Tired of Hard Water? Here’s Our Best Water Softener Pick

Have you ever heard of “hard water”? It’s a problem for many households in areas where the water contains 60 milligrams of dissolved magnesium and calcium. However, areas with super hard water have up to 180 milligrams. If you experience dry, flaking skin, stained dishes, and unclean laundry, then you likely have hard water problems. All of that can be cleared up with the best water softener.

If you’re wondering how to soften water in your home, it’s possible with some of the latest water softeners on the market. We have explored many of the latest systems, reviewing for water softener cost, reliability, purity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and warranty coverage.

What Does A Water Softener Do?

A water softener is like a water filtration system that removes calcium and magnesium deposits, as well as other ions like iron. This results in the water “softening.” The benefits of water softeners typically involve the removal of calcium, reducing scaling, better tasting water, and improvements to household items such as cleaning dishes and laundry.

Benefits of Water Softener

While it may seem strange to think that your water has been inferior this whole time, you may not have even realized that you need a stronger moisturizer and your dishes never seem to come out clean in the dishwasher either. The benefits of water softening can truly be seen after you install a system. You may start to notice how different your skin feels after the best water softeners filter out all the minerals causing issues.

Here are the top benefits of water softeners:

  • Softer, smooth skin
  • Clean, dandruff-free hair (yes, hard water truly causes dry skin and scalp)
  • Cleaner and shinier dishes, silverware, and glasses
  • Softer, cleaner clothes that don’t come out hardened by minerals in the water
  • No need to re-wash clothes and dishes, so utility savings as well

There are also some benefits between different types of water softeners. These include salt-free and traditional salt-based softeners. Salt-free systems help with scale buildup in your shower and provide brighter clothes overall. Since traditional water softeners add salt to the water, it can lead to issues for people who have problems with sodium, such as high blood pressure and those suffering from heart disease.

In a Rush? Here’s the Best Water Softener After 87 Hours of Research:

We know this is what you came for. We’ve done all the research and come with the best water softener overall below. Our ratings are based on several factors including:

  • How well it softens water (80% to 99% reduction in hard minerals)
  • Ease of installation
  • Cost
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer service and warranty

Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series – Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid

The Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series is a whole home filter hybrid softener that works with small homes and offices with a 31,000-grain capacity. This is the latest from Whirlpool to utilize demand-initiated regeneration, which removes salt more than any other model that we have reviewed so far. You also can avoid a lot of the issues with filter replacements because this hybrid does it all. Your Pro Series can drain its own filters, flushing and cleansing the internal filters so they are ready again. When it comes to benefits of water softeners, you’ll find that Whirlpool offers the best value.

Top Reasons to Buy

2-in-1 Water Softener and Water Filtration

The Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series offers a combination of filtration and water softening to ensure that water tastes and feels great. This is another level of filtration that you won’t find with any other filters on the market, even with some claiming to be hybrids. This is because Whirlpool has figured out a combination system with carbon and mesh filters that prevents 99% of hard minerals and bacteria from dispensing in your glass or shower.

Sixth Sense Technology: Reduce Salt Water

The Whirlpool Pro Series water softener hybrid also uses sixth-sense technology that reduces the amount of minerals and salt in your water. The smart filter calculates how much salt is needed to regenerate the resin tank each time, removing harmful salt from your supply so that you receive pure, filtered water.

Low Maintenance: No Replacing Filters

How much does it suck to always have to buy a new filter? Whirlpool thought of that and created a system that does not need a new filter every 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months from now. You will never have to buy a water filter for this product. How amazing is that? The system does it all for you, cleansing its internal filters so that you receive refreshing water without any of the hassle.

Contaminants Reduced

This water filter can help you reduce the following
• Lead, Chlorine, Sediment, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese & Iron

How Does A Water Softener Work?

Water softeners remove minerals that cause water hardness.

Have you ever felt like your skin just itches and flakes for no reason at all? Do you constantly have issues with water spots? Is your laundry coming out so hard that you have to dump a whole container of liquid softener into the washing machine?

