Why your dishwasher isn't working as well as it used to

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Jenny, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    For several months now I've been thinking our dishwasher needs replacing - it started with tarnished flatware, then gritty dishes and cloudy glasses. Then I read this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/science/earth/19clean.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=phosphates&st=cse

    I'm interested to know if anyone else has experienced this, and thoughts on environmentally green choices vs cost vs results.

    I also thought the discussion in the article and reader comments about the potential need to change our ideas about what defines "clean." After all, wasn't in the makers of dishwasher soaps who first brought us the phrase "squeaky clean"?
     
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  2. Veronika

    Veronika gold dust woman

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    I just thought I had a crappy dishwasher--good to know, yet frustrating.
     
  3. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    My FiL, an appliance repair technician, says this isn't particularly good for dishwashers either. Not sure why because I wasn't really listening to the conversation other than catching that part.
     
  4. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    That would explain a bit, though my dishwasher was installed not long after the house was built and so is almost 20 years old, which I'm sure doesn't help.

    Still I'll take the Cascade packs over powder detergent. Makes much less mess putting it in the machine and it's easier to control the amount.
     
  5. another sk8rmom

    another sk8rmom Active Member

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    Oh wow, you just solved the mystery for us!!!

    Over the last few weeks we've experienced exactly what you described and fits exactly with when we purchased a new box of dishwasher detergent.
     
  6. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

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    I'm not sure why dishwashers don't just focus on making it scalding hot when washing, and then we wouldn't have to worry about the soap anyhow. You only need something to cut grease. As far as things being foggy or not squeaky...I don't really care. If it's been sterilized, there's nothing to worry about.
     
  7. soxxy

    soxxy Guest

    I assumed the water *was* that hot. At any rate, I wash my dishes by hand with hot water and detergent, place them in my dishwasher to dry, and once it's full, run the diswasher on the last cycle (without detergent), let them air dry, then store them. So I guess none of this applies to me. :confused:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2010
  8. zhenya271

    zhenya271 Active Member

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    I have always been one of those people that rinse my dishes in straight hot water before putting them in the dishwasher, but then lately I've read that in the latest generation of dishwashers that this habit is actually detrimental to your drinking glasses. I sure hope my dishwasher powerball tablets are getting the job done!
     
  9. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

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    detrimental to your drinking glasses how?
     
  10. Schmeck

    Schmeck New Member

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    The reduction of phosphates has made me use twice as much detergent in the dishwasher to do half as good a job, plus I have to run the washer on the longest cycle instead of the shortest one. I'm using more of everything, so how does that help?
     
  11. FunnyBut

    FunnyBut Well-Known Member

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    I'm actually quite surprised to read this. I use the 'Cascade Complete' all-in-one little packages, and my dishes are the cleanest and clearest they've ever been. EVER. In my life, way before green was fashoinable. I have hard water too, and I've never seen such spotless dishes.
     
  12. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    That's where we're in a bit of a pickle - less phosphates is good, but if it means more water used, or more energy (hotter water) or more soap, is it worth it?

    Or, as the article and some here suggest, do we have rethink what "clean" is? Sure, our cutlery and dishes might not look as pretty, but if they are free of bacteria etc, then perhaps that should be enough.

    I'm sure the detergent companies are trying to find alternatives - and one NY Times reader noted that plain old vinegar and water gives the best final rinse anyway - and many dish and flatware manufacturers are doing the same.

    Some NY Times readers have said that Seventh Generation (an eco-friendly brand) is great - anyone use it? I think I will try it next.
     
  13. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    Maybe you live in a region where the old phosphate-heavy product is still available?
     
  14. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

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    I've used it and it seemed to do fine. I haven't bought it lately due to it being a bit more in price, but it isn't bad.
     
  15. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    No wonder Cascade has been on sale at my grocery store (buy one, get one free) at least 3 times in the past few months. Getting rid of the old product I guess. :lol:
     
  16. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    Why do you wash your dishes twice? It seems like a waste of water and energy (yours and the dishwasher's) to me.

    My roommate and I don't have a full set of anything between us, so we wash everything by hand. Hot water and Dawn does the trick for almost everything, while scraping off burnt milk off a metal pan is good exercise. (Although yeah, there could be a better use of my time...) We use the dishwasher to store large bowls and blender items. :lol: It must be a frugal Asian thing. The only Asians I know who use dishwashers are those with big new expensive houses and thus have the means to buy full sets of silverware, glasses, and plates.

