Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Do you know what it's like? You've invited friends or neighbours over for a glass of wine and are shocked to discover that the glasses suddenly come out of the dishwasher with a white haze. Embarrassing, isn't it? One reason for this could be a lack of dishwasher salt.

In our dishwasher salt test 2021 you can find out how to use dishwasher salt, also known as regeneration salt or special salt, correctly. We explain why your dishwasher does not provide satisfactory cleaning results without dishwasher salt and what you can do to present your neighbours with perfectly shiny glasses.

In the following, we explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of dishwasher salt and have compiled valuable tips to help you find the right dishwasher salt for you.




Summary

  • Dishwasher salt ensures that your dishwasher does not calcify and break down, even after frequent use. Alongside the rinse aid, it is responsible for ensuring that your glasses always shine beautifully.
  • Basically, you can find coarse and fine-grained dishwasher salt in the shops, but the main difference is in the way they are handled.
  • Although dishwasher salt is chemically the same as table salt, you should not eat it because of its high salt concentration. Conversely, you should never put table salt in your dishwasher because it will damage your machine in the long run.

The Best Dishwasher Salt in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying dishwasher salt

What is dishwasher salt and how does it work?

Dishwasher salt is almost 100% sodium chloride and is extremely important for the proper functioning of your dishwasher. It ensures that your dishes do not have unsightly limescale stains or a cloudy haze after the washing process.

Dishwasher salt prevents limescale deposits from forming in your dishwasher. Limescale would clog the water-carrying parts and break your machine over time.

But don't worry: your dishes won't taste salty despite the use of dishwasher salt. The salt water does not come into contact with your dishes or cutlery at any time, but flows through the water softener alone.

Sodium chloride, the main chemical component of dishwasher salt, is the same as kitchen salt, only without fluoride, magnesium chloride or other additives. It removes magnesium and calcium from the water, making it soft and low in limescale.

Where is dishwasher salt refilled and how much do I need?

  1. Open the salt tank: In most household dishwashers, the salt tank is located in the bottom of the dishwasher. This can usually be opened with a screw cap. To gain better access to the salt tank cap, first pull out the lower dishwasher basket completely.
  2. Fill in the dishwasher salt: Using a funnel, pour the dishwasher salt into the opening until you can see the salt in the water. Do not worry about the water in the container. The salt dissolves in it to stimulate the ion exchange of the water softener mentioned above.
  3. Close the salt tank: Fill the tank to the point where you can still comfortably close the screw cap. You should have about a finger's width of space under the rim. How much salt you need to fill depends, of course, on the size of the tank, which can vary depending on the manufacturer.

What alternatives are there to dishwasher salt?

There is no real alternative to dishwasher salt. There are so-called multifunctional tablets that combine dishwasher salt with rinse aid and detergent.

However, most dishwasher manufacturers advise against these, as they do not always correspond to the machine's dosing specifications.

There is no difference between dishwasher salt, regeneration salt or special salt! Some manufacturers also refer to their dishwasher salt as regeneration salt or special salt.

Don't let this confuse you: the only ingredient here is also sodium chloride. So all three names mean exactly the same thing.

But be careful! Never use your table salt or sea salt as an alternative to dishwasher salt. The additives contained in table salt can cause the salt to clump together and permanently damage your dishwasher.

Decision: What types of dishwasher salt are there and which is right for me?

Since dishwasher salt is always purified sodium chloride, regardless of the manufacturer or product, there is basically no difference between the offers. Only the grain size of some dishwasher salts varies.

Therefore, a basic distinction is made between the following two types of dishwasher salt:

  • Fine-grained dishwasher salt
  • Coarse-grained dishwasher salt

What distinguishes fine-grain dishwasher salt and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Fine-grained dishwasher salt is reminiscent of table salt in appearance. Due to its fine structure, it dissolves better in the water-filled salt tank of the dishwasher, but is also used up more quickly.

Advantages
  • Good solubility
  • Easy to fill
Disadvantages
  • Quick consumption

However, the fine structure makes it easy to fill the tank even without the help of a funnel.

What distinguishes coarse-grained dishwasher salt and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Coarse-grained dishwasher salt is similar to fine building stone. Due to its coarser structure, it dissolves more slowly. However, this means that it takes longer for the salt in the tank to be completely used up.

Advantages
  • Is not used up as quickly
Disadvantages
  • Dissolves more slowly
  • Causes difficulties when filling

Coarse dishwasher salt is somewhat more difficult to handle than fine dishwasher salt. When filling, individual grains jump around uncontrollably more quickly and sometimes land on the floor of the dishwasher. After filling, however, these grains can be quickly collected again by hand or with a dishcloth.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate dishwasher salt on the basis of these factors

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the different dishwasher salts on offer.

The criteria you can use to compare dishwasher salt with each other include:

  • Packaging size/price per kg
  • Packaging with/without dosing aid
  • Cleaning result
  • Ecological compatibility

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria.

Packaging size/price per kg

The prices of the manufacturers can only be compared meaningfully by looking at the price per kg. To get the best value for money, you should therefore pay attention to the weight of the respective product.

When buying dishwasher salt, be sure to compare the price per kg. If you order online, don't forget to include the shipping costs of the individual online shops.

As dishwasher salt has no best-before date, you can save money by ordering several packs at once. Of course, this assumes that you have the necessary storage capacity.

