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Hard water is common in many regions and can be a nuisance. It can cause unsightly mineral buildup, poor soap lathering, and in some cases can even damage appliances and plumbing! If your home has hard water, you may be interested in how to fix the problem. The guide below will help you find the best water softener for your needs and budget!

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Quick Picks for the Best Water Softener of 2021

All-Time Bestseller Water Softener

Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System

  • Low maintenance.
  • Fleck Water Softeners are one of the most respected in the industry.
  • Comfortably handle households of up to 6 people.

Watts Water Quality/Condition M7002 Flow-Pur RV-Pro 10,000 Water Softener

  • Portable water softener
  • A great choice for smaller living spaces.
  • Top budget-friendly recommendation.

Iron Pro 2 Combination water softener iron filter Fleck 5600SXT digital metered valve 64,000 grain, 64k for whole house

  • Massive 64,000 grain capacity.
  • Highly effective water softener.
  • 10-year warranty on the tank and a 5-year warranty on the digital valve.

Our Research


Our Picks for the Best Water Softeners

The selections below were made based on a combination of our own research and testing, third-party water softener reviews, manufacturer data, and more. Here are our recommendations for the best water softener 2021:


Top Overall: Fleck 5600SXT

Fleck 5600SXT

Key Features: 48,000-grain capacity; powerful enough for large homes; excellent reviews; low maintenance

Price Range: $$$

The Fleck 5600SXT is somewhat of a gold standard in the industry. In fact, the electronic valve on this unit is used on many other water softeners, even flagship models from competing brands! The 5600SXT is reliable, well made and capable of handling large volumes – it can comfortably handle households of up to 6 people. It can maintain a flow rate of up to 12 gallons per minute.

The high grain capacity means that this unit can soften even the hardest water sources. The digital valve keeps things running smoothly, while the automatic meter-based regeneration cycle continually flushes the filtering resin with minimal effort from you. In short, this is a low-maintenance, high-performance unit.

Fleck water softeners are some of the most respected in the industry, and are commonly recommended by plumbing and water treatment professionals. The 5600SXT is also very well rated in water softener reviews. It consistently tops recommendation lists from industry experts, and we agree!

Click here to learn more about the Fleck 5600SXT.

Budget-Friendly: Watts RV-PRO-1000


Key Features: Affordable; designed for RVs and small homes; portable and easy to install; 10,000 grain

Price Range: $

The Watts RV PRO-1000 is a great portable water softener that’s also our top budget-friendly recommendation. It costs much less than many of our recommendations, but still does a good job at softening water from moderately hard sources.

Keep in mind that this unit is designed for RVs and small living spaces – it won’t keep up with the needs of a large family. It has a max 4 gallon per minute flow rate, 10,000 grain capacity and 1/3 cubic feet of resin. The unit earns good ratings in water softeners reviews, and is a great choice for smaller living spaces. Check our our article on best RV water softener.

This would also fit in the category of best compact water softener as a good option.

Click here to learn more.


Best Water Softener for Well Water: Iron Pro 2

Fleck Iron Pro 2

Key Features: Effective iron filter & water softener; huge capacity; good for well water sources

Price Range: $$$$

The Fleck Iron Pro 2 is the best water softener for well water. It has a massive 64,000 grain capacity, and is designed to handle even the hardest water sources. It is also effective at filtering out iron, manganese, rust and sediment without getting clogged up. For well sources, these features are very important.

The Iron Pro 2 is on the pricey side, but it’s a high-end, highly effective water softener. It can handle a flow rate of up to 16 gallons per minute, so it can easily handle large homes with lots of water usage. The unit is backed by a 10-year warranty on the tank and a 5-year warranty on the digital valve.

For well water, this is likely the best water softener system out there. Click here to learn more.


Best Whole House Water Softener: Aquasana EQ-1000-AST

Aquasana EQ-1000-AST

Key Features: Water softener, filter and ultraviolet filter built-in; good for drinking water and shower water; removes contaminants and softens water

Price Range: $$$$

The Aquasana EQ is an innovative whole-house unit that combined a water softener with an advanced water filter. It’s the best water softener on the market for those looking for an effective way to treat all the water in their house. Not only does it soften water sources, it also removes chlorine, heavy metals and other contaminants.

The softener used in this technology is salt-free, which is designed to reduce scale and protect your appliances. There’s even an optional UV light filter that helps kill viruses and bacteria that may pass through the water filter! If you’re looking for a whole house water softener that also filters drinking water, this is a great choice as confirmed by countless Aquasana reviews from satisfied customers. We have a full review for best salt free water softener for you to check out.

