Skip to content

Do You Need Dishwasher Salt?

filling dishwasher with salt

What’s the dish on the connection between salt and sparkling dishes? You may be missing out on a crucial step in the cleaning cycle if you’re not using salt in your dishwasher. The good news is that it’s never too late to begin using this abundant, inexpensive dishwasher “hack” to get your dinnerware and silverware to a new level of clean!

You may even be able to increase the lifespan of your dishwasher and avoid expensive repairs. Take a look at how salt helps to enhance dishwasher performance.

The Benefit of Using Salt in Your Dishwasher

The big benefit of using salt in your dishwasher is that salt softens hard water. Hard water is a big problem because it can leave your dishes, glasses and more looking cloudy and murky.

Worse, people in homes with hard water are unknowingly allowing mineral deposits to clog the inner workings of their dishwashers. That means your dishwasher could stop working prematurely.

One telltale sign that salt is needed is a white film over your dishes when you pull out the racks in your dishwasher. This murky sheen shows up because hard water is full of molecules and minerals like calcium, magnesium and limestone.

These deposits collectively create something called scale that settles on the surface of your dishes.

The good news is that there’s no need to go after the film on your dishes and glasses using harsh chemicals and cleansers. Salt is an effective natural water softener that removes lime from water during that final rinsing cycle to give your dishes and glasses their shine.

Salt in any dishwasher also gives your dishwasher tabs a boost! That’s because dishwasher detergent is actually more effective when it’s used in conjunction with soft water.

Sure, you can run a dishwasher without salt, as the tablets will clean your dishes just fine, and there are dishwasher tabs that come with salt built-in.

But for optimal results – and to gain the increased benefits salt brings, as mentioned above – combining dishwasher tablets and salt means you’ll get better overall results. This synergistic combo is better for your dishes and your dishwasher machine.

Related: Dishwasher vs Washing by Hand

Can Any Type of Salt Be Used in a Dishwasher?

No, “table salt” that we eat and cook with is not the same thing as dishwasher salt. In fact, trying to substitute with the salt that’s in your pantry can create a serious and costly blockage in your dishwasher.

What type of salt is used for dishwashers?

There is actually a special type of salt sold called dishwasher salt that is much coarser than the salt we eat. Typically, dishwasher salt also features special anticoagulants that allow it to flow throughout your dishwasher without building up into clogs.

While there are multiple brands of dishwasher salt on the market, they’re all mostly pretty similar. You should only pick a dishwasher salt that is labelled as 100 per cent NaCl. In addition, it should be a pure salt that’s free from any of the anti-caking agents that are used in cooking salts.

Those caking agents actually cancel out the softening power of salt when the negatively charged resin within your dishwasher comes into contact with the positively charged salt.

Related: Dishwasher Salt Indicator Constantly Flashes

How Do You Add Salt to a Dishwasher?

Most modern dishwashers are equipped with special reservoirs just for dishwasher salt. You may have been staring at yours every time you pull down the door of your dishwasher without noticing it’s there. Here’s how simple it is to add salt to your dishwasher:

  • Locate the “softener” tray inside your dishwasher. It’s typically near the dishwasher drain filters.
  • Next, simply unscrew the cap before filling the tray with your dishwasher salt. The general rule is to fill it as close to the top as you can without making it impossible to screw the cap back on.
  • You may notice that your reservoir is full of water once you unscrew the cap to take a peek. That’s no big deal! Simply pour the salt in and allow it to mix with the water. Salt doesn’t need to be dry to be effective in your dishwasher.
  • Finally, make sure your cap is screwed back on tightly. You can now start your next dishwasher cycle.

Check back periodically to see if your salt reserves need to be refilled inside the dishwasher. Depending on your load volume, you can typically go a month between refills. You may be lucky enough to have a newer dishwasher that flashes an indicator light when it’s time for more salt!

See the Difference

The big thing to remember is that salt won’t harm your dishwasher as long as you’re using salt that is specifically labelled for use with dishwashers. While it may seem unnatural to pour salt into a dishwasher, you’ll be hooked once you see how clear and crisp your loads look!

The bottom line is that salt creates softer water and shiner dishes while extending the life and performance of your dishwasher. Using the salt if you’re in a hard water area, and cleaning your dishwasher filter will mean cleaner dishes and increased lifespan for your appliance.