Is it my dishwasher or my detergent?

marie26October 19, 2005

I have a dishwasher that is 2 years old. I find myself having to clean all the dishes before I put them into the dishwasher because they don't come out perfectly clean otherwise. Besides leaving some dirt at times on the dishes, there is a layer of residue (film) left on the plasticware.

Is my problem with the detergent? Which brand do you recommend? I have used tabs for the past few years and switch brands between generic and brand name.

Is there a "cleaner" that I can use for the dishwasher that might solve the problem?

Thank you for any advice.

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I have always liked Cascade. I have always rinsed my dishes well before putting them in the dishwasher. I understand the newer machines that use less water don't do as good a job as many older models and do far better with well scraped dishes. I wonder if your hot water heater is getting the water hot enough, and the soap brand may well be a problem. You should not be having problems with the machine only 2 years old. Are you following the directions as to how to load the machine?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 6:18PM
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I also use Cascade....but when you rinse your dishes before washing you are setting yourself up for etching and damage. Today's detergents are designed to work with food on the if your dishes are too clean going in, the excess cleaning agents have nothing to work on but the finish on your dishes and glassware.
Are you loading the washer properly? Do you have hot enough water? are you using the energy saver setting when you shouldn't be? and are you using enough detergent.....or perhaps too much and they are not rinsing well.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 7:22PM
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I am making sure that I load the machine properly. Sometimes, I wonder if it's even worth using the diswasher since I feel like I'm cleaning the dishes before putting them in.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 7:31PM
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Why don't you contact the manufacturer? Find their website online, and they usually have a "contact us" place so you could email them.

Also I know people who put a glug of vinegar in the machine before it runs. I've even heard of putting in a little (powdered) Tang orange juice.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 12:04AM
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I have heard of using lots and lots of Tang to clean the machine.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 3:30PM
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I swear by Cascade Complete and scraped (not rinsed) dishes. I run the water so it's hot before I start the dishwasher, too. The dishes always come out clean.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 6:25PM
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Is your DW a Euro model (Bosch, Asko, Meile) or a US make? How old is it?

Dishes should never need to be cleaned twice - and food residue issues are different from film ones. The former can be caused by a machine that is not working properly - too old, too cheap - in need of repair; the latter by hard water; the wrong DW detergent, and other things. Most end up experimenting until they find what works best for them.

We have a euro DW (Bosch) which uses 1/4 the amount of water and has far more cleaning power than older US makes, since it pre-heats the water, and uses a longer cycle. I scrape the dishes (sometimes) and that is it. I can put a pan with baked on lasagne or cheese in there w/o pre-rinsing and it comes out clean every time.

To keep the glasses from looking cloudy, I used to use a combination of cascade powdered and some kind of Rinse Aid. Now I just use Cascade complete - which is a combination of the two. I never use liquid DW detergent as that is against the manufacturer's recommendations.

I don't blame you for being frustrated. You should NOT have to put up with what you are going through. My MIL was doing the same thing for years and years until I talked her into replacing her DW. She is glad she did. At age 85 she finally discovered for the first time in her life that DW's do serve a purpose and do not make you do everything twice.

You may want to post on other forums, such as the appliance one - and tell them what exact make and model or vintage DW you have and see what the experts say.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 3:01PM
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I have a Kenmore dishwasher. I assume that it is 2 years old because the rental house that we are in was built 2 years ago. But I have learned that the owners of this house do find "out of box" items. For instance, the microwave oven that we had didn't work properly and they replaced it with one that didn't even come with a manual. They also claim never to have had a manual for the stove. We are on a well and I don't know if that makes a difference.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 4:51PM
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I tried Cascade 2 in 1 tabs and although I still do a quick rinse before putting the dishes in the dishwasher, I've noticed a big difference.

Rinsing the dishes first is a hard habit to break but I will have to try it.

Cheaper detergents won't work in this particular dishwasher so I've learned my lesson.

Thanks for all your advice.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 3:44PM
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Marie, The well might be your problem. Years ago when we had a dishwasher (and a well) there was a screen in one of the hoses that would all ways get clogged up with iron deposits and such from the well water. It was constantly having to be cleaned. Our solution, get rid of the dishwasher and get used to paper plates!
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 2:31AM
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Barbara Olson

I use Cascade.

We just moved and were having a hard time with our new dishwasher getting things clean. We set it to run the prewash and it works much better now. We've never had to prerinse and our old portable always got the dishes so clean. You may need to play with the setting a bit to determine the best cycle.

