Top 8 Benefits of Having a Water Softener

Know a bit about water softeners, but wondering whether they’re useful enough to be worth the investment?

Water softeners are the most effective hard water solutions, and they’ve got a lot going for them.

In this quick guide, we’ll be sharing the top 8 benefits of owning a water softener system.

Key Takeaways:

  • The main benefits of water softener systems are reduced scale buildup in plumbing, improved skin and hair health, reduced soap and water waste, fewer stains on dishes, improved appliance efficiency, and easier cleaning.
  • You need a water softener if your main water quality issue is limescale. Water softeners don’t remove contaminants like heavy metals and chemicals.
  • Common signs of hard water are watermarks on your faucets, lime buildup on your water-using appliances, dry or itchy skin and hair, and white spots on dishes.
  • Soft water isn’t bad for you. It contains very low amounts of sodium, and you can make up for the lack of hardness minerals in other areas of your diet.
  • The average cost of a water softener is $600-$2,800.
  • Alternatives to water softeners are salt-free water softener conditioners, electromagnetic descalers, and reverse osmosis systems. You could also use potassium chloride in an ion exchange softener if you just want to avoid using salt.

🥇 Top 8 Water Softener Benefits

1. Reduces Scale Buildup in Plumbing

Hard water mineral buildup wreaks havoc on your plumbing. Over time, scale deposits become thicker and thicker inside your water pipes and fixtures.

The result? Reduced water flow, rust, and clogging.

One of the most obvious water softener benefits is the system’s ability to completely remove the hard minerals that are responsible for scale buildup. This means that no more scale deposits in your plumbing.

If you want to get decades of good use out of your plumbing, you need a water softener.

limescale in pipe
Source: Wikimedia, Creative Commons License

2. Improves Skin and Hair Health

Water softeners remove magnesium and calcium ions, two minerals that are responsible for poor skin and hair health.

Hard minerals dry out your skin and hair, exacerbating skin conditions like eczema and making your hair more prone to breakage and split ends. These minerals stick to your skin and hair, forming a layer of soap scum that’s difficult to remove.

The best way to prevent this mineral damage, resulting in softer skin and smoother hair, is to remove the minerals from your water altogether.

Water softener systems produce silky, smooth, softened water that doesn’t stick to your skin and hair or form soap scum. Softened water helps your skin and hair to retain moisture, reducing dry skin issues and frizzy hair.

The first step toward healthier skin and thicker hair is installing a water softener.

softened water retaining hair moisture and reducing dry skin

3. Boosts Appliance Efficiency

Water-using appliances are less efficient, and have shorter lifespans, when they’re used with a hard water supply.

Scale buildup inside appliances slows water flow and causes faster rusting and wear-and-tear. Don’t be surprised if your appliances pack in before their expected lifespan if your water supply is hard.

Installing a water softener helps you to save money with more efficient appliances. With no mineral deposits building up inside your appliances, they’ll provide better results, faster.

The key to long-lasting appliances is soft water. Your appliances might live even longer than their anticipated lifespans if they’re not affected by calcium and magnesium buildup.

4. Reduces Soap and Water Use

All the benefits of water softeners on appliance efficiency allow for reduced water and soap use.

Washing machines and dishwashers need less water and soap when they’re used with soft water, compared to when they’re used with hard water.

That’s because soap lathers with soft water better than it does with hard water, so you can use up to 50% less soap – for exactly the same results.

With soft water, you won’t need to use as much dish soap, laundry detergent, or soap for washing your hands. If you hate waste, you’ll love this water softener benefit.

5. Fewer Stains on Dishes

White, milky spots on your dishes or glassware is another indication of hard water. Washing dishes in water containing hardness ions leaves these annoying spots.

You can’t simply rinse these spots away with your water if your water is hard – the cycle would repeat itself endlessly. The only way to prevent spotting on your kitchenware is to install a water softening system.

If you like your dishes to actually look clean after you’ve washed them, you know the solution! Look into soft water systems.

limescale in home

6. Makes Cleaning Easier

There are certain cleaning tasks that are more painful than others, and scrubbing limescale off your shower screen is one of them.

Mineral buildup is near-impossible to remove with normal cleaning products. Only the deadly chemical stuff can lift stubborn hardness scaling.

Imagine how many hours of cleaning you could save by installing a water softener.

Soft water doesn’t form scale, so once you’ve scrubbed the existing scale out of your bathroom, you’ll never need to do it again. If you despise cleaning as much as the rest of us, this might just be one of your favorite benefits of water softeners.

7. Allows Water Heaters to Warm Up Faster

Calcium and magnesium mineral scale builds up inside your hot water tank, forming a layer of insulation between the tank and the heating elements.

Because of this, your water heater takes much longer than usual to heat up water, and hot water costs more money than it should.

Installing a whole house water softener system before your heater prevents this problem entirely.

