The water in our area is classified as being extremely hard. My wife and I both grew up with soft water and took it for granted. When my wife took a leave of absence, we purchased a water softener from Culligan which we had been renting to reduce our monthly bills. We found out we should have done it years ago, due to the savings.
Culligan promotes that you can save on the cost of detergent by having soft water. The argument is that most commercial detergents have water softening agents in them and you can save money by buying a pure detergent, like Amway. We haven’t bought Amway detergent for years, and so we aren’t getting that savings.
I guess the bottom line is that it isn’t worth it to use the water softener, unless we are using soaps without water softening agents. My wife recently started making natural laundry detergent, so we’ll keep buying salt and using the water softener.