Best Hard Water Test Kits: How To Test Water Hardness At Home

A sink and dishes.

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Hard Water Test Kits At A Glance

Hard water is a problem for many people today and can lead to issues of limescale, spotty dishes or reduced effectiveness of washing machines.

So, if you’re looking for hard water test kits to test the level of hardness in your water, try one of these:

  1. Industrial Test Systems WaterWorks Total Hardness Test Strips for a general indication of water hardness
  2. AnHM Digital TDS-EZ Water Quality TDS Tester for a more accurate reading
  3. Or a First Alert WT1 Drinking Water Test Kit, which, as well as hardness, will also test for a range of contaminants that could be in your water, such as chlorine or lead.

What Is Hard Water?

Water described as ‘hard’ is water that contains a high level of dissolved minerals, primarily, in the case of hard water, calcium and magnesium. The degree of hardness increases as the calcium and magnesium content increases. The term ‘hardness’ is essentially an indication of how difficult it is to wash laundry with the water or even how well soaps and shampoos will lather and effectively wash during baths or showers.

When soap is mixed with hard water, the minerals such as calcium and magnesium, combine with the soap and form a precipitate, or a solid, which can affect how well soaps and detergents work as cleaning agents.

When the minerals in the water are absent, soaps and detergents are able to form a lather and work more effectively as cleaning agents. This is effectively what ‘soft’ water is.

Why Do I Need A Hard Water Test Kit?

As well as the poor lathering and impact on the effectiveness of detergents, caused by hard water, if you notice white spots appearing on your chrome taps, or any other metallic surface in the home, or a white build up inside your kettle, it’s very likely your home is supplied with hard water.

These white spot build ups (known as limescale) are very difficult to remove and can even lead to reduction in water pressure where long term build up has led to pipes becoming encrusted with limescale.

So if you are looking to eliminate the issues of hard water, hard water test kits are the best place to start.

Hard Water Test Kits – Your Best Options

To test the hardness of your water, there are a number of simple things you can do:

1 – Contact your local water authority

They should be able to tell you the level of water hardness in your local supply. Or check water authority websites – their annual reports should indicate whether there is hard water in your areas.

2 – Carry out a FREE hard water test yourself

There are various ways to do this,  but a really easy method is to:

  • fill a clean, clear plastic or glass bottle about a third to half full with water
  • add a few drops of soap (the purer the better, as soap with too many perfumes, dyes or added detergents can affect performance of the test)
  • shake the bottle for about 5-10 seconds.

If, after shaking, the water becomes cloudy, with a lack of visible bubbles, this indicates you likely have hard water in your area’s water supply. Soft water will remain clear and the bottle will contain lots of fluffy looking bubbles after shaking.

3 – Use hard water test strips or a dedicated hard water test kits

Using a professional hard water test kits is often your best options as you will get an actual hard water reading. This is useful when determining what type of water softener to use to counteract the hard water.

There are many hard water test kits of the market, but these commonly break down into the following:


When you use a hard water test strip, a colour will develop on the strip, which you can match to a chart to identify the level of water hardness. These work well if you just want a general indication of the level of water hardness, but aren’t recommended if you want a more exact reading.

A good choice is the Industrial Test Systems WaterWorks Total Hardness Test Stripshard water test kits

Pros of hard water test strips:

  • offer an clear indication of the general level of water hardness
  • cost effective at around $10
  • offer quick results in a matter of seconds
  • easy to use.

Cons of hard water test strips

  • can sometimes be difficult to precisely read the colour reading.


A digital  TDS metre (sometimes called a ppm pen, nutrient tester or TDS stick) is an inexpensive and convenient tool that digitally and instantly tests the hardness of your water via an on-screen display. TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids, which is any salt, metal or mineral present in the water.

A good choice is the HM Digital TDS-EZ Water Quality TDS Testerhard water test kits 

Pros of digital hard water test kits

  • instant digital reading of water hardness
  • more accurate measurement than hard water test strips
  • cost effective
  • lasts longer than test strips, which have to be replaced once they run out
  • can also be used on aquariums, pools and spas.

Cons of digital hard water test strips

  • does not test for other contaminants in water.


These water testing kits offer an option that, as well as water hardness, also tests for a range of other contaminants in your water, such as bacteria, lead or chlorine.

A good, best selling, choice is the First Alert WT1 Drinking Water Test Kit

This comes with one bacteria test vial, one lead/pesticide test packet, one nitrate/nitrite test packet, one pH/hardness/chlorine test packet, plus a user’s manual.

  • tests for water hardness
  • also tests for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine and water pH
  • tests to EPA standards
  • cost effective way to test for a range of contaminants.

Cons of the First Alert Water Test Kit

  • will give you a general idea of what is in your water (for example bacteria), but will not indicate detailed information on, for example, which types of bacteria. For this you will need to carry out more thorough testing, However, this kit is a great place to start, which is what is designed for.

What To Do Next

If you’ve used confirmed you have hard water in your area and want to do something about it, one option is to consider investing in a water softener for your home.

Here are 3 popular options:

3 Popular Water Softeners

  1. iSpring RCC7 WQA Gold Seal Certified 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System
  2. Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener Digital SXT Metered Whole House System
  3. Culligan WH-HD200-C Whole House Heavy Duty 1″ Inlet/Outlet Filtration System








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