Top 7 Benefits of Soft Water (Explained by an Expert)

You probably know that hard water causes major problems in your home’s plumbing system and sends your water bill skyrocketing.

Soft water, being the opposite of hard water, eliminates soap scum and mineral damage, helping you to save a ton of money and get years more use out of your appliances.

In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of all the benefits of soft water that you need to know about. We’ve also shared some info that should help you decide whether a water softener system is for you.

👍Top 7 Benefits of Soft Water

Saves Money

The biggest benefit of soft water is that it helps you save money.

While hard water results in calcium and magnesium mineral buildup in your plumbing fixtures and appliances, soft drinking water contains no dissolved minerals, preventing this damage altogether.

With soft water, you can make some major savings across the following areas:

Gas or Electricity Bills

Soft water doesn’t leave mineral stains inside your pipes, which means there’s no resistance dragging water back (as you’d find with hard water). The benefit of this is that your water pressure can be lower than it would need to be with hard water, helping you save money.

Plus, soft water doesn’t cause scale buildup inside your water heater. Hard water reduces the efficiency of hot water heaters by producing a layer of insulation between the heating elements and water. Soft water contains no minerals responsible for scale, allowing your heater to work more efficiently – thus reducing your gas or electricity bill.

Plumbing

Soft water doesn’t damage plumbing, while hard water leaves scale deposits that eventually clog your pipes. Using soft drinking water in your home will prevent the expensive job of replacing your pipes and plumbing fixtures before the end of their expected lifespan.

hard water damaging plumbing due to limescale buildup
Scale buildup on piping

Appliances

Soft water doesn’t leave scale inside your appliances, and reduces the amount of water needed in dishwashers and washing machines. Hard water, on the other hand, slows down water flow and causes damage to components in your appliances that may result in an expensive repair fee.

Softening your water with a water softening system helps you to save money on water use and repairs to your appliances.

Detergents and soap

Soft water lathers better with soap. If you currently get through a lot of dish soap and laundry detergent, you should be able to use a fraction of this soap after softening your water. Hard water requires almost twice the amount of soap as soft water to produce the same lather.

With a water softener, you can save money by using less soap, and use cold water in your washing machine, saving money on your heating bill.

Increases Appliance Lifespan

Soft water is much better for appliances than hard water.

Hard water kills appliances in a matter of years. Scale buildup clogs the pipes and components in your washing machine and dishwasher, and greatly reduces the efficiency of your water heater. Your showerheads will eventually become so clogged that you’ll need to buy replacements.

Even if hard water doesn’t kill your appliances outright, it’ll result in more frequent maintenance. You’ll need to replace various parts of appliances that have become clogged or damaged by scale, or hire a plumber or handyman to diagnose and fix a problem.

Soft water doesn’t cause any of these issues. With soft tap water, your appliances will last for their expected lifespan – perhaps even longer, if you buy new appliances after installing a water softener system.

water heater element with limescale buildup
Water heater element covered in limescale

Improves Laundry Quality

Hard water and soft water have opposite effects on your laundry.

Hard water doesn’t lather with laundry soap and forms soap scum, resulting in rough, stiff laundry. Hard water also causes colors to fade faster than they should, and leaves a gray tinge on white laundry.

With soft water, you can avoid all these laundry issues. Your clothes will look and feel exactly the same as before you washed them. Your colors will stay colorful and your whites will stay bright white. You’ll be able to use less soap and water conditioner to maintain soft, clean, brighter clothes.

Reduces Cleaning Chores

If you’re tired of cleaning calcium deposits off your kitchen and bathroom fixtures, you need a water softening system.

Soft water doesn’t leave calcium and magnesium deposits as hard water does, so you won’t just enjoy easier cleaning – your cleaning duties will be drastically reduced.

cleaning off limescale easily because of soft water

With soft water, you can spend a fraction of your time scrubbing your appliances. Your faucets, showerheads, and glass shower screens will stay shiny and mineral-free.

If you’re using water to dilute a cleaning product, you’ll get much better results with soft water than with hard water. Soft water mixes better with cleaning products and doesn’t leave scale deposits on the areas you’re cleaning.

Improves Skin and Hair Health

If your skin and hair are itchy, dry, or prone to conditions like dandruff or eczema, you’re likely dealing with the effects of a hard water supply.

Hard water leaves a sticky, soapy layer on your skin and hair after washing. Soft water, on the other hand, lathers better with soaps and shampoos, and slides right off your skin – rather than sticking to your skin’s surface.

After washing in soft water, you should notice that your hair and skin are softer and healthier. Your hair should retain more moisture, and your skin should look brighter, with a reduced potential for skin irritation. You should notice the difference after just a few showers.

Protects the Environment

Hard water makes your appliances work hard, resulting in an increased amount of greenhouse gases being released.

Take your water heater. A heater has to put in extra work to produce hot hard water. As a result, the heater spends more time working, increasing its greenhouse gas emission.

Softened water reduces your appliances’ running times, reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.

A softened water supply also reduces the amount of water needed in your appliances, producing further environmental benefits.

