Should A Dishwasher’s Salt Compartment Have Water In It?

A salt compartment is a very beneficial characteristic of a dishwasher. The significant advantage of dishwasher salt is that it helps your dishwasher prevent your dishes from acquiring hard water stains. If you have a dishwasher with a salt compartment, you may be wondering if there should be water in that salt compartment.

It is entirely normal for your dishwasher's salt compartment to be filled with water after you first use it. When you continue to use the dishwasher and pour salt into it, the salt will flood most of the water out and mix with the remaining water, which is also normal. 

So, now you know that having water in your dishwasher's salt compartment is nothing to worry over. But you may have some other questions about dishwasher salt. For example, do you have to put salt in a dishwasher? What amount of salt do you need to put in the dishwasher? What are the alternatives for dishwasher salt? We elaborate on these questions and more in this post! Keep reading to learn all about dishwasher salt.

An open dishwasher salt compartment for softening water, Should A Dishwasher's Salt Compartment Have Water In It?

Is It Necessary to Put Salt in a Dishwasher?

Some dishwashers do not have salt compartments. You obviously can't put salt in dishwashers that do not have salt compartments.

However, it is necessary to put salt in dishwashers that do have salt compartments. The reason is that dishwasher salt facilitates the functioning of the dishwasher's water softening system, which softens the hard water that flows through the dishwasher.

Traditional glass salt cellar and spilled salt on a wood background

The water-softening function of dishwasher salt is beneficial because hard water leaves stains when it evaporates. Hard water does this because it is rich in calcium and magnesium ions, and nutrient-rich water leaves behind a residue.

Because dishwasher salt softens hard water, it allows the dishwasher to keep your dishes safe from this chalky residue. So, if your dishwasher has a salt compartment, you should add salt to protect your dishes from hard water stains.

Also, if you are going to use dishwasher salt, you should not put the salt into the dishwasher's detergent compartment. Salt should only be put in the salt compartment, which is in the water softening unit, as it will never touch your dishes in this compartment.

If you put salt in the detergent compartment, it will touch your dishes, which is not good. In short, salt should be kept in the salt compartment, and detergent should be kept in the detergent compartment for optimal results.

Click here to find dishwasher salt for all brands of dishwashers on Amazon.

How Much Salt Do I Put in My Dishwasher?

Scoop of crystal salt on a wooden spoon

You should pour the salt to about 1 centimeter under where the cap of the compartment screws back on. Doing this will prevent you from filling the salt compartment with an excessive amount of salt.

There are some tools that can help you with adding the correct amount of salt to your dishwasher. A measuring cup may help you ensure that you pour the salt to 1 centimeter under the cap. In addition, you may find a funnel useful for actually pouring the salt into the dishwasher.

Click here to find a set of funnels on Amazon.

How Often Should You Put Salt in a Dishwasher?

There is no specific rule for how often you should put salt in the dishwasher, but it's best if you do it once every month. However, you may not have to remind yourself to refill the dishwasher with salt, as many dishwashers have a salt refill light nowadays.

So, if your dishwasher has a salt refill light, simply refill your dishwasher when you see this signal.

What Can I Use Instead of Dishwasher Salt?

One simple alternative to dishwashing salt is salt tablets. You can also use pool salt if you're running low on dishwasher salt. This is because pool salt is only composed of NaCl, or sodium chloride, which is able to bond with the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water and remove hard water stains.

Dishwashers only use salts that contain sodium chloride and nothing else; salts with other compounds can disrupt the bonding of sodium chloride and the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water.

One thing that you cannot use in place of dishwasher salt is regular table salt. This is because, unlike dishwasher salt and pool salt, table salt contains other compounds in addition to sodium chloride. In addition, dishwasher salt is very large-grained, whereas table salt is very fine. If you use table salt instead of dishwasher salt, its fine texture can significantly damage your dishwasher.

Do I Need to Use a Rinse Aid in My Dishwasher?

A man pours a rinse aid into the dishwasher compartment

Using a rinse aid isn't necessarily essential, but it is highly recommended. Several years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency required detergent companies to change their detergents. Specifically, they required that detergent companies remove phosphates from their detergents in order to help the environment.

However, phosphates do wonders for cleaning. So, the downside to the removal of phosphates is that detergents no longer get dishes as clean as they used to, which makes a rinse aid more imperative.

A major benefit of rinse aid is that it helps eliminate hard water spots. So, if you use dishwasher salt and a rinse aid together, then you may be able to combat hard water spots even more effectively.

Another benefit of rinse aids is that they speed up the drying process for your dishes, which means that you can skip the heating cycle on the dishwasher to save energy. However, if your dishwasher uses soft water instead of hard water or you find that your dishes are drying fast enough, a rinse aid may not be necessary.

Adding rinse aid to your dishwasher is fairly easy. Simply open the dishwasher, open the rinse aid dispenser, and fill the dispenser with the rinse aid until the indicator on the dispenser says "full."

What Can I Use For a Rinse Aid?

Companies obviously sell rinse aid, but there are also some natural substances you can use in place of these company-made rinse aids. White vinegar is one of the best natural substances to use for rinse aid, as it effectively removes hard water spots and quickly dries dishes. Another natural substance that works well as a rinse aid is hydrogen peroxide.

You add these natural rinse aids just like you would a company-made rinse aid: by pouring them into the rinse aid dispenser until it is full.

Some people prefer natural rinse aids over company-made rinse aids due to the chemicals that are in company-made rinse aids. However, others may prefer company-made rinse aids because they feel that they work better than natural rinse aids. One of the most popular chemical rinse aids is Finish Jet-Dry.

Click here to find Finish Jet-Dry rinse aid on Amazon.

In Closing

Remember that it's completely normal for the compartment to be filled with water. Also, note that if your dishwasher has a salt compartment, it is necessary to put salt in the dishwasher; salt combats hard water stains. When adding the salt, pour it to one centimeter below the cap of the salt compartment. Also, be sure to refill your dishwasher with salt about once every month.

Remember that some alternatives to dishwasher salt include salt tablets and pool salt, but not table salt! In addition, while a rinse aid isn't necessarily essential, it is highly recommended for cleaner and drier dishes!

Before you go, check out some of our other articles:

How to Clean Bosch Dishwashers [5 Steps]

Do Dishwashers Have Garbage Disposals?


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