Beyond Desperate, For "Presentable" Dishes

OneBigMessJanuary 5, 2013

Since we moved.. I've been fighting with our "newer" dishwasher for almost a year now.

I've Tried everything...

Cascade Gel- Seems to do the best job, what I'm using now. It leaves all our flatware clean, and keeps our glasses looking okay (they get cloudy every one in a while, and I have to wash them with vinegar)

Finish Gel- Okay at best.. leaves more food residue on everything, then the Cascade Gel did.

Cascade Powder- Left white spots on every plate, and left deposits on our glasses.

Finish Powder- Did a better job at cleaning, however, it left spots all over the plates and *silverware*, as well as leaving MORE residue on our glasses.

Finish Power Ball- Did the best job out of everything we've used, however, left marks on flatware and residue glasses.

Cascade "Complete" Pacs (With Dawn, not All-in-One)
Does a pretty good job, at cleaning our break fest (Eggs, or Oatmeal) that the Gel can never get off. However.. the two glasses I threw in, went from looking good, to cloudy-ish after the wash.

Cascade "Action Pacs" with Dawn
Did just as good of a job, as the complete pacs.. however, our glasses were still cloudy-ish looking, and after multiple washes, some of my silverware started looking spotted.

Honestly.. I really dislike powder, as I can open the door of our Kenmore "elite" (2007 model) and there will still be undissolved powder sitting in the detergent door, after the wash has been 30-40 minutes in. The Gel in my opinion, seems to dissolve faster and clean better, however, I can never throw anything with oatmeal or potatoe in, as it never comes clean.

The Pacs.. well, I feel better about the Cascade Pacs (instead of Finish Tablets), as I used them forever at our last house, and they always dissolved most of the time. Sometimes they'd leave a blueish gel in the dispenser from the Dawn., but they don't simply work anymore.

Well.. the old tub I had of them, did Work. However, I ran out of that batch a while ago.

I'm very curious.. what do you guys suggest? I think it's this Phosphate free thing, that's making the machine not work so well, and I think I can confirm such theory, because the "Institutional" Finish I brought home from our time share, is doing a much better job.

Also.. Cascade Complete. Many of you say, use 1-2 Tablespoons of the Powder, however I can't find the powder anywhere here. Just the Gel bottle.. is it anywhere as good, as the powder stuff?

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I use powder, I think it does a better job, for instance, the liquid removed the red of lipstick but the lip imprint was still there. Other than that I don't have a problem getting any thing clean. I did one time have spotted dishes and don't know what I did or didn't do, never happened again. I read an article in our local paper that said not to rinse your dishes, just scrape off the chunks. The residue on the dishes gives the cleaning substance something to cling to. For some reason I need to set my glass ware in the sink with water and vinegar about once a year. Don't know why unless it was the removal of phosphates, never had to before. Next time I will try a small bowl of vinegar set in the bottom of my dishwasher and see if that makes them sparkle. I don't use vinegar regularly in the dishwasher or my clothes washer according to my book it is hard on the machines. I use cheap brands for the dish washer and clothes washer and can't tell any difference in the results.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 7:19PM
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What kind of dishwasher do you have?
How temperature is the water going into the dishwasher?
Do you use a rinse aid?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Also, is it well water or city water?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 8:47PM
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It's a Kenmore Elite machine. It's pretty simple model, with a top rack and and bottom, opened from one door (It's not a drawer model)

It also has the digital button thingies, instead of the turn thing, to start the load.

And I use Jet-Dry.. with the compartment filled completely, on max dispense. Turned it up to 6.. hearing I would get better results.

And to answer the other question, I think it's city water.. however.. I've heard it's "high" in "mineral contents", which I think is hard. Please forgive me, I'm not the most intelligent person when it comes to these kind of things..

I always hit the "High Temp" button, and use "Pots and Pans".. I also scrape all the food off, and load them straight in, as the manual says to.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 10:57PM
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Just bit the bullet and buy a case of Cascade Institutional (WITH phosphates.) Just google it and you'll find the sites that sell it. It's about $50, give or take, with shipping (look for a coupon.) You get six enormous boxes, and from the first load, your dishes will be PERFECT again.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 2:34AM
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White vinegar in the rinse dispenser will keep dishes from being cloudy from mineral deposits.

Vinegar has never caused problems with my dishwasher or washing machine. I have older model machines.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 4:39PM
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I use the Finish packs - the ultra delux ones that cost an arm and a leg! They Re the only thing that will get dishes clean in my dishwasher. It's only 2 years old and was an expensive Whirlpool but really it's crappy compared to my old one. I tried everything on the market before the expensive Finish packs and nothing else got the dishes clean.

