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  1. #1
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    Why your dishwasher isn't working as well as it used to

    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/sc...sphates&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"?

  2. #2
    gold dust woman
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    I just thought I had a crappy dishwasher--good to know, yet frustrating.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satellitegirl View Post
    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.
    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.
    Last edited by soxxy; 09-24-2010 at 07:26 PM.

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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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zhenya271 View Post
    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!
    detrimental to your drinking glasses how?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FunnyBut View Post
    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.
    Maybe you live in a region where the old phosphate-heavy product is still available?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    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.
    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.

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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.
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by soxxy View Post
    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.
    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. 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. ) Otherwise I'd think our digestive system handles most little nasties fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satellitegirl View Post
    detrimental to your drinking glasses how?
    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.

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    I shall protect my glasses from attack.
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    I shall protect my glasses from attack.
    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. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    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. 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.
    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 by jlai; 09-25-2010 at 04:29 AM.

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