Am I wrong to think I shouldn't have to prewash b4 DW?

lmrinc_gwFebruary 28, 2012

When I was growing up, my parents renovated our kitchen and that's when I was old enough to load and unload the dishwasher. My mom never told me to pre wash/ rinse all the dishes by hand, just to load them. It was an older model kitchen aid probably higher end for the early 90's. It had a rinse/hold button and I used that all the time when I would load the dishes when it wasn't ready for a wash yet. They always came out perfectly clean, and never stuck on food.

Not until we moved into our first apartment did I ever realize all dishwashers were not the same. I would run the rinse cycle and my husband, who was used to cheap dishwashers, said I had to wash them all by hand b4 loading them.

I thought that was bs because what's the point of a dishwasher if you have to wash them before?!

Anyways, when we bought our house and renovated it 5 years ago, we bought a fancy , consumers best LG integrated smart DW. I tried to pretend I loved it but I have loathed it ever since because my husband is proving me wrong. So much stuff comes out with little dried on bit of food, water spots, and weird streaks of I don't know! I have tried every detergent and Jetdry like product.

I'm feeling ridiculous but I want a new DW! After buying a Miele w/d I'm in love with their products.

Am I crazy to want a new dishwasher or is this just how they all are?

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Your dishwasher is not operating as it should. (I am assuming you've chosen the correct cycle.)

Usual culprits are 1) inadequate water-fill 2) water not heated to 120F or above during the cycle 3) washer-arms not pressurized/rotating adequately....which is usually a function of #1 and 4) obstructed drain path. All are easy to diagnose.

Not there; don't know; not saying I do. Do know your machine isn't working right. If you fix it so it is working right, the problems you described will go away and stay away. Even the cheap ones work fine. You're upscale model is certainly capable of the performance you expect.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 5:03PM
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Could it be your water?
We have really hard water... Jetdry helped a little... but not enough. I tried the citrus packets... again... it helped... but not enough.

Now I pour about 1/4 cup of vinegar in the bottom *after* the soup has dumped (after the first rinse cycle). Dishes come out clean and without baked on food.

My husband was skeptical - but even he is convinced it works.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 5:05PM
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I've run across repeated references by both consumers and service techs that the best current dishwasher detergent is Finish Quantum Powerball tablets. Have no experience with it, I can't use tablets in my dishwasher. I get fine results with Wal-Mart GreatValue powder, spiked with STPP. Also have been using up four boxes of old-style (with phosphates) Cascade Complete (with enzymes), and I bought a case of institutional Cascade (with bleach and phosphates, no enzymes).

Rinse aid does nothing specific to help cleaning, it dispenses in the final rinse when the detergent is gone.

I've never prewashed (scrape, yes ... prewash or prerinse, no) with any dishwasher, from the family's 1975 KitchenAid to my current F&P DishDrawer. The only unsatisfactory unit was an el-cheapo 1980s Frigidaire that was in my first house. It didn't have an effective filter, instead had an alarming number of water changes in an attempt to flush away food residue ... to no avail when ground beef was left on everything, so I got rid of it pretty quick.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 5:38PM
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I run occasional rinse cycles, but always choose the Soak cycle, which is the strongest because all of the other cycles make the DW sound like a mini helicopter accompanied with a high whistle sound.

I checked the sprayer arms and they are not clogged, and I took apart the bottom filter and nothing seems to be wrong. Our water is hot enough and I use use vinegar at the bottom of the tub. We have a whole house water filter that needs the secondary filter changed every 3 months and you can tell when it needs changed!

What else can I do to make it operate properly?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Clogged (or not clogged) spray arms are not the entire story. If the overall water fill level is low, the pump will be starved for water and not provide strong spray through the arms even if they're not clogged. Have you paused the machine and observed the water level during operation? Low water fill can be caused by a clogged debris screen (mineral deposits, sand) in the machine's water valve. Only way to clean that is remove and disassemble the valve (if it can be disassembled, some have to be replaced).

Some dishwashers have a secondary filter or food grinder screen IN the pump (separate from a visible/accessible filter in bottom of the tub. This secondary screen can get clogged with debris such as stray paper labels, bone or glass fragments, fibrous food residue and block the pump from getting a good feed of water.

The only way to confirm your water supply is hot is to run your kitchen faucet for several minutes with a thermometer in the stream to check the temperature. How far is the dishwasher from your hot water tank? Keep in mind that dishwashers nowadays don't take much water on a fill, sometimes only 1 to 1.5 gallons. If your water heater is a long distance away, the water AT the dishwasher may not be hot until several gallons have run. A way around such a problem is to always run the kitchen sink faucet until it's hot immediately before starting the dishwasher.

