A water softener cleaner is an important accessory anywhere a water softener is being used. It is the powder or liquid that aids in water softener maintenance and efficiency.
Consider it the engine oil of the water softening system, without which your water softener will struggle and eventually wear out prematurely.
There are several brands of water softener cleaners out there that will get the job done, but to get it done remarkably, you need one that is best suited to your water needs.
We shall go ahead and review five of the best water softener cleaners currently available in the market to give you a taste of the features and later break down the criteria we used to come up with the list.
The Best Water Softener Cleaners of 2021
1. Out Filter Mate Softener Cleaner and Salt Booster
This is a powerful water softener cleaner recommended for city water applications. It removes build-up and other water contaminants, restoring your water softener to its peak efficiency. It extends its life. It comes in powder form, and you need to dissolve it in water before pouring it into the water softener.
It is packed nicely in an easy-to-use container that makes accessing your water softener convenient.
- softener cleaner recommended for city water applications
- Removes light iron build-up (
- Provides continual softener cleaning and improves salt performance
- Makes water taste better
- Regular use maintains softener performance and extends softener life
2. Pro Products Softener Mate
It enables the salt in your water softener to perform better through its soluble properties that suck out all contaminants from your resin tank instantly.
It cleans oil, manganese, silt, dirt, metal particles, and limited iron, restoring your water softener and extending its life
You can add it directly to the brine well as a dissolved solution or layer it in the salt storage tank between bags of salt for continued cleaning every time there is water softener rejuvenation. This allows it to be applicable even when the water softener has no brine well.
- REMOVES COMTAMINANTS: Softener Mate is formulated to remove limited iron, manganese, silt, metal particles and organic compounds that cause softener inefficiencies. Used regularly, Softener Mate can improve the performance of your water softener.
- RESTORES EFFICIENCY: Regular use of Softener Mate softener cleaner is the perfect product to clean water softeners with municipal water sources. Softener Mate helps to maintain the life of the unit and will restore the softener back to peak efficiency.
- EASY TO USE: Softener Mate can be used two ways. A dissolved solution can be added directly to the brine well, followed by regeneration of the softener. It can also be layered between bags of salt for a continuous dose of Softener Mate with each softener regeneration.
- EXTENDS WATER SOFTENER LIFE: Use Water Softener Mate to restore, maintain and protect your water softener investment. When used regularly, it cleans organics, oils, dirt and limited iron that can’t be removed with salt alone, extending the life of your water softener.
- ENHANCES SALT EFFECTIVENESS: Softener Mate helps the hardworking salt in your water softener work even harder. The unique blend of chemicals cleans the softener while enhancing the current performance of your softener for the best possible water quality in your business or home.
3. Rust Out Water Softener Cleaner
This water softener cleaner was manufactured with high iron levels in mind. It combats rust and iron and converts them into a clear solution that easily rinses away. Consequently, the life span of your water softener is increased, guaranteeing quality soft water in the process.
It is versatile and can be added directly to the brine well or the salt storage. It restores your water softener performance by reducing the load of minerals in it. It is a fine testament to Pro Products innovativeness and all-inclusivity.
- Manufacturer: Pro Products
- Country of manufacture: United States
- Package Dimensions: 8.81" L x 4.38" W x 2.13" H
4. Res-Up Water Softener Cleaner
It is used to clean resin beds and restore the resin capacity by breaking down the elements and allowing the resin to absorb more minerals. It keeps the resin bed free from iron fouling and mineral deposits and reduces hard water build up in the water softener controls and components.
It can be added directly to the brine tank tube or fed through a Res-Up feeder for a more consistent cleaning of the resin bed and softener system. Res-Up feeders are purchased separately and are recommended because of their assured consistency in cleaning and protection.
The container has an ergonomic handle which makes it easy to pour, carry and store.
- 1 Gallon Bottle
- Cleans Water Softener Resin
- Restores Softener Resin Capacity
- Maintains Performance of Your Softener
- High Quality Cleaner
5. Res Care Easy Feeder Starter Kit
This is a Pro Products combination of a resin cleaning feeder and their Res Care resin cleaning solution. The easy feeder system dispenses the cleaning solution continuously to eliminate the metallic and organic pollutants that accumulate on the resin bed and your water softener’s control valves.
By reducing the water hardness and scaling, the kit prolongs the life span of your water softener. You still have the option of pouring the resin cleaning solution directly into the brine well or salt tank if you feel it is necessary.
Res Care is formulated to get rid of contaminants that can’t be removed by salt alone. It restores the softener beds and control valve parts, ensuring they are operating at their peak performance levels. The feeder system ensures your water softener is in a constant cycle of cleanliness.
