The fault may not be with your dishwasher. Think back to when your problems began. Did your formerly clean looking dishes suddenly develop a white chalky residue? Did it get worse with each subsequent load that you ran? Do your black nylon utensils look ugly and dirty with the milky white coating? Nasty, huh?
Did this possibly start when you opened a new box of detergent? Yeah, I know it’s the same brand you’ve been buying for years, right? The brand is the same, but I’m betting the formula has changed.
Recently, some states have mandated that detergents be made