Your heater will no longer be troubled by scaling, so it’ll heat your water faster, wasting less energy in the process.

water heater element with limescale buildup

8. Most Effective Softening Solution

No other water systems are as capable of treating hard water as a water softener.

Water softener units use a process called ion exchange to remove calcium carbonate and magnesium ions from water, exchanging them for sodium or potassium ions.

This water softening process is tried, tested, and scientifically proven to work on hard water. You won’t get softer water from any other method.

If you want to invest your money in a solution that’s guaranteed to solve your water hardness issues, you can’t go wrong with a traditional water softener.

🆚 Salt-Based Softeners vs Salt-Free Conditioners

In this guide, we’ve focused on the benefits of the most popular softening solutions available today: traditional salt-based softeners. But we’re big fans of salt-free systems, too.

If you’re on the hunt for a water softener system, it’s important that you know about salt-free alternatives. That way, you can make an informed decision between the two.

The biggest difference between salt-free and salt-based systems is that salt-free conditioners don’t actually remove hardness minerals from tap water, while salt-based softeners do.

salt-based water softener and salt-free water conditioner

Let’s quickly compare the separate processes:

  • A water conditioner treats the minerals in hard water by crystallizing them, preventing them from sticking to surfaces. Hard water minerals are still present in your water supply, but they’re no longer able to form scale.
  • A traditional soft water unit physically removes hard water minerals, replacing them with sodium ions.

Because water softener systems eliminate the minerals responsible for scale formation, they’re the most effective treatment for hard water.

The benefit of water conditioners, however, is that they retain these healthy minerals in your drinking water, while greatly reducing scale formation. They also don’t use salt to condition water.

If you’re looking for more information on what differentiates these two systems, check out our in-depth water softeners vs conditioners guide.

🙋 Do You Need a Water Softener?

If you’re dealing with a limescale issue in your home, you’ll benefit from a water softener.

Keep in mind that water softeners are ONLY designed to soften water. If your water contains contaminants like chemicals, heavy metals, microorganisms, or pharmaceuticals, you’ll need to install a water filter alongside your water softener system.

📌 The 8 Common Signs of Hard Water

A good way to determine whether or not you need a water softener is to consult the hard water checklist below. If you check off more than 4 of these items, you would benefit from a water softener.

Common signs of hard water:

  1. Watermarks on your faucets
  2. Dingy whites and fading laundry
  3. Lime buildup on your appliances
  4. Mineral-rich water taste
  5. Dry or itchy skin and hair
  6. White spots on dishes
  7. Low water pressure
  8. Appliances that break faster than they should

🩺 Is Soft Water Dangerous to Health?

It’s understandable if you’re concerned about the health effects of soft water, since it contains sodium and has had its beneficial hardness minerals removed.

However, unless you’re on a low-sodium diet (such as to manage high blood pressure), you’ll be absolutely fine to drink soft water. The salt levels in soft water are minimal. You shouldn’t be able to taste salt in your water, and it certainly won’t significantly contribute to your daily requirement for sodium.

The lack of hardness minerals in your drinking water also shouldn’t be a problem. You can get calcium and magnesium from plenty of other foods that you probably already eat, like yogurt, cheese, almonds, fortified juices and milks, whole grains, leafy greens, and beans and legumes.

💵 Average Water Softener Cost

The average cost of a water softener is $600-$2,800.

There are several factors affecting the cost of a water softener, including:

  • The system size
  • The manufacturer
  • The system’s features (such as vortech technology)
  • The longevity of the resin beads
  • The complexity of installation
  • The required servicing and maintenance

We wouldn’t recommend paying anything more than $1,800 for a water softener unless you need to upgrade to the largest size available.

Why? Because the value simply won’t be there. There are plenty of highly capable systems available for less than $1,500, and the more expensive systems don’t offer anything more. You may as well save money and go for a more affordable system.

🔎 How to Find the Best Water Softener

Not all water softener systems are equal in their benefits.

On a basic level, you can expect any water softener to soften your water. But some systems are far more efficient than others, giving you more value for your money.

The best water softener systems:

  • Only regenerate when they need to, preventing water and salt waste
  • Are available in multiple grain capacities, allowing you to choose the right size for your household water usage and water hardness
  • Use NSF-certified components, guaranteeing a safe and effective softening performance
  • Reduce scale formation by more than 99%
  • Allow you to amend and monitor the softening and regeneration processes with a smart control head
  • Come with a long warranty, such as a limited lifetime warranty, to ensure you’re covered for at least five years
  • Are designed for DIY installation, with easy-to-follow instructions

You need to put a lot of thought and research into buying a water softener, and choosing a trusted brand. Some of our favorite brands are SpringWell, SoftPro, Fleck, and Filtersmart.

Read plenty of customer reviews, and check out guides from experts like WaterFilterGuru. We have plenty of resources for people interested in buying a soft water system, including our updated water softener reviews, where we share the most capable water softener systems available right now.