Water Filter Vs Water Softener

Finding water treatment systems for your house can be a tough job, especially with all the questions one might have: is it better to get a water filter or a water softener? Do they both do the same work? Do both of these systems do the same job as a purifier?

It might be a little confusing when you cannot understand these different terms, but we have got your back.

Keep on reading to find the answers to these and many other questions you might have regarding your home water system. After all, you and your family deserve to have the best water quality.

Water filter and water softener compared in a frame

What Is a Water Filter?

The main purpose of a water filter is to filter your tap water to provide water that tastes better and is cleaner.

They also work on removing a wide variety of harmful contaminants. These include: heavy metals such as lead, iron, copper, and cadmium; chlorine and chloramine; sediments; pharmaceutical byproducts; and others.

There are mainly two kinds of water filtration systems:

Drinking water filtration system

Consider this to be a reverse-osmosis system that reduces contaminants and other dissolved solids. These water filters usually work on a multi-step water filtration process that processes your drinking water.

Reverse osmosis is a process that relies on a semi-permeable membrane to remove up to 95% of the dissolved solids.

First, simple sediment is filtered out, after which other contaminants (affecting your water quality and taste) are removed.

This water filter has an under sink as well as countertop options, so you can get whichever one you prefer more.

Whole home water filtration system

These water filtration systems, as the name suggests, improve water quality throughout your home. Like the drinking water filter systems, the whole house filters also remove contaminants and sediments.

They also work on reducing the acidity in your water supply.

Glass of water filtered using a water softener

What Is a Water Softener?

A water softener is a system that works to remove calcium and magnesium minerals from the hard water in your house.

It works on an ion exchange process; it filters out hard minerals from the water and provides soft water in return. A lot o

The working of the water softening system takes place through ion exchange resins. When the hard water flows through the water softener, the negatively charges resin beads attract the calcium and magnesium ions and replace them with sodium ions instead.

The same happens during the regeneration cycle of the water. During this time, water and salt rush through the water softener and attract all the calcium and magnesium ions stuck in the resin.

Without this process, the water softener will stop producing soft water.

All water softening systems regenerate because this is the process through which they clean themselves.

Do I Need a Water Filter or Water Softener, or Both?

A lot of people want to know what the correct answer is to the water filter vs water softener question. To decide whether you need a house water filtration system or just water softeners, you need to consider some things.

One of them is the physical look of the water.

If the water looks discolored and exhibits terrible taste or odor, you need to filter water and hence need a house water filter.

On the other hand, if you witness hard water scale buildup on your faucets (and other water-related appliances), you need a salt-based softener because a water softener protects you against this.

There are also other ways to find this out. You can check your local supply company to see what they recommend. Similarly, you can conduct tests at home to find out whether you need water softeners or water filters.

Another consideration is the level of hardness in your water. If you have extremely hard water, you definitely need salt-based water softeners. However, if the level of hardness is a little low, you can even get by with a salt free water conditioner.

Salt free systems have their own benefits as compared to those that do have salt in them.

The best outcome would be to get both a water softener and a water filter, so you’re able to protect against all water issues.

This is because many people are under the impression that they will get clean water just by getting a water softener. That is wrong because water softeners only remove minerals from your water, they do nothing to filter water.

For that purpose, you will most definitely need a water filter, that is because a water filter protects you from heavy metals, and many other contaminants.

In order to ensure you have cleaner and better-tasting water, you should get a water filter installed as well.

A whole house filter is a good option as compared to selective water filters, because they work on your entire plumbing. Look for a whole house filter review to find the best product for you.

Do remember that the selective water filters will still filter water in the exact same way; they will just do it in a specific area as compared to the other whole house filters.

At the end of the day, finding the best soft water system might not be enough, and it is better to get a house filter as well.

Purified water using a water filter dispenser

FAQ on Water Softener vs Water Filter

Can water softeners remove chlorine?

All water softeners will not remove chlorine. Some specific ones will, those that have activated carbon. Chlorine deeply affects the quality of water in your house. That is why it is better to find a water softener that has carbon in it.
Getting one water softener that removes the most amount of contaminants is the way to go.

Is a water filter the same as a water purifier?

No, it is not. Water filters are generally a step below water purifiers. While, water filters with carbon filtration properties are more efficient than ordinary ones, they are still a step below water purifiers.
Even when purchasing a water filter, it is better to look for one with activated carbon filters because they are more effective in removing harmful particles.

Filter Before or After Softener?

A water softener only filters water for specific contaminants, so it is better to utilize water filters after the water softening process, to ensure better results.
Water filters have more cleaning properties as compared to water softeners.

Does filtering water make it soft?

No, it does not. As mentioned before, water filters do not work on water hardness as water softeners do. Hence, it is fruitless to get into the water softener vs water filter debate at specific points because they have slightly different functions.

Do water filters reduce hardness?

No, because hard water is treated in water softeners. Even these appliances called water conditioners will probably not be effective in softening water.
For your family’s health, it would be better to get both a filter and a softener.


By now, you must have understood what the solution is to the water softener vs house water filter query. You need to understand what your needs are and then find the best product for yourself according to that.

Only getting a whole house water filter when you have hard water might not be a smart move. So make sure that before buying any product, you know what exactly your house needs.