The Dishwasher Blues (or Crusty Whites)

Have you been noticing your dishwasher isn’t performing as well as it once did? You are not alone. Due to the banning of phosphates in dishwashing detergent (except for commercial use) in an additional 17 states this past year, most detergent manufacturers have eliminated phosphates altogether. This, coupled with the EPA mandated guidelines for water restrictions on dishwashers, has resulted in crusty white build-up in the dishwashers, not so clean dishes and cloudy glassware.

We hope that the manufacturers will be able to improve on the currently available products, but until then here is some helpful info to improve the performance of your dishwasher. Consumer Reports has rated (out of 100 possible points) the following phosphate free products as the best available:

  • Finish Quantum (tablets) 78 rating,
  • Finish Powerball Tabs (tablets) 77 rating,
  • Cascade Complete All In One Action Pacs (pacs) 74 rating.

The highest rated powder was Cascade Complete All in 1 with a 53 rating. Previously, Cascade rated much higher in the “Excellent” category, but the changes have taken their toll.

In addition to using a recommended detergent, you should also do the following in order to protect the investment of your dishwasher and enhance its performance.

  • Use a rinse aid for better drying-Jet Dry or similar. Depending on how hard your water is, you will need to clean/descale the unit every 4-8 weeks.
  • You can use Jet Dry dishwasher cleaner, Lemi Shine cleaner or simply pour 1 cup of white vinegar in the bottom of an empty unit and run a regular cycle.
  • You can also use a tooth brush soaked in white vinegar to clean the nozzles on spray arms and any lift-out filters you may have. Check your manual.
  • If you need to eliminate any scale on your glassware, you can run a regular cycle (or a delicate cycle, depending on the glassware) using ascorbic acid (vitamin C powder) or Lemi Shine instead of soap. This will also help on the hard water deposits in the machine.
  • Lemi Shine is also effective, when added to the powdered detergent in a 50/50 ratio, in keeping your glassware clear.

Keeping your dishwasher clean, rinsing your dishes as best you can and keeping on top of the cloudy glassware should help the situation. So in conclusion, before you run out and buy a new dishwasher, try these remedies. Most likely, the issue is with the detergent, not the machine.