Best Water Softener 2021 | Our Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Before you choose the best water softener 2021, you need to know the difference between hard and soft water. Water is “hard” if it contains not less than 60mg of dissolved minerals from the earth. The most common minerals, in this case, are magnesium or calcium, and the quantities dissolved can even exceed 180mg. This hardness is usually the result of the nature of the rock the rainwater filters through as it gets to the reservoirs. Regions with chalk, gypsum, or limestone usually have high minerals dissolved in underground water. Yet, regions with granite or any other stone that is low in calcium have fewer dissolved minerals. “Soft” water lacks the high content of dissolved minerals.

Consuming hard water will not cause health problems. Yet, hard water will cause minerals to build up in your plumbing fixtures, appliances, and pipes, and will start to affect their function. Furthermore, hard water interferes with people’s washing and showering experiences.

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener is an in-house device that treats water by removing the dissolved minerals in the water. When hard water goes through a water softener, it comes out on the other end as soft water. With the best water softener 2021, the itchy feeling after bathing, spotty laundry, and stained dishes will be problems of the past. Furthermore, these softeners will lead to detergents working more effectively on oils and dirt on dishes and clothes.

On a small scale, people can soften hard water by adding ammonia, trisodium phosphate, or borax, along with washing soda (sodium carbonate). Sodium carbonate precipitates the calcium in the hard water into a carbonate, and the magnesium into a hydroxide. The addition of lime on a large scale is enough to precipitate the calcium and magnesium. Further addition of sodium carbonate will help in the removal of the calcium salts that might remain. Nevertheless, home water softeners are the best choice for use in homes that receive hard water.

Top 10 Best Water Softeners 2021

1. FutureSoft® Salt-Free Water Softener

best water softener

The FutureSoft® Salt-Free Water Softener is one of the best water softeners in the market. This highly effective softener does not use salt or chemicals and ensures that the water pressure in your home remains normal. This softener will not discharge salt brine or even waste any water. It will eliminate scale, preserve the functioning of your appliances, and make it easy to clean.

This water softener will comfortably serve anywhere between one and three bathrooms. It is friendly to the environment and adjusts automatically to the hardness of the water. Also, it does not require electricity to function.

The complete installation kit ensures that installing the FutureSoft® Salt-Free Water Softener is easy. Customers can also get the Clack Connectors add-on. The connection does not need an individual to have the standard plumbing equipment, glue, or additional elbows. The instructions are clear and provide enough details for proper installation.

Installation of this water softener in a home that had a buildup of calcium residue on water outlets will cause the buildup to loosen and break away. The softener has an optional UV water purification add-on. It has proven performance in killing 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria, viruses, and pathogens. Common problems in water such as E. coli, Giardia lamblia, and Cryptosporidium will not get through.

2. APEC Water Systems FUTURA-10

This is one of the most efficient water softeners for homes with one to three bathrooms with 10 gallons per minute flow rate. Designed to prolong the life span of household appliances and pipes, it effectively prevents the buildup of scale without using salt or harsh chemicals. This maintenance-free water softener is easy to install and lasts for years. In addition, it does not require salt replacement, drainage of wastewater, backwash, or electricity.

If you want a system that will condition your water without leaving a slimy feeling, FUTURA-10 is the best water softener for you, at least according to many water softener reviews. For water hardness levels below 25 grains per gallon, this is the best water softener has to offer. It even offers easier cleanup of hard-water spots on dishes, windows, and cars.

Without releasing any chemicals or salt waste into your water, FUTURA-10 from Apec Water is safe for you and for plants, in addition to improving your cardiovascular health and reducing health risks. Unlike older salt-based water softeners that get rid of hardness minerals from water, this salt-free water softener neutralizes minerals by turning them into scale-resistant and harmless crystals. These crystals are stable, heat-resistant, and neutral, and will not attach to any surfaces to cause lime deposits.

3. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000-Grain Water Softener

If you are looking for the best water softener 2021, you should consider the Fleck 5600SXT digital water softener. It comes with a paddlewheel flow meter and square brine tank with a safety float, as well as a bypass valve and 1-inch male threaded yoke connection. At its peak, it can treat up to 28gpm, which is perfect for moderately hard to very hard water.

This water softener treats the hard water that reduces soap efficiency and causes scale buildup using high-capacity, long-life resin. Using an ion exchange process, this water-softening system removes the magnesium and calcium that cause hard water. When you invest in this system, you will extend the life span of your household appliances and plumbing.

The Fleck 5600SXT digital water softener uses a meter-based regeneration process that measures the water you use and only regenerates when necessary. It will regenerate more often if your water usage increases. It also has a digital controller built on the 5600-valve, which has a 5-year warranty and can work continuously for more than 25 years. This controller has amazing features, such as a 2-day internal power backup, backlit LCD display, user-friendly interface, and touchpad controls.

For our full review of the Fleck 5600SXT follow this link

4. Fleck Iron Pro 2 Combination 64,000-Grain Water Softener

When shopping for the most effective water softener on the market, you should definitely consider this one. It is an all-in-one iron filter and water softener. With a fine mesh resin and 64,000-grain capacity, this system is built for high iron removal and long working life. It has a digital metered valve for ease of use and efficiency. It can remove iron up to 8ppm, water hardness up to 75gpg, and can manage up to 6ppm rust, sand, and sediment.

More than 35 years of experience ensures that every Fleck Iron Pro 2 combination 64,000-grain water softener provides the results homeowners are looking for, so they can enjoy their water. In addition, the high-quality components used in this system translate to less maintenance and downtime. The system comes with a digital metered control head with an efficient and simple design.

If you want to get rid of rust stains from iron, soap scum, water spots, and scale, this is the best water softener for you. It will also measure your water usage and regenerate when necessary. You can use its digital controls to minimize salt usage or maximize capacity. Installation instructions are easy to follow, allowing most homeowners to do the installation themselves. You can also get video installation tips to help you do a good job.

Read our full review of the Fleck Iron Pro 2 Combination 64,000-Grain Water Softener

5. Pelican Whole House Filter and Water Softener Alternative

The Pelican Combo Series PSE1800 not only gives you the benefits of the Pelican NaturSoft Salt-Free Water Softener, but it also has features from the Pelican Combo Series Best Whole House Water Filter. You can start enjoying softer skin and better-tasting water while evading the negative effects of using hard water. In addition, it does not use electricity, doesn’t waste water, nor does it require regular maintenance.

The PSE1800 has a system that can filter and soften water for a one to three-bedroomed house. The combination of both filtering and softening features makes it an important addition to your home. During filtration, it removes 97 percent chlorine up to 1.301mg. In addition, it helps in inhibiting bacterial growth.

It is arguably the best water softener because not only does it have no wastage of water, but it also leaves beneficial minerals in the water. It produces water that is conditioned and does not have a slippery feel, using natural means that does not have salt. With this system, you will enjoy the benefits of having filtering and water-softening features, all in one.

6. Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000-Grain Water Softener

This system is among the best water softeners for homes that have one to six people. It is NSF-certified, meaning it decreases the effects of hard water, such as spotting on dishes, stains on clothes, and buildup on your pipes and faucets. The WHES40E water softener automatically calculates the amount of salt and water required to regenerate. It uses what is necessary, reducing the salt and water usage. Not only will you enjoy better-tasting water, but your skin and hair will be much healthier and better-looking when using softened water as well.

The system uses demand-initiated regeneration. This means the system will only start regenerating after determining the hardness level of the water and your water usage. This reduces water wastage and increases savings. The WHES40E has a simple electronic system that is easy to program. It also has a light indicator that goes on when the salt is low. The system can work efficiently on well water or city water.

The system comes with an installation kit, a bypass valve, and a 1-inch male pipe thread that is ready to connect. A good water softener, such as the WHES40E, keeps your water-using appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and tankless water heater, working efficiently due to decreased scale buildup in the plumbing.