You probably have hard water.

Never fear, water softeners are here to fix that issue through a process called ion exchange. This removes the magnesium, calcium, iron, and sometimes other minerals from the water that cause hardening.

Once installed, water flowers into the mineral tank, moving through a bed of resin beads. These are made from polystyrene. Many are charged with sodium ion, which causes salt insertion into your water. However, the resin beads are anions, which means that they negatively charge the water in order to remove hard minerals. This is because calcium and magnesium are cations, which are positively charged.

The negative charge of the minerals attracts the charge of the resin beads, creating a reaction and removing the hard minerals from the water. Now softened water flows through your faucet.

What’s included within a water softener?

There are a few components to look for in a good water softener, including:
• Mineral tank
• Control valve
• Brine tank

Other water softeners may be hybrids that filter out other toxins in addition to hard mineral deposits. When considering the benefits of water softeners in comparison to simple filters, you’ll notice that some filtration systems only create better drinking water, while water softeners can improve the overall quality of water whether it’s your drinking water or bathing water.

What Types of Water Softeners are Available?

There are three types of water softeners:
• Co-Current Regeneration Cycle or Traditional Water Softeners (Uses Brine Tank and Salt)
• Counter-Current Regeneration Cycle Water Softeners (Uses 75% Less Salt)
• Salt-Free Water Softener (Uses Citric Acid Water Softener

If you have issues with salt and don’t mind the additional expense, it’s best to with a counter-current or salt-free water softener. These offer the most filtration and have no side effects due to salt abundance.

What Size Water Softener Do I Need?

You definitely want to install a water softener at the point of entry for your water supply. This is where water first enters your pipes. This means that you should calculate how much water you use in a day.

One of the most important factors is looking at the time length between regenerations. This is the process when the minerals attract each other in ion exchange to remove the hard minerals. Regeneration needs to happen once every three days, but not more than two nights in a row.

In addition, size is measured in grains. This is the capacity of a typical water softener system. The amount of grains in hard water is the capacity of a water softener for your home. With a higher grain capacity, the water softener can handle more hard water in higher quantities, which works best for a whole home or office.

To calculate this, think about it this way:
• A family of four would need a 7-day cycle regenerating softener for a typical hard water problem, which means that the size necessary is over 25,000 grains.

One other tip for whole home softeners: If there is additional iron or larger quantities of hard minerals in your water, then you should shoot for a 45,000 or higher grain water softener.

Water Softener Systems

Aquasure Signature Series Complete Whole House Water Treatment System (64,000 Grain)

The Aquasure Signature Series is a whole house water softener with a grain of 64,000 and a warranty of five years. This is already one of the most highly rated whole house water treatment systems due to the value and design.

It comes close to our favorite, the Whirlpool Pro Series hybrid softener, as it also removes toxins and hard minerals from your water, making it easier to drink. It works well for larger homes with over five family members and multiple bathrooms as well.

If you’re looking for scale-free, toxin-free, soft water, then the Aquasure Signature Series is one of the large filtration and softeners that you can buy. While some filtration systems can be difficult to install or cause too much noise, Aquasure has designed their system to be quiet and efficient.

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, so we tested the water to see how many chemicals, toxins, and hard minerals were removed. We found that Aquasure Signature Series removed 98% of all the chemicals after we ran through one cycle.

Features Include

• 64,000 grain rating
• 75 gallons per day
• Sediment filter and water conditioner
• Under sink reverse osmosis filtration
• Softener and whole house water sediment filtration

Benefits

• Whole house filtration and water softening
• Removes sediment, dirt, cysts, heavy metals, bacteria, BOCs, pesticides, odors, chemicals, chlorine, rust, sand, silt, arsenic, and more
• Bottled water quality with alkaline taste
• No more water stains on dishes or ashy skin from hard water
• Five-year warranty

What We Liked

Whole house filtration with a water softener is a dream system to have, so it’s amazing that Aquasure provides three different types of filtration with water conditioning. Unlike basic water filtration, this system removes large and small chemicals, while also softening your water to make your home’s water completely safe and pleasant.

