iron in the water. We ended up installing what I called our Water Treatment Plant in the basement. Big dollars, and still not great water. I feel for you.

  19. Hello there! We also have a lot of iron and a septic system. We had to get a new water softener when we purchased our home a year ago, but just an FYI, all that iron will be hard on your new softener and shorten the life. Next year we are going to install something called an Iron Curtain (looks like another water softener tank) in between our well and the water softener that will deal with the iron before it gets to the softener. Also, I think another reader mentioned it, but just use Iron Out in your white laundry…does a great job. As far as the septic, I would recommend a product called Lenzyme (the best enzymes on the market according to our personal research) and you may even want to consider what we will be doing; adding a pump to our septic holding tank to circulate oxygen to extend the life of our septic system. Best wishes to you and please do feel free to contact me if you would like any websites or product references. =)

  20. Joy Carrera says

    I just moved into a house on a mission property here in Peru and experiencing this same hard water issue. It is slightly “legendary'” here but no one wants to do anything about it. My hair/skin/teeth are already taking a beating after a month not to mention my whites and it’s the tropics so I like to wear a lot of white. Of course, it’s rental. Any suggestions? Can I get the name of the system you used and see if maybe a work team can bring us something from the US. Thanks

  21. Ooh, I love bleach. I use it on my sheets and towels every week, and it is always so nice to crawl into a bed of freshly bleached sheets on Mondays nights. I’m glad you’re getting your water issues sorted out! City people (like me) don’t think of things like that when dreaming of moving to the country!

  22. Not much iron in our water thankfully, but it’s so hard (calcium-filled?) it practically thunks when it falls out of the faucet. Thank you for making me feel better that I at least don’t have to deal with orange in it :)

    Do you find the water softener feels a little odd on your skin when you wash with it? As a kid I hated that but now I’m wondering if that system just wasn’t set up correctly or something. I think my husband would like to get a water softener but meanwhile we’ve been dealing with the hard water coating by adding vinegar when we run the dishwasher.

  23. I am enjoying this post! We live in the country and have well and septic system. Our bathtub is blue and has white deposits all over. We need a water softner system badly…but our septic use to back up and we had to have pumped out. They told us and we did and no problems. Solution:put 1-2pkgs of yeast and 5-10#of sugar in your septic tank(find where the hole is on top) and dump in. This will create a barrier(heavy layer) on top. ~Blessings!

  24. Please do a post on the specifics about the water filter &/or softener. Our water is so HARD. Mineral buildup on everything. I do not like the idea of leaving a bleach tab in the back of our toilets, but if we don’t, they look nasty in about 4-5 days even after a good scrubbing. It’s tearing up my new-ish dishwasher and I’m sure all other appliances. We requested a test from the county and of course they said the hardness was still considered within “normal” limits. I have a shower head filter to help with my skin and hair, but we are going to have to do something about the whole house. The water laughs at the filter–I can feel it losing it’s effectiveness after half the time it’s supposed to last.

  25. When we lived in illinois, we had a huge iron problem. I found a product called ” the works” and it works beautifully on your tub!!! Just spray it on and let it sit a couple of minutes and the brown will just wipe off. It’s in the cleaning section of walmart or other big box stores!! It’s a miracle product on the brown stains. Try it, I promise you will never clean with anything else!!! ( I also tried every product under the sun because I couldn’t stand the gross brown either)

  26. Clorox Wild is an interesting topic and I have gone through the Clorox phase. However, we have a different problem- mold. We live on the California coast and mold & mildew are a curse. I have gone Borax wild! We have a nice clean well, but the nice new expensive washer we got began to stink! Borax in the washer took care of that! No more smell, nice white clothes. I also use them in the stinky dishwasher, moldy window frames, garbage disposal, moldy closet walls! I could go on & on. A simple product like Borax is my go-to product now. I’m not sure about Borax with septic tanks or iron, but I just thought it was worth a comment.

  27. We moved into our home in June and I am noticing the strong iron smell in the shower and seeing our white clothes slowly turn yellow :( I am so glad to have read of your experience – I think that saving for a water softener is in our IMMEDIATE future!

  28. i nearly gasped out loud when i saw the picture of your washing machine drawer…because i thought it was MINE! We have been on high-iron well water since we built our house 18 years ago. Needless to say, we never wear white anymore! We have some sort of “system” in the basement that is supposed to take care of this problem…like i said “supposed to”. Actually it just looks like we are possibly making moonshine in the basement. Even my white dishes have a nice dingy look to them. I would be most interested to learn which system you installed that has solved your problem. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Iron Out or Iron X will clean your laundry dispenser…..plumber hubby. :)

  30. Hubby said Shock your well really hard and clean your pipes. Crystalline chlorine. Iron should have built up in your pipes.

  31. This post made me laugh out loud, because you just described our water situation to a T!!!! That could be a photo of the inside of my washing machine soap dispenser, and my beautiful white sheets are getting dingy….and the toilets….and the showers…..that gross orange stain that is difficult (if not impossible!) to eradicate completely. The joys of country living! When we bought our house I just thought nothing had been cleaned in ages. Unfortunately, everything looks like that after a week. Still learning what combo of cleaning agents work (and are septic safe) and planning new water system, etc. Makes me feel better to know I am not the only one suffering through this:)

  32. Yes, you are right. You use a water softener to soften water first, and then use a whole house water filter to purify water. If you want super clean water, you also can use a water distiller to get disitlled water to drink. Anyway, you need to check your softener and whole house water filter on a regular basis in order to make sure they works good.

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