How to tell if you have hard water

Hard water carries dissolved minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. These minerals can come from various sources, including limestone, chalk, gypsum, and dolomite. While hard water is not considered harmful to your health, it can cause quite a few annoyances in your home. If you’re not too sure whether you have hard water or not, you can look for a few things at home – for instance, do you notice that you have dry skin after showering?

Do you have to use more soap than usual to get suds? Does your hair feel limp and lifeless? Do your shower walls have grey spots? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you might have hard water. Don’t worry, though, as there are a few ways to combat hard water. This article will explore some of the most effective methods for dealing with mineral deposits in your home. From installing a water softener to using alternative cleaning products, we’ve got you covered.

What does drinking hard water do to your body?

What does drinking hard water do to your body?
Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

Hard water brings with it a high concentration of dissolved minerals, including calcium and magnesium. While these minerals are not necessarily harmful to your health and can actually be beneficial, they are known to cause some problems for certain individuals if they use hard water on a regular basis.

The effect on your body due to hard water can mostly be felt on your hair and skin. Since hard water does not react well with soap, it often leaves behind deposits that make your skin feel dry, and hair lack shine and luster. In some cases, hard water can worsen cases of eczema. 

Hard water can also contribute to kidney stones and associated health problems in a few rare cases. The hard minerals in hard water can build up in your kidneys and contribute to the formation of kidney stones. 

For the most part, hard water is not harmful to human health and does not pose a serious threat. Hard water is only particularly harmful to your plumbing infrastructure and appliances. If you are still concerned about the effects of hard water on your health, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you determine if you need to make any changes to your diet or lifestyle to protect yourself if there are potential risks associated.

What are the 7 signs of hard water?

What are the 7 signs of hard water?

If you are wondering whether you have hard water, these are the seven signs you should look out for that indicate your water is hard.

  1. Do you notice that your water has a strange odor or taste to it? One of the initial signs of hard water is that it tastes different. You’ll also see a white powdery residue on your dishes or glassware. This white scale is caused by minerals in your water and can also cause plumbing problems.
  2. Stains, not just dish soap residue, can be found in your sinks and bathtubs. Visible spots caused by mineral buildup can be noticed in your appliances and plumbing infrastructure too, which is a sure indicator of water hardness.
  3. Scale buildup can affect the water pressure too. Do you find that no matter how many times you scrub in your sink or tub, a film or scum always seems to build up? This could very well be because of hard water. 
  4. Creating a good lather with soap and shampoo is challenging. Soap doesn’t mix well with calcium and magnesium ions that naturally occur in hard water. Therefore, you use more soap to create suds, making it one of the more common signs of hard water besides creating a soapy lather.
  5. Your clothes look gray and dingy and may not be as clean as you would like. The minerals in hard water can cause different problems for your clothing: it may wear out more quickly than usual, and it may have areas where the fabric is stiff or even stained. You should avoid using chlorine bleach, as this will react negatively with those minerals to stain your clothing.
  6. When you feel your skin and hair becoming dry, it is probably because of hard water. It’s also a good chance that it’s contributing to irritation, itching, breakouts, and dullness in your hair. 
  7. Your utility bills have increased. Hard water can lead to scale buildup inside your water heater, but destroying the hard water from your life doesn’t have to cost you more money. You need a dependable water softener that will control pressure and prevent scaling on the tank and force you to spend less time and less money maintaining this essential household appliance.

How do you fix hard water?

You can fix your hard water situation in a few ways. You can install a water softening system, which will remove the minerals from the water. You can also get a reverse osmosis system installed, which will filter out the minerals. 

fix hard water

These water treatment systems are the most effective at fixing hard water. If, however, you do not have a water treatment system, you can use these simple home remedies:

  • Vinegar is an inexpensive and effective way to soften hard water at home. Hard water contains a large quantity of calcium, and acetic acid reacts with minerals above hydrogen in the reactivity series. Vinegar is very cheap and found in most general stores and is effective at dissolving calcium, magnesium, and other hard water deposits. Moreover, vinegar also kills bacteria, mold, and other germs.
  • To minimize hard water deposits on dishes and glassware, scrub with soap. To remove soap scum, mix three parts of water with one part of apple cider vinegar and apply it.