Sorry but I threw the box away, so I can't remember the exact name. They are half white, half blue and have a red ball on top. They are literally the most expensive item in the dishwasher area at the grocery store.

I also found it helps to soak dishes in the sink before loading the dishwasher. I hate to waste the water but it helps the dishwasher do a better job.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 11:17PM
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@mommabird.. I think your talking about the Finish Quantum things, or maybe the powerball tabs.

I've myself tried the powerball tabs, and was impressed, however.. it left these weird looking white streaks on many of my forks and spoons.

Maybe I'll try some Quantum Pacs

@blargirl.. Is there anyway I could get "institutional" Cascade in a gel sort of form? Anytime I use powder, it becomes a solid brick.. and sticks in the dispenser.. The only way it works, is if I manually take a knife and scoop it out during the wash, or add it in after the pre-rinse cycle (can't skip..)

I still haven't tried the White Vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser. Only thing that I wouldn't like, is if some glasses had a vinegar taste or scent to them. Besides that.. I'd love to stop buying all this JetDry .

I just want my dishwasher to work again :(

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 1:32AM
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Some things that can help:

Before you start the dishwasher, run water in the kitchen sink until it's HOT.

Clean the spray arms to make sure you are getting the full pressure spray. Soak them in vinegar if they have lime deposits.

Check the pump and the filter to make sure it's not partly clogged.

Don't overload the racks - make sure nothing is blocking the soap dispenser.

Try dumping 1 cup of vinegar in the bottom before you start the washer.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 11:04AM
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I hate my 3 year old GE dishwasher. I've had numerous visits while it was under warranty, and the tech explained that energy conservation requirements resulted in most machines really doing a pretty poor job. And digital controls? Never again if I can help it. This was already installed when we bought this townhouse. Give me back my Whirlpool that I had in the 70's. No scraping or rinsing, and everything came out clean as a whistle.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 7:07PM
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Barbara, that's what I thought until I got the Cascade Institutional formula WITH phosphates. Your machine works fine; it's the DETERGENT that's the problem.

That's why Cascade's CSRs give you all this crap about white vinegar, don't overload (meaning put six spoons in the cutlery rack), use hot water, etc., etc. Anything to make up for the fact they took phosphates out of dishwashing detergent for consumers while keeping it IN the formula for restaurants, cafeterias, etc.

You need clean dishes in a restaurant. You apparently don't need them at home!

Just google Cascade phosphates and you'll see all the places where you can buy it.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 7:27PM
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OneBigMess: I'm sorry, I'm not aware of any gel detergents with phosphates. I generally stayed away from gels since I was told by several appliance repair guys that they were bad for dishwashers.

Try this: order a pound of sodium tripolyphosphate, otherwise known as STPP (it's what they put in Cascade, not TSP, as some sites say.) STPP leaves no deposits on dishes or glassware, while TSP can and is much harsher.

A pound of STPP by mail costs about $12 with shipping. You add about a teaspoon to your detergent (it'll work with a gel, too.) You can also add this to your washing machine. It's great on reviving colors and making clothes detergent work better.

If you get a pound for your dishwasher, it'll last you forever at a teaspoon a load. It will clean your dishes, clean your dishwasher, and make everything sparkle.

I'm posting a link where you can buy STPP. Also, just google dishwasher and STPP. You'll learn a lot!

Here is a link that might be useful: STPP link

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 7:42PM
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One more thought.....we have spring water; we also tried just about everything. My glasses were never clear and shiny. What I found that works the best is to use about half the recommended amount of powder dishwasher detergent (we use cascade mostly) and supplement that with "Limi Shine". Walmart carries it...we also use about 1/2 the recommended amount. We now have glasses with no water spots, no cloudiness (Just Shine).

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 9:14PM
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I was told by the person who sold us our Wedgewood china to put the detergent in the bottom of the dishwasher (not in the little compartment) so that it washed during the first rise cycle. Then, the rest of the cycles were plain water. I run the sanitize cycle and add an extra rinse on top of that, also NO drying cycle. I use Finish Tabs.

We have softened well water and a seven year old Amana dishwasher. I have never used rinse agents, nor will I. I hate for my dishes to have any kind of chemical film or smell on them.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:58PM
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@blairgirl. Thanks for the tip. I'm going to buy some STPP, and report back with the results later. I'm also going to get some "Complete" gel (contains Enzymes) instead of the regular Bleach based stuff. Hopefully.. things will get cleaner :)

@Barbara I agree. My contractor grade GE dishwasher that was almost 9 years old, cleaned way more better then my new machine. However.. I think I was still using "Phosphate" based detergent at the time. I wonder how well it would have preformed without?

