Whether it’s your dishwasher, washing machine, water heater, or ice maker, one thing holds true about iron bacteria and iron algae: it grows wherever it goes. If water is sitting stagnant in a cool, dark area of any appliance, it will grow visible algae in as little as 24 hours. Over time, this algae/slime oxidizes the materials it comes in contact with, including plastics and metals inside common appliances. Oxidation results in these materials drying out and becoming brittle, contributing to appliance parts prematurely breaking. Softening your water is a key step to avoid some of the effects of iron bacteria on household appliances.