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08.12.2019

Do Dishwashers Need Salt?

From time to time, dishwashers need salt. These marvelous kitchen appliances make our lives so much easier by taking care of kitchen messes. They are convenient devices that wash dishes, giving people more time to take care of life's demands. However, it can be easy to take advantage of their uses. Maintaining kitchen appliances, especially the dishwasher, is critical for optimal performance. This is where adding salt to the appliance is necessary to keep it working for longer and as best as possible. But why is it necessary to add salt to a dishwasher?

The addition of salt to a dishwasher helps soften the water in the ion exchanger. This process helps prevent limescale from forming through the regeneration of salt in the dishwasher. This keeps everything running smoothly. However, it important to note that when referring to the use of salt in the dishwasher, it doesn't mean regular table salt that is used for cooking. 

In locations with hard water, it is extremely common for kitchen appliances that use hot water to build up limescale. In America, a whopping 85% of households have hard water. This is also a widespread problem in Europe and the UK. Limescale is hard water deposits that can limit the performance of an appliance. Dishwashers are culprits for this in particular because they get used the most (along with coffee pots!). 

Regular table salt can clog dishwashers and create more of a build-up. Regular salt can clump when wet and large amounts can create potential clogs if used. They usually contain additives that could make hard water problems worse! There are dishwasher salts that do the heavy-duty work of keeping limescale at bay. This is achieved through the salt particles being a completely different grade than traditional salt. Primarily, it is made of crystalline sodium chloride. In simple terms, this means it will dissolve a bit slower and expel from the dishwasher at a different rate than regular salt.

What Happens if You Don't Put Salt in the Dishwasher?

Without regenerating salt, a dishwasher simply cannot do its job to full capacity. This leads to various issues. One of the biggest problems is that the machine will not function as it should. The limescale build-up will become crusted in the parts of the device reducing its function greatly. While this is a scary thought, especially because dishwashers are not that cheap, an even larger problem is the results produced from running the dishwasher with all the build-up.

The whole purpose of having these handy kitchen appliances is to make our lives easier when it comes to chores. Limescale filled dishwashers will result in a film covering the dishes. Cloudy and spotty dishes are not only unattractive but also just not as clean as dishes from a functional dishwasher. To get perfectly cleaned dishes every time, it is crucial to make sure the salt additives are included for maintaining a great wash cycle every time!

How Often Should You Put Salt in the Dishwasher?

Every model of dishwasher is different and it is important to know your specific model. For example, most European models come with a compartment designed for dishwasher salts! Other models have softener compartments and this is the appropriate place to use dishwasher salts. There are also models with salt indicator lights. These helpful lights alert you when the salt is low or empty and helps give insight as to when to refill. 

However, even with the light as a helpful tool, there are other times it may be necessary to refill the dishwasher with salt additives. The softner or salt compartment should be topped off every month. Checking it periodically throughout the month will ensure it is never empty. If it becomes empty, this is when hard water takes its hardest toll on those precious dishes! It makes no sense to waste more water to rewash a load of dishes. This is so unproductive and also wastes more time and money. 

This vicious cycle can get expensive on the water bills and the purchases of dishwasher pods and dishwater salts. Don't burn holes in your pockets if you don't need to! Check the salt or softener reservoir! Another indicator that its time to add more salt additive to a dishwasher is if the dishes start becoming streaky. 

When you run the dishwasher, the dishes should come out squeaky clean. Any variation other than this should result in checking the salt reservoir or softener compartment. More than likely, it will need to be topped off or possibly refilled. A great way to prevent this is to set yourself a reminder once or even twice a month to check those compartments. Life gets crazy busy and it can be easy to slip up and forget to check it.

How Do You Put Salt in a Dishwasher?

Putting salt in the dishwasher is more than just opening the machine up and tossing it in! If it is not properly put in the right place, it can damage the unit and cause far more serious problems than a limescale build-up. To prevent costly dishwasher repairs, follow this easy step by step guide for conquering the dishwasher!

Locate the Salt Reservoir or Softener Compartment

Typically, the reservoir or compartment will be on the bottom of the dishwasher under the bottom rack. Remove the rack to gain full and easy access to the bottom of the dishwasher. 

All bottom racks of dishwashers are removable either by sliding or unclipping it from the appliance.

Unscrew the Cap on the Reservoir or Compartment

It is important to check for water in the unit after removing the cap. Some water is needed in the compartment to mix with the salt additive. After the first use of the unit, it should always have water in there, but checking it just the best thing to do. The lid should always be screwed back on tightly as well.

Remember to Only Use Dishwater Salt

It cannot be stressed enough the importance of using dishwater specific salt. It breaks down easier and keeps dishwashers operational! Don't make a mistake you'll regret by using the wrong salt.

Use a Funnel for Spill-Free Filling Funnels

Funnels are great kitchen tools and using one for adding dishwasher salt helps the process go smoothly with no mess! Don't overthink this step by getting caught up in measurements. Remember, there is water in the compartment as well. The water will absorb the salt additive and you'll still be filling it to the top. It also recommended to check the funnel first and ensure it is completely dry and not to emerge the funnel into the water as the salt will not pass through it properly.

We're Human, Spillage May Occur!

While the funnel helps to keep excess salt from entering other parts of the dishwasher, it is possible that some may spill. Make sure that after you screw on the compartment lid again that there is absolutely no salt leftover. Once again this can lead to machine problems and dirty appearing dishes. Use a wet paper towel or rag to wipe up any spillage.

Put the Dish Rack Back Inside

Now that the hard part is over, replace the dish rack to the bottom of the dishwasher. Then it is time to run a cycle of dishes like normal.

Commonly Asked Related Questions

What If You Put the Dishwashing Liquid, Powder, or Pods in the Wrong Hole?

Dishwashers also have a compartment for the dishwashing tabs or pods. Everyone makes mistakes, so what happens if you put the dishwasher pods or in the wrong hole? This can lead to serious sud problems. Depending on the amount used, it may even overflow and cause leaking through the door of the dishwasher. Generally, people try to use shop vacs to vacuum up any remaining soap from the wrong compartment. If it becomes too out of hand, calling a repairman may be necessary.

How Do You Add Salt to a Dishwasher for the First Time?

As discussed earlier, there needs to be some water in the salt or softener compartment. This helps create a proper mixture with the salt additive. When using a dishwasher for the first time, this area must have water added to it. Following the similar rules of adding salt, remember that there is no measuring needed. Just fill it to the top of the rim. When salt is added, it will displace the water and the two will mix together. Just remember for proper maintenance of the dishwasher, this step must be followed before the first use. Then after, the water should always be there, but for peace of mind, check it anyway!

Using dishwasher salt is a critical matter when it comes to keeping this great kitchen appliance running at its best. You'll want to ensure that you get the longest lift out of your appliances as you can! The first step in doing this means following proper and important maintenance to upkeep not only dishwashers but other handy kitchen appliances!

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