To read our full review of the Whirlpool WHES40E follow this link.

7. ABCwaters built Fleck 5600sxt Water Softener and Upflow Carbon Filtration

This package combines an upflow carbon filtration system and a water softener. It also comes with other features, such as installation guides, an installation kit, and technical assistance, to make user experience simple. When you compare it to most other systems in the market, this is one of the best complete whole house systems.

The Fleck 5600sxt digital valve meter controls this water-softening system. It uses a 10 percent cross-linked resin. With a 48,000-grain high-softening capacity, it can easily manage a service flow of up to 12gpm, which equates to a household with two to five people. Its carbon filtration system does not need to backwash to provide efficient filtration. If you are looking for the best whole house filter, you should consider this package.

If there is no backwash, the system will not need a drain line and electricity. In addition, the system will not produce any wastewater. Essentially, it is a safer, cleaner, and greener carbon tank filtration system. Carbon is a natural filtration media that gets rid of numerous contaminants through absorption. It removes contaminants such as herbicides, chlorine, pesticides, THM, organics, and much more. It also gets rid of bad odors, tastes, and other chemicals, making it a great system for filtration in general.

8. Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener, Black

This water-softening system features a digital metered control head, upgraded 10 percent cross-linked resin, standard brine tank, valve with adapter and bypass, and a mineral tank. It also comes with a sanitizer pack, lubricant, and USB drive with instructions. When you invest in this water softener, you will get a test strip to show you how to install it and drinking water bottles as a gift.

This whole house water-softening unit will eliminate hard water, which causes reduced soap efficiency and scale buildup. It removes hard water using the ion exchange process, which involves the removal of calcium and magnesium ions. Consequently, your plumbing and household appliances will have an extended working life.

This water-softening model also uses meter-based regeneration, which means that it measures water consumption and regenerates only when needed. It uses the most advanced controller from Fleck, which comes with features such as touchpad controls, backlit LCD display, user-friendly interface, and internal power backup.

Its durable mineral tank comes from one of the most popular and experienced manufacturers of tanks. It comes with a 10-year warranty. Included in this system is a standard square brine tank that can hold approximately 250 pounds of salt. It also has a safety float to prevent overfilling and water messes.

For the full review of the Pentair WS48-56sxt10 Fleck Water Softener follow this link

9. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Water Softener

This softening system solves the problem of hard water without using salt or chemicals. It does not require regular maintenance. It keeps healthy minerals in the water while breaking down scale deposits and preventing it from building up in the pipes. The system reduces energy consumption, which is why it typically has a one-year payback period.

In addition to being great for your home, this water-softening system is also good for the environment, for people looking to have healthier hair and skin, and for those on salt-restricted diets. It is ideal for areas with very hard water, and you will not need to make any plumbing modifications. The system is compatible with any pipe, even PVC and PEX.

Unlike saltwater softeners, this system does not change the water’s chemistry. It makes high-quality drinking water accessible to users. Traditional water softeners work by replacing hard minerals with soft minerals that do not form scale. Such systems, however, come with a high maintenance cost. They also create sodium-rich soft water that is neither desirable nor healthy to drink.

This system uses a computer chip to transmit an electromagnetic wave to match the resonant wave frequencies in the clusters of water molecules. This breaks down the clusters into active twin molecules with better bonding capability with the hard-mineral ions and a larger surface area. In their new state, these water molecules pick up and transport hard-mineral ions, thereby minimizing the chances that they stick to plumbing surfaces. This allows scale deposits to begin breaking down.

10. Tier1 Eco Series Whole House Water Softener Alternative

Tier1 Whole House Systems can be customized to your specific filtering needs. You can choose features like sediment reduction, salt-free softening, KDF and carbon filtration, and ultraviolet disinfection. It decreases the buildup of limescale that results in solids going into the pipes, fixtures, and appliances.