    I don't even think it's necessary to sterilize things when you wash them, aside from the obvious things like cutting boards and knives used for raw meat. I work in a lab and the only things we sterilize are the things that CAN'T have bacteria in them. (Namely, when we're trying to grow our cells and bacteria, which don't have skin and/or immune systems. :lol: ) Otherwise I'd think our digestive system handles most little nasties fine.
     
  17. zhenya271

    zhenya271 Active Member

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    Supposedly if your dishes aren't dirty enough your detergent could attack your glasses and leave permanent etching. I've seen the article pop up a couple of times on yahoo, I think it also includes information about how most people tend to use way more laundry detergent than we really need to, that even the predetermined measured line on the cup is even too much.
     
  18. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    I shall protect my glasses from attack. :confused:
     
  19. zhenya271

    zhenya271 Active Member

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    LOL! I'm not a complete convert,yet. It's still hard for anyone else in the house to open up the dishwasher and tell if it's been run through or not because I still do a quick rinse under the faucet. I definitely have to rinse if I'm not running it that night.
     
  20. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    Yeah, I never figured out the washing twice thing.
    I have a set of silverware, glasses and plates because I got them as gifts (though I didn't even want them).
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  21. zhenya271

    zhenya271 Active Member

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  22. mkats

    mkats New Member

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    I've never used a dishwasher :shuffle: My family always does them by hand.
     
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  23. Prancer

    Prancer Dysteleological Staff Member

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    I think this is definitely true. My mom always told me to use as little detergent and fabric softener as I could because otherwise they build up on clothes and make them dingy and coat the inside of the washer. I looked at her laundry and other people's laundry and figured she was right, so I always used far less than the recommended amount.

    And it seems Mom was, once again, right: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904575025021214910714.html

    I had noticed that my dishes weren't getting clean and I blamed our dishwasher, but then I picked up a Consumer Reports that rated dishwasher detergents and they put the Cascade Complete I had been using a good ways down the list. I went "Huh," and switched to their top recommendation--Finish All-in-One Powerball tabs. And by gosh, I do think the dishes really are cleaner.
     
  24. Schmeck

    Schmeck New Member

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    I'll try the Finish Powerballs (although the name makes me giggle!) after I use up this crappy bottle of Cascade. I have to shake the bottle before I use it now, as the contents keep separating (sp?) and I get a watery mix with clumps of goo if I don't.
     
  25. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    I use a generic gel from my local supermarket chain, and it seems to work OK, though I do get the occasional not-clean dish. I have one glass in particular that always gets a chalky film on its bottom (and didn't used to). Mostly I think I load the dishwasher poorly ... :shuffle:
     
  26. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    It seems like for the average family size of 5 or less, hand-washing is the better way to go. My family rarely used the dishwasher when I was living at home, and I've never used one once I moved out on my own.
     
  27. Prancer

    Prancer Dysteleological Staff Member

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  28. jlai

    jlai Title-less

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    That's what I heard but you have to use electricity as well.

    In fact, that type of questions is always my dilemma. e.g.
    If I use paper towel in the public restrooms after I wash my hands I consume paper. If I use a handdryer I consume electricity. Which is worse?

    I opt for paper towels and handdrying where possible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  29. NancyNC

    NancyNC Well-Known Member

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    Unless you use cold water and hand pump your water from a well, hand washing also uses electricity. And according to most reports I have seen, it uses more since dishwashers can more efficiently use smaller amounts of water.
     
  30. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I use VERY little laundry detergent (I use the Tide 2x concentrated stuff anyway) and my clothes still come out clean, so it's win/win as far as I'm concerned. My clothes smell less strongly of detergent, and I can buy less of it!

    My bf used my detergent once and he tossed in a whole capful and I was like, "Dear God why does it smell so strongly of Tide?" :rofl: I didn't criticize him tooo much, since the load he did included my comforter. :lol:

    It completely depends on the situation. As I've mentioned before, my roommate and I don't have a full set of anything so you bet it's more efficient to wash one bowl, one fork, and one cup by hand than to use the dishwasher. :lol: When we're cooking, we still only fill up our very small sink (and maybe the counter), which is about half the size of our dishwasher. To run a full dishwasher, we'd have to buy a lot more stuff, and we just don't find it necessary.