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What Is Dishwasher Salt?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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Dishwasher salt is pure sodium chloride available for use in a dishwasher with hard water to soften the water and make it a more effective cleaning agent. Some dishwashers have a softening system for users to pour salt into, and in other cases it is possible to buy soaps with water softeners built in to address this problem. In regions with hard water, it is important to be aware that many cleaning devices like dishwashers and clothes washers may not perform as expected, due to the dissolved minerals in the water.

When the dishwasher runs, the dishwasher salt interacts with the minerals, exchanging ions and allowing the soap to work normally. Dishes will not be left with an unpleasant residue from the hard water, and the soap will rinse freely instead of sticking. In addition, the dishwasher will be less likely to experience a mineral buildup that might eventually start to clog the plumbing and cause other problems.

It is important to use dishwasher salt specifically, not generic salts. It does not contain iodine, magnesium salts, and other additives commonly found in table salt for nutritional and anti-caking reasons. It also comes in a larger crystalline form, preventing clogs of the drain that might occur with finer salts. A standard box will usually last for an extended period of time under normal conditions.

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Many grocery stores carry dishwasher salt, especially in regions where the water is known to be hard. It is also possible to order it directly from manufacturers and suppliers. The dishwasher should have directions on how to use softeners like salt, and the salt packaging may contain additional helpful hints to make sure users apply it properly. In regions with hard water, it is advisable to discuss the situation with a plumber before installing or repairing appliances; plumbers can recommend more appropriate appliance models and plumbing materials to prevent problems caused by hard water.

Consumers who are not sure about whether their water is hard can look for signs like white, crusty buildups around faucets, streaks and stains in showers and toilets caused by mineral buildups, and poorly washed clothes and dishes. If white films appear to be building up, this can be a sign of hard water, as can clothes that come out of the washer still soapy, or with a strange texture. Adding water softeners like dishwasher salt to the water can resolve the problem, or it is also possible to install a water softener system for the whole house, to treat water before it hits the plumbing.

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