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How To Clean Water Softener – 4 Professional Tips

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

Water softeners are great for households with kids or pets who love drinking from the tap.

They also provide a safe way to soften water without having to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into the water supply. 

Water softeners are great appliances that remove minerals from tap water.

They also reduce the amount of chlorine and other chemicals found in drinking water.

If you don’t regularly clean your water softener, however, it can become clogged or dirty over time.

This can cause your water to taste bad and even damage your pipes.

In this article, you will learn how to clean your water softener using tips from professional plumbers.

You will also learn how to prevent your water softener from becoming clogged and how to avoid damaging your pipes when cleaning the tank…

How Does A Water Softener Work?

How Does A Water Softener Work?

A water softener works by removing calcium and magnesium ions from the water as they pass through the resin bed.

The resin is made up of small plastic particles that have been coated with an ion exchange material.

When water passes through the resin, the calcium and magnesium ions bind to these materials.

These ions are then removed from the water and replaced with sodium ions.

The result is softened water that is free of mineral deposits. It also removes any residual chlorine or chloramines from the water.

In addition to being softer than hard water (see also ‘Hard Water Vs. Soft Water And Their Impact On Your Health’), softened water has better flow properties and does not leave behind residue on glassware or fixtures.

How To Clean Water Softener (4 Professional Tips)

Cleaning your water softener is a vital part of its maintenance routine. Even if you use a water filter instead of a water softener, you still need to clean the filters periodically.

Your water softener should be cleaned every three months.

However, if you live in a hot climate where the water tends to get very warm, you may want to clean your water softening system more often.

In the following sections, we have compiled 4 professional tips to clean your water softener. We hope that you find them useful!

Tip One: Clean The Resin Tank 

Learning how to clean a water softener (see also ‘How To Tell If Your Water Softener Is Working‘) resin tank is important because it helps ensure that your water softener stays working properly.

Over time, the resin inside the tank becomes filled with sediment and debris.

If this happens, water passing through the tank will no longer be softened.

Water softener resin tanks contain resin beads that absorb calcium and magnesium ions from water.

As the resin gets loaded with dirt and debris, the capacity of the resin decreases. Eventually, the resin will reach the point where it needs to be replaced.

In most cases, the resin tank will flush the beads to keep them clean. However, this does not mean that the resin beads do not require regular maintenance. 

Fortunately, you can purchase resin bead cleaners from various stores and websites. Although you will need to refer to the unit manual to determine the best one. 

Tip Two: Clean The Brine Tank 

Tip Two: Clean The Brine Tank 

Water softeners will often feature two tanks: the resin tank and the brine tank.

The resin tank contains the resin beads while the brine tank holds the salt solution used to soften the incoming water.

Over time, the brine tank will fill with sediment and debris. This can lead to problems like reduced efficiency and poor performance.

Learning how to clean your brine tank is extremely important for ensuring that your water softener continues to work effectively.

This can be done by removing the debris with a small shovel or hammer. 

In some cases, brine tanks can also form mold at the bottom of the container.

If this happens, then you will need to empty the tank and give it a thorough cleaning. You can do this using soap and warm water. 

Tip Three: Use A Bleach Cycle 

If there is mold in your water softener tank, then you can combat the problem using a bleach cycle. This is when you use bleach to clean the entire unit.

Bleach cycles are typically done once per year. They help remove any mold or bacteria that might be present in the water softener. 

You can buy bleach solutions online or in local hardware stores. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Also, make sure that you wear gloves when handling the bleach.

It is also important to refer to the unit manual when using this method, as some manufacturers do not approve of using bleach. 

If you want to clean a 9-inch tank, you will need to place one cup of bleach in the brine tank.

However, if you are working with a 12-inch tank, then 2 cups is the recommended amount.

When the bleach has been added, close the tank and activate the manual regeneration cycle. 

During this time, you should not drink from the taps, as the water could still contain traces of the bleach.

Instead, you will need to wait until the regeneration cycle has finished. 

Tip Four: Remove Salt Bridges 

Salt bridges occur when there is too much salt in the system. In these situations, the salt begins to form structures called bridges, which can block the water softener.

This can also result in the illusion of a full brine tank, which is why you need to be wary of buildup. 

Fortunately, the residue can be easily removed with a stick or shovel.

Because of this, you should make a habit of checking the brine tank for bridges, especially if the tank remains full for long periods of time.

Salt bridges are more common in new water softeners, as the system does not contain as much salt.

When the salt is allowed to sit for a long time it begins to form bridges. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Now that you understand how to clean your water softener, let’s take a look at some of your burning questions: 

Can You Use Other Products Instead Of Bleach? 

Of course! If you don’t want to use bleach, then you can substitute the product for another acidic liquid.

For example, many people prefer to use vinegar as a safe alternative to harmful chemicals.

Just follow the same method used for the bleach cycle but with vinegar instead. You can also use vinegar to scrub the inside of the tank during a deep clean. 

How Often Should You Clean A Water Softener? 

The frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, including the type of water softener that you have installed.

Some systems require less maintenance than others. 

However, most experts recommend that you perform regular checks on your water softener every six months.

If you notice mold or something strange, then you will need to check the softener and see if it needs cleaning. 


Water softening is an essential part of home plumbing. It helps prevent damage to pipes and appliances while making drinking water easier to manage. 

We hope that this article helped you learn about how to clean your water filter. We wish you good luck and happy plumbing!

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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