How to Clean a Water Softener Brine Tank

A man works on a water softener.
  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-300
What You'll Need
Large outdoor wash tub
Power washer
Waterproof tarpaulin
Dish detergent
Steel wool pads
Stiff wire brush
Clean dry rags
Rubber gloves
Eye goggles
Waterproof footwear
Sand and gravel
Landscape cloth
24-inch high barrier fence

You can help your water softener brine tank keep your household water soft with regular, thorough cleanings. Clean your brine tank once a year. Follow the directions below to prepare your water softener brine tank for cleaning and for safe disposal of the used brine.

Step 1 - Plan Ahead for Cleaning

Allow the salt level in the tank to drop to a minimum level before cleaning, to avoid wasting fresh salt. This reduction process could take a few days.

Step 2 - Prepare a Sand and Gravel Bed for Discarding Brine

Dig a shallow pit in your yard, about 6 inches deep, and 3 feet on each side, well away from garden plants, shrubs, and lawn grass. Line the bottom of your sand bed with landscape cloth. Put in coarse gravel to a depth of 3 inches, and layer 6 inches of sand on top. These materials will trap the salts and brine while allowing the water to evaporate slowly. Install the barrier fence after dumping to keep children out of the sand bed.

Step 3 - Disconnect Electricity from Your Water Softener

Unplug the water softener and disconnect the brine tank before cleaning.

Step 4 - Take the Brine Tank Outside and Dump Contents

Lift off the brine tank cover and pour out the water, brine, and salt crystals into your prepared sand and gravel bed. Avoid splashing brine on flowers, grass, and shrubbery, as the high concentration of salts will kill plant life. Put a waterproof tarpaulin down beside your outdoor wash tub for the parts of the brine tank. Bring the power washer hose over to the wash tub.

Step 5 - Disassemble and Clean the Brine Tank Parts

Use the screwdriver to release the screws on the salt tank cover, and take out the brine valve chamber. Set the brine valve on the tarpaulin. Remove the salt plate, immerse it in cold water, and add dish detergent. Scrub the salt plate with the stiff bristle brush, and clean off any tenacious salt crystals with steel wool. Rinse the salt plate well, dry it with a clean rag, and set it aside. Use the power washer to rinse the inside of the brine tank. Scour its walls with the steel wool pads. Rinse the brine tank completely and lay it on the tarpaulin to drain. Dry it with rags before reassembling. Clean the brine valve carefully to avoid damaging it. Wipe the valve and its chamber dry with a rag and put the brine valve back into the chamber.

Step 6 - Reassemble and Refill the Brine Tank

Reassemble the empty brine tank in the house, starting with the salt plate at the bottom. Install the brine valve chamber, and reattach the tank lid. Reconnect the brine tank to the electrical power supply. Refill the brine tank with fresh salt up to near the tank top. Run the water softener for a full cycle so the brine tank can refill and recalibrate itself.