Click here to buy direct from Aquasana (and save 50% with coupon code AQWFD50)

Click here to purchase from Amazon.


Best Fleck Alternative: Tier 1 High-Efficiency Digital Softener

Tier 1 water softener

Key Features: Easy install; Great tasting water; No electricity required; prevents scale; Zero water wasted

Price Range: $$

This Tier1 water softener review is necessary because Tier1 is a popular alternative to Fleck softeners. They are highly rated and produce good results. Teir1’s 48,000-grain water filter is perfect for a family of four. It boasts a quality head with a user-friendly LCD that shows the system’s status at a glance. The manual bypass valve lets you recover the framework without turning off the water for your comfort.

Salt-based softeners utilize contrarily charged tar to pull in emphatically charged difficult minerals like calcium, but gum incorporates a limited holding capacity. When it’s immersed, it stops softening until it’s recovered by salt water from the brine tank.

When water gets very hard, undersized conditioners will work, but they’ll regenerate as well regularly to be productive. For the water of normal hardness, Teir1’s liberal 48,000-grain capacity is a bounty for a family of four. Test your water sometimes before buying, and in the event that you’re not sure which size is best for you and your family, Teir1’s water specialists are happy to help you.


Best Salt-Free Softener: Pelican Salt-Free Water Softener

Key Features: Heavy-Duty; High Flow Rate; Treats hard water with salt and ion resins.

Price Range: $$$

Salt-based water softeners remove hardness minerals from water, specifically calcium and magnesium, therefore reducing the hardness of the water. In case you’re seeking out for an effective salt-based water softener, the Pelican Water Softener with its Salt-Free Innovation technology is a great choice that will surpass your expectations. This alternative water softener will neutralize the minerals mentioned before, rather than remove them.

In spite of the fact that these minerals are held within the water since they have been neutralized, they are changed over to a crystallized shape and aren’t able to stick to surfaces like pipes or dishes. Leaving these minerals in your water is useful since calcium and magnesium can have health benefits.

Its sole purpose is to deal with the hardness in your water and not the contaminants. If you are interested in filtering chlorine and other chemicals from your water, you may want to consider the Pelican Whole House Water Filter and Softening Combo.

Pelican has made this system for people who favor a health-centered softener. As far as water quality is concerned, the conditioned liquid has a slippery feel and holds normal and natural taste. Bottom line, It’s one of the most costly softeners in our list but you get more potent filtration from a really solid company.

There are also other reputable companies that we have reviewed here:

Morton water softener review
Nuvo H20 review
Waterboss 700 water softener review
North Star water softener reviews


Benefits of Water Softeners

Hard water is water that is high in dissolved minerals such as magnesium and calcium. It generally does not pose a health risk, but can cause various issues and annoyances with household tasks.

Having hard water might lead to:

  • Reduced water flow
  • Dry, dull hair
  • Mineral sediment buildup on shower walls, sinks, faucets, etc.
  • Harsh, scratchy laundry
  • Increased soap requirements to achieve the same level of cleanliness

These are some of the issues hard water can cause. Using a good water softener can help reverse these problems. This can result in softer water, which will clean clothes and dishes better (while using less soap), and won’t leave that icky sediment everywhere!

When it comes to the benefits of water softeners things get a bit different. Most of us already know the significance of water purifiers. No one needs to drink water that’s contaminated with lead, plastic, and other substances. Water purifiers – or clean drinking water at the very least – are a need for each household. But what about water softeners? Water softening is the filtering and removal of magnesium, calcium, and other metals. It’s the method in which hard water turns to soft and delicate water. There are a few benefits to having a water softener system in your family home. In spite of the fact that they can appear pointless, these systems really make an extraordinary investment.

Guarantees correct mineral balance within the body

First, soft water helps avoid mineral and chemical buildup within the body. Water comes into contact with dirt and pipes before making its way to you. One case of a harmful substance found in hard water is lead. It has been related to slow mental and physical development in children. Chemical and mineral build-up within the body change typical mineral ratio, this way influencing the overall health of your organs. Softening water makes a difference to dispose of high mineral substances, dirt, and chemicals.

Soft water is nice for your skin

Second, good looking and healthy skin could be a result of being well hydrated. Making the switch to soft water will definitely improve the health of your skin. High mineral concentration in hard water decreases the skin’s capacity to hold water. This makes your skin loose moisture and elasticity driving to wrinkles and dry skin. Moreover, dry skin can lead to skin inflammation in children. Utilizing quality water will guarantee young and great looking skin, and avoid dry skin and wrinkles.