- EXTENDS LIFE OF RESIN BED: Resin beds contaminated with metallic and organic compounds can cause inefficient performance or total softener failure. The Easy Feeder system dispenses Res Care resin cleaner continuously to restore and extend the life of resin beds.
- REMOVES COMTAMINANTS: Res Care cleans resin pores of iron, manganese, silt, metal particles and organic compounds that cause softeners to operate inefficiently. It’s a fast and effective way to prevent iron and mineral buildup in water softener resin and on control valve parts.
- EASY TO USE: While Res Care can be poured directly into your softener’s brine well or salt tank, continuous dosing with the Easy Feeder is the most effective way of keeping softener resin clean. The Easy Feeder drips approximately one ounce of Res Care into the softener daily.
- EXTENDS WATER SOFTENER LIFE: Res Care liquid resin cleaning solution improves the lifespan and performance of your water softener by reducing hardness and scaling. Protect your water softener and maximize its performance by using the Easy Feeder to dispense Res Care continuously.
- SAFE FOR YOUR FAMILY: With daily dispensing of Res Care through the Easy Feeder, you can be assured that the water in your home is clean and safe. Res Care is NSF certified to NSF/ANSI 60 for drinking water.
Hard Water Versus Soft Water
Water can be classified as hard if it has at least 60mg of dissolved calcium and magnesium. Many water sources provide some level of hard water with various concentrations of dissolved minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron.
These minerals contribute to some unfavorable qualities in the water that make it essential to remove them. The water tends to leave cloudy markings on sinks, bathtubs, showers, and your silverware.
It becomes hard to lather soap, and you suffer dryness and itchiness after bathing using this water. It also leaves mineral deposits as it runs through the system, which can block your pipes, showerheads, and valves or plug aerators.
These scenarios build up pressure on your plumbing system and may lead to severe damages. Your water-dependent appliances like ice machines, dishwashers, and coffee makers will also suffer a shortened lifespan.
The work of water softeners is to remove these minerals from the water, making the water ‘soft.’ They save you hours of cleaning up soapy water residues and scaly faucet heads and the cost of replacing prematurely ruined water heaters. They are a water filtration system for the entire house.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
Before we can fully appreciate the important role of water softener cleaners, we need to understand the workings of the water softener to be clear on why we need them.
The water softener has a mineral tank with specially formulated resin beads through which water is passed. The resin possesses a negative charge which attracts the positively charged minerals in the water. These minerals then stick to the water softener resin as the now softened water flows onto your water outlets all over the house.
The resins exchange their sodium ions for hardness ions. Over time, their capacity to soften water depletes, and they can no longer attract the mineral ions. At this point, the softener tank needs to be regenerated or flushed clean.
There is a separate brine tank for this purpose that is connected to it. Salty water from the brine tank flows into the softener tank for the rinsing cycle to commence. It washes the mineral deposits off the resin beads, and the regenerated water is flushed out along with the mineral deposits.
The brine tank contains salt pellets or potassium chloride, which slowly dissolve during the regeneration process and should therefore be added periodically depending on how much water is utilized. These are what it uses to wash mineral deposits off the resin beads.
The resin tank has a control valve at the point where the softened water leaves the tank. It measures the amount of water that has passed through your water softener tank for tracking purposes. It is used to program the auto regeneration interval.
The Role of the Water Softener Cleaner
Once the resin has attracted calcium, magnesium, iron, and all those trace minerals that make the water hard, its capacity to keep attracting them dwindles. Water softener cleaners have been fashioned specifically to remove mineral build-up. They replace the minerals with sodium ions.
If you discover that the resin beads have too much of one element, this is an indicator that the element is dominant in your water source. You may opt to choose a cleaner that targets the particular element.
The water softener is usually poured into the brine tank, but it can be fed directly to the salt tank when there is no brine tank. This should be done when the salt content is low so that it has maximum impact.
How to Determine Your Best Water Softener Cleaner
As much as they work similarly, certain considerations will make others more suited for your particular circumstance than others. The right cleaner depends on what you intend to clean, so you should start by testing the water.
Below are some of the qualities that set them apart from each other that will influence your decision.
Drip Feeder Water Softeners
These employ some kind of continuous feeding system where a reservoir is attached to the inside of your brine tank and keeps dripping into it. This means your resin bed will be cleaned every time there is a regeneration. It will be part of the salty water coming from the brine tank.
The consistent cleaning keeps your resin capacity high, and they can filter out those minerals more thoroughly. They use weak acids that dissolve iron by lowering their pH. They are not the best for removing iron fouling but are quite adept at preventing it.
