Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FYI Scummy dishes: It is not your fault

It was reassuring to me to read THIS article this morning. It explained why I am not crazy and just imagining that my dishes are no longer coming out clean from my dishwasher.

The columnist was sharing how she has been annoyed by the way her dishes are coming out of her dishwasher. She accused her family members of inappropriately loading the dishes, topped off the sheeting action fluid and did everything else she could think of but after awhile, she realized that something more was going on.

I have to give a wry smile.  The same thing has been going on in my house.  I have been having to dip all my "clean" dishes, glassware and flatware in vinegar or an anti-lime solution to get rid of the "splashed in dirty milk and left to dry" appearance.  You would not have enjoyed listening to me rant about having to do that re-do procedure to a full load of dishes last Saturday morning.  Gail, poor thing, had the misfortune of calling me just as I was finishing up and got an earful about it from me. It took her a good ten minutes for her to finally calm me down!

Anyway, here's a short summary of what is up with all that:

The US gov. has decided that phosphates in our rivers causes algae bloom and that suffocates fish.  That fact is true, however the amount of phosphates coming from dish washing detergent is something like 1.9%, while the rest of the phosphate comes from fertilizers and manures.

Seventeen states have now banned phosphate from dish washing detergents. Most folks use up their old formula detergent, buy a "new" (and NOT improved) version unwittingly and start noticing that their dishes aren't coming clean anymore.

Plumbers are called, and the truth is revealed.  Worse, the fact that the phosphate that used to prevent food particles to from attaching themselves to dishes also used to keep the dishwasher motor free of build up.
The new formula will cause the dishwasher motors to burn out much more quickly than before. 

And yes, the plumber must be paid for delivering this disheartening news that nothing is wrong with the dishwasher right now, and there is nothing the plumber can do to prevent the burn out in the future.

The article had multiple comments and included a few tips that I thought were worth passing along. 

The first tip is to sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of the cleaner TSP in with the detergent.  The P in TSP stands for phosphate, which, guess what? means that it is now banned in 17 states.  Apparently it can still be bought on line, so it may pay to stock up or find a dealer in a non-banned state.

I never imagined I would someday be looking for ways to smuggle TSP into my home, but these are difficult times and one must do what one must do to survive.

The second more expensive option was to put a good squirt of lemon juice concentrate in with each load.  I suppose a little plastic lemon on my counter wouldn't look too bad...

 I had heard that Koolaid would also work (it didn't work for me) or Tang (didn't try that).

I have also tried putting vinegar in with little success. 

If you don't live in a hard water area, or you do your dishes by hand, or you haven't needed to wash down walls with TSP before painting, this whole post probably sounds a bit crazy.  Trust me...if you had been dealing with scummy dishes for the last few months, you would understand how crazy making this situation really is.

And as long as I am venting a bit...why on earth can't dishwasher detergent manufacturer and dishwasher designers come up with a formula and setting for washing fine old china with metallic edges.  I just read that century old family china is now being ditched all over the place because the current generation is unwilling for the most part to take on hand washing their great great grandmother's china.

One article stated that a fine china table settings for twelve with all the service pieces are routinely being priced at between $300 and $400 and are having no takers.

Come on scientists!  Get to work on solving this chemical problem so old china patterns can be enjoyed regularly once again without needing to roll up sleeves to do the dishes after a lovely dinner party.


Lovella ♥ said...

I wonder why my glasses are still clear. I know that years ago I replaced kitchen glasses for new ones when they became unclear but it must take a long time for that to happen. My glasses are coming out squeaky clean.
I use liquid detergent. I also put my fine china in the dishwasher. So far. . .so good. I've used mine 30 years and I'm not going to start handwashing now.

Vicki said...

I knew that phosphates were banned in several states and slowly being phased out of products, but I never associated that with the whitish coating all over the inside of my stainless-steel-interior dishwasher. Duh. Of course, I live in a super-hard-water area and we have a water conditioner, which adds to the problem in a different way. The sodium in the water that is left to dry on the counters and faucets and shower walls also coats everything white. I can't win for losing! :)

RoeH said...

Hmmm! I've used vinegar for a long time. Maybe I'll start giving it a chaser of lemon juice.

I gotta go wash the dishes.

ellen b. said...

First Anneliese and now you are giving me some great tips today. Thanks for the heads up. Thankfully I moved away from the very hard water in Camarillo. If those smart people come up with a detergent for fine china I'll be a happy camper. I wash my stuff by hand right now. It really upset me when Amway took out the good ole phosphates from laundry detergent. I swore by that stuff because of how well it cleaned and brightened our clothes and now I don't use the brand anymore.

Vee said...

As one who doesn't have a dishwasher, I'm not affected or perhaps it will effect all manner of detergents. I had heard that lemon was very bad for dishwashers...not sure why. I don't blame you for being annoyed. It's time for consumers to speak up.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Whew, that's one problem I don't have to worry about! The Musician is my dishwasher, and I am his.

Anneliese said...

I've also put my fine china in the dishwasher, using liquid det. for almost thirty years...its all good.
I did have to chagne my brand, though, recently bec my dishes were not coming clean.. maybe there is something.. interesting post..

Judy said...

Interesting. My dishes still seem to be coming out sparkly...but if that changes, I'll know why. We have an abundnace of phosphates available here on the farm...but not exactly the kind I would want to add to my dishwasher!