If you are on well water, I'm guessing you have hard water. You can take a water sample in a tupperware container to your local Sears, the water softener/water heater department (Dept 42) should have a testing kit. They can tell you if it's hard or not, and how hard approximately. If you have pretty hard water, the cheaper dish detergent brands probably aren't getting dissolved enough to do much good.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 4:56PM
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I am now running the dishwasher on a longer cycle and using the better detergent. But I'm still finding that if I don't prerinse, I cannot be guaranteed that the dishes will come out clean.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 6:00PM
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do you use rinseaid as well as cascade? I do, and my dishes come out really clean. I have had my Miele dishwasher for about 18 months now and wouldn;t be without it. It is hooked up to the cold water so heats the water it uses to the correct temperature. I don't rinse and just scrape.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2005 at 8:43PM
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I am now using the tabs that have a rinse in it.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2005 at 2:20PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

We have a Bosch dishwasher and I find that the tabs with rinse aid don't work. So I buy plain tabs, preferably non citric ones and use rinse aid. Everything sparkles with no spots.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 8:00AM
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I have the same problem. However, I just built a new house and have only used my Kitchenaid dishwasher for 3 weeks now. I use Cascade Complete but there is a white film over the dishwasher door and the dishes, and some of the dishes and glasses don't look like they were washed. Cascade says you don't have to prewash or prerinse dishes. I used a rinseaid today and I don't know how they came out yet. My manual said to run the hot water closest to the DW for a minute and test the temperature. It should be 120 degrees. It seemed to test at that. But would it be necessary to run the hot water each time before I run the DW? Doesn't sound right.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2006 at 11:12PM
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I use a rinseaid always. The times I ran out I noticed a big difference. I use added heat on my machine as well to boost the water temp. I believe the whole idea of having a dishwasher is to not have to hand wash the dishes before you put them in.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 9:10AM
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Nancy zone 6

Isn't it funny susanb, I have had the problem off & on for years with dishes coming out with sort of a film on them. I used a rinseaid, no dif. I tried the cascade complete & BIG difference. I was ready to buy a new dishwasher before the new detergent. Must be a difference in dishwashers.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 11:36AM
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I should give an update. I bought something that cleans the dishwasher. I ran that as well as a rinse aid. It made a complete difference in how much cleaner everything is. I am now using a tab with the rinse in it.

The solution was really simple.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2006 at 12:06PM
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there seem to be several different solutions to the same types of problems so i'll just add in my 2 cents on what happens here.

our well water has a fair amount of iron in it (we test it for several things about once a year and because our water softener pooped out several months ago, we had 3 different companies here this week and they tested the water for us too). everyone is in agreement that in spite of the iron, the water remains relatively soft but warn us we should expect staining in the laundry and inside of the dishwasher. (the iron is not a health problem.)

haven't found a problem in the laundry yet and yes, the inside of the dishwasher has always gotten streaky stains in it. a long time ago i bought "glisten" for that and it works great! but someone told me that citric acid works and i bought a jar of tang--much cheaper and also works great! i've never been one to "pre-wash" the dishes--just scrape off food leftovers and that seemed to be fine until we got a new dishwasher about 3 years ago. all of a sudden the dishes didn't look as good. as sheila and all the others said, hot water fixed that problem! we run the water in the sink until it's hot and then turn on the dishwasher. such a simple thing made an immediate difference for us!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 6:07PM
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Tell me more about the Tang! I just had a new well put in and the water has a lot of iron in it - more than the previous well. I used to use small amount of oxalic acid every 6 months or so - it would chelate the iron and take it away. Not so any more. Dishwasher is really looking wretched.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2006 at 10:50PM
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all we do is fill the pre-wash and regular wash soap dispensers with plain old tang and run it on a regular cycle (empty). perhaps you might want to use the heavy cycle but i'd just make sure the water from the tap is hot and then start the dishwasher. it really has worked great for us--good luck!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2006 at 3:05PM
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Bought the Tang - will post results in a few days....thanks so much


    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 7:03PM
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I called Kitchenaid and she told me that most likely my water wasn't hot enough. She said to run it a few minutes and test it (it barely got to 100 degrees). She said to run it before each wash cycle to make sure its washing with hot enought water. That has helped a lot but we still have a filmy residue on the glasses so I don't think the water is getting hot enough. I'm going to have my plumber check it out.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 6:37PM
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Just saw these posts but thought I'd add my 2 cents. I found Lemi Shine recommended on another forum. Since July 2010, there are new regulations about the amount of phosphates in the water. The result has been glasses and stainless flatware with a white film. I tried 1/2 Lemi Shine and half plain Cascade powder in my dishwasher and no longer have the problem. It's pretty inexpensive (less than $4 at Walmart) so overall I'm saving on my dishwasher detergent by a bunch, when compared to the newer "Complete" type detergents. No, I don't work for the company.... and don't usually review products. Just found this to be a really good one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Epinions - review of Lemi Shine

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 3:29PM
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Definitely agree that Lemi Shine is awesome. I had the same problem and completely solved it by adding a small amount of Lemi Shine to my detergent.

BTW, it also does a great job cleaning coffee pots and shower faucets.

Check out this site for more uses of Lemi Shine

Here is a link that might be useful: Dishwasher Film

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 11:30PM
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