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.
5. Refill the bottle each time, just like filling the detergent compartment.
6. After several loads, the hole may plug up. Use a paper clip to unplug it.
7. With several more loads, the bottle will soften, so that the lid will not stay on. Keep the lid, but use a new bottle.
"I don't know about the forcefulness of the water spray. We don't use the water-saver feature but use the pots and pans cycle all the time to get the extra rinse. We can't turn the heat cycle off, but it doesn't seem to have any effect. Also, we have not noticed any detrimental effect on metal parts caused by the vinegar. We don't like the slimy feel caused by soft water and would not consider doing that. A matter of taste, or feel, I guess.
"We have had complete success with this method, and commend it to you."
— Sydney and Chris Fonnesbeck
"I have a found a dish soap at Smiths that works better than any brand so far. It's called Seventh Generation. It costs more but is less expensive than buying a name brand soap and other additives to try to get the film off. I think along with Lemi Shine, it would completely fix the problem."
— Rick Mizuta
"My appliance repairman (at Beehive Appliance Repair) told me to purchase muriatic acid at Home Depot (outside in the swimming pool supplies area).
"It comes in a box containing two one-gallon bottles.
"Do this once a month:
Put dishes in dishwasher.
Remove all silverware (and other metals).
Let dishwasher fill and begin to wash.
Pour two cups muriatic acid in bottom of dishwasher.
Close door and let it wash for one minute.
Open door so washing stops. Let stand 15-20 minutes.
Close door and finish cycle."
— Susan Southworth
"I have had the same sad experience as you describe in your article regarding the sad state of affairs of my glasses. I obtained as much literature as I could and concluded that the purported benefit to our environment is small and insignificant.
"My solution, although perhaps short-lived, is to obtain commercial soap which still has the phosphates in the product. This can be obtained at Restockit.com. You can order six boxes for $53.28. I still have two boxes (Cascade Automatic Dishwater Detergent 85 oz. With Phosphates) SKU:34953PG. My last order was about a year ago, and I hope the product is still available. Just yesterday I tossed 18 juice glasses which for the life of me I cannot remove the chemical deposits."
"I am glad to know about the Lemi Shine product. But I have been quite successful with keeping the film off my dishes by using just the powdered Finish dishwasher detergent — it is pretty cheap these days — and filling my automatic rinse aid dispenser with Finish Jet Dry rinse agent which lasts several months before I need to refill it. I can wash my company real silver silverware, glasses and china with very few spots. Seems pretty much like the old days before phosphate was removed. My Texas tumbler every day glasses don't stay as good, but nearly. I have tried the power balls from every brand and think they are lousy."
— Becky Schultz
"I use Finish Powerball Tabs (not too expensive when purchased in the large container at Costco, especially when you use a coupon). In the second compartment I put in 1 tablespoon of baking soda (or washing soda), and 1 tablespoon of Borax. If I put in too much, it doesn't do the job. I read somewhere online that more is definitely not better.
"My dishes are cleaner, and glassware is more clear and sparkly that it has ever been.
"I do not have a water softener (wish I did), and have very hard water. I washed dishes by hand for several months because I couldn't stand the cloudy silverware and glasses. My daughters say this doesn't work as well for them as it does for me, and that makes we wonder if the temperature of the water has anything to do with it. Our water heater is set a little hotter than it should be."
Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com .
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