For many homeowners that own dishwashers, it’s a regular routine to fill the rinse aid and salt dispensers during our weekly load.

But if you have soft water, do you still need to use rinse aid?

The short answer is no. Soft water is naturally low in minerals, so it doesn’t leave behind spots and film like hard water does. So if you have a water softener installed, then you no longer need to fill it with rinse aid prior to running your dishwasher.

That said, most dishwashers come with a rinse aid setting and dispenser for a reason – it helps ensure that everything comes out of the cycle spot-free and sparkling.

Let’s explore why this is the case and how it benefits your dishwashing routine.

What Is Rinse Aid?

First off, let’s clarify what rinse aid does. It has nothing to do with rinsing your dishes; instead, it helps remove the water from them during the drying cycle.

When added to your dishwasher, rinse aid helps reduce spotting and filming on your dishes by reducing surface tension and allowing water droplets to better run off glassware and kitchenware.

It’s usually made of propylene glycol or glycerol and is added to the dishwasher after a wash cycle has finished.

This improves drying times and produces sparkling clean dishes. So, even if you have soft water, it might still be beneficial to use rinse aid in your dishwasher.

How Can Having Soft Water Help My Dishwasher?

Soft water usually has calcium and magnesium minerals removed, making it easier for detergents and other cleaning agents to dissolve in solution. Since soft water has fewer dissolved particles than hard water, there is less of a chance for dirt or minerals build up on dishes after they’ve been washed.

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This means that adding rinse aid isn’t necessary because the softened water is already doing its job.

Plus, your dishes will come out of the dishwasher cleaner since there are fewer dissolved particles in the water.

Having soft water not only eliminates the need for rinse aid but also makes washing dishes easier overall.

Without calcium and magnesium particles present in hard water, soap scum won’t form as easily inside your dishwasher. This extends its lifetime since there are fewer mineral deposits that can accumulate within its walls over time.

Softened water can also help improve the quality of your detergent since it dissolves more easily than hard water does – meaning less residue remains on your dishes after washing.

So Is Rinse Aid Necessary?

Rinse aid will make a noticeable difference in the amount of water left on your dishes after they’ve been washed. It will also help keep glassware looking crystal clear and free of annoying water spots or streaks.

Rinse aid also loosens food residue, making it easier for the dishwasher to wash away the debris. Most brands of dishwashing detergent come with their own version of rinse aid, but generic brands are available as well.

Some brands of rinse aid also contain waxes or polymers that create a protective layer over surfaces, helping them stay cleaner for longer.

While rinse aid isn’t absolutely necessary for getting clean dishes out of your machine, it definitely helps to improve their appearance and reduce water spots or residue left behind by food particles.

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The Bottom Line

Do you need a rinse aid if you have soft water? No, not necessarily.

Softened water can naturally reduce spotting and filming on dishes, which is usually the reason why rinse aid is added to dishwashers.

Having a functional water softener eliminates the need for filling up your rinse aid dispenser in addition to its other benefits like removing calcium and magnesium particles from hard water which prevents soap scum buildup in your dishwasher over time.

That said, if you don’t have a functioning softener or live in an area where the tap water is already quite soft then you may not need to use additional rinse aid at all.

Ultimately though, it depends on how often you use your dishwasher and whether or not you notice any spotting or filming after washing cycles so make sure to adjust accordingly.

About the author

I started working as a quality control manager with the Water Authority of Nassau County in 2005. After a few years, I moved into Water Waste Prevention, where I currently work as the production supervisor. I love my job and the people I work with, but most of all I love spending time with my family.