@Trinityklm My Kenmore came with some sort of notice, that said not to do that. Apparently the detergent will dissolve too fast, and will be wasted once the pre-rinse cycle is done and drained out.

@Lazygardens Thanks for the tips. I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 11:35PM
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Try Lemishine or install a water softener- it's hard water that causes that reside and reduces the cleaning power of detergents.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:47PM
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You mentioned that dishes with oatmeal and potato on them never come clean; then you mentioned you turn the temp to the hottest setting. While I hand wash my dishes; as a general rule of thumb "you wash oily stuff off with hot water and starchy stuff in cool water". Also with enzyme detergents hotter is not always better and can actually inhibit its effectiveness.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 1:53AM
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My Mother and one sister have both returned to hand washing their dishes. Both got fed up with their dishwashers. Something to consider...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:14AM
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Well.. I've been adding STPP with Cascade Complete Gel and everything is starting to look very clean.

I've put in, non-rinsed bowels of Oatmeal, and they come out spotless, our Flatware is not being covered in water spots, or whatever those white spots are, and our glasses look really clean.

The only think it doesn't do well, is on Tomato stains. It actually stained parts of the dishwasher door yellow. I'm sure it'll go away after a while, but I didn't like that.

@tinan I've heard different stories about Lemishine. Some say it's amazing, while other say it'll take the color or finish off dishes. Sadly, I can't really afford a water softener.

@jannie I wish I could actually have the time to hand wash everything. Sadly, I have 6 Kids, and our sink fills up everyday.

@molossermom I've always been told never to use anything but Hot Water. However, I'll have to try that sometime.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 6:27PM
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OneBig, I'm glad the STPP is working for you. I've also heard (if you bought a lot of it) it's great for clothes washing.

STPP was my next choice, and I may still buy it, but I bought a case of Cascade Institutional dishwashing powder (which has STPP in it), so I'm committed through six big boxes.

I used that on plastic stained with spaghetti sauce. That came clean. In fact, the interior of my dishwasher looks completely brand new.

Try this a few more times and see if it doesn't eventually make everything sparkling.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 7:50PM
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Well.. I was @ Walmart today, and found Cascade Complete Powder. I grabbed a box, and will try using it, with a teaspoon of STPP. I'm very curious to know, if it will work any better then the Complete Gel.

I'll report back later :)

Also.. a neighbor of mine, mentioned using 1/4 cup of Borax, adding it in, after the pre-wash cycle was done. Has anyone tried that? I've never used Borax for anything..

    Bookmark   January 24, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Hi, OneBig...

I use Borax all the time in the wash. I use it in place of Oxyclean for deodorizing. I find Borax is much less harsh on fabric than Oxyclean (and I'm an oxyclean fan), and it gets things white. I never tried it in the dishwasher, though.

I suggest you try one additive per load. If you put in too much stuff, you won't know what's responsible for whatever good or bad comes from the dishwashing.

The one thing I'd add is that Cascade Complete, which I used religiously for years, has the enzyme additives in it. Some people have said that that can cause problems with food sticking to dishes and glasses...but I'm curious to see how Cascade Complete works with STPP.

Please report back!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 3:04AM
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@Blairgirl, Wow.... The Powder is Amazing. I used 1 teapoon of stpp, and filled the rest of the detergent cups with the powder.. and guess what. Only the powder in the prewash cup dissolved completely, with about 20-30% of the main wash powder actually dissolving.

Even with that little detergent, everything came out Spotless, and Clean :) There was no stuck on Oatmeal, or Cereal on anything. The un-rinsed Egg Yolk on a pan completely vanished, and our glasses were film free, and clear.

I tried the same amount of detergent again, in another load, and it dissolved completely, surprisingly. (I didn't think it'd work, considering my DW hates Powder so much). Once again, everything was Nice & Clean.

I'm honestly very curious, to try the Powder without any additive whatsoever. It seems very powerful, and efficient by it self honestly.

Oh, and I haven't seen anything stick or redeposit to my glasses or dishes yet, however, if I do, I promise I'll report back.

Next Project.. Seeing what STPP does with Tide :)

This post was edited by OneBigMess on Tue, Jan 29, 13 at 0:03

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 12:02AM
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