How do you shower with hard water?

If you have hard water, your shower may not feel as luxurious as it could be. The minerals in hard water leave a filmy residue on your skin and hair, making them feel dry and tangled. Hard water can also cause your soap to not lather as well.

How do you fix hard water
Water Softener

Start by using a water softener to remove the minerals from your water, to get the most out of your shower. There is a huge variety of water-softening systems available on the market, so be sure to do your research to invest in the right one for you and your home.

Once you have a water softener installed, make sure you are using a mild soap or body wash that won’t further dry out your skin. And be sure to rinse thoroughly. The last thing you want is a soap residue left behind on your skin.

If you do not have access to or the budget for a water softener, there are a few home remedies you can consider. You can try using a vinegar solution to remove the minerals from the water. Vinegar is an acidic substance, so it will break down the minerals in the water. You can add one cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. Let it sit for a few hours. Then, you can drain the water and rinse it in the vinegar solution.

Review of top three hard water test kits:

Time for review

BOSIKE 6-in-1 Water Hot Tub, Swimming Pool & Spa Test Strips

These highly-effective water test strips are made from high-quality paper and do not bleed into your pads. The six parameters you can test for include total hardness levels, free chlorine, bromine levels, total chlorine levels, alkalinity, and pH.

BOSIKE 6-in-1 Water Hot Tub, Swimming Pool & Spa Test Strips

To use this strip, just immerse it in a glass of water for 2 seconds, then remove it. Wait 30 seconds and compare the color to the color chart on the packaging. Read your results within 30 seconds of removing the strip from the water.

These test strips are an excellent way to monitor the water quality in your home. All you have to do is to dip the strip into one cup of warm water and wait for a few seconds. After ten seconds, you’ll know how hard your water is. Use them at least twice per week or as needed in order to track how often you need softeners or reverse osmosis systems installed for your family’s safety.


  • Easy to use.
  • Wide variety of parameters to test.
  • Good shelf life of up to 2 years.
  • Accurate results.


  • Relatively expensive compared to other kits.

JNW 7-in-1 Pool and Spa Water Testing Kit

Keep your water clean and rid it of dangerous chemicals with this 7-in-1 test strip for pools and spas that tests for hardness, chlorine, bromine, free chlorine, pH levels, cyanuric acid, and alkalinity.

JNW 7-in-1 Pool and Spa Water Testing Kit

The pool and spa strips allow you to make quick measurements of the chemical levels within your pool or spa without guessing. The strip you dip into water will show a change in color. That’s all it takes to find out what kind of adjustments you need to make.

As a pool and spa owner, it’s not just important to add pH-balancing chemicals to your water; you also need to monitor the levels. With these strips, you can quickly test your water and find out what needs to be done, all from the comfort of your home. Included with the product is a free guidebook that allows you to be informed about what to do with your test results.


  • Easy to use.
  • Wide variety of parameters to test.
  • Includes an ebook, so you know what to do with your testing results.
  • Accurate results.


  • The free ebook is not always available, which may need you to research what to do with your test results by yourself.

Varify Premium Water Hardness Test Kit

The new Varify testing kit is perfect for testing your pool water and ensuring it’s safe to swim in. Just dip them in the water and compare the strip to the color chart on the bottle, and you’ll have accurate results in seconds. No need to visit a store or wait for someone else to test your water, so you can enjoy consistent, reliable results whenever you need them.

Verify Premium Water Hardness Test Kit

This kit includes a ready-to-use bottle with 50 strips, two sealed packets of 50 strips, and instructions for filling the bottle once the strips are all used up. You can be confident with these testing kits, and be sure that the strips are sealed for freshness and reliability.


  • Easy to use.
  • Wide variety of parameters to test.
  • Excellent customer support team.
  • Accurate results.
  • Supports non-profit charity work.


