How Much Salt Do I Put In A Dishwasher? (the real answer)

If you have a dishwasher, you’ll know how important it is to add dishwasher salt to the machine every so often, But why do we add salt to the dishwasher? And how much salt should we put in our dishwasher?

In this article we’ll answer these questions and explain exactly what dishwasher salt is and what it does.

Why Do We Add Salt To The Dishwasher?

open dishwasher

Salt is added to the dishwasher to remove magnesium and calcium particles from the water used to clean our dishes in the dishwasher. These minerals are present in water, especially hard water and are perfectly safe to consume. In other words, it’s perfectly safe to drink water which contains calcium and magnesium.

Whilst it’s perfectly safe for us human beings to consume magnesium and calcium, it’s not so safe for your dishwasher. 

In fact these minerals can cause the dishwasher to clog and over time they can be the reason a dishwasher packs up altogether. Magnesium and calcium particles form what is commonly known as limescale.

It’s this limescale which forms around pipes and eventually blocks them. Dishwashers have resin balls which help to remove these harmful minerals from the water in our dishwasher. These resin balls need to be regularly charged with salt to keep them working in the fight against limescale.

Adding dishwasher salt to the dishwasher;

  • Prevents hard water mineral build-up
  • Prolongs the life of the dishwasher
  • Promotes clean, shiny dishes

Dishwasher Detergents

On top of which, dishwasher detergents are designed to operate under soft water conditions. The presence of magnesium and calcium in your water indicates that your water is anything but soft.

How Do We Know When To Add Salt To The Dishwasher?

Most modern dishwashers have low salt indicator lights which let us know it’s time to add more salt. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a low salt indicator, it is reasonable to expect the dishwasher salt reservoir to need topping up around once a month (depending on how often you use it).

How Much Salt Do I Need To Put In My Dishwasher?

This is one of those “how long is a piece of string” questions because there are so many different makes and models of dishwashers out there and all have different sized salt reservoirs. 

Plus as we have just seen, the amount of salt needed to combat the magnesium and calcium or hardness level of the water where you live, varies from area to area. 

How Will I Know When My Dishwasher Has Enough Salt?

The easiest way to tell when your dishwasher has enough salt is by pouring salt into the reservoir. Once the salt has reached the top of the reservoir, your dishwasher has enough salt. 

Take care when filling the reservoir with salt not to spill any into the dishwasher. If you do spill any be sure to remove it as soon as you have finished filling the reservoir as salt is corrosive.

How To Add Salt To The Salt Reservoir

You will need dishwasher salt, a funnel, and a cloth.

  1. Locate the salt reservoir
    Salt Reservoir On Dishwasher Remove the bottom drawer/shelf from your dishwasher and find the plastic cap next to the drain.
  2. Open the salt reservoir
    Unscrew The Salt Reservoir Unscrew the cap to open the salt reservoir, this should be full of water (don’t worry if some water spills out as you open the cap, this is quite normal).
  3. Place the funnel in the top of the reservoir
    Your dishwasher should have been supplied with a special funnel specifically for this purpose. If not, don’t worry, any small to medium funnel will do.
  4. Pour in dishwasher salt
    Pour In The Dishwasher Salt As you pour the salt into the reservoir, water will be displaced, this is perfectly normal.
  5. Once enough salt has been added remove the funnel and screw back the cap
    You will know when the salt reservoir is full because salt will be visible just below the water level in the reservoir.
  6. Remove any salt spilled into the dishwasher
    Using a damp cloth, wipe away any salt from inside the dishwasher.

Do I Still Need To Add Salt If I Use 3 in 1 Dishwasher Tablets?

Many of these 3 in 1 dishwasher tablets will say they have “salt action” but this doesn’t mean you should omit adding salt to the salt reservoir. 

3 in 1 tablets don’t refill the water softener salt reservoir, they remain in the cleaning chamber of the dishwasher. 

Whereas, dishwasher salt doesn’t enter the dishwasher chamber but is used to soften the water which enters the machine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can adding too much salt to my dishwasher cause my cutlery to rust?

It is impossible to add too much salt to the dishwasher and cause your cutlery to rust. If your cutlery is rusting, it’s simply because it should never have been put in the dishwasher as it wasn’t dishwasher safe.

Can you put too much salt in the dishwasher?

You can’t put too much salt in the dishwasher as any excess will be washed away during the first subsequent rinse.

Why do my dishes taste salty after using the dishwasher?

If your dishes taste salty after being washed in the dishwasher it’s likely that the salt reservoir cap has broken or the seal is damaged or the cap has not been replaced properly.

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