Do I Need a Dishwasher Salt? What Can I Use Instead?

To make the dishwashers break down less often and last longer, the industry produces special salt formulations. These special sodium chloride preparations are recommended to be used in addition to traditional detergents. People have long been debating whether dishwasher salt is really necessary and whether it is possible to replace it with regular table salt. Let’s figure out what dishwasher salt is needed for, what functions it has and what manufacturers offer.

Do I need a dishwasher salt? Yes, you need a dishwasher salt because it softens the water, prevents the appearance of limescale on the heating element and the inner surface of the tank and washes the dishes better. The water heats up to high temperatures which form limescale. Since overtime, ionized resin tank inside the dishwasher loses its ability to soften the water, you need a dishwasher salt for this purpose. 

How Much Salt to Put in Dishwasher?

To avoid spilling salt, use a funnel to pour it into the opening located on the bottom of the machine:

1 kg — with high water hardness,
0.5 kg — with medium and low hardness.

You should put as much salt as you can fit in the salt tank. The exact weight and volume are not indicated, because the volume and capacity of the tank differ in each specific model. The dishwasher takes as much salt as it needs for each cycle. This volume is calculated by an automatic program for determining the water hardness or by user-defined parameters.

How Often Should You Put Salt in the Dishwasher?

How often should you put salt in a dishwasher? The more you use your dishwasher, the more often you need to put salt in it. On average, you should put salt in the dishwasher every 3-4 months. If you use the dishwasher every day, you should put the salt every month. With medium water hardness, add dishwasher salt every 3-4 months. 

How do you know it’s time to add more salt in your dishwasher? In modern models, when it is not enough salt in the tank, a special light comes on. The amount of salt is determined based on the degree of water hardness: the harder it is, the more granules you need to fill. When using tablets or capsules, there is no need to worry about the amount of salt required as each tablet already contains enough NaCl for one wash cycle.

How to know when to add more salt if the dishwasher does not have a salt indicator? When there is no special light on the display, you will have to remember to put the salt yourself. Write down the date on a self-adhesive sticker and place it where the salt is stored.

You also have to pay attention to the quality of the washed dishes. It’s time to add salt when you notice one of the signs:

  • Cloudy glass, whitish drops or milky coating on the dishes. If this problem is corrected by manual washing, then the saline solution in the softener is not sufficiently concentrated, the resin of the ion exchanger cannot be completely regenerated.
  • The dishes are not cleaned clean with multi-layered tablets. For hard water (above 21 ° DH) with combined detergents, you need to use more salt.

There are definitely no exact periods between dishwasher salt refills as each user has a different duration. After the first loading of the salt, the dishwasher may require additives after 5-10 washes. This is normal, because at the start, perhaps, salt did not reach a sufficient concentration of the saline solution.

After that, the frequency of putting more salt will also vary. It depends on the following factors:

  • Water softness and ion exchanger settings. The harder the water, the more salt you need.
  • How often you use the dishwashing machine. The more often you use a dishwasher, the more often you need to put new salt.
  • Salt crystals size. The bigger the crystals, the less often you need to put new salt.

How much salt do I put in my dishwasher for the first time? Before turning on the dishwashing machine for the first time, pour about 1 litre of water into the salt container. Then load 1-1.3 kg of salt until the tank is completely filled. The volume of the salt reservoir is different for all models of machines. Even if you see that the salt container can fit more, do not put more than 1.5 kg of salt.

How to Refill the Salt Container on a Dishwasher Video Guide

Can you put too much salt in a dishwasher? The salt tank usually can fit no more than 1.5 kg of salt which is the maximum amount you should put. So, no, you cannot put too much salt simply because the salt tank will not allow you to do so. However, you should not fill the container to the maximum. Try not to add more than 1.4 kg of salt.

How to Add Rinse Aid & Salt in Dishwasher Video Guide

What Happens If You Don’t Put Salt in a Dishwasher?