If you really do have a lot of storage space, you can also buy regenerating salt in 25 kg bags at the DIY store. As explained above, this is identical to dishwasher salt, even if it is not specifically labelled as such.

To find out the best value for money, you should always compare the weight with the total price. (Picture source: pixabay.de / domeckopol)

Packaging with/without dosage aid

Most manufacturers sell dishwasher salt in plastic bags or cardboard boxes weighing between 1 and 2 kg. Buckets are not available, as the dosage would have to be done very awkwardly using a measuring cup or similar.

  1. Plastic packaging: Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut off a corner of the bag that is not too large but not too small so that you can fill the salt accurately into the salt tank at the bottom. The size of the hole should be chosen according to the grain size of the dishwasher salt.
  2. Cardboard packaging: Cardboard boxes usually have a practical flap at the top corner. You need to carefully pull this open to refill the salt through the small "chute" created in the opening of the salt tank. This type of cardboard box has the advantage that you can easily reseal it and store it safely.

Cleaning result

For optimum cleaning results, the dishwasher salt must dissolve in the salt tank without clumping. A white haze on the glasses can be an indication that something is wrong with the dishwasher salt.

If you have ruled out too low a dosage, you should check whether lumps have formed in the salt tank. If this is the case, we advise you to buy a different product.

In any case, make sure you only buy salt that is specifically labelled for use in dishwashers.

Ecological compatibility

Dishwasher salt is almost exclusively sodium chloride, so it is biodegradable. The purity requirement for dishwasher salt is subject to the drinking water ordinance DIN EN 976, so the quality standards of the various manufacturers are unlikely to differ much.

Therefore, you should pay attention to the packaging when deciding what to buy. Even products labelled as particularly ecological are often offered in plastic packaging. Cardboard boxes, on the other hand, can be returned to the recycling loop via paper collection without any problems.

Facts worth knowing about dishwasher salt

When do I need to top up the dishwasher salt?

Most machines have an indicator that lights up as soon as it is necessary to refill the dishwasher salt. As soon as the warning light on your machine flashes, you should refill the dishwasher salt.

Dishwasher salt ensures that you always have shiny glasses. (Image source: pixabay.de / cocoparisienne)

A white haze on the glasses or limescale stains on the dishes or cutlery are also clear indications of insufficient salt intake.

How often do you need to top up the dishwasher salt?

How often you have to refill the dishwasher salt depends, of course, primarily on how often the dishwasher is in use. In a family of four, this will naturally be more often than in a single household.

But the hardness of the water also has a direct influence on the salt consumption of your machine. The harder your tap water, the higher the salt requirement of your dishwasher. If, on the other hand, the tap water in your region is very soft, i.e. contains little lime, you will need to refill the dishwasher salt less often.

Type of water German degree of hardness °dH
Soft water less than 1.5 millimoles of calcium carbonate, up to 8.4 °dH
Medium water hardness 1.5 to 2.5 millimoles of calcium carbonate, 8.4 to 14 °dH
Hard water more than 2.5 milliomoles of calcium carbonate, 14°dH and above

You can read in the instructions for your machine how to adjust your machine to the different hardness levels of the tap water in your region.

This will help you avoid excessive salt consumption and unnecessary costs. On the other hand, if the salt supply is too low, your machine will not be able to clean the dishes satisfactorily.

What are the environmental consequences of using dishwasher salt?

For the sake of the environment and your wallet, you should always ensure that the salt consumption is set correctly. Without dishwasher salt, the pipes and inner workings of your machine will calcify, resulting in higher energy consumption.

Properly setting the salt consumption on the machine not only saves costs, but also avoids an unnecessarily high salt load in the waste water.

The life of your dishwasher is also significantly extended by the correct use of dishwasher salt.

For the sake of the environment, dishwasher salt should also not be used to spread on slippery pavements in winter. On the one hand, it serves the same purpose as normal road salt and ensures that footpaths are quickly de-iced. On the other hand, spreading salt damages plants and is therefore already banned in many municipalities.

How do I notice that dishwasher salt is missing?

As already mentioned, most commercially available dishwashers have a small light that warns you when dishwasher salt is missing. As soon as the indicator lights up, you should definitely refill the dishwasher salt.

Your glasses no longer shine properly? A milky haze on the glasses can also be an important indication of insufficient regeneration salt in the dishwasher. First check that the salt tank is full by unscrewing the lid at the bottom of the dishwasher.

If there is no more salt, you can fill the tank without waiting for the warning light to light up.

The white haze on the glasses does not disappear even though you have checked the correct setting of the dishwasher salt? In this case, the problem could also be a lack of rinse aid, poor rinse aid or too little rinse aid.

too much dishwasher salt too little dishwasher salt
unnecessarily high purchase costs white haze on the glasses
bad for the environment the machine calcifies

What happens if dishwasher salt gets on the dishes or is even eaten (e.g. by a baby)?

As we have learned, dishwasher salt is harmless table salt. Therefore, dishwasher salt is in no way harmful to health.

If you spill some salt next to the fill opening when refilling, the dishes and cutlery might taste a bit like salt after the next wash. To avoid this, you can either clean the machine with a cloth or run it once empty.

Nevertheless, dishwasher salt should not be used as a substitute for table salt. The high concentration of salt can upset the body's water balance, especially in babies and young children.

If your child has accidentally eaten dishwasher salt, we strongly advise you to see a paediatrician as soon as possible and ask for advice.

Picture source: 123rf.com / 103700458

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