If you’re keen to do your part for the planet and make your life greener, buying a water softener is a step in the right direction.

Keeps Dishes Cleaner

Hard water leaves milky water droplets on glassware and chrome cutlery. These stains don’t technically damage your kitchenware, but they do look unsightly.

Finally, washing your dishes in soft water gives a much better result than using hard water.

Using soft tap water to wash your dishes will prevent staining altogether, resulting in crystal-clear glassware and shiny metals.

cleaner glass and dishes with soft water

Don’t forget that soft water combines with soap better than hard water, so you can use less dish soap to clean your utensils.

👎The Setbacks of Soft Water

You’re here for the advantages of soft water, but for the sake of a balanced argument, let’s quickly look at the setbacks of softened water.

  • Soft water doesn’t contain healthy minerals. Although minerals are damaging to pipes and plumbing, they’re good for our health. Removing these naturally occurring minerals from our drinking water isn’t such a big deal, though – we get plenty of them from following a healthy diet.
  • Soft water contains a small amount of salt. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, you may not be able to drink salt-softened water. Again, this isn’t the end of the world – you can pay extra to use potassium chloride, which is salt-free, instead of sodium chloride.
  • Soft water can only be produced in a water softener. The average cost of a water softener is $1,000-$1,500. The perks of soft water are well worth the investment, but for some people, water softeners might simply be too expensive.

💭How to Know if you Need a Water Softener

Now you know the benefits of soft water, you might be keen to buy a water softener system for your home.

But what if you don’t actually need a water softener?

Chances are, you do. Around 85% of homes in the US have hard water, so there’s a good chance that you’re one of them.

Water Hardness Map
Source: USGS

Still, if you need a surefire way to confirm whether you have hard or soft water, look out for these signs:

  • Milky water droplets on your cutlery and glassware
  • Rough, white-tinged mineral deposits on your shower screens, showerheads, sinks, toilets, and faucets
  • Faded, rough laundry after washing clothes
  • Strong mineral tasting drinking water
  • Dry, itchy hair and skin after showering
  • Low water pressure in your plumbing system
  • Soap scum giving your skin a sticky feel after washing your hands
  • Mineral buildup causing your washing machines and dishwashers to break faster than they should
  • Water that doesn’t lather well with soap

Want to know your exact water hardness? There are several ways to find this out:

Check your Water Quality Report

Water treatment facilities are legally obliged to provide annual water quality reports to their customers, called Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR). Water quality reports list all the contaminants in your water, alongside a measurement, so you can see exactly how much calcium and magnesium your water contains.

Visit your local authority’s website or use the EPA’s tool to find your local CCR.

Test your Water

tap score water test report
Tap Score water testing report

If you get your water from a private well, or you just want a more accurate figure of the hardness of your home’s water supply, you can test your water.

There are two options for testing:

  • Use an at-home test kit to get a basic understanding of your water hardness
  • Use a private testing laboratory (we like Tap Score by SimpleLab) to learn exactly how hard your water is, in PPM (parts per million) or GPG (grains per gallon) of calcium carbonate
water testing with tap score

🥇Choosing the Best Water Softener

Not all water softeners provide the same benefits of soft water. Some water softeners are better-designed than others, and some do a better job at softening water than others.

If you want to get the best soft water benefits – and who wouldn’t? – you need to buy one of the best water softeners.

We’ve been testing and reviewing water softeners for nearly a decade, and here are the 8 things we’ve learned to prioritize when looking for the most capable water softener:

  • Price. A good water softener costs $1,000-$1,500. Don’t spend any less than $800. You’ll end up disappointed.
  • Softening abilities. Traditional salt-based softeners are capable of reducing more than 99.9% scale. Don’t buy a system that reduces less than this, especially if your water is very hard.
  • Durable materials. Look for systems made from durable materials like polypropylene, which are less likely to crack or leak. A durable system can last for upward of 20 years.
  • Efficient performance. The best water softeners are designed to only regenerate when they need to, preventing salt and water waste. These systems will give you the biggest cash and salt savings over their years of operation.
  • The right grain capacity. A water softener’s grain capacity is a measurement of how much water the softener uses before it needs to regenerate. Grain capacities range from 20,000 to 80,000. For most families, a 30,000 grain capacity is fine.
  • Certifications. A water softener certified by the NSF/ANSI has been third-party tested and approved for its performance. While certifications aren’t the be-all-and-end-all, they’re a promising sign to buyers.
  • Customer reviews. Reviews from real people tell you a lot about the long-term user-friendliness of a water softener. Look at a softener’s overall review score, and avoid systems with an average rating of less than 4 out of 5.
  • Expert reviews. To understand more about the features, setbacks, and capabilities of a water softener, see what the experts are saying. We have plenty of reviews and guides for you to browse, including our updated best water softeners guide.

Buying a water softener isn’t a decision to make lightly. It’s all very well knowing the benefits of soft water – but don’t stop there! You want to feel like an expert on water softener systems before you invest in a system yourself.

If you’re looking for some further reading, our complete water softener systems guide will equip you with all the knowledge you need to make a smart purchase.