The system is simple to install and maintain. It comes with an 8-inch x 44-inch resin tank. It also has a 10-inch x 4.5-inch sediment filter with a bracket and housing. The tank is prefilled with scale-inhibiting media blend and has flex-connectors, nipples, and ball valves. It is one of the best water softeners because it can cater for homes with up to three bathrooms. Start ripping the benefits of better water quality in your home with this system.

This system will not remove beneficial minerals from the water since it is not salt-based. The Template Assisted Crystallization (TAC) system protects from scale buildup without using salt or harmful chemicals. Use this water-softening system to limit exposure to herbicides, pesticides, and chlorine, which damage your skin and hair.

Types of Water Softeners

best water softener

Different types of water-softening systems use different methods to reduce the calcium and magnesium content present in the water. Some softeners also reduce manganese and iron. All these minerals cause hard water, which many people do not like due to various reasons. Hard water is not particularly harmful to your health; however, when it comes to cleaning surfaces, it can cause problems.

Softening your water is the answer to these problems. Hard water contains ions that react when they are exposed to soaps. These metal ions prevent soaps from making more lather. They also leave noticeable rings on different surfaces, such as bathtubs. Calcium and magnesium also form deposits in areas where people use hard water for a long time.

These deposits can also accumulate on sink faucets, pipes, showerheads, pans, pots, and other metal objects. In serious cases, this buildup can destroy equipment and appliances since it acts as a thermal insulator that can overheat metal objects. There are four main types of water softeners: a reverse osmosis system, a magnetic system, a salt-free system, and an ion exchange system.

Salt-Free Water Softeners

Most consumers prefer this type of water softener because it uses a filter instead of salt, potassium, or chemicals. Therefore, it does not affect the minerals in the water. The downside of this type of softener, however, is that it does not work effectively with very hard water.

Ion Exchange Softeners

These softeners exchange the ions contained in water with potassium or sodium ions. Essentially, they remove ions that cause hard water and replace them with soft mineral ions. This type of softening system can prolong the use of dishwashers and washing machines. Due to the high sodium content, however, it is not good for drinking water.

Magnetic Water Softener

This type of softener uses magnets around or inside water pipes, which creates a magnetic field that alters the water. Unfortunately, within 48 hours, the water returns to a hard state after passing through the magnetic field.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis softeners use pressure to eliminate impurities from water through a semi-permeable membrane. This process removes up to 98 percent of impurities from water.

Some of the most common softeners used in homes use ion-exchanging resin, and, depending on the type of salt they use, they are available in three main types. The three types of salt are potassium, sodium, and hydrogen. They have a resin bed with a negative charge through which the water flows. This resin binds to metal ions with a positive charge. The three elements commonly used in the resin are potassium, univalent sodium, or hydrogen. They exchange with divalent elements like magnesium and calcium ions.

The Best Water Softener Brands

Treating the hardness of water can be challenging, but it is worth knowing the advantages of doing it and knowing the best water softener brands. If you choose the most effective water softener, all those problems with your stained laundry, plates and dishes, skin, and plumbing will disappear. A good water softener will also maximize your available drinking water.

Whether they know it or not, many people live in hard water areas. Those who prefer softer water, however, should do some research on the best consumer water softeners available on the market. Simply put, the best softening system will provide you and your family with water that is more enjoyable to drink, bath in, and do your laundry.

When it comes to measuring hard water, there are different orders of magnitude. As a guide, however, anything above 60mg of calcium and magnesium means your water supply is in a hard water territory. Some of the best water-softening systems on the market today include:

1. Pelican

Pelican Water offers some of the best water treatment systems consumers can count on. There is a wide range of Pelican water softeners and filters to choose from. All of them will help you take control of the water you drink and use at home. You will never have to buy cases of water again. Whether you are on well or city water, you can rest assured that your family is enjoying cleaner and fresher water free of common chemicals and contaminants.

Pelican offers two types of water-softening systems: the Pelican NaturSoft Water Softener Alternative and the Pelican Advantage Series Water Softeners. The former uses salt-free technology to treat water while the latter uses minimal salt.