Iron and Manganese
These are difficult metals to get rid of and require dedicated cleaners to take care of them; otherwise, they may end up getting deposited in your water softener tank, leading to all kinds of problems. These cleaners are usually labeled and should be easy to identify.
Powder Versus Liquid Water Softener Cleaners
The form in which the cleaner comes determines how it will be applied to the water softener. Powder cleaners should be given time to form brine before the cleaning process as it is not effective while in its dry state.
Value for Money
Take into account the complete package that you are getting with your purchase. It is not sufficient to just look at the price. If it has a drip feeder option, are you purchasing the feeder separately? Also, look at the quantity you are getting in comparison to the price.
Beyond metals, there are molds, bacteria, and algae, which can also attach to your water softener. The water softener cleaner should be able to take care of these impurities as well. They also affect the quality of water and have a direct impact on your health.
Most water softener cleaners are universal, but it should not be taken for granted that they will work with your particular type of water softener. Some are only compatible with their particular brand, and you should confirm this before you make your investment.
Odor and Taste
The water softener cleaner you use should not leave an aftertaste or scent. This water will be all over your house, and this can be irritating and nauseating.
Advanced Cleaning Technology
The water softener cleaner with the ability to get rid of the most impurities is the better option. Its cleaning ability should cut across as many metals, microorganisms, and dirt as possible. This ensures you don’t have to invest in multiple cleaners for every vice.
Ease of Pouring
Some cleaner containers are not ergonomic at all. They are either too big or lacking convenient handles with which they can be poured. This action requires a bit of precision, and there can be losses if you are unable to aim correctly.
Water softener cleaning is a practice that should be engrained in your household routine as it has far-reaching implications on the quality of water that you will use in your house. The effort involved is negligible if you weigh it against the benefits.
Still have questions when it comes to finding the best water softener cleaners? Read through our brief FAQ below for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.
What are the most trusted softener cleaner brands?
Pro Products LLC: Established in 1995, the company is approaching three decades of providing reliable and cost-effective water solutions. They are ISO 9001:2000 certified and are a trusted label in the industry. It is an American company that only hires the best water treatment, specialists. They have two highly reviewed softener cleaner products under their umbrella:
- Softener Mate
- Rust Out
- Res Care
OUT Filter Mate: This brand provides filter treatment and water conditioning products to enhance and support water quality equipment. They are a branch of Summit Brands who is a leading manufacturer of household cleaning products.
Is water softener cleaner necessary?
It keeps the water softening system working at its peak performance by offloading the mineral content and allowing the resin to absorb more minerals. It also removes deposits from the control valve parts, letting it function smoothly.
This level of efficiency increases the lifetime of your water softening system, guaranteeing you receive full value for your investment.
Some manufacturers require you to use water softener cleaners to maintain the warranty of your water softener.
Can I put vinegar in my water softener?
Vinegar has been used as a water softening agent for a long time. You can use it to clean the water tank as it will not harm your water supply. It leaves an aftertaste for a while, though, but that depends on the kind of vinegar you are using.
What is water softener resin cleaner made of?
The most common elements are butanone and acetone, which are solvents that can dissolve other materials, allowing them to be great cleaning agents. They also have some form of acid in their DNA, like acetic acid, allowing them to lower pH and dissolve metals.
How do you keep your water softener in top-notch condition?
Modern Water Softeners are generally self-maintaining. Here are a few tips for extra care:
- Clean the venturi valve– This is responsible for the suction motion that moves brine from the brine tank into the resin tank during regeneration. Occasionally dirt gets stuck in it, and this could hamper the operation of the whole system.
- Use a Resin Bed Cleaner– As much as the system is self-regenerating, every once in a while, the water softener will become polluted by metals that the normal salt can’t get rid of. A water softener cleaner provides that extra thoroughness.
- Be Extra Careful with Your Choice of Salt– Look for the highest purity level in your salt because they are least likely to leave residue in your storage tank. A muddy tank will have less softening efficiency and is more likely to leave impurities in your water. Evaporated salt is the purest, followed by solar salt and then rock salt.
- Watch Out for Salt Bridges– This occurs when a large crust forms in the brine trunk, preventing the salt from dissolving in the water to make brine. The resin beads can’t function without the brine as they will lack the capacity to attract ions.
How often should you clean your water softener?
The accurate answer is every time, it needs to be cleaned. The variables include the volume of water being used and the water level, and the type of hardness. Some metals like iron are tough to remove with just salt and may force you to clean your water softener more than others.
The higher the level of hardness, the more you will be required to clean it. If you use more water, the cleaning cycle automatically becomes shorter.