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How To Clean Your Water Softener's Brine Tank

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The brine tank of your water softener will need to be cleaned on an annual basis unless otherwise noted in the manufacturer's instructions included with the tank. Performing this kind of regular maintenance on your water softener can extend its life and prevent a buildup inside the tank that could lead to system inefficiency. The following step-by-step tutorial will help you empty and clean out your water softener's brine tank. 


  • Screwdriver
  • Scooper
  • 2 Buckets
  • Mild detergent
  • Scrub brush
  • Rag
  • Garden hose
  • Shovel
  • Landscaping fabric
  • Gravel
  • Sand


You should be checking the contents of your brine tank periodically, because you'll need to know when to add more salt. To make this job easier and to avoid wasting salt, perform this task at a time of year when you know that your brine tank is already low on salt and water. 

  1. Lift the lid from the brine tank.
  2. Use a broom handle to gently stir up the salt inside the tank. You may notice a large, solid clump of salt near the top of the tank. This clump is known as a "salt bridge." This hard clump of salt can prevent new salt from dissolving in the water at the bottom of the tank, dramatically reducing the efficiency of the tank. Use your broom handle to gently break up the salt until it falls into the bottom of the tank.
  3. Use a scoop to remove the excess salt from the brine tank to an empty bucket. This salt can be saved and used in your tank after it's been cleaned. 
  4. Use the screwdriver to disconnect the brine tank from the brine line, then remove the tank and save the nut.
  5. Take the tank outside to an area of the yard where nothing is growing. This is where you will dump the salts. 
  6. Dig a trench approximately as deep as the length of your hand.
  7. Lay landscaping fabric in the bottom of the trench.
  8. Fill the bottom of the trench with gravel.
  9. Line the top of the trench with sand. This pit is where you'll dump the remaining water softener salts and excess water from the brine tank. Dumping your salts in a dedicated area where no plants can grow will prevent the salts from poisoning the ground and killing plants on your lawn.
  10. Dump the contents of the brine tank over the pit.
  11. Use a scrub brush to scrub out the remaining debris from the tank. 
  12. Wash the tank with mild detergent mixed with warm water. Use a rag to wipe down the insides of the tank.
  13. Rinse the interior of the tank with a garden hose.
  14. Take the tank back inside and reattach the tank to the brine line using the nut you saved. 

Following these steps, your brine tank should last for many years. For more information about how to clean your brine tank, contact a soft water appliance specialist, like Aquamagic Water Softeners.