All water starts out as soft water when it falls down as rain. However, as it gets into the groundwater and aquifer system, it turns into hard water. How hard the water is depends on a lot of things, including what the base stone is. The water is turned into hard water as it absorbs the various minerals that are in the rock that it runs through in order to get to the aquifer. For example, if the base stone in your area is limestone, the water will pick up a lot of lime and calcium. You don't want to have to deal with all that stuff, so you need to make sure that you have some kind of water softening equipment to get all that stuff out of your water and makes it softer.
How Water Softeners Work
Even though there are a lot of different kinds of water softeners, they all work in the same basic way, they just have different ways to get there. The goal is to take the minerals out of the water and make it softer. Basically, they do it through some kind of exchange of ions. The calcium, lime, or whatever other mineral ions are stripped from the water and other things take their place, which makes the water softer. The water softener may not get rid of all the minerals, but it should get the majority of them. You don't want to have 100% soft water anyway, because some of those trace minerals are things your body needs to remain healthy. You will find a lot of benefits to having a water softener in your home, such as less mineral deposits on glassware and no hard water stains on clothing.
Longer Lasting Appliances
One benefit is that your appliances are going to last longer. Anything that depends on water coming into its system, like your dishwasher, washing machine, or ice maker, will last longer because they aren't going to have to have all that buildup in their system. This, in turn, will keep them working better and prevent clogged pipes.
If you are worried about your water, you might want to consider using a water softener. You can use it to get rid of the majority of the minerals in your water that may be causing a buildup in your pipes, soaps that don't get really sudsy, or clothes that just don't feel completely rinsed.