The 12 Best Water Softeners of 2022

best water softener
Courtesy of The Home Depot

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It may surprise you that around 85% of all households in the USA are supplied with hard water. That means unless you know for sure that you don’t have water hard water running through your pipes, you probably do. Is this a big problem? Well, it depends on your definition of “big.” Hard water is certainly not going to kill you. But if you want clean, tasty drinking water straight from the faucet, prevent your shower head from clogging up and prolong the life of your hot-water appliances, it may be time to invest in one of the best water softeners.

  

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener is a device capable of removing the minerals present in hard water, which causes it to be hard. Usually, these minerals are calcium and magnesium. When not treated, hard water running through your home can cause several minor inconveniences and some serious ones.

Problems caused by hard water include:

  • Bad Taste: To be clear, drinking hard water is not a problem. And it may even be better for you to do so, thanks to the calcium and magnesium it contains. However, the big problem for most people is the unpleasant taste.
  • Hair/Skin Problems: If you are bathing in hard water, you will find the calcium and magnesium in hard water create a thin film on your hair and skin. For hair especially, this film prevents moisture from passing through, resulting in hair far more prone to breaking.
  • Stains/Slime/Spots: Washing up with hard water tends to leave noticeable marks on your glasses, dishes, and other kitchenware. It also feels different against your skin, with a slimier, more unpleasant feel.
  • Problematic Buildups: Over time, having hard water running through your home produces build-ups in your pipes, faucets, shower heads, and perhaps most importantly, your hot-water appliances. Left unchecked, these buildups create blockages and inhibit your device’s ability to work efficiently. And when we’re talking about expensive devices like your washing machine, water heater and dishwasher, it becomes clear why hard water is best avoided.

This is why the best answer to hard water is to install one of the best water softeners.

  

How Do Water Softeners Work?

Most commonly, a house water softener uses a chemical process called ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium from hard water. However, if you want to avoid using salt, salt-free water softeners can use electricity or filters to reduce or manage the hard water running through your pipes.

In terms of salt-based water softeners, these devices feature an ion-exchange resin that is negatively charged to make it attractive to positively charged ions. Before the process begins, this resin is bound to positively charged sodium and potassium ions. Then, once hard water is passed through this resin, the sodium and potassium ions are removed and replaced by calcium and magnesium due to their more substantial positive charge. This leaves you with a water softener filled with resin bound to unwanted calcium and magnesium ions removed from the water.

Eventually, the resin becomes saturated with calcium and magnesium ions. At this point, your water softener undergoes a process called regeneration. This requires a certain amount of water and, more importantly, salt. This is why salt must always be available for a water softener to function correctly. Once the regeneration cycle is complete, the softening process starts over again.

  

Salt-Free Water Softeners

In addition to devices requiring salt, several softeners and filtration systems don’t use salt to soften water. Instead of salt, most of these salt-free water softeners use electricity. They work by changing the potentially hazardous minerals inside the water and making them less “sticky.” This reduction in stickiness means the minerals don’t attach themselves to kitchenware, clothing, electronics and the inside of pipes, preventing many of the adverse effects mentioned above (although not taste). And if you don’t object to the flavor, this drinking water can be better for your body as it remains full of minerals.

Here is our selection of the 12 best water softener systems. We’ve included a range of styles, from whole-home and portable devices to compact and salt-free water softeners. Scroll down to find the right one for your household needs.

  

1. Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener

BEST OVERALL

The Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener is a mid-sized device capable of dealing with households containing up to four inhabitants. It comes backed by over 900 five-star ratings and has been NSF-certified to reduce the symptoms of hard water in your home, including stains and scale buildups. The advanced technology also minimizes water and salt loss by accurately calculating the amount of each required during the regeneration process. The USA-made system has a full one-year warranty on parts and labor and also comes in a larger 40,000 grain model for larger homes. Furthermore, it has received more than 1,400 five-star ratings, making it one of the most popular ​​salt-based systems on the market.

