How Do You Sanitize A Water Softener? Guide, Architecture Practice Tips, Online Advice

How Do You Sanitize A Water Softener?

21 Mar 2021

A water softener is a popular household item used by many families. It removes magnesium, calcium, or iron from hard water, which could otherwise clog or stain your pipes. It has resin beads that absorb the minerals and increase the sodium level before the water reaches your bathroom or kitchen taps. A water softener supplies fresh water to your house throughout the day.

You will get many informative articles on the difference between reverse osmosis v/s water softener systems. Many of them talk about the benefits of using a water softener to tackle hard water. But few of them focus on the importance of cleaning it regularly to minimize the mineral buildup in the system. A regular sanitization of the softener is necessary to help your system perform at its peak.

Why Sanitize A Water Softener?

Sanitizing is required because the brine backwash cycle or simple salt does not remove the algae or bacteria that grow in the resin bed or the brine tank.

When Should You Clean Your System?

The best time to sanitize a water softener is when the softening salt level is low. Whenever your system’s valve body is exposed to air, you need to sanitize it. Remember, water softeners easily get contaminated. Even if the water is not infected at the source, bacteria might enter at any time and risk your health.

Usually, hard water has magnesium and calcium salts. Sometimes there are other contaminants like sulfur and iron, which allow bacteria to grow. Therefore, look out for signs like the bad taste or changed colors of the water and go for a bacteria test. However, you can stop the bacteria formation if you clean the water softener regularly.

Where Should You Start?

First of all, read the product manual to understand the type of water softener you have and its functions. Most of the latest models are easy to clean and maintain. These home appliances are designed to meet your unique needs. With timely but minimal supervision, you can make sure that your water softener works smoothly for years.

A Guide To Sanitize Your Softener

For years, chlorination was the most common sanitization method. However, the lingering aftertaste and smell of chlorine in the water are unbearable.

Sanitizing The Resin Beads

The first step involves sanitizing the resin beads. You can hire a commercial resin cleaner who will remove the mineral buildup with effective tools and techniques. There are two ways to sanitize the resin beads at home.

  • Unplug the softener unit, disconnect the valve and unscrew the bolt to remove the resin tank. You can clean the tank with water and mild bleach.
  • The easier method to clean your resin tank is buying an iron-removing product made for water softeners. This tool is available at any home improvement store. Follow the user guide on the manual, and you can easily clean your resin beads.

Cleaning The Brine Tank

Some softener models have sani-system packs inside the boxes they come in. These pre-measured packs are very easy to use. You need to empty one packet into the brine tank, and you are done.

Clean the exterior of your system with mild soap and warm water. Don’t use any harsh chemicals like vinegar, acid, or bleach which can damage the system.

How To Clean The Brine Tank Without The Sani-System Packs?

  • Empty the water tank and remove all the salt from it
  • Clean the tank’s interior with soapy and warm water. Ensure there is no brine residue remaining inside. Rinse well with clean water
  • Pour new salt into the brine tank. Read the manual to know which salt to use. Some models strictly require solar salt only.
  • Pour two-three gallons of clean fresh water into the tank.

How Often Should You Clean It?

Ideally, you should clean the entire system once every three months. Besides regular cleaning, if your softener has not been used for more than a week, sanitize it again before turning it on. Also, the quality of salt you use matters. There are times when insoluble salt might settle at the bottom of the storage tank. It could damage the system and reduce its efficiency. Therefore, remove the salt buildup as frequently as possible.


Sanitizing a water softener is an easy task. The best time to clean a water softener resin tank is when the salt is running a little on the low side. Buy your water softener wisely as there are so many brands available in the market. When choosing a water softener, make sure it’s designed to remove mineral buildup specifically.

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