Best value for
Best for dry skin and hair
Shower filters can be a quick fix for dry skin and hair caused by hard water. Just unscrew your existing showerhead, install the new one, and you’re good to go.
We examined six of the best shower head filters and found out how satisfied long-term users are in terms of fixing their hard water issues. This article focuses on their performance in improving hard water only – the removal of this took a backseat in our reviews.
The best shower filter for hard water, according to users, is the Berkey Shower Filter. 85% of users report an improvement in their hard water.
It’s important to note that shower filters are not water softeners; they cannot soften water. But they may improve the quality of hard water by reducing the formation of scale or through other methods.
In this article:
The best shower head filters for hard water
- Berkey Shower Filter – Best overall shower filter >> See review
- AquaBliss Shower Filter Hard Water – Best value for money shower filter >> See review
- Culligan WSH-C125 – Best massaging head shower filter >> See review
- PureAction Water Softener Shower Head Filter – Best for dry skin and hair problems >> See review
- ADOVEL High Output Shower Head – Best design shower filter >> See review
- Aquasana AQ-4100 – Skip it >> See review
How we chose
When researching shower filters for this article, we focused on the following factors.
- customer satisfaction: we found out the opinions of real-life users of each product and recorded the percentage that found the products helpful in improving their hard water
- component quality: for each product, we looked at how well it was made, the materials it’s made from, and looked at durability.
- estimated annual costs: we examined the up-to-date 2023 prices for replacing filters and based on the filter lifespans worked out an annual cost for each product
- reviews & customer feedback: we looked at feedback from long-term users of the products to gain insight on things like how easy the shower head is to install, water pressure, and general ease of use.
Reviews: Shower Head Filters for Hard Water
Let’s look at each hard water shower filter in more detail.
- Price: $$$$
- Flow Rate: 2.5GPM
- Filter lifespan: 30,000 gallons or one year
- Annual filter costs: $90
- Dimensions: 6.73 x 6.42 x 6.42 inches
The Berkey Shower Filter is the top shower filter for hard water. Our research found that an impressive 85% of users experienced improvements in their hard water issues using this product, making it extremely effective.
It reduces harmful chemicals like chlorine and VOCs from your water, and it’s easy to install by simply switching out your existing shower head.
The filter lifespan is up to 30,000 gallons or one year, which is significantly longer than other products on the market. This means you won’t need to remember to replace it as often as any of the other products on the list.
The Berkey Shower Filter is more expensive upfront than other filters on this list, as well as in replacement filter costs. So while you’ll pay around $90 annually for replacement filters, it’s a worthwhile investment based on user feedback and the improvement in water quality you’ll see.
As someone who has experienced the frustration of hard water, I know how beneficial the Berkey Shower Filter can be. It not only helps with hard water but also leaves your skin and hair feeling soft and refreshed by removing harmful chemicals.
Overall, the Berkey Shower Filter is an excellent investment for those struggling with hard water issues. Its long lifespan, high flow rate, and effectiveness at removing hard water minerals make it the best choice for a reliable and efficient hard water shower filter.
Best Value for Money
- Price: $
- Flow rate: 2.5 GPM
- Filter lifespan: 2-6 months
- Annual filter costs: $32
- Dimensions: 3.3 x 3.3 x 4.7 inches
The AquaBliss Shower Filter Hard Water is our “Best Value for Money” pick. It effectively reduces hard water problems and is priced affordably. Our survey found that 50% of users noticed improvements in their water quality after using it.
Compared to other products, the AaquaBliss Shower Filter Hard Water offers excellent value at its price point. While its filter lifespan isn’t the longest, it still provides hassle-free showers for a few months.
It matches the standard 2.5 GPM flow rate ensuring decent water pressure. And it has a filter lifespan of 2-6 months, which is typical for this category. Its annual filter replacement cost of $32 is the cheapest on our list.
Dry, itchy skin and hair due to hard water are common problems. But if you’re on a budget finding an affordable shower filter can be a challenge. I’m eager to try the AaquaBliss Shower Filter Hard Water and share my experience.
With its performance in our survey and affordable price, the AaquaBliss Shower Filter Hard Water is the best choice if you don’t have too much to spend.
Best massaging head
- Price: $$$
- Flow rate: 2.5 GPM
- Filter lifespan: 6 months or 10,000 gallons
- Annual filter costs: $42
- Dimensions: 4.75 x 8.5 x 12.25 inches
The Culligan WSH-C125 wins the “Best Massaging Head” award for its unique handheld shower head with multiple massage and spray settings and excellent spray coverage. It performs similarly to other products in reducing hard water but also offers a spa-like shower experience. Not something you get in most shower filters!
Our research found that 50% of users experienced improvements in their hard water quality and feel.
It has a standard flow rate of 2.5 GPM and a filter lifespan of 6 months or 10,000 gallons.
