CHOICE membership

Rinse Aid & Dishwasher Salt

I appreciated the article on rinse aid in the September edition (I’m a bit behind). It was useful. I will start using rinse aid again.

I just had question about salt. Is there absolutely no need to use salt in dishwashers in Australia?

I am British and used to putting salt in dishwashers but I can’t even buy dishwasher salt since I moved to Australia.


On our recent travels to Europe, we also noticed that dishwaster salt is sold everywhere. I hadn’t heard of it before and also wondered why Australians have taken up the trend (or is it marketing a little like dishwater cleaners).

This is what Finish UK website says about it:

Possibly Australian water is a lot softer (less ions) than that in Europe.


Yes. In Europe, salt is used to regenerate the ion exchange resin in the in built water softener in every dishwasher. It is also not unusual for households to soften all their water that is used for washing (not drinking) using a household version of the same (my brother has one). I think the natural limestone rock means all UK tap water has quite a lot of calcium carbonate. Actually just checked and my water in Sydney contains “45 - 61 (mg CaCO3/L) : This is a measure of the mineral content (particularly calcium and magnesium carbonates) of your water. Based on this result, [my] water is considered ‘soft’.” Does no-one in Australia have hard water?


I’ve never heard of it … but …

Depends where you live …

‘hardness’ or Calcium Carbonate content in the tap water where I live is well over 200 mg/L - on par with the higher levels found in the UK, with our TDS nearly 450 mg/L … anything here that uses water seems to have a short lifespan - which is annoying given the price of things that use water, especially solar hot water services. (Other places ‘around here’ have hardness levels up toward 500 mg/L and TDS around 1000 mg/L, but they are typically a little less populated).

It’s interesting that companies apparently include in their design things that save the appliance from hard water in other countries, and yet my local ‘Hardly Normal’ stocks brands of dishwasher probably sold in those countries that do not include those same design features. Admittedly the parts of Australia that might need it are a very small market …

I’d love to find a reasonable and cost-effective ‘whole of house’ treatment that would lessen the impact on devices using/processing water …


My Miele dishwasher has a water softener. It is probably 15 years old tho. Not sure about newer models.

Amazon UK sell whole of house water softeners (see : They will not deliver here tho.

You need to be careful with whole of house water softeners because the increased sodium levels make the water less healthy and tasty (I think). This is why I never got one in the UK. My brother piped his kitchen tap directly for drinking but he still drank the softened water in his bedroom.


Indeed - I looked at them at one point, with the help of someone very qualified in the area, and came to the same conclusion - hence why I broadened it to ‘treatment’. Reverse Osmosis is another option, but for whole of house it is very expensive and wasteful. There’s a couple of other ‘options’ it seems, one which is a small insert into the mains water that has a grounding wire - many people here swear by them, but I can’t help but feel it’s complete BS as people with them seem to have as much scale in their kettles as I do :rofl: - I’d be happy to be proven wrong or learn of something that really works …

… we have 81 mg/L sodium out of the tap already …


It varies a lot. Tank water is very soft. Some city water supplies are fairly soft (Melbourne, Sydney) but those that draw water from rivers that are well downstream are harder. In Adelaide there are many complaints about water quality and high use of filters and bottled water. Ask somebody with long hair about washing hair in the city of churches. Apparently dishwasher salt is used there by some.


I’ve never heard of anyone using reverse osmosis for washing water. Even for drinking water it is rarely used unless you have pathogen issues. You want a certain amount of hardness (especially for drinking and even for washing with soap) and need to add it back in after reverse osmosis. I did quite a bit of research when I lived in London about how to treat water for my coffee machine and for drinking. I settled on a disposable ion exchange filter (Everpure Claris Ultra). The retailer of my coffee machine advised strongly against reverse osmosis. In the UK most coffee shops use a similar type of filter to what I did.


In our last three moves and houses we have installed a new dishwasher in each house. Miele x 2 and Bosch x1. Each model has been from the lower priced end of their product ranges. All came with a built in salt dispenser. The manual included instructions on how to use the dispenser and how to adjust the salt consumption rate. The first time we used the supplied bag of salt and set a minimal use rate. It lasted a long time, perhaps a year after which we ignored the warning light.

It appeared to make no difference to the wash using Townsville Ross River dam water with or without salt. The next house on and more treated quality town dam water in Caloundra and we did the same. This time we were told not to bother with the salt, but we did and when it was all gone it was not refilled. There was no difference.

House three is on roof water and a grey wate absorption trench, so no salt for this one. All works fine with a four in one eco tablet. The sales rep this time tried to sell us salt as it supposedly stops fats building up in the dishwasher system. After three years there is no build up of anything in the dishwasher. Although dishwasher salt must have magical properties when you consider the price in store!

I Wonder?


The Choice report (and product labelling) notes most dishwasher detergent tablets have rinse aid in them.

I added rinse aid to the dispenser for a few years but then decided to see if it made any difference atop what was in the tablet. I backed off on the default settings to the most minimal, and in all cases water did sheet more obviously on the dishes with that ‘bit extra’.

Most consumers probably use or not use rinse aid regardless if their detergent tablets already have it included, just because. In my area the default dishwasher setting for adding rinse aid (amounts) was clearly way too much atop what was in the tablets and in the end I stopped adding more since what is in the detergent tablet I use seems enough.


reviving this post…
I live in area with reasonably hard water (very high TDS, and water that is VISIBLY chalky a lot of the time) and Ive definitely noticed a difference using Rinse Aid vs not using Rinse Aid.

BUT, recently my FIL was saying he had been told by an appliance repairer that people should match their Rinse Aid brand to their dishwasher detergent brand for best results. Has anyone else heard anything like this?


Might to a marketing ploy. It is possibly remnds me of shampoo bottles that recommend the same brand conditioner on the label.

My understanding is the detergent and rinse aids are added to different cycles (detergent to wash cycle…rinse aid to rinse cycle). They would not interact with each other as the cycles are different…thus, a detergent brand won’t have any impact on a rinse aid brand.

Notwithstanding this, with the newer 5 or 10 in one tablets, some of these contain rinse aids which may negate the need for a separate rinse aid…I see that even for these tablets, rinse aids are still recommended for conditions where water has high salt (TDS) content. In such case where an additional rinse aid is required, the above would apply.

I can see matching a rinse aid with water quality used in the dishwasher…namely using one that is found to work better in assisting drying with the water quality in one’s home. Such would not be brand specific (same as detergent) and could be different to the detergent brands if it performs well.


Hi @KAAAAAREN87 (great username by the way), @phb is right - detergent and rinse aid are active in two different parts of the cycle - you can mix brands to your heart’s content. It’s also worth noting that for most dishwashers you can adjust how much rinse aid is dispensed each cycle, so if you’re in an area with particularly hard water you might get better results from turning the rinse aid up.