2. Fleck

When it comes to water-softening systems, Fleck is one of the most trusted and best-selling brands. Fleck water softeners are easy to install, reliable, and affordable. They also have tons of positive customer reviews. There are many reasons why you should consider buying a Fleck water softener. Some of the brand’s best features include: the parts are easy to find, they are eco-friendly products, good customer service, they are easy to program, and are easy to assemble.

Finding the best Fleck water treatment system depends on several factors. The most important factor, however, is the level of hardness of your water supply. If your water contains a high quantity of hard minerals like magnesium and calcium, you need to choose the softener that will adequately deal with the problem. All Fleck models treat water with a high level of hardness. The difference is their ability to deal with high capacity, low pressure, and other things.

3. Whirlpool

Whirlpool is one of the most popular appliance brands on the planet. You are probably using at least one of their products at home. When it comes to water softeners, Whirlpool is one of the best manufacturers.

The Whirlpool WHES30 grain water softener, for example, is one of the most popular systems and is ideal for families of one to four people. If you want to get rid of difficult mineral stains and use less detergent in your washing machine, this is the softener for you. It will also help your water-using appliances run more efficiently and last longer.

4. Aquasana

Aquasana salt-free water softeners deliver delicious, descaled, and clean water throughout the house. Designed to treat 1 million gallons of water or run for 10 years, they contain professional grade components for maximum efficiency.

Unlike most salt-based water softeners, Aquasana water softeners will not demineralize your water by removing minerals chemically. In addition, they do not discharge excess chemicals or salt waste into the environment. Therefore, they are an eco-friendly and effective water treatment solution, in addition to offering complete home protection.

5. GE

GE water softeners are offerings from one of the top brands in the electrical appliance industry. For many years, the company has been an industry leader providing high-performing products. GE has many different water softener models that come with guarantees for long-lasting effectiveness and great warranty.

These water softeners are easy to install, cost-efficient, and easy to monitor. Thanks to the wide range of models to choose from, you will easily find the right model for your specific circumstances. The company also produces both large and small water-softening systems with different capacities to suit every situation.

The Benefits of Water Softeners

A good water softener unit is a system that lets you enjoy the benefits of removing the qualities in the water that make it hard. This is because of high levels of magnesium and calcium. These compounds contribute to numerous problems in your home, such as clogging in the pipes, hard dissolving of detergents, and more.

Good water softeners can remove positively charged ions. The calcium ions become calcium crystals that cannot attach to fixtures, pipes, or surfaces. The crystals rinse away easily. Not only are they neutral, but they are also stable and heat-resistant.

More benefits include:

  • Water softeners produce cleaner and more lustrous mirrors, glassware, and silverware.
  • Due to decreased clogging in your plumbing system, your monthly energy costs lessen.
  • You can enjoy softer and longer-lasting clothes. There are no stains on the whites, and you will use less soap on the process.
  • You can extend the lives of your water-using appliances in the house. By reducing scale buildup of the appliances, such as the coffee maker, laundry equipment, icemakers, and more, you can increase efficiency and functionality for a longer period.
  • Water softeners reduce soap curds that make cleaning hard, hence minimizing the effort made when cleaning your home.
  • Softer water reacts better with soap, so you save up on cleaning products.
  • You have cleaner and softer clothes. Hard water causes marks to appear on your clothes after doing your laundry, making them fade in the end. Using water that has undergone a water softener ensures that the water dissolves into the clothes easily. In addition, soft water dissolves detergents and soaps effectively.
  • Your showerhead will stop clogging. Hard water causes scales to build up in showerheads, significantly reducing the water flow rate causing inconveniences.
  • If you shave, soft water not only gives you the best-quality shave, but it also extends the life of razor blades, saving you money.

How to Install Your Water Softener

After identifying the need of a water softener, the thought of installing it can be daunting. However, installation of some of the best water softeners is surprisingly easy. For a new installation, you should consider where to install the system. Most people prefer the garage, basement, or near the water heater.
The location should be spacious to allow easy servicing.