  • Readings can be difficult to read as some colors are similar.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. How is water hardness measured?

You can measure your water hardness at home with a simple testing kit. With a typical water hardness test kit that provides you with water strips, match the color from the strip, which should be wet, against the corresponding color on a color chart to see what level of hardiness your water is at. 

Measures of water hardness usually come in measurements that report how much calcium carbonate or a calcium carbonate equivalent is present in a given unit. Water hardness is typically measured in mg/ L (milligrams per liter) or grains per gallon (gpg). The amount of hardness in water is classified into three categories: soft, moderate, and hard. 

Water is considered “soft” when it contains 1-60 mg/L of hardness. “Moderate” hardness is water with 61-120 mg/L, while “hard” water has 121 mg/L or more. 

To find out the exact hardness of your water, you can purchase home testing kits or contact your local water utility. You can also have a test done by a certified professional for the most accurate results.

2. Do filters remove water hardness?

Water hardness is caused by the presence of dissolved minerals, typically magnesium and calcium, and they come from multiple sources, including rocks and soil that have been in contact with the water. Hard water may not be harmful to your health, but it can be a nuisance in the home. Hard water can cause soap to form scum, laundry to become discolored, and dishes to develop spots.

Water softeners are very effective at removing hardness-causing minerals from your water supply. They cannot, however, remove other contaminants in your water supply, such as chlorine, iron, or other harmful minerals. Filters work by trapping the impurities in the water, which then leaves the water cleaner and easier to use. There are different types of filters available on the market, so do your homework to find one that will work best for your needs and your specific source of water. Filters, when combined with water softeners, can provide soft water that is also free of impurities and safe to drink. 

3. Is city water hard or soft

This depends on your specific location and water supply. If you are lucky, the city water you are supplied may be free from hardness-causing minerals. In most cases, however, city water contains magnesium and calcium, which causes hardness. 

How can you tell if you have hard water? One way is to look at your plumbing fixtures. If you see a lot of mineral buildup on your fixtures, that is a good indication that you have hard water. Another way to tell is to test your water yourself. There are many home testing kits available that can easily and accurately test the hardness of your water.

If your water is hard, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the effects. One option is to install a water softener, which will remove the minerals from your water and make it softer. Another option is to use distilled water for drinking and cooking, which will also be free of minerals. Whatever route you choose, make sure you are taking steps to protect your plumbing fixtures and household appliances from the damage caused by the minerals in hard water.

4. How to test calcium in water?

If you think you might have hard water, you can test it for calcium levels. One way is to use a hardness test kit, which can be found at most general stores. These kits usually come with a strip of paper that changes color when it comes in contact with water high in calcium.

Another way to test for calcium is to pour a small amount of water into a clear glass and let it sit for 24 hours. If you see a chalky white residue on the glass after this time, it’s likely that your water has high calcium levels.

If you’re not sure whether your water is hard or not, you can always contact your local water utility company. They will usually be able to tell you what the hardness level of your water is.

5. What do hard water stains look like?

Hard water stains can vary in appearance depending on the surface they are on. They may look like white spots or streaks, brown or yellowish deposits, or even a chalky film. On glass surfaces, hard water stains may look like cloudy patches or streaks. On porous surfaces like marble or travertine, the stains can be much more difficult to see.

6. How do you soften water at home?

There are a few different ways that you can soften water at home, depending on your needs and preferences. One common method is to install a water softener, which will remove minerals from the water as it passes through. Another option is to use a reverse osmosis system, which will remove impurities from the water using a filtration process. You can also add chemicals to the water to bind with the minerals and make them less effective, or you can simply boil the water to remove some of the hardness. 


Hope in this article you learnt, how to tell if you have hard water by looking at the common symptoms or testing it using a good hard water test kit. Hard water can be softened using various methods, but the best way to treat water hardness is by using a water softener at your home. Check out our reviews on various water softener types if you are looking to buy one.

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.