Most water filtration systems have a multi-step filter with carbon filters and mesh. However, Aquasure goes a step further. The reverse osmosis water filtration is a step up from regular filtered water as well. This is the only true process that removes the most toxins from water.

What We Don’t Like

There are several pieces to install, so if you are not a plumber, you may feel overworked by the directions, which require you to install part of the system at the water entry point and another part underneath the sink. However, this is the best way to get the most filtered drinking water as well as soft, safe water throughout your home.

Fleck 5600SXT 64,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System

With over 50 years of water filtration and softeners, Fleck has been the company to beat when it comes to whole house systems for water softening. People who live in areas with hard water have turned to Fleck for the best filtration, but it’s the design and ease of installation that make Fleck one of the best water softeners in the world.

While it’s not a low-cost unit, this high-end softener always delivers, reducing hard minerals to nearly zero, for truly spa-quality water at home. However, it is a salt softener that uses co-current regeneration. The tank is quite large, and it’s built well to avoid overfilling and overflow, making it more efficient than most softeners on the market.

Benefits

• High-quality water softener
• For larger homes with 4+ people and multiple bathrooms
• Saves on water with precise machine measurements
• Comes with an LCD display controller to set parameters
• High level of filtration and water softening
• WQA certified
• Excellent customer service

What We Liked

The Fleck 5600SXT is a large water filtration system that effectively softens and filters your water to a higher degree than many other water filters out there. We love that you can easily install this tank despite it being a large home water filtration system.

The SXT controller is amazing for setting different programs and shows you how many gallons remaining on the filter. You can also set how many times you want the system to regenerate, so that your water is always super filtered and soft or more efficient.

Here’s how the SXT controller works:

What We Don’t Like

The system is smart, but it still relies on salt filtration instead of providing a salt-free or even counter-current regeneration to reduce the amount of salt in the system. For such a high price, Fleck may be a little behind on softener technology. However, it’s still one of the best water softeners on the market.

Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Water Softener

This Whirlpool water softener is ideal for those who have 3 to 6 people in their homes. It removes all hard minerals and comes with a warranty. The best part is that this water softener uses demand initiated regeneration to stay efficient, delivering high value to your home.

When a filter has a demand initiated regeneration system, this means that it only regenerates based on the hardness level in the water. It measures how much water you need as well, so the results include water softening with money savings. It never regenerates when you’re not using water, so if you go on vacation, you don’t have to worry about running up water bills.

Benefits

• 40,000 grain capacity, perfect for families over 3 people
• NSF certified
• Energy efficient
• Easy to install and easy to clean
• Installation kit with 1 inch male pipe included

What We Liked

Whirlpool saves more energy and time by creating an efficient water softener for the whole home. It only uses the salt and water that it needs, so you don’t use as much salt. You also receive significant savings on your water bills from using a system like this in comparison to a whole home filter that does not have on-demand regeneration.

The design is very intuitive. Whirlpool created this softener to have a super high flow valve and clearwater iron technology, which means that it softens your water even further by removing calcium, iron, and magnesium.

What We Don’t Like

There’s not much to dislike about this filter except that it doesn’t really include any other filtration for the price. This is a pure water softener unit.

Best 2-in-1 Hybrids: Water Softener System + Whole House Water Filter

Tier1 Everyday Series 64,000 Grain Water Softener with Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System

The Tier1 Everyday Series is a mainstay for all household sizes. The company offers several different sizes and capacities to suit large and small homes, but the 64,000-grain Everyday Series is definitively for a larger home with multiple bathrooms and people. Well-made with a modern design and technology, the Tier1 Everyday Series is perfect if you want a traditional water softener system with energy efficiency.