  • Type: Salt-Based
  • Household Size: 1-4 People
  • Regeneration Cycle: On-Demand
  • Grain Size: 30,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: 95 grains per gallon
best water softener whirlpool Courtesy of Amazon

  

2. iSpring ED2000 Alternative Salt-Free Water Softener

BEST ALTERNATIVE

If you want a chemical, salt and maintenance-free way to fight against hard water, the iSpring ED2000 Alternative Salt-Free Water Softener is your answer. It costs less than your average salt water softener, and the installation process is also comparatively simple. Instead of removing the potentially harmful minerals, this device ensures they remain in the water, preventing new build-ups and encouraging existing ones to break down. It’s a great option for homeowners adhering to a salt-restricted diet or wishing for healthier skin and hair. Plus, unlike a soft water softener, this device will not affect the chemistry of the water.

  • Type: Salt-Free Electronic
  • Household Size: Small to medium
  • Regeneration Cycle: n/a
  • Grain Size: n/a
  • Hardness Reduction Level: Scale build-ups
best water softener iSpring ED2000 Alternative Salt-Free Courtesy of Amazon

  

3. On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT RV Water Softener

PORTABLE PICK

If you’re looking for a portable water softener, consider the On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT RV Water Softener. This 16,000-grain device was designed with RV use in mind, meaning it’s comparatively lightweight and requires no tools or electricity to function. It can provide up to 1600 gallons of water and regenerates in as little as half an hour. Thanks to its compact size, the device can fit into tight spaces, while its high-quality construction means it’s built to last. The water softener can be connected to your water system using a standard garden hose for ease of use.

  • Type: Salt-Based
  • Household Size: RV/small house
  • Regeneration Cycle: Required every 1600 gallons/40 days
  • Grain Size: 16,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: Hard water/rust stains/scale build-ups
On The Go OTG4-DBLSOFT RV Water Softener Courtesy of Amazon

  

4. Rheem Preferred Water Softener

BEST BUDGET

While still a sizable investment at under $350, the Rheem Preferred 32,000 Grain Water Softener remains a solid option for anyone on a tighter budget. This 32,000 grain, salt-based softener is ideal for households with a maximum of four people and claims to earn its money back over three years of use, thanks to the advanced Rheem learning technology. This smart tech addition learns your water usage patterns to ensure your water and salt consumption is optimized. It also includes top-quality valves and features an angled tank design for easier salt loading.

  • Type: Salt-Based (Sodium Chloride)
  • Household Size: 1-4 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: 120 mins/24 gallons
  • Grain Size: 32,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: 105 grains per gallon
best water softener rheem Courtesy of The Home Depot

  

5. AO Smith Whole House Water Softener Descaler System

BEST DESCALER

If you’re looking for a water softening device that doesn’t use salt, check out this AO Smith Whole House Water Descaler System. The salt- and electricity-free process allows this plumbed-in softener to change hard minerals into harmless, inactive crystal particles which can be passed through the system without concern. This popular system works with either well or city water and has a lifespan of around six years or 600,000 gallons of water.

  • Type: Salt-Free
  • Household Size: 4 or more people
  • Regeneration Cycle: Not required
  • Grain Size: n/a
  • Hardness Reduction Level: House-wide descaling
best water softener ao smith whole house Courtesy of Amazon

  

6. Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler System

SIMPLEST SALT-FREE SYSTEM

The Yarna Capacitive Electronic Water Descaler System is an effective, easy-to-install and budget-friendly answer to softening the available water in your home. This compact addition can be installed to your home plumbing in under 15 minutes and requires no maintenance or regenerating. It’s also compatible with almost any pipe up to one inch thick and has an attached five-foot power cord. Functionally, the system doesn’t remove minerals from water, instead keeping them in your water but preventing them from sticking to surfaces, including pipes and kitchenware.

  • Type: Salt-Free Electronic
  • Household Size: Any size
  • Regeneration Cycle: n/a
  • Grain Size: n/a
  • Hardness Reduction Level: Unlimited through mineral transformation
best water softeners yarna Courtesy of Amazon

  

7. Water2Buy W2B800 Meter Water Softener

BEST ADJUSTABLE

If you want to control the hardness of your drinking water, consider this Water2Buy W2B800 Meter Water Softener. The large-capacity device can be used in houses with 1-10 people and also sports a corrosion-resistant fiberglass and polyethylene tank for longer life and durability. It also features a timed regeneration system and comes with an accompanying smartphone app, making the installation process easier. Furthermore, the versatile softener is backed by more than 900 five-star ratings from Amazon users and can be used on either well or city water.

