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Which water softener for hard water is best?

Hard water isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it’s severe enough, it can cause problems for your home. Whether your water is that hard or you just want it to be softer than it is, you can use a water softener to fix it. They come in a few forms so you can best match the needs of your home.

The best water softener for hard water is the Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid. It filters out harmful contaminants on top of softening water.

What to know before you buy a water softener for hard water

Water softener for hard water types

There are three main types of water softeners for hard water.

  • Whole-home softeners attach directly to your home’s water line to soften all your water, from the sinks to the showers. 
  • Portable softeners are used in mobile homes such as RVs or boats.
  • Showerhead softeners replace your regular showerhead and use replaceable filters to soften water as it gets pushed through.


To pick an appropriately-sized water softener, you need to know your hard water grain number and have to do a few calculations.

  • Grain number: To find your grain number, you need to use a testing kit. They’re easy to find, easy to use and will tell you your hardness in terms of grains per gallon.
  • Calculations: First, multiply the number of people in your household by 80. Then multiply that number by your grains per gallon. That’s the minimum size you need.

What to look for in a quality water softener for hard water

Demand vs. timed regeneration

Water softeners for hard water need time to remove the minerals from your water. As such, most softeners use one of two systems to make the time to replenish the softened water you use.

  • Demand regeneration occurs automatically as you use your softened water. This keeps you topped up, but it typically costs more.
  • Timed regeneration occurs during a window of the day you choose. Some timed systems won’t provide any water during this window, so you need to adjust for that.

Filtration combos

Water softeners for hard water only eliminate minerals while water filtration systems eliminate all manner of toxic contaminates. Some softeners are combined with these filtration systems for a top-to-bottom cleaning system. These combos typically have high upfront costs, but it’s usually less than buying both separately.

Low-salt indicator

A key piece of how water softeners work involves salt. The salt is eventually used up, meaning you need to check your softener regularly to ensure it has enough. Better softeners include low-salt indicator lights to make this process easier. 

How much you can expect to spend on a water softener for hard water

Showerhead softeners cost the least, typically less than $100. Whole-home softeners cost the most, anywhere from a few hundred to more than a thousand. Portable softeners are in the middle, typically less than $300.

Water softener for hard water FAQ

What is hard water and how do I know if I have it?

A. Hard water simply means that your water has high concentrations of minerals. These minerals usually don’t harm you, but they can harm your home. Some signs of hard water include:

  • Plumbing issues.
  • Mineral deposits on your clothes, dishes, showers and sinks.
  • Low water pressure.
  • Dry skin.

What are the benefits of using a water softener for hard water?

A. The biggest benefit is the reduction or elimination of mineral deposits around your home. Additionally, your water-using devices will last longer and you, your clothes and your dishes will be cleaner. Softer water can also lead to lower water-related bills.

What are the negatives of using a water softener for hard water?

A. Some people dislike the taste of water that’s lacking in minerals, especially if they’re used to it. Additionally, the wastewater from water softeners isn’t reusable.

What’s the best water softener for hard water to buy?

Top water softener for hard water 

Home-Improvement-Best Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series Softener-Whole Home Filter Hybrid

Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid

What you need to know: This all-in-one softener and filtration system is the one to beat.

What you’ll love: It has a 31,000-grain capacity with a hardness removal rating of 120 grains per gallon and an iron removal rating of three parts per million. It regenerates with a demand system plus the filter is self-cleaning and doesn’t need to be replaced.

What you should consider: Some customers had issues receiving damaged softeners due to poor shipping conditions. The display isn’t backlit, making it hard to see in the dark.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top water softener for hard water for the money

Home-Best PureAction Water Softener Shower Head Filter For Hard Water

PureAction Water Softener Shower Head Filter for Hard Water

What you need to know: This is an excellent option if you just want to soften up your shower.

What you’ll love: It uses a two-stage filtration system and includes two filter cartridges. The shower nozzle has three settings: rain, massage and combo. The nozzle also helps reduce water usage while maintaining high water pressure. It screws in using a standard half-inch NTP connector.

What you should consider: A few consumers had problems with the showerhead leaking around the screw-on connector. Adjusting the tightness of the fit was usually able to solve it.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Home-Improvement-On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Portable RV Water Softener

On the Go OTG4-DBLSOFT Portable RV Water Softener

What you need to know: If you’re living the mobile life and want soft water, grab this portable solution.

What you’ll love: It uses standard table salt to soften water and takes only 30 minutes to recharge. It softens either 1,600 gallons of water or 40 days worth, whichever comes first. It requires no electricity to function and uses standard garden hose connectors.

What you should consider: It comes with plastic connectors, which some purchases found easy to break. Brass connectors are purchasable on On The Go’s website. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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