Disposes of waterborne illnesses

In addition to high mineral concentration, hard water may carry disease-causing microorganisms. Waterborne illnesses are common and might be lethal when they are not treated on time. A few diseases resulting from these microorganisms include typhoid, cholera, and diarrhea among numerous others. Utilizing a water softener makes a difference while removing these destructive microorganisms.

Keeps you energized

Lastly, weakness comes about when muscle cells fail to preserve the correct fluid balance. This causes low vitality production and fatigue, particularly during physical exercises. Drinking soft water helps your muscle cells maintain their correct fluid balance. An energized body will help you get in the right mood and increase your efficiency at your workplace. On the other hand, drinking hard water can affect muscles in a negative way. Not only that but it can make you extremely exhausted.



Signs You Need A Water Softener

In case you discover that your sink is covered with stains and your skin is most of the time dry and irritated, maybe you have an issue with hard water. If so, you might need a water softener. Water softening systems will extend the lifespan of your plumbing, your clothes, and as well as reducing your water bill budget. Here are some of the issues that we think are signs for you and your family to start thinking about utilizing a water softener in your home. Do I need a water softener full guide here.

Scale build-up on appliances

If your kettle has scale, you likely have hard water. Mineral deposits can appear in teapots, coffee pots and they can too build up within pipes. Mineral build-up clogs plumbing so much that your house is really less effective at funnelling water through the pipes. The result of hard water is scale buildup and defective plumbing. Scale, or “limescale,” could be a hard, chalky substance made up of calcium and magnesium bicarbonate. These salts are what shape the white chalky quality of the buildups. Water softeners can offer assistance to decrease this buildup of scale by utilizing ion exchange technology.

Clothes are grey and faded

Noticing that your clothes and bedsheets colors are blurred or faded may be a sign of hard water. They may feel scratchy and be difficult to wash since there is too much extra mineral substance contained in your water.

Water heater is not working properly

One of the most costly and inconvenient signs that you need a water softener is having your water heater malfunction or fail. Hard water can lead to rapid and premature aging in water heaters, especially electric models because heating hard water accelerates the formation of scale inside the tank as well as on the tank’s expensive heating elements.

Water Bills are “just too much”

In case your utility costs are rising, you may need to check your home’s plumbing for signs of scale. Over time, scale buildup can clog pipes, and as this happens, your heating system should work harder to thrust water through. As well, scale buildup can influence the energy proficiency of boilers and hot water radiators.

Your water smells and tastes bad

Pure water doesn’t smell. If your water smells like chlorine, metal, rotten eggs, or any other strange odor, chances are there are impurities in your water that are causing these issues. Also, water should not have any particularly strong tastes and should be easy to drink. If you find yourself choking down a glass of tap water because it tastes bad, it’s a clear sign that your home could benefit from installing a water treatment system like a water softener/filter/conditioner. If you are unsure whether a water softener will solve your problem then check out water conditioner vs water softener guide to help make your choice.



How Do Water Softeners Work?

Water softeners work by running your water through a chamber full of resin beads. These beads attract the hard minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, that are contributing to your hard water problem. The water runs through these beads before it reaches your tap or shower. You can also apply the softener straight from the shower head you can make a choice from our best shower head water softener list.

Eventually, mineral buildup on the beads needs to be removed. This is when your system needs regeneration. The process of regeneration involves the resin beads passing through the brine tank (filled with salt) to reduce mineral buildup. On newer water softeners, this process is automatic, and controlled by a digital valve.

For those curious, this video does a good job of explaining the basic function of a water softener:



How We Chose 

Softening Technology: Our main consideration was the type of water softening technology used in each unit. Most units use a salt-and-resin setup and you can see the best water softener salt guide we have published, although there are also some salt-free versions. We picked models that use advanced filtration technology, and require minimal effort to operate. There are also outsider options like citric acid water softener which will provide the same results through a different method.

Water Flow/Capacity: The capacity and maximum water flow of each unit was another important consideration. We picked models that could handle reasonable water pressure and supply softened water to midsize to large homes.

Reviews: We also looked at third-party water softener reviews. This gave us lots of useful data to add to our own findings. It also allowed us to evaluate how effective each unit was in a variety of areas, with a range of water hardness levels.

Build Quality: We looked at manufacturer specifications and third-party reviews to get a sense of the build quality and durability of each water softener. These units are not cheap, so we wanted to ensure our recommendations would last a long time!

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