Benefits

• 64,000 grain for larger home systems
• Separate drinking water filter for sink
• High-efficiency and energy-saving
• Traditional system with brine tank
• NSF Certified
• Less expensive than Fleck

What We Liked

The Tier1 Everyday Series is a whole-house water filtration system that is affordable and easy to maintain. It only includes two pieces, so it’s easy to install. The design uses high-quality materials that are made to efficiently soften water and save on waste at the same time, which is why it received an NSF certified rating.

With a brine tank safety valve and digital meter with LCD display, you can control regeneration easily and see the remaining gallon count, too. You can stay updated in the moment when you need soft water and trigger a regeneration by programming it to run throughout the day when you’ll need water the most.

What We Don’t Like

The Tier1 system does not try to reduce any salt whatsoever. This is pure co-current system, which means that if you have a sensitivity to sodium and salt, you may want to skip to a salt-free system.

Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series – Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid

If you want a step up from other traditional water softeners, the Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series is just that. It is a small efficient softener, but it comes with top-of-the-line water conditioning features and premium-grade materials.

The self-cleaning filter means that you don’t have to buy a filter to work with this system. It removes any potential sediment, dirt, rust, cysts, bacteria, and of course, the hard minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. Best of all, it has a removal rating of 120 grains for each gallon. This means that it can reduce the rust and other stains on your pipes.

It’s also certified for contaminant reduction, receiving an NSF certification. In addition, this system covers everything for your home including water softening and filtration with a reverse osmosis (RO) filter.

Benefits

• 2-in-1 system with water filtration and water softening
• Uses 6th Sense Technology to reduce salt
• Low maintenance and easy-to-install
• Do not have to replace filters
• Removes all kinds of hard minerals as well as chemicals, toxins, bacteria, rust, arsenic, and other sediment

What We Liked

For the price and ease of installation alone, the Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series is the best water softener currently. We found that it was able to remove 96% of all contaminants in the water. Your skin feels completely refreshed and soft after using this water filtration system for a few days, and your clothes will feel just as soft. It truly works better than many of the larger water softeners simply because it includes multiple forms of filtration.

What We Don’t Like

There’s really nothing to dislike about this system. If anything, we wish that we could have tested a higher grain for a larger home, such as a 48,000- or 64,000-grain system.

Ecopure EPHS007 EPHS Conditioner-Water Softener & Filter System

The Ecopure EPHS007 EPHS water softener filtration hybrid is a dual whole home filter with a 31,000-grain capacity. This filter is best for homes with 1 to 6 people and offers a 10-year warranty for the tank. Other warranties are available that cover all parts and electronics. It comes with a computerized display and built-in filter to soften and remove contaminants.

EcoPure’s EPHS007 system also offers iron removal, hardness removal, and chlorine removal. It is rated for a 3 parts per million iron removal and 100 grains per gallon for hardness removal. Basically, this system softens your water extremely well and removes most contaminants, although it does not contain a reverse osmosis filter like the Whirlpool Pro Series.

However, the best part about this filter is that it is completely salt-free, which means that you don’t have to worry about any sodium being added to your water.

Benefits

• 31,000 grain capacity filter for 1-6 people in a household
• Whole home filtration and water softening
• Demand-initiated regeneration
• Comes with 10-year warranty for tank and 1-year warranty for full parts and replacement
• Great customer service

What We Liked

We love that the EcoPure EPHS007 includes salt-free water filtration and water softening for a two-punch impact on your water quality. Basically, the saltless water softener system delivers amazing water to your faucets, and it’s quite efficient, especially for the cost. While the computerized panel feels a bit dated, it’s idea for households that want to save a little money and get a 2-in-1 water filtration system.

What We Don’t Like

EcoPure isn’t as strong as Whirlpool or other combination hybrid softeners. You also have to manually clean out the filters every 3 to 4 months to ensure that it works correctly. This is somewhat inconvenient, particularly if you don’t know much about plumbing and how to remove the unit.

Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System w/ UV Purifier & Salt-Free Descaler

Aquasana has quite a few different water filtration and softener systems. The Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System is their largest and most comprehensive system delivering 1 million gallons of water or 10 years of purified water. The result is clean, great-tasting, softened water delivered to your whole house.

The filter removes everything from hard water minerals to bacteria and lead. This is thanks to the UV purifier and scale control media with salt-free technology. This is revolutionary by today’s filtration standards as you get the most water with 98% purity. It’s also easy to maintain, but installation and filter replacement is a bit of a downer.

Benefits

• 1 million gallons of purified water
• Highly efficient whole house filter system
• Built-in UV purifier and de-scaler
• Salt-free water softener
• Warranty coverage
• Excellent customer service

What We Liked

We like how large this system is because it will work for large families and offices. The package comes with an installation kit and several filters as well. The filtration was clear to see, taste, and feel in this filtration system. Our filtered water had zero odor and came back with a near 97% pure rating.

It’s also amazing to see a saltless water softener on the market with this much filtration and capacity. You can endlessly provide your home with great-tasting water without having to worry about any contaminants or salt overload.

The system also cleans your pipes and purifies your water through another step called UV filtration. This is unprecedented for most basic water softeners.

What We Don’t Like

For the cost, we think that the installation kit could be a bit more practical and include better instructions. In addition, this filtration systems requires you to replace the filter every 3 months according to customer reviews.

Tier1 Eco Series Whole House Water Filter System w/Salt-Free Softener

The Tier1 Eco Series Whole House bundle includes one of best water filters and saltless softener in one package. The system comes with a pre-filter to remove sediment, rust, and silt. There are also carbon and KDF filters to reduce heavy metals, lead, mercury, nickel, pesticides, and other toxins. Bacteria also cannot break through this water filter, which includes a 99% effective filtration against bacteria.

As a salt-free water softener, you never have to worry about the impact of sodium in your water, and the water tastes amazing. The UV output lamp includes a digital display to show you how much is being filtered out. It’s truly amazing to see if you live in an area with a municipal water supply or hard water problems.

Benefits

• Best for smaller homes
• Highly efficient with multiple filters for removing bacteria, chemicals, hard water minerals and more
• Saltless water softener
• Whole house system with a UV filter
• Includes carbon and KDF filtration for additional purity
• Complete moneyback guarantee

What We Liked

Tier1 creates some of the best filtration systems, so their saltless water softener and whole house filtration system was fun to use and review. We liked how easy it was to set up, and the design is simple. The filtration system is multi-step, so we expected and were happily impressed with the results of our testing. We found that the filters got 98% of toxins, minerals, chemicals, bacteria, and other contaminants out of the water. The taste was amazing, and the water softener was comparable to premium systems we have reviewed.

What We Don’t Like

Despite its simple design and construction, there are some drawbacks to this system. For one, you will have to replace the filters every three months or so.

Tier1 Eco Series Salt Free Water Softener

For those who want to spend less for the water softener, the Tier1 Eco Series comes with only the saltless softener available. It’s NSF-certified and tested for efficiency. You can purchase for a smaller home with 1 to 3 bathrooms or a larger home if you have more than 6 people.

The design is very simple, so it doesn’t filter out much besides the hard water minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. T does not have a control valve, backwash waste cycle, or expensive salt refills, however. This makes it easier to set up.

Benefits

• Simple saltless water softener design
• Varying capacities for small and large homes
• Complete money back guarantee

What We Liked

We appreciated how easy and quick it was to get this water softener setup. The whole system works well and includes a resin tank with a descaling media blend. This means that it can reduce the amount of scaling on your pipes in addition to softening your water.

What We Don’t Like

There isn’t any other filtration, so if you are looking for better-tasting, purified drinking water, this isn’t the right system for you.

Water Softener Companies

We have reviewed some of the top water softener brands for reliability, selection, customer satisfaction, warranty coverage, and customer service. Here is a glimpse at our take on each.

