Do you load up the dishwasher, add soap, let it run in anticipation of clean dishes only to open the door at the end of the cycle to find disappointingly cloudy glassware? Is there a white residue on the sides and in the basin of your dishwasher? Is the problem getting progressively worse? Are you afraid that your dishwasher just doesn’t clean like it used to?
The problem is not your dishwasher, it is hard water. If you haven’t seen the problem before, it is because recent environmental regulations have changed the chemical composition in dishwasher detergent by taking out phosphates, which are believed to pollute lakes by causing algae blooms. While the regulations may be a good thing for the waste water eliminated from your home, it is not for your dishes. In short, your old detergent didn’t cause this problem, but the new formulations of leading detergents do – so as you have restocked your dishwasher detergent supply, you have slowly allowed hard water deposits to collect in your dishwasher.
The good news is that there is an easy solution to this problem – if you are already seeing a film on the inside of the dishwasher or on your dishes, you will first need to clean the dishwasher, then ensure that the rinse aid dispenser is filled and, finally, add an additive to your dishwasher detergent.
1. Clean the Dishwasher of Hard Water Deposits
Before you can take preventative measures to keep your dishwasher and dishes from becoming covered with mineral deposits, you have to first stop the problem by cleaning the dishwasher. There are commercial products available to do this, such as Finish Dishwasher Cleaner. However, we have found that an equally effective method is to use household white vinegar. Simply run the dishwasher on a rinse and dry cycle. After starting the dishwasher, wait until the basin fills with water and then add 2 cups of white vinegar to the water and allow the dishwasher to complete its cycle. The acid in the white vinegar will take care of the cosmetic mineral deposits on the surfaces of the dishwasher and also clean the plumbing of the spray arms and nozzles.
A deep cleaning of your dishwasher like this should be done about every six months. Of course, consult with your dishwasher manufacturer to ensure that vinegar is safe to run in your model.
2. Add Rinse Aid
A rinse aid, such as Jet Dry, is an important part of the dishwashers final rinse cycle. The rinse aid promotes a sheeting action of water in the final rinse cycle and prevents it from forming droplets on glasses and dishes that dry as spots or streaks. In other words, using a rinse aid removes excess moisture and condensation from the dishwasher by allowing water to drain off of dishes in the final rinse cycle.
The rinse aid should be added to the dispenser (typically located on the door panel) and checked periodically to make sure that there is a sufficient supply.
3. Supplement Your Detergent With An Acidic Additive
The real secret sauce in keeping your dishes and glassware shining with each wash is using an acid based additive alongside your detergent in each cycle. We have found that Lemi Shine, a product derived from fruit acids and citrus oils, works best and is fairly inexpensive. Lemi Shine can be purchased at most big box stores alongside the dishwasher detergents. The Lemi Shine should be added with your regular powdered dishwasher detergent and a little goes a long way.
We recommend simply pre-mixing one 12 ounce bottle of powdered Lemi Shine with a standard 75 ounce box of powdered dishwasher detergent, such as Cascade. A hint to make this even easier is to pour the mixture into a reusable plastic container with a pour spout. Use the detergent mixture each and every time you run the dishwasher as you normally would the detergent alone and your dishes will shine with each and every load!
An easy, affordable, healthy, environmentally friendly remedy to a common household problem!