Personally, I found that running a Rinse/Hold cycle causes more odor from standing dishware left wet and dirty, along with the smutzy water left in the machine's pump after a single rinse of dirty dishes.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 6:15PM
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"Our water is hot enough ..."

Not talking about your water heater or water temperature at the tap. Talking about in the machine when it's running. Easy to measure with cheap quick-read thermometer late in wash cycle.

No matter how hot your tap water is, the mass of the machine's walls and the dishes inside will bleed the heat out of it dramatically. (Check it yourself. Open the door a couple minutes after the first cycle begins spraying. You'll find barely-warm water in there.) It's the machine's job to bring the temp back up.....typically to 120F in-operation. Many (most?) machines have additional cycles that will boost to higher temps. If your machine's heater isn't doing that, the water in the machine will not get hot enough during the cycle, your detergent won't work right, and performance will suffer.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 6:57PM
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".....always choose the Soak cycle, which is the strongest because all of the other cycles make the DW sound like a mini helicopter accompanied with a high whistle sound."

I am suspicious of this. I'm not familiar with your particular machine but your description makes me wonder if this "soak" cycle is not a normal wash cycle at all but, perhaps, a pre-wetting cycle only. Not sure what you mean by "strongest" either but if all the other cycles make noise -- which would be the noises of the machine running -- and this cycle doesn't, I am suspicious. What does your manual say?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 7:26PM
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There may very well be omething wrong with your machine(a defect, not a design issue) but I support the purchase of a brand new mile! :). Then you can be as happy about your dw as your w/d. (Kidding....sort of)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:47PM
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If you've been around here long, you'd know Miele DW owners have had their share of troubles, too.

There's something missing in LMRinc's story. I'd like to learn what it is.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:07PM
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I never rinse my dishes and never run rinse and hold cycle. I frequently leave dishes for a week and never have any problems. I have a KA dishwasher and now use Finish Quantum. There's obviously something wrong with your DW. You're right - what's the point of a DW if you have to wash them first.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 11:44PM
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Does the LG DW in your house have a hard food disposer? If not, it likely has a filter system. Have you emptied the filter? An overfull filter can result in food bits getting thrown back on the dishes and getting stuck on during the dry cycle. From my prior experience, I don't trust a DW without the hard food disposer because I find they tend to leave bits of food here and there on the dishes.

Are any of your spary arm holes blocked by bits of trapped food or other debris? We had that once in a rental house and the dishes always came out with bits of food on them from inefficient water spray.

How do you stack your DW? If improperly stacked where the water can't get to every surface, bits of food will be stuck on. There used to be a thread on GW about how much you could get into a DW and everyone would post pics--some had the absolute worst stacking techniques & I know not all those dishes came out sparkling clean.

We scrape excess off our dishes before stacking in DW, but no pre-rinsing. We have used Cascade Complete and Finish Powerball in the little rectangular packs (not the tablets) with any of the rinse agents and very rarely have any problems. Our DW also has a hard food disposer, so any food bits get ground up and drained away. In our old house, Cascade Complete worked the best--it was an older DW (about 10 years old), with a hard food disposer. In our new house, we have been very satisfied with the results of the Finish Powerball from the samples that came with DW and just continued using from there. Both work great even on baked-on cheesy casserole dishes.

So, I would recommend 1) Make sure you're stacking dishes so that water spray can get to all surfaces, 2) Empty the filter 3) Check your washer arm waterspray holes for blockages, 4) Change detergent to Cascade Complete or Finish Powerball packs, 5) Get a new DW with a hard food disposer.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:54AM
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No need to cough up big bucks for a Miele - we have a KitchenAid that we bought when we moved into our current home about eight years ago, and it works like your old one did - very efficient, with a built-in disposal, no need to prewash the dishes. We got a mid-level one with a stainless interior and it's held up beautifully. Plus it's quiet enough not to interfere with conversation at the kitchen table eight feet away.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 9:29AM
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Thanks for all the responses. I took apart the bottom to see if there were any over fill of the filter and to see if anything was stuck in the heating element or disposal hole...there was something at the bottoms of the heating element but I don't think it was interfering too much. I ran an express cycle with citric acid and then ran a full load with a normal cycle and there was no whistle sound. It comes and goes though. The dishes still came out just as filmy and with bits on it still.

