Water Softeners & Their Impact On Dishwashers

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If you’re dealing with the effects of hard water and limescale in your dishwasher, you’re likely looking at the various solutions to the problem.

The best way to protect your dishwasher and help it to retain its performance efficiency is to install a water softener in your home.

Here, we’ve shared everything you should know about the impact of water softeners on dishwashers.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Hard water leaves mineral deposits that damage your dishwasher and reduce its ability to clean dishes.
  • Water softeners affect dishwashers positively by removing hardness minerals and preventing scale buildup.
  • Some of the benefits of water softeners for dishwashers are that they reduce clogging of drains and components, they prevent white spots on dishes, and they reduce the amount of dishwasher detergent that needs to be used.

🤔 What Are Water Softeners?

Let’s start with a quick overview of water softeners and how they work.

A water softener is a water treatment system that’s installed at the main water pipe into your home and addresses one of the most common water quality issues: hard water.

Water softeners provide soft water to your entire home, including your entire plumbing system and all the connected appliances and fixtures.

Conventional salt-based water softeners exchange calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions in a process known as ion exchange. This water softening method eliminates all the effects of hard water because the water hardness minerals are no longer present in your water supply.

Installing water softener home prevents limescale buildup on appliances

🚰 How Do Water Softeners Affect Dishwashers?

Water softeners affect dishwashers by removing calcium and magnesium minerals – the two minerals predominantly responsible for hardness – from your water.

Water softeners add salt to water, so soft water contains a small amount of sodium. Sodium is unable to form scale buildup in your dishwasher, meaning that the dishwasher’s performance won’t be affected by limescale, clogging, and soap scum formation – three common occurrences when hard water is used in the appliance.

✅ Benefits Of A Water Softener For Dishwashers

Here are some of the top benefits of using a water softener upstream of a dishwasher.

Reduced Clogging Of Drains & Components

A big benefit of a water softener is that it prevents scale formation in your dishwasher, which could clog components and your water softener drain.

If you currently use hard water in your home, you may have seen chalky, greyish-white deposits on the inside of your dishwasher. These deposits will also form in your dishwasher drain line, reducing its diameter and potentially leading to clogging. That means your dishwasher won’t be able to properly drain water once it has finished a cycle.

Installing a water softener eliminates these issues because softened water is unable to form scale, so your water softener’s components won’t become clogged with mineral stains and it’ll be able to drain properly after every use.

Clean dishwasher drain with no traces of limescale clogging

No White Spots On Dishes

Another huge benefit of water softening is that it prevents white spots on dishes and glasses that have been washed in your dishwasher.

Again, if you’ve only ever used hard water in your home, you’ll know that washing dishes in water with a high mineral content causes white water spots as the water droplets dry. These spots are particularly noticeable on glassware and chrome cutlery.

After you’ve installed a water softener, you’ll no longer notice white spots on your dishware because your water no longer contains the minerals that lead to this staining. Items look properly clean when they come out of the dishwasher, and you don’t have to dry them thoroughly with a towel to prevent mineral spotting from lingering water residue.

Related: How to prevent cloudy glasses in dishwasher

More Efficient Dishwasher Performance

A water softener should also improve the performance of your dishwasher and make it more efficient, preventing issues associated with water flow and excess detergent use.

Hard water, as we know, leads to scale buildup on the inside of your dishwasher, resulting in issues with clogging, reduced water pressure, and slower water flow through the appliance.

By installing a water softener, you can eliminate the water hardness minerals responsible for scale, so your dishwasher’s performance won’t be hindered by large chunks of mineral deposits. That means the appliance should run as efficiently as the manufacturer intended.

Clean dishwasher from dishwasher

Less Dishwasher Detergent Required

As we mentioned briefly above, water softener systems reduce the amount of detergent that’s needed to clean dishes in your dishwasher.

Hard water reacts with soaps and detergents to form soap scum, an insoluble substance that doesn’t dissolve in water. This prevents soap from being able to form a good lather, so more soap is needed to compensate.

You won’t have this issue once you’ve installed a water softener, since softened water is free from the minerals that form soap scum. That means you can use less detergent to achieve the same results – if not better, thanks to the lack of soap scum and mineral stains on your dishes. You also won’t have to spend extra money on a rinse aid or detergents that are specially formulated for working with hard water.

Longer-Lasting Appliance

Finally, all the benefits above combine to extend the lifespan of your dishwasher.

With no scale building up inside your dishwasher, and no clogging of drains, you can enjoy your dishwasher for its expected lifespan without having to replace it early or spend money on expensive repairs.

That means you get more value from your initial investment in a dishwasher, knowing that its lifespan won’t be hindered by the effects of hard water.

You can also spend less money and time cleaning your dishwasher throughout its lifespan, further reducing its lifetime expense.

Setting the dishwasher

🔎 Does Salt-Softened Water Corrode A Dishwasher?

No, salt-softened water should not corrode a dishwasher.

It’s true that water with a high salt content is potentially corrosive, and it’s also true that water softeners add salt to water.

However, the water softening process adds only traces of salt to a water supply. There’s not enough salt to corrode your appliances – and, in fact, soft water is considered an anti-corrosion solution because limescale (caused by hard water) is corrosive.

So don’t panic – it’s safe to use soft water in your dishwasher without the risk of corroding parts.

📑 Final Word

Water softeners have numerous benefits for your dishwasher.

After you’ve installed a water softener, you can expect your dishwasher to perform more efficiently with less soap, produce cleaner-looking dishes and glasses, and last longer with less cleaning and fewer repairs. This is all thanks to the lack of calcium and magnesium minerals in your softened water supply.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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