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Do You Need a Filter if You Have a Water Softener?

Published by: Paulo Baker

Do You Need a Filter if You Have a Water Softener

Maybe you already have a water softener but are still thinking of installing a water filter before the softener. Or perhaps you are planning to install a water softener; however, you wish to get it right from the get-go. 

The answer to this question depends on the water quality that goes into your tap water.

Do You Need a Filter if You Have a Water Softener?

Before making a decision, first, it is advisable to get the water coming to your home tested. Water can be hard, and the superb way of knowing what you have to do is to conduct a water analysis. You can contact a water treatment expert regarding this matter.

A water filter is needed with the setup of a whole house water softener. This is because a softener cannot do good work, but because there might be contaminants in the water that a softener is not made to eliminate.

In case the water going into your water supply looks cloudy, hazy, and milky, you might have sand, sediment, dirt, silt, clay, and other organic substances in the water. 

A water filter can play a vital role in preventing sand, dirt, and other big particles from coming into your water supply and potentially harming the fine moving components of the water softening media in the water softener. A water filter also keeps the fixtures and your appliances safe and sound.

reverse osmosis filtration system

You will also need a water softener if you see red staining in the tub or sink; this might be a sign of high iron content in the water. Softeners aren’t made to address undissolved manganese and iron. 

A water filter is the best solution for eliminating or reducing insoluble manganese and iron. These are some reasons why a water filter might be suggested. After water testing is done, talk about all possible choices with the water treatment expert.

What is a Water Filter?

A water filter eliminates unnecessary impurities from water like sediment, odor, taste, hardness, and bacteria to lead to better quality and healthy water. 

The basic concept of filtration is to physically remove the dirt, sediment, and any particles present in the water using a barrier. 

Filters can be anything from basic meshes which filter out big particles to a ceramic filter that has a very complex pore construction for ultra-fine filtration of a pathogenic organism.

What is a Water Softener?

A water softener is a whole house filter unit that eliminates hardness due to magnesium and calcium minerals from the water in the process known as ion exchange. This solves the more prevalent and upsetting water issue, which is hard water. This wreaks chaos on your home. 

Water softener working

There will be a buildup of scale in the pipes, blocking them and reducing water pressure. Laundry needs additional detergent without a water softener as it prevents it from looking dingy. 

Plates and glasses will come out the dishwasher stained and streaked. A water softener is the best solution to the water hardness scourge.

Water Filter vs. Water Softeners

Water TreatmentRemovesResults
Water Softener Magnesium and CalciumSoft water, dishes, and fixtures have no scale. It doesn’t eliminate contaminants 
UV-Filtered Water Viruses and Bacteria Safe drinking water; might not improve the water’s taste
Carbon Filtered Sediment, chemicals, bacterial organisms, minerals Safe drinking water; might not improve the taste

Water filters and a water softener perform dual forms of treatment. The soft water might still require filtering, while filtered water might remain as hard water. 

It depends on your requirements. You might just require a water filter or water softener- or, in most cases, a combination of the two. 

A water filter does not treat water hardness, not like a water softener. Instead, it eliminates chemicals and contaminants like herbicides, pesticides, biological organisms, and chlorine

Some of these chemicals and organisms might be occurring naturally; others might come from pollution sources in the area. 


As mentioned above, you have to conduct water testing to determine if a water filter is needed or not. 

However, if you want great-tasting, refreshing water coming from your faucet, then a combination of water filter and water softener must be considered. This assures you of a water supply that is clean, healthy as well as free of contaminants. 


Is a water softener the same as a water filter?

No. Water filter is used in an array of water purification methods to teat contamination and get rid of impurities like pesticides and lead from the water. Water softener utilized the process of ion exchange in eliminating magnesium and calcium from hard water, avoiding limescale damage in your house.

Do water softeners have filters?

Yes. Water softeners also come with filters to filter calcium and magnesium.

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Article by:

Paulo Baker

Paulo is a senior writer at Dash Appliances, where he research, writes, and reviews home and commercial water filters. Paulo is covering home-related things like water filters, vacuum cleaners, and more since 2019. When he's not researching and testing, he's traveling and playing golf.

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