The soak cycle is an extended wash's 3 hours! There is always enough water at the bottom of the tub after I start it but I haven't taken the water temp yet.

Should I just call a service man?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 1:09PM
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"Should I just call a service man?"

I'm going to recommend it. From your posts, it appears to me you're in a confusing place. I am certain your machine is capable of providing the performance you expect.....provided it's working as it should, which it obviously isn't. I'd enjoy being there and noodling the thing out, but I have little doubt any competent tech can make it right. DW's just aren't that complicated.

To speed things up, I'd get your appointment first, then time things so that you can show the arriving tech a fresh load of not-cleaned dishes first thing. Tell him the cycle you used and how long it took and by his seeing the disappointing result he should be able to focus quickly.

From what you've written so far, I'd be looking most closely for obstructed drain path and too-cool water but it's always dicey to throw this stuff out at cyber-distance.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:07PM
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When I load mine, I spray the dishes with the sprayer. What comes off, comes off. What stays goes into the machine. I do this with Hot so that the water is hot once I start the machine. If I don't let the hot run at the sink, the water in the machine will be 50f since the water line runs under the floor (slab). It takes about 2 min for the water to run hot.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:16PM
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The dishes coming out filmy and with bits has a familiar sound -- detergent sometimes has been the culprit, even in Mieles.

Which detergent? How much per load?

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:24PM
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LMRinc, I share your frustrations. I had a late 1980's KitchenAid and it worked for more than 25 years. I never had to prewash, and seldom had any "rejects" or stuff stuck on it. With my kitchen reno in 2009 I bought a high-end Electrolux, and have hated it from day 1!!! It left stains, stuff stuck on dishes, even stains on the stainless steel tub door. I experimented with stacking differently (it doesn't even hold as much as the old KA, though), and tried various detergents. I increased the level of rinse aid, too. Eventually, I ran a dishwasher cleaner through it a few times. That really helped get rid of the stains. And then I switched to Finish powerballs, based on what I'd read about them. They do a better job than the Cascade powder does. I have fewer "rejects" now. I do regret not buying a new KA at the time of the kitchen reno, though.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 3:28PM
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One more thing to check - do you have an air gap or a high loop in the drain hose. An air gap is a little metal thing on your counter top and a high loop is just as it sounds - it's a high loop in the drain hose that goes from the dishwasher to your disposal/drain under your sink. Without one of those, it's possible that dirty water is backing up into your dishwasher.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 4:51PM
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When we purchased the current house in 1996, it had the original GE builders grade dishwasher from 1985. It was very loud and didn't clean well, so we never used it. When the kitchen was remodeled in '06 we went with a new GE Profile dishwasher, as we also were buying a GE washer & dryer. That dishwasher only lasted us a year and was repaired several times (rolling racks and noisy water intake valve), but it cleaned fine. We replaced it with an Electrolux Wave-Touch, but only had it 60 days due to installation issues that could not be resolved, through it cleaned better than the GE.

We were then without a dishwasher for about 2 years before we got a Miele Diamante Plus in 2009. In the two years that we've had the Miele, it has cleaned everything well. We don't pre-wash, but do rinse some dishes, pots/pans in the sink so piece of food would go in the garbage disposal, but we don't wash them with soap. On occasion, we will soak and hand-wash an item that may have heavy baked-on food, but that's like once or twice a week. Regardless, on the Miele we use the Normal mode or the Pots & Pans mode and everything comes out clean. Only use the China/Chrystal mode two or three times a year. The Express mode we don't use, since it only washes for 5 minutes and then does two 5 minute rinses (we found this 5 minute wash is not long enough to clean a full load). I check the bottom filter once a week and clean it out, but it hardly ever has anything in it.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 6:58PM
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The more I read here, the more I'm convinced to spend whatever it takes to keep my old Whirlpool going, if possible, when the time comes.

No, you shouldn't have to prewash. I use store brand detergent and the short cycle (does heat the water)and even glass pyrex casserole pans come out clean. (Almost afraid to say that and jinx it.)

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 11:10PM
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You might want to try experimenting with different detergents. They have taken the phosphates out and that
has made them less effective overall. You can still find
the old phosphated formulas at discount and closeout stores. I have a huge supply sealed up.

My dishwasher is a 1956 GE, I never rinse anything and sometimes the dishes sit for days, everything comes out

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 3:31PM
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Thanks again...I use 1 tablespoon of biokleen, or ecover....I am chemical sensitive so non biodegradables are not an option...but like I said I've tried everything before and it didn't make a diff.

I think I'm going to call a service man.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 3:22PM
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