Normal Salt in a Dishwasher

Can You Use Normal Salt in a Dishwasher?

Can a pinch of table salt be used in a dishwasher if you’re ever in a pinch?

They are both called salt, after all, and they look a bit similar. So, surely using table salt in a dishwasher when you run out of normal dishwasher salt isn’t a big deal, right?

While they are both called salt, and both consist of sodium chloride, dishwasher and table salt are not the same thing. So, you should never use table salt as a replacement for dishwasher salt.

The dishwasher variety is a lot more coarse than regular table salt. This prevents it from clogging the salt tank or filters in your dishwasher and helps it clean your dishes better.

If you use table salt in your dishwasher, it stands a good chance of clogging the dishwasher’s salt tank, as they are designed to extract the coarser grains of dishwasher salt.

Plus, the table salt will be dissolved by the water almost instantly, so it won’t do its job properly anyway.

So, if you run out of dishwasher salt, the best thing to do is add some to your shopping list. Well, we actually have a tip below about this.


Why Do Dishwashers Need Salt?

Using Dishwasher Salt in a Soft Water Area

Dishwasher salt allows for a better cleaning of your dishes as it softens the water as it enters the machine.

Effectively, when you use a dishwasher, the water is more like seawater than the water that comes out of the tap.

Hard water, which is what most of us have in our homes, contains lime. Dishwasher detergent and lime do not mix well together, so hard water has a tough time breaking down dishwasher detergent.

This means that if you don’t use salt in your machine, the detergent you are using won’t break down correctly, and your dishes likely won’t be cleaned as thoroughly as you’d like.


Do You Have to Use Dishwasher Salt with Dishwasher Tablets?

dishwasher salt and dishwasher tablet

For the most part, dishwasher tablets have all the ingredients you need, so there’s no need to add salt each time you use them.

However, it is always worth checking the dishwasher tablets you use. In some cases, the instructions state that dishwasher salt should be added, or they may recommend more salt if you live in a particularly hard water area.

Even if you are using all-in-one dishwasher tablets, you should still refill the salt reservoir when it runs out.


Does Not Using Salt in a Dishwasher Damage It?

If you don’t use salt in your dishwasher, over time, this can lead to issues, mainly limescale build-up in the water pipes of your dishwasher.

Skipping the salt in a cycle or two over the life of your dishwasher likely won’t damage it in any noticeable way.

However, continually not using salt could lead to a limescale build-up in the pipes that is beyond repair.


What Can I Use Instead of Dishwasher Salt?

vinegar as dishwasher salt alternative

While this isn’t a permanent solution by any means, if you run out of dishwasher salt, you can use white vinegar as an alternative. Add this to the same compartment as where you’d usually put your dishwasher tablets.

The acidity of the vinegar will act in the same way as the salt and break down the hard water entering the machine.

As we said, this isn’t a permanent solution, but if you need dishes washed in a hurry and run out of dishwasher salt, white vinegar can be used for a cycle or two.

We hope this look at dishwasher salt and why it is always important to keep some extra on hand has been helpful.

To find out more about dishwashers, some common faults, and the best dishwasher available in the UK, explore In The Wash further. We have all the latest dishwashers and some solutions to common faults with dishwashers that you may need.