A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the cloudy film caused by phosphate-free dishwasher soap (see "Are you blue over green detergent?). I listed some of the things I've tried, from vinegar to homemade detergent to various rinse aids.
I've had the best success with a product called Lemi Shine, which I've found on the supermarket aisle with the detergents and rinse aids. As a professional journalist, I normally shy away from sounding like I'm promoting a commercial product. But, so many people have complained about trying to get their dishes clean that it seemed only right to share a solution.
Judging from the amount of emails I got thanking me, I'm glad I did.
Readers offered some other suggestions that might be worth a try. The most mysterious email said there was a product that would get dishes sparkling clean, but the person refused to tell me the name of the product unless I listened to a 45-minute presentation first. I was curious, but not curious enough to get roped into a sales pitch. Sorry, folks!
Here are suggestions from readers. You can try them at your own risk.
"When this problem started with the phosphates, I, too, was very frustrated until I found a wonderful product that I continue to use. I shop at Dan's, and this is where I found it in the organic department. It is called 'Wave' and the labels says, 'New Formula! Twice as effective as the leading brand. Earth Friendly Products. 2x Ultra High Efficiency. 100% Natural Auto Dishwasher Gel with Built-in Rinse Aid. Organic Lavender. Removes Coffee and Tea Stains.' The bottle is 40 fluid ounces and costs between $5 and $6. This is a little more expensive, but it goes a long way. Most of all, I do not have the hard water stains that I was getting. You might want to try this to see how you like it. It has been a big help to us."
— Charlene Leach
"I'm adding my testimonial for using Melaleuca's DiamondBrite gel in the dishwasher. It solves all of the issues you brought up, including handling hard water. I live in West Jordan and we have very hard water. I do NOT use a rinse aid because the DiamondBrite includes a totally effective rinse aid and still remains phosphate-free. As an example, several (maybe 6?) years ago I bought a set of eight 5-ounce juice glasses at the Deseret Industries. Four of the glasses were etched from the previous owner's dishwasher and four were clear. Today you can still see which glasses were etched and the others are very clear. I have used DiamondBrite for nine years without any complaints and it keeps my dishwasher clean as well. And as for cost (drum roll, please): $7.89 for 25 loads.
"There's nothing I enjoy more than telling people about DiamondBrite!"
— Carolyn Barber
"This is how we handle the problem with hard, City Creek water:
"We use Cascade Advanced powder detergent and Jet Dry, at full strength (the dial at the top number);
"Then, we use vinegar, as follows:
1. Buy Langers frozen fruit juice in a resealable plastic bottle at Harmons. Get several.
2. Drill a tiny, needle-size hole in the sturdy plastic lid. This will allow a vinegar drip throughout the entire cycle.
3. Fill the little bottle with cheap Costco white vinegar (available in a box of two one-gallon jugs) and place it in a position of honor at the front of the dishwasher in the glasses compartment. It will stay there forever. Place it upside-down so the vinegar can drip out of the tiny hole.
4. Wash the dishes normally (we don't rinse them off first). At the end of the cycle, turn the little bottle over, to preserve the balance of the vinegar for the next load.