Water Softener vs Reverse Osmosis: Which One Is Best?

With many water purification options present in the market, water softener and reverse osmosis are the most popular ones. Despite being a part of the ongoing trend, these two methods are completely different. 

Water Softener vs. Reverse Osmosis
Water Softener vs Reverse Osmosis: Detailed Comparison

A water softener condenses the water, whereas; the water gets filtered during reverse osmosis. When installed together in posh households, people get confused by the complexity of the terms and end up misinterpreting their functions. 

Water Softener vs Reverse Osmosis

In this article, we will be discussing everything related to water softeners and RO systems. Besides, this easy-to-understand guide will give you an idea about the various water treatments and why you should consider using them. 

What’s the purpose of a water softener?

The main purpose of using a water softener system is to condense the water without hampering its natural taste. With ionization, water softeners replace calcium and magnesium ions in the water with salt or sodium ions. 

Besides drinking, soft water is quite beneficial for several household chores. It ensures brighter laundry and spotless, shiny dishes when used for washing. When stored for bathing, it also helps maintain softer skin and hair. 

Moreover, on using a water softener, the clogs in pipes get reduced to a great extent, and the appliances tend to last longer. 

What’s the purpose of reverse osmosis?

Used specifically for the removal of contaminants, reverse osmosis is one of the most vital purification techniques used in today’s date. It sieves out the contaminants and minerals from the water with the help of a special filter. A RO system can seamlessly remove impurities like fluoride, detergents, chlorine, salt, pesticides, lead, sulfates, and nitrates.

To filter the water all over your house, you have to install a whole-house reverse osmosis system. Every appliance in your home should be connected to the system, from the sink to the shower. 

There are several benefits of reverse osmosis which include,

  • Improves the taste of water.
  • Makes the water chemical-free.
  • Reduces hard water problems.
  • Eliminates odor and color from the water.

Advantages and disadvantages of water softener

To discuss further regarding water softener vs reverse osmosis, we must look at the disadvantages.

Like everything else, water softeners have advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered before opting for them. 

Starting with the advantages we have:

advantages of water softener

💧Softens water and improves the mineral content balance of it

Removing the calcium and magnesium ions from the water makes the water soft and safe for consumption. Further, reducing calcium and magnesium ions optimally balances other minerals and contributes to maintaining body fluids. 

💧Eliminates toxins from water

Water softeners remove ferrous iron or dissolved iron from the soluble state and make the water suitable for consumption. 

💧Saves money from unnecessary replacements

Hard water causes endless damage to the appliances and plumbing fixtures which may increase your replacement costs. Therefore, using a water softener will protect the appliances and end the frequent requirement of repairmen. 

💧Makes household chores easier

A water softener will eliminate the problems of stiff laundry and dry hair. Well, these problems are caused due to the least reactivity of the soap with hard water and hence can be solved by installing a water softener. 

💧Prevents the plumbing system from straining

Hard water may pressure the plumbing system due to the build-up of scales. Therefore, using a water softener eliminates the build-up of scales and preserves the pipes. 

💧 Good for skin and hair problems

It is medically tested that soft water is highly beneficial for skin problems like eczema and prevents worsening of it. 

Talking about the disadvantages we have:

disadvantages of water softener

💧 The end product contains too much sodium

Water treated with a water softener can contain too much sodium making it unhealthy for consumption. Moreover, the end product is also slimy and slippery for some. 

💧 Not good for irrigation purposes

The absence of calcium and magnesium makes soft water unfit for irrigation. This is because it causes the soil to become alkaline which has a poor texture. 

💧 Expensive to install and maintain

Each model ranges about $2000; a water softener is quite expensive. Moreover, the routine maintenance that it requires can hamper your budget greatly. 

Advantages and disadvantages of reverse osmosis

Being the most popular principle used in aqua guards, reverse osmosis has a ton of pros and cons. Before installing it, learning about its advantages and disadvantages is very important in the long run. 

advantages of reverse osmosis

To start with the advantages we have,

💧  Effortless maintenance

The maintenance of an RO system is very simple and can be easily done by manual efforts. The semipermeable membranes present in it blocks the ion particle but don’t require any extra maintenance. 

💧 Space effective

The RO systems are designed on unique and compact frameworks. As a result, it requires very little space to get installed. 

💧Helps with water softening

Even though it is mostly known for water filtration, an effective RO softens the water to a great extent.

💧Provides chemical-free treatment

The water sent for reverse osmosis gets treated by filters and not chemicals. The fact that it does not require any chemical to purify water makes it the best choice on the market.

💧Has low energy requirements

Generally, the energy requirements for an RO system are very less. Hence, the energy limitations of your house are certainly not a matter of concern. 

💧It works automatically

Once installed, the RO system works automatically. Moreover, it is designed to start and stop on its own when the process is done. 

Moving to the disadvantages we have, 

DISadvantages of reverse osmosis

💧 Very expensive

The installation charges of a reverse osmosis system are quite high and are difficult for some to afford.

💧Time-consuming method

When it comes to household applications, the entire process of reverse osmosis is very slow. This is because the pressure, in this case, is much less, so the mechanism gets affected. 

💧Does not helps with the disinfection

RO systems are not designed to remove viruses and bacteria from the water. Therefore, this process does not aid in disinfecting the water. Well, there’s a different process to disinfect the water.

💧Not self-sustaining

No RO systems are self-sustainable and must be replaced after a certain period. Although using them individually works fine, combining them offers you innumerable benefits.

💧Increase the lifespan of your RO system

When a RO system is used along with a water softener, the lifespan of the RO filters extends largely. This is because the water sent to the RO system comes pre-treated from the water softener and improves the filters’ lives. Moreover, it saves your money too.

💧It is cost-effective

When used together, this system saves you money in costly repairs and the replacement of items. Moreover, the RO system will prevent you from buying expensive bottled water and protect the environment by disposing of plastic bottles. 

💧Better efficiency

Using only a RO may not condense the water effectively as its main function is to filter the contaminants from water. Therefore, using a water softener along with a RO can help treat the water going to the appliances and other facets. 

Combining an RO system and a water softener will not only protect each other but will also protect your family from several water-borne diseases. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should you use a softener before reverse osmosis?

Yes, it is recommended to use a water softener before reverse osmosis if your area has hard water.

Do I need a reverse osmosis system?

No, you don’t need a reverse osmosis system, but having one can save your money and health. Despite being a popular water purification technique, it is unsuitable for long-term human consumption as it is known to be overkill.

What is not removed by reverse osmosis?

The reverse osmosis model is not devised to remove viruses and bacteria from the water. 

Does reverse osmosis remove salt from the water softener?

Yes, reverse osmosis is known to remove common chemical components like lead, copper, chromium, and sodium chloride from the water.

Does reverse osmosis go before or after water softener?

Reverse osmosis always goes after water softener. When used together, the water sent for reverse osmosis comes pre-treated by the water softener.


Water softener and RO system are ideal modes of water purification and should be used according to your requirements. Before choosing any of them, learn about your area, type of water, and structure of your residence. 

However, using them together is also a wise decision to go with. I hope you liked my article regarding water softener vs reverse osmosis and have a clear understanding now. If you still have any confusion, please let me know in the comment box.