The annual cost of filter replacement is slightly higher than other products, but the Culligan WSH-C125’s massaging head and improved water pressure are worth the investment.
As a runner with achy legs, the massaging head and varied spray settings provide great value for me. If you’re active or experience general aches and pains AND have hard water issues too, consider the Culligan WSH-C125.
Best for dry skin & hair problems
- Price: $$
- Flow rate: 2.5 gpm
- Filter lifespan: 4 Months
- Annual filter costs: $58
- Dimensions: 12.13 x 7.72 x 3.78 inches
The PureAction Water Softener Shower Head Filter is a great option for those seeking a shower head filter to address hard water issues and improve skin and hair health. According to our research, 80% of users found it helpful for hard water issues (the 2nd highest satisfaction rate on our list).
The big difference here is the multi-stage filtration system and its unique blend of ceramic balls, activated carbon, and calcium sulfite that helps to reduce harmful substances like chlorine and fluoride that can cause dry skin and brittle hair.
It’s worth noting that despite the name, it’s still NOT a water softener.
Although it has a filter lifespan of only four months, shorter than some of its competitors, the upfront cost is relatively low. However, at $90 per year in filter costs, it’s one of the priciest filters for ongoing maintenance on our list. Bear in mind you’ll also need to remember to change it three times per year.
Nevertheless, its effectiveness at improving overall skin and hair health makes it worth considering. Many users reported softer and more moisturized skin and hair after using it – for many people, it’s worth it for that alone.
Best Designed Shower Filter for Hard Water
- Price: $$
- Flow rate: 2.5GPM
- Filter lifespan: 6 months
- Annual filter costs: $50
- Dimensions: 12.13 x 7.72 x 3.78
The ADOVEL is the ‘Best Designed Shower Filter for Hard Water.’ It’s a great choice if you want to improve your hard water without compromising the look of your shower.
Let’s be honest here. Although it’s not a design masterpiece, it’s still much better looking than most of the other products on our list. It’s a rainfall shower head, so if you prefer a handheld model, you might want to look elsewhere.
But the most important thing is whether it works or not.
Our research shows that 60% of users reported an improvement in their hard water problems, which is on the higher end of the scale based on our research.
The 15-stage filter includes KDF, calcium sulfite, activated carbon, and ceramic balls, which remove chlorine, heavy metals, odors, and other harmful substances from your water.
In terms of price, the ADOVEL is in the mid-range of the products we reviewed. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s not the most expensive either. And the same goes for replacement filter costs.
Overall, the ADOVEL High Output Shower Head is an impressive product. If you’re looking for a shower head that looks great and helps with hard water problems, this is a great option to consider.
The ‘One to Avoid’ for Hard Water
- Price: $$$
- Flow rate: 2.5 GPM
- Filter lifespan: 6 months or 10,000 gallons
- Annual filter costs: $100
- Dimensions: 9.06 x 3.94 x 7.09 inches
As mentioned in the title of this article, the Aquasana AQ-4100 is the one to avoid. That’s not to say it’s a bad product for other circumstances, it just doesn’t appear to work well for people with hard water. In our research, only 40% of users said it helped with hard water, which is the lowest of all the products.
The coconut carbon shell filter is good for removing chlorine and other contaminants. It’s just not that great for dealing with minerals or reducing scale, so you might be disappointed if hard water is your main problem/
The filter’s lifespan is only 6 months or 10,000 gallons – which is standard for these products. But the annual filter replacement cost is $100, the highest on the list.
Consider other options for hard water, as there are more efficient and cost-effective options available. If you have the budget for a well-known, trusted brand the Aquasana Shower Filter is what we’d recommend instead.
Potential problems of showering in hard water
The extra minerals and contaminants in hard water make it damaging to your body when used as your shower water supply. Below are a few ways hard water will affect your body and what long-term consequences you can expect.
Have you ever washed your hands in a home and had a hard time washing the soap away? That’s because magnesium, calcium, and other minerals make it hard for water to remove the soap scrum from your hands and body.
When you take a shower, all the extra soap stays on your body after the shower is finished and ends up sucking up the moisture from your skin.
After a week or two, your skin will be significantly drier and you’ll notice cracks, itching, or flaking. Long-term exposure could even lead to serious skin afflictions like eczema .
The same minerals and contaminants in hard water that damage your skin have the potential to build up in your hair over time.
When caught in the hair, these elements block the conditioner and shampoo from being fully absorbed into the hair strands. Over time, well water may make your hair become dry and brittle  leading to breakages and split ends.
Hard water also strips your hair of all the natural oils that protect the hair and help keep it hydrated. Having showerhead filters that remove the minerals from the water will help keep it nourished and healthy. You can also try shower caps to prevent the water from getting on your hair while you shower.
How do Shower Head Filters Work?
Installing a shower head filter is relatively easy. All you have to do is unscrew the shower head, connect the filter to it, and then reattach the shower head.
