Monday, August 1, 2011

Weak Dishwasher Detergent

About a year ago I noticed that our dishwasher wasn't cleaning very well. My white ceramic mug was the canary in the coalmine. It would always come out gleaming white. But when the "after" tea stains were indistinguishable from the "before," I figured something was wrong.

First, I suspected the water temperature. It was early fall with summertime weather, and the boiler temperature runs lower in the summer. I tried adding boiling water after each drain cycle a couple of nights in a row. I was amazed that that did not help.

I then suspected the dishwasher. First I made sure the little door for the detergent was opening. In fact, I actually ran it once without closing it just to be sure. When that didn't help, I took out the lower spray arm and checked that the filter was not clogged. It was not clogged.

I had resigned myself to calling an appliance repair shop when I heard NPR do a story about how dishwashing detergents were reformulated to remove phosphates. As a result, a lot of people's dishes and glasses were not getting clean.

So I did like Sandra Young and bought TSP from the hardware store. After I started adding about 1 teaspoon to the regular detergent, things returned to normal.

I really don't like to fool around with the dishwasher. We wash our cats' food dishes in it. We also rely on it to clean our cutting boards, mixing bowls (coated with the residue of batter and dough that was made with raw eggs). We do use the "Accu Temp" feature that heats the water if it's too cool, but I like having a good detergent that will get everything off of everything.

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