The Hidden Costs of Untreated Tap Water in Your Home

Untreated tap water: for most residents on the Colorado Front Range, tap water is cheap or free depending on where you live. What you may not know is that there’s a hidden cost to using tap water for drinking and cleaning your dishes, clothes, and food.

Although tap water is treated to take out most heavy metals and toxins before it comes out of your faucet, there are minerals and other contaminants that civic water treatment facilities can’t remove. Usually chlorine is used to kill off any bacteria and other pathogens that might live in tap water. However, while chlorine will kill off bacteria and viruses, it won’t cleanse the water of minerals that can build up and cost you in the future.

Most tap water contains some amounts of magnesium and calcium which dissolve in the water and cause long-term problems with extended use. These minerals cause the water to not absorb solvents as well as, say, bottled water that has gone through reverse osmosis will. When you use your washing machine, you’re pumping tap water in to mix with your detergent and clothes. The detergent is supposed (like all soaps) to bind to dirt and other foreign particles to take them away with a rinse. But if the tap water has certain levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, it won’t absorb the remaining contaminants in the soap and leave part of the soap itself behind. This creates residue of both the detergent and the grime that it’s supposed to be wiping away on your clothes.

The ineffectiveness of tap water to fully wash away dirt and detergent increases household costs in two ways.

  1. The first hidden cost of untreated water is the grit of the dirt left behind. This gritty residue grinds into the fabric of your clothes, causing them to wear out faster than they normally would.
  2. The second hidden cost of untreated water is the amount of cleaning product you have to use. In our studies, it typically takes ten times the amount of soap with untreated water when compared to using treated water. Most clients with home water treatment systems only need a capful of detergent per wash to clean the same amount of laundry. The bottom line: you will also have to use more detergent per wash to do the job of treated tap water.

Those costs can certainly add up, but another cost is the damage to your pipes and plumbing that untreated tap water can cause.


Because there are usually high amounts of chlorine in tap water, untreated water can erode the pipes going into your house faster. Heavy metal and mineral residue in tap water can also take a heavy toll on your plumbing system over time, causing serious repair issues over time.

All of these costs are not readily apparent when using untreated tap water. Since you’re probably getting it piped in for free or for low cost, you might not think of it. A home water treatment system takes away those unneeded costs down the road and provides you with healthier water for life.

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