Dishwasher leaving residue

weedyacresJuly 30, 2010

X-post with repair & cleaning, since I don't know where the experts hang out.

I'll start with the problem:

Our dishwasher is leaving a white film on everything, and occasionally a couple pieces look completely unwashed (still have food on/in them). This film does not scrub off easily.

The backstory: Our dishwasher is about 2 1/2 years old (new with kitchen remodel) and always worked fine. A year or so ago we used some inexpensive detergent from Aldi that left a white film, so after a few uses we discontinued it and went back to Cascade. Turns out the Aldi stuff is phosphate-free. The Cascade didn't get the film off the dishes, but it did get them clean.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Things weren't getting clean like they should, and more white stuff. Examination of the dishwasher led us to scrape scale off/out of where the water pipes into the dishwasher and also the holes in the blades that spin around. Minor improvements, but we're still getting white stuff and things not getting clean. We've run it on the hottest water/pan scrubber cycle and that hasn't helped.

Any ideas as to where else we can turn?

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Try Lemi-Shine. It's in the grocery store aisle with all the others. You just put a little powder in with your regular Cascade or whatever. I had a brand new Bosch at our brand new house that after 4 months had a thick white layer of crud all over the stainless inside of the DW. I used Lemi-shine once, and it looks like brand new. My dishes had that white film too...especially my glasses. I love the stuff!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 9:30AM
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It's the detergent.

All the manufacturers had to remove phosphates this year for a July 1st deadline to be phosphate free.
One way to add phosphates back to your d/w is to use Glass Magic which I believe is about 12 to 13% Phosphate.
I started using Finish Quantum which is enzyme based and it does a pretty good job and I've been recommending it to my customers. I also recommend using a dw cleaner before you switch detergents. Something like Glisten or Dishwasher Magic are citric based cleaners and will do an excellent job of cleaning out detergent and hard water deposits in the dishwasher.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 9:57AM
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As others have said, your problem is the phosphate-free detergent. Complaints are surging and people are mistakenly blaming their dishwashers. Some are going so far as to buy a new dishwasher, which in some cases may actually fix the problem because the new machines have much longer cycles that do tend to work better with the modified detergent formulations, and typically use less water than older machines which may make for a higher concentration of detergent in the water ... but that shouldn't be an acceptable solution when there really isn't anything wrong with the old dishwasher.

Part of the problem is that the ingredient(s) that replace the missing phosphates apparently aren't as efficient at dealing with hard water, so a larger dose of detergent may be needed. In some cases of very hard water, the dishwasher's detergent dispenser may not be large enough!

Some people are adding the missing phosphates back by way of STPP (Sodium Tripolyphosphate, available at Usually about 1/2 teaspoon added to each dispenser cup with the usual dose of detergent will do the trick.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 2:47PM
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Hi all, well I tried the Lemi-Shine and guesss what?
It produced just as many suds as the dishwasher detergent I've been using.
I have no idea how I'm going to get rid of the old suds residue. I keep running the dishwasher empty, with no soap, and when I check throughout the cycle, its full of suds.
It was this way before the Lemi-Shine and after.
The repairman is coming for the 3rd time tomorrow, he never mentioned anything about the phosphates so obviously, they don't know.
I have always used the Cascade in the dark green box, now its a lighter green and it contains Dawn detergent.
I tried going to different places, and I can't find the old one. :-((

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 6:25PM
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I forgot to mention my dishes look just like the picture posted above. All my glasses are etched, and my bowls look lackluster. Like the finish was taken off. I use a rinse aid.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 6:30PM
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Lemi-Shine is largely citric acid powder and by itself shouldn't produce suds. I've used a full measured cup of Lemi-Shine to clean washing machines and there were no suds.

Automatic dishwasher detergent likewise shouldn't produce suds, although some of them do (particularly the liquid/gel products) depending on how they interact with the local water chemistry.

Overdosing of rinse aid can cause foaming. I believe the product instructions (and dishwasher user manuals) advise to wipe up any spills that occur when filling the dispenser.

You may have some other problem happening in regards to suds. Did you (or someone else) perhaps mistakenly fill the rinse aid dispenser with liquid dish detergent?

Etching of glassware is a different problem from hard water residue. Etching is permanent damage to the glass and does not wash or wipe off. It's caused by a combination of factors such as high water temperature and overdosing of detergent for the soil level and water condition (hardness) involved ... which is why dishes should NOT be prerinsed before loading.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 7:37PM
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Hi, thank you for your feedback. I went to the Cascade website, and read about the Cascade with Dawn, the product that replaced the dark green Cascade box.
Oh my gosh, all the reviews were all complaints, all with the same exact thing happening in all the threads under this subject. The answers to the complaints from the customer service was to use more powder (like even the two dispensers). Wow, that seems like so much! With the old Cascade I only used the closed dispenser.
I called the customer service number, and the gal told me to use either 2 cups of rubbing alcohol in the machine and run it on full cycle. Or to use 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and run the full cycle. Either or of one of the both.
Well I did the 2 cups of alcohol, it ran thru the whole cycle, no soap, water temperature was right, etc. Then after that I ran a rinse cycle.
Then I ran a full cycle without anything in the machine, and guess what?
Water full of suds. So, I called the repairman that was coming today, told him that the rep for Cascade had also said to check that the rinse aid dispenser might be leaking and told him to not come today. So he is going to order the dispenser part and when I receive it, he will come and install it ......then we will see what happens next.
So you might be right, could be the rinse dispenser might be leaking maybe even in between the panel. I checked it from the outside and I don't feel any residue, so just thought I would add this info. Thanks

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 6:39PM
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I forgot to add that the customer service rep for Cascade asked me to try the Cascade Action Paks.
Have any of you used them?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 6:42PM
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Try putting a 1/4 cup of cooking oil in the machine and running it. The cooking oil will kill the suds. This definitely works and I recommend it to customers with your situation all the time.
If you still have suds after that I would suspect that someone may have put dish soap in the rinse aid dispenser. I've seen it happen several times. Usually it Dawn dish soap instead of rinse aid. Both are blue and sometimes people get them mixed up. If this is the case you can "try" flushing the rinse dispenser out with water but most likely you will need to replace the dispenser because it's difficult to get all the soap out.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:10AM
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asolo you know your water quality -- hard/soft; how hard?

Have you measured the temperature inside the machine during the wash cycle?

Strongly suspect your issue related to either or both. Properly operating machines with properly-hot water and proper dosage of almost any DW detergent will not do this.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 8:11PM
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