There are few things better than a hot shower. Not only does it feel great and relaxing, it might be the only time you get to yourself all day! Anything that threatens showertime is your mortal enemy. After all, if affects your shower, it affects your whole life. And that’s unacceptable.

Your shower water can start to feel hard even if you have a functioning water softener. It happens for a couple annoyingly common reasons, and it has a couple annoyingly common side effects. Here’s how you can tell if your shower water is harder than it should be, and what you can do about it.

An image of dry hair caused by dry water
How You Can Tell

Keep an close eye for these hard shower water “symptoms”, especially if you have a water softener. If your softener works properly, none of these happen to you. If you don’t have a water softener, it doesn’t necessarily mean you MUST have any of these symptoms, but they’re more likely.

If you’ve noticed any of the following symptoms lately, hard shower water may be the culprit.


Hard water contains tiny deposits of calcium salt and other minerals. These minerals, especially the calcium, can build up on your scalp over time. Calcium salt makes the skin under your hair dry and flaky. When you rub your scalp, dried flakes of dead skin will come loose and fall from your hair as dandruff.

Dry or Itchy Skin

Hard water reacts with soap to form a chalky, gritty substance called lime soap, or scale. Scale doesn’t clean the way soap does, and it clings to the body. When enough of this scummy substance builds up, it irritates and dries out your skin by clogging your pores and preventing moisture access. You might notice you’re breaking out in pimples or blackheads, or you may develop itchy, dry skin.

Unusually Dry or Frizzy Hair

The minerals hard water contains are coarse and jagged. As they flows through your hair, they can scrap at and build up in your hair follicles. That trauma might make your hair look frizzy, dry, or damaged, even after you wash it thoroughly. In some cases, calcium buildup in follicles may even cause hair loss!   

Uptick in Soap Usage

Calcium and magnesium in hard water hijack your soap’s fatty acids, using them to create scale instead of allowing them to do their regular job. When your soap doesn’t have enough fatty acids, it can’t form a lather, and its effectiveness diminishes. You wind up using more soap and seeing diminishing returns.

A picture of a shower head corroded by hard water
What You Can Do

No, you don’t necessarily need to replace your water softener. If you think you have a hard shower water problem, try each of these quick, painless steps and see if any of them solve the problem:

Adjust Your Water Softener

Yes, we know this one is obvious, but it also solves 90% of water hardness problems. It’s easy to forget, but your water softener has electronic settings. Your shower water problem could simply be the result of a sub-optimal setting. While you’re checking, make sure the tank is ¾ full with salt, and that the intake and output valves are open and clear.

Clean Your Showerhead

Corrosion in your showerhead could cause minerals to build up over time. Even though your water is soft all the way from the softener to the showerhead, it functionally becomes hard water when it picks up the minerals in your showerhead. Take your showerhead off the wall and thoroughly clean it out. Try leaving it in vinegar overnight or for a few days, and scrub it with an old toothbrush.  

Clean Your Water Softener

If cleaning your showerhead didn’t do the trick, your next step should be draining and flushing your water heater. This is a pretty simple process; in fact, our friends in Dallas just laid out the process step-by-step last month. Draining and flushing your water softener will help break up salt bridges, prevent mineral or grime accumulation, and refresh your softener.

Replace Your Showerhead

It’s possible that your showerhead is corroded beyond repair. It happens to all showerheads eventually, and when it does the only thing to do is replace it. Replacing a showerhead is just as easy as cleaning a showerhead, as long as you find one you like.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you still can’t stand the way your shower water feels, give us a call. We can figure out what the problem is and fix it, guaranteed. Nobody deserves to dread their shower instead of looking forward to it, so we’re happy to help however we can.