If you don’t put salt in a dishwasher, hard water will destroy the ion exchanger in the dishwasher. It will lead to the dishwasher breakdown and accumulation of limescale in it. Dishwashers’ manuals say that you must not start a dishwasher without salt and dishwashing detergent as it will lead to the breakdown.

Suppose we load the dishes into the dishwasher and start it without salt and detergent. What can happen?

  • The dishes will be washed well, all clean and shiny;
  • The dishes will be washed well, but stains and drops from dried water will remain on it;
  • The dishes will be almost clean;
  • The dishes will be completely dirty.

As you can see, washing dishes without means is a lottery, it will be either washed or not. Most often, the washing result is far from perfect. You will waste time and resources, but the expected result will never be. Anyway, you should not experiment with this. Follow the recommendations for use and the dishwasher will never be out of order.

What Can I Use Instead of Dishwasher Salt?

If you do not have a dishwasher salt, instead of it you can use pool salt or salt tablets. It is a tableted and highly purified salt. But you can’t use baking soda, laundry detergent, or sea salt. However, you cannot put as much tableted salt into the tank as a dishwasher salt. This means you will have to add this salt more often which is not very convenient.

Remember that there are things that you cannot use instead of dishwasher salt. For example, laundry powder and baking soda. Powder (for hand wash) foams strongly. Foam can seriously damage the electronics of the dishwasher, resulting in serious damage.

Any washing powder contains quite toxic components that can get into the human digestive system from dishes. The detergent powder will leave white stains on the dishes, which will then have to be washed by hand.

Can I use soda crystals instead of dishwasher salt? Even though baking soda can soften water, you can’t use it instead of dishwasher salt because it will clog the ion exchanger filter.

Can I use rock salt instead of dishwasher salt? No, you cannot use rock salt instead of dishwasher salt because it contains finely dispersed salt particles that settle to the bottom of the dishwasher salt reservoir. Over time, the reservoir becomes so clogged that water stops passing through it. The ion exchanger receives less or a small amount of salt and fails. A huge amount of scale settles in the dishwasher, from which the equipment quickly breaks down.

What Does Salt in Dishwasher Do?

Salt in dishwashers performs three main functions:

  • Softens water;
  • Prevents the appearance of limescale on the heating element and the inner surface of the tank;
  • Adds sodium ions to the resin to make it work.

Why is it necessary to pour sodium chlorine into the dishwasher? This is primarily due to the dishwasher and the hardness of the water. Everyone knows that tap water can be very hard, as evidenced by limescale in the kettle, lime drips on the taps, etc.

When water is heated to a high temperature, the calcium and magnesium salts precipitate, which we call scale. Limescale will shorten the life of the dishwasher heating element. For this, a special tank filled with ionized resin was inserted into the dishwasher. The water passing through the resin is softened by the positively charged calcium or magnesium ions being attracted to the negatively charged sodium ions in the resin. Already soft water enters the dishwasher tank.

Over time, the resin’s ability to soften water decreases. To restore it, it is necessary to add sodium ions to the resin, which are just contained in salt.

It is imperative to use salt in the dishwasher, but you can do it in different ways. If the water in your area is soft enough, you can substitute salt tablets for dishwashing tablets that already contain salt. But if the water is hard (you can find out using a special test strip), then you must use salt separately. Indeed, if it is not poured into the ion exchanger, then it will clog up with deposits and break down since water will constantly flow directly through it. As a result, your dishwasher will need to be repaired.

What’s the Difference Between Normal Salt and Dishwasher Salt?

  • Normal (table) salt differs in granule size and appearance.
  • Normal (table) salt is less refined than dishwasher salt, although it is food grade. It may contain inclusions of grains of sand, as well as a mass of trace elements: iron, manganese, potassium, iodine, boron and others. Some of these elements will build up inside the dishwasher, which can affect its performance.
  • The rate of dissolution of table salt differs from the dishwasher salt. Since it is smaller, it dissolves faster.


I am passionate about making my home a better place and I want to share all my knowledge with you.

Recent Posts