Here are a few DIY instructions on how to install the system:

  • After sweeping and clearing the area, position the water softener in place and measure the connecting pipes. Confirm its orientation so that the inlet connects to the water supply pipe and the outlet goes to your appliances. Turn off the main water supply and open some faucets. This should drain water from the pipes. Connect the main water supply to the unit using elbow fittings and bypass valves. Make sure the orientation is correct before connecting.
  • Install the pipes that lead to the bypass valve. If the pipes do not fit, use a reducer to get the right size. Attach the pipes using the compression fittings that came with the unit. Connect the drain hose to the unit and direct it to a utility sink or a drain. To ensure there is no back flow of wastewater, the end of the drainpipe should be lower than the unit’s level.
  • Install the saltwater tank’s overflow tube, following the manufacturer’s instructions. The discharging end should be lower than the unit’s level. Set the valve to “bypass” position. Turn on the water to run through the system for a while to remove sediments and air locks. Plug in the unit to a power source and turn the valve to “backwash” position. To begin regeneration, press and hold the “regenerate” button.
  • Bleed off any air buildup by partially opening the inlet control slowly, then fully opening both the inlet and outlet controls. Press the “regenerate” button again to make the system cycle reach the next stage until it reaches the service settings. Program the controls, and your system is ready.

How To Choose the Best Water Softener

Determine the Extent of Your Water Problem

When it comes to buying a water softener, you first need to determine the magnitude of the hard water problem in your house. To make this determination, you can make an estimation or an assumption. This is the easiest method of determination. The water hardness scale incorporated into the map of the U.S. will give you an idea of what you are dealing with in terms of water hardness. This scale uses data from the USGS’s concentration of hardness map.

Sometimes, this estimation method may not be very reliable. This is because the data used comes from a study conducted decades ago. For accurate results, consider getting a testing kit. The total dissolved solids meter is very common in households with people who want better control over the water used in their homes.

You can also send your water to a professional lab for a complete lab analysis if you are looking for ultimate accuracy. The test results will determine the hardness level of your water and identify the specific causes of the hardness. They will also reveal whether there are any other microorganisms or substances in your water, such as pathogenic bacteria or lead.

Determine the Size and Grain of the Water Softener You Need

Installation of the water softener often happens at the point of entry. When choosing a water softener for your home, you should consider your household’s daily water usage, as well as the length of time between regenerations. This is when the minerals attached to the resin bed through ion exchange wash off, leaving room for new salt to start treating the water again. Ideally, this should happen no less than every fortnight and no more than once every three days.

Consider Your Budget

Residential water-softening systems can cost anywhere between $600 and $2,500. Low-grain water softeners are less expensive than high-grain models. When calculating the cost of the water softener you need, factor in your monthly maintenance costs by adding at least $10 for the average 40 pounds of softening product. You also need to consider the cost of dealing with wastewater during backwashes.

After factoring in the installation and maintenance costs, you need to understand that a salt-based water softener is slightly more expensive than a descaler is. If your budget is tight, you might want to go with the descaler.
Check for Extra Features and Certifications

In addition to price, size, and type, other features to consider when shopping for a water softener include automatic features, certifications, and cross-link figure. Automatic feature scan adds a lot of convenience, such as giving a notification when salt is running low. Such features will save you from wondering whether some maintenance work is overdue.

Certifications show that a water softener will manage certain processes. While this does not guarantee a problem-free experience, it shows that the device is effective according to industry standards, based on rigorous testing.


If you have hard water in your home, a water softener is a smart investment that will pay off in the end. The money you save in appliance repairs can fund other expenses in your home. You can even use it to go on a vacation.

Without a water softener, dishware will come out of your dishwasher stained and streaked. Your laundry will demand more detergent, shampoo and soap will not lather, and filmy scum will stain your shower curtains. In addition, bathing in hard water will leave your skin dry and itchy and your hair sticky and lifeless. A home water softener is the perfect solution to these problems.