  • Type: Salt-Based
  • Household Size: 1-10 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: Timer prompted/90 liters per cycle
  • Grain Size: 4,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: Limescale removal
best water softeners water2buy Courtesy of Amazon

  

8. Waterboss Water Softener System

EASIEST INSTALLATION

The Waterboss Water Softener System is supplied with an easy-to-follow DVD to make do-it-yourself installation easier. The system sports a space-saving design, so it takes up less space in your home, while its 36,400-grain capacity ensures it’s more than enough for any household with five to six inhabitants. The system includes a built-in sediment filter and a safety shut-off for cleaner and safer water-softening operation. This USA-made water softener has been made to regenerate using the least amount of salt and water necessary for greater environmental responsibility and lower bills.

  • Type: Salt-Based (Potassium Chloride)
  • Household Size: 5-6 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: 20 mins/14 gallons
  • Grain Size: 36,400
  • Hardness Reduction Level: 90 grains per gallon
best water softeners waterboss Courtesy of The Home Depot

  

9. AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand Water Softener

BEST APP

Thanks to the accompanying Pentair Scan and Service app, you’ll always have important stats from the AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand Water Softener at your fingertips. The device boasts a 48,000-grain capacity and includes Fleck’s most popular valve in the design. This advanced kit measures water usage and only regenerates when needed to help you save on water and salt costs. It comes with USA-made components, including structural tanks. You’ll also find a safety float and overflow to prevent the system from causing any water-related issues.

  • Type: Salt-Based
  • Household Size: Households with 2 bathrooms/5 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: On-demand
  • Grain Size: 48,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: On-demand calcium and magnesium removal
afwfilters metered on demand water softener Courtesy of Amazon

  

10. Aquasure Harmony Series Water Softener

MOST DURABLE

The Aquasure Harmony Series Water Softener is a stylish device capable of delivering soft water which won’t leave marks on your dishes. The 48,000-grain capacity makes it an ideal option for households with 3-5 people, while the advanced, built-in digital controls offer a user-friendly experience that’s hard to beat. Precise control of your settings, offered through the panel, lets you save gallons of water and uses less salt through more economical functioning. Plus, the device’s high-strength, corrosion-resistant construction makes this one of the most durable and longest-lasting options available.

  • Type: Salt-Based (Sodium Chloride)
  • Household Size: 3-5 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: 98 mins/40 gallons
  • Grain Size: 48,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: 110 grains per gallon
aquasure harmony series grain water softener Courtesy of The Home Depot

  

11. GE Water Softener and Filter

ALSO CONSIDER

This GE Water Softener and Filter is another popular device with users to enhance the quality of water running throughout your home. From your shower head to the kitchen sink, you’ll notice the difference this 31,100-grain softener can make. It includes a programmable operation and permanent memory, just in case the power fails during use. The advanced device also adapts to your household’s usage patterns to ensure you have clean water when you need it most. Furthermore, in addition to the softener, you’ll find a built-in filter that further removes unwanted sediment from your household water.

  • Type: Salt-Based
  • Household Size: 2-4 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: Built-in days to empty indicator
  • Grain Size: 31,100
  • Hardness Reduction Level: 95 grains per gallon
best water softeners ge Courtesy of Amazon

  

12. PRO+AQUA Water Heavy Duty Water Softener

BIGGEST CAPACITY

With an 80,000 grain capacity, the PRO+AQUA Water Heavy Duty Water Softener is serious about softening your hard water. This large water softener can accommodate homes of up to eight people and includes several features to make your user experience run more smoothly. Notable inclusions range from its high-flow rate, down-flow regeneration, programmable electronic head and choice of three modes of operation. Additionally, if 80,000 is too much for your needs, this well-reviewed device comes in 24,000 and 48,000 models.

  • Type: Salt-Based
  • Household Size: Up to 8 people
  • Regeneration Cycle: Built-in digital valve head
  • Grain Size: 80,000
  • Hardness Reduction Level: Large-scale hard water removal
best water softeners proaqua Courtesy of Amazon

  

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