Monday, November 8, 2010

Time to Change Your Dishwasher Soap?

by Kelley Lindberg

Today’s blog column isn’t just for food allergy folks – it’s for anyone who uses a dishwasher!

For several weeks, my husband had been tearing our dishwasher apart numerous times because suddenly our dishes (especially plastics) were coming out covered in a white, filmy, chalky sort of residue. Naturally, we assumed our dishwasher was to blame.

But after replacing a few parts (he found a broken impeller) and thoroughly cleaning out the nasty stuff blocking its filters and that sort of thing, we stumbled upon the real culprit. It turns out that the dishwasher soap we’ve been using (Cascade) is probably causing the white chalky residue we’ve been fighting.

As of July 1 of this year, dishwashing soap can no longer contain phosphates, which are responsible for significant damage to sealife – phosphates in water set up a vicious cycle that makes huge algae blooms that eventually deplete the water of oxygen, killing off the fish we need for the survival of the ecosystem.

So eliminating phosphates is a good thing. But it turns out that some detergent manufacturers made better choices than others when it came to reformulating their dishwasher soaps. And because there wasn’t a lot of public hoopla about the change, thousands of people have been calling repairmen or replacing their dishwashers, thinking (like I did) that there was something wrong with their machine. It never occurred to me that the soap I’d been using for years would suddenly change with no notice on the packaging.

So, if you’re struggling with your dishes coming out of your dishwasher with a white chalky residue on them, try changing your soap before you spring for a new machine.

First, you can go to Utah TV station KSL’s website to read about the change in soaps in their article “Dishes Not Getting Clean?

Consumer Reports magazine’s website has an article, “Low-Phosphate Dishwasher Detergents That Work,” about the new soaps and which ones they recommend. I’ve switched to Finish Powerball Tabs, and my dishes have been coming out much cleaner for the last month or so. It’s made a huge difference.

One more tip: if your dishes are covered in the chalky white substance right now, try soaking them in white vinegar for a while before you wash them. The vinegar takes the substance off nicely.


Anonymous said...

You just saved me from buying a new dishwasher. No kidding. That white residue has been driving me nuts!

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

So glad I could help! I've heard from several people who were dealing with the same issue. I was glad to know it wasn't just my imagination (or my dishwasher)!