Some filters are built into the shower head and installing them requires you to remove one head and replace it with another.
Once a shower filter is installed, all you have to do is wait for it to start working its magic. The filter contains a cartridge that has special properties which help remove minerals like calcium and chlorine from the water.
Key Consideration When Buying a Shower Filter for Hard Water (Buyer’s Guide)
Before you purchase your new filter and start installing, you’ll want to know a few important considerations to keep in mind. Let the information below guide your buying decision when looking over the different brands.
Your Water Quality
Depending on your geographic location, what water sources are nearby, how many people live in your city, and other factors, your water could be made of many different minerals and elements. To buy the right filter, you’ll need to know exactly what quality of water you have so you can ensure it effectively removes the minerals that are causing the hard water problem
Different filters can offer varying levels of filtration, so it’s best to choose one that is designed specifically for your water type and needs. Have your water tested to determine exactly what’s in it so you can buy the right filtration system?
Another thing to consider is maintenance. If you have very hard water, descaling your showerhead filter will be a regular task.
Drinking, Showering, or Both?
Why do you need a filter for your water? Is it that you only have problems when showering or does your drinking water also have problems?
If both your drinking and your showering water is hard then you’ll need a whole-house water filter. This system will filter all the water in your home before it gets to your faucets and shower head.
If you only have problems when showering, then a single-stage or multi-stage filter should do the trick since these filters are designed specifically for use with shower heads.
Either way, it’s probably not a good idea to drink your shower water.
Inline Shower Filters vs All-in-One Shower Head Filters
Inline shower filters are screwed in directly between the arm and the head of your shower system. All-in-one filters, on the other hand, are built into the showerhead only and require replacing your current showerhead.
While both are effective for removing minerals and other contaminants, your choice will depend on your lifestyle. If you are renting and cannot remove the shower head completely, an inline system makes more sense. You might also prefer an inline system if you like the current pressure or settings your showerhead provides.
Filter Types & Filter Media
Various forms of filters and media exist to help prevent your hard water from damaging your hair, skin, and pipes.
Below are several common filter types and media types:
- Inline filters – Attaches between the arm and shower head
- Showerhead filters – Attaches to your showerhead
- Vitamin C shower filter – Uses vitamin C to kill off harmful chemicals and toxins
- Sand filter – Removes solid particles like algae and organic material
- Activated carbon – Removes bacteria, chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals, ruse, and other contaminants
- Coconut shell carbon – Removes hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, and other contaminants
- Heavy metals – Removes all heavy metals and other contaminants from water
Another consideration to keep in mind before buying a showerhead filter is the design of the product. Many showerhead filters come in different colors, shapes, and sizes.
Choosing one that matches your current decor and the theme of your bathroom is important. A shower is a relaxing moment and you don’t want an eye sore reminding you of a problem in your home every time you wash off.
Price & Your Budget
If you invest in a filter that removes carbon, magnesium, iron, calcium, and other heavy metals, it’s going to cost more than one that only removes chlorine.
It’s important to consider your budget before buying a filter as you don’t want to spend unnecessarily on something you might not need. Consider the minerals and contaminants in your water and buy accordingly.
Replacement filters and ongoing costs
All filters over time will lose their effectiveness and will need to be replaced. The build-up of contaminants in the filter will cause it to no longer be able to absorb even more contaminants to keep your water pristine.
Before you buy, factor in what each filter replacement is going to cost and how many times you’ll need to replace it. You might find a filter that is expensive upfront but will be cheaper in the long run.
Warranty & customer support
Do some research on each company to determine their level of customer support and the length of warranty offered. If there are any problems, you want to know if you’ll be compensated by the manufacturer or if you’ll be out of luck.
How to Install a Shower Head Filter
The process of installing your shower head filter will depend on if you have an inline system or an all-in-one system.
Below are the steps required to install an inline shower filtration system:
- Make sure the water supply is off
- Remove the current showerhead
- Clean out the piping system
- Wrap plumber tape around the threads to prevent leaks
- Screw in the inline shower filter
- Flush the filter by running cold water for five minutes and then running hot water for five minutes
- Reattach the shower head and screw in till tight
- Test for leaks by running cold water
The process is fairly similar when installing a new showerhead filter.
Below are the steps to follow:
- Clean the filter before installing to remove any dirt or debris.
- Use Teflon tape to wrap the shower arm threads.
- Tighten the new filter fitting onto the shower arm with a wrench.
- Check the filter’s direction before attaching the filtered shower head.
- Attach the shower head to the filter fitting.
- Use a wrench to tighten the shower head onto the fitting, but don’t overtighten.
- Turn on the water to check for leaks or unusual flow.
- If the flow rate is too high, add a flow restrictor or adjust the water supply valve to avoid damaging the filter.
See our detailed post for a full guide on how to install a showerhead filter properly.