Squeaky Clean Skin and the Slimy Feel of Soft Water


A common complaint about soft water, either naturally soft or water softened by water treatment, is that soft water leaves the body with a slick, slimy feel, that soap won’t wash off of the skin, and that one never gets the “squeaky clean” feel that indicates that you’re really clean.

Water softener vendors are quick to point out that both the squeaky and the slimy are illusions.

Here I’m going to borrow from an article written to sell softeners.  Keep in mind that the source is not a peer-reviewed study from M.I.T., but a blog posting from a company that sells water softeners.  I’m excerpting.



The Reality of Bathing in Hard Water

Have you ever toweled off after a shower, ran [sic] your fingers across your forearm or leg and felt a bit of squeaky friction? The concept of “squeaky clean” may have caused you to assume this meant all the greasy grime that was on your body had been washed away, and now your skin is sparkling.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. But, perhaps it’s not your soap’s fault. Have you ever considered your water quality?

The short explanation is this … the squeaky clean feeling on your skin after a shower actually comes from soap that hard water was unable to wash away. Most bathing products don’t lather or clean well in hard water so soap residue gets left behind on your skin.

Imagine the soap scum you notice building up in your tub or that film that shows up on glass shower doors in need of a good cleaning. That’s what’s stuck to your body.

Squeaky clean skin is a straight-up lie. In fact, it means the exact opposite of what you’ve been led to believe. Your skin isn’t squeaky … it’s sticky. You’re not getting clean because the soap isn’t washing away, just like the soap scum on your tub. And, because it’s still on your body, you may get dry, itchy, flaky skin.

You see, the minerals calcium and magnesium are what make water hard. These hard minerals combine with soap to form what’s often called “curd,” which is just as gross as it sounds. The soap curd sticks to your skin and can clog up your pores and cause irritation. That sticky curd can also lead to brittle, unhealthy hair.


Soft Water: Slimy, Slick, or Silky Skin?

People who’ve recently installed a water softener in their home may notice their skin feels different after showering. Some describe it as a slippery feeling while others say their skin feels silky smooth after bathing in softened water.

Sometimes people complain about this sensation because they assume what they’re feeling is bath products that are left behind. Once again … this is the opposite of the truth.

As we’ve already explained, soap scum makes your skin sticky and dry. What you’re actually feeling after washing off with soft water is your body’s natural oils, which it uses to protect and moisturize your skin.


People who are unaccustomed to soft water say that they rinse and rinse, but the slick feeling won’t go away! That’s because it’s not soap product. It’s the way your skin is supposed to feel.

And now, you’ve been enlightened …

Pure Water Gazette’s Conclusion: There are lots of ways to look at things. Since the main purpose of bathing in softened water seems to be to get soap off of the body, a logic conclusion might be to stop using soap.

Reference: Squeaky Clean and Hard Water.

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Also of interest: How does TAC treatment affect soap?