1) Whirlpool

This is the top brand when it comes to responsive customer service and highly rated water filtration products. Every system is designed and comes with full specifications, so you never have any surprises when it comes to installation. Overall, this brand is very dependable and offers exceptional installation help for customers.

2) Fleck

Fleck has a history in the water filtration and softener business. Their products are consistently highly rated, and we appreciated how in-depth their customer service team got with our issue. However, we wish that they developed saltless water filters like their competitors.

3) Tier1

For saltless water softeners in every size, Tier1 provides high-quality, well-made whole house filtration and softener systems. You can’t beat their pricing and features for many products, but not all of their products have the same reliability.

4) NuvoH20

While we like NuvoH20’s affordability and capacity, we don’t think their products are as reliable as others on this list. However, they make a decent small system if you don’t mind changing the filters more often.

5) Aquasure

This is another epic brand when it comes to water filtration and softeners. We like that you can find all kinds of sizes are serviced by their systems, and their customer service is decent. While their systems are not as neatly packaged or designed as competitors, they are made from high-quality materials. Customers also find the company to be reliable in terms of warranties, customer service, and long-lasting filtration.

6) DuraWater

DuraWater is another highly-rated brand for water filtration systems that can soften as well. Their systems create some of the purest water thanks to reverse osmosis filters.

How Much Does A Water Softener Cost?

The cost of a water softener depends on the size and capabilities. Some water softeners are available for smaller households and won’t be as expensive as a full, whole house filtration hybrid system made for over 6 bathrooms.

This means that a 31,000-grain water softener will cost much less than a 64,000-grain system. You can probably spend over $2,000 on an extremely nice water filtration and combination softener system. However, you also want to consider the monthly cost and filter maintenance. Some systems have built-in filters that clean themselves, saving you on cost every year.

In addition to initial upfront costs and maintenance needs, you also have to think about energy savings and efficiency when looking at different systems. Some manufacturers create the most efficiency, energy-savings water filtration systems so that you don’t have to spend more to get pure water.

Water Softener Cost: Best Value for 1-2 Person Household

Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener

This is a demand regeneration filter with 6th sense technology that can automatically learn and predict how much water you will need. As a single tank design for just 30,000-grain, this is especially worthwhile for a smaller home.

Water Softener Cost: Best Value for 2-3 People

Whirlpool WHES33 Water Softener 33,000 Grain

We rank this as a best buy for small to medium-sized homes that want to save money while also filtering their water supply. It comes with iron removal in addition to softening, and it has a single-tank design.

Water Softener Cost: Best Value for 3-4 People

Tier1 Everyday Series 48,000 Grain

For those who want a whole house with a softener and filter, Tier1 provides this affordable system that is easy to install and comes with a 100% money back guarantee. It includes 48,000-grain capacity. However, this is a brine tank, so be careful if you don’t want salt in your water.

Water Softener Cost: Best Value for 4 or More People

DuraWater Black Fleck 5600 SXT 80,000 Grain

With high-capacity for larger homes and commercial offices, this water softener is best for those who want on-demand water softening, but don’t want to pay too much. This unit costs much less than most high-grain water softeners, but it performs nearly the same. The only difference is that it uses a salt-based filtration system, which means that you would need to buy pelleted salt or if you have someone with hypertension in your home, you may want to divert to potassium.

Final Verdict

Water softeners help your home in so many ways. From better bathes to purified laundry water that helps keep your clothes soft, there’s something unique about water filtration systems that also have softening too. There’s also a big difference between the different brands and how they design their systems.

Based on all our research and testing, the best water softener has to be the Whirlpool WHESFC Pro Series – Softener/Whole Home Filter Hybrid. With an affordable price for a whole home filter that also softens, the results were truly amazing from our tests. We found that the water tasted better, felt great, and reduced the salt in our water supply significantly. It’s an exceptional water softener, but it’s also just the best system when it comes to water filtration for your whole home.