Gather a clean empty plastic bottle with a cap and dish washing liquid. Remove the cap and fill the bottle about halfway. Add about 10 drop of the dish washing liquid and shake vigorously. You should see foam forming. If the foam stays, the water is not hard. If the foam quickly dissipates, the water is hard.
Water Test Kit
A hard water test kit will indicate the hardness of the water with a good accuracy. To perform the test you start out by filling a vial with the water in question. Then add a drop of solution and shake well for 5 to 10 seconds. Keep adding one drop and shaking until a half inch of suds is sustained. Each drop used represents 1 grain of hardness. Anything less than 3 grains of hardness is at most slightly hard and does not need to be remedied. Between 3 and 7 is a judgement call. If it is over 7 then consider finding a solution.
Find your free hard water test kit at Morton Salt.
Hard Water Solutions
If you do have hard water and the resulting problems, the best solution is a water softener. These devices run the water through a resin bed to exchange the hard ions with soft ones. The resin bed will slowly buildup up hardness ions and need to be cleaned. The salt in the bin is the key chemical for this cleaning process (a.k.a. regeneration process). Depending on the hardness of the water, this regeneration process is run on a timed basis triggered by a control panel.
If a water softener is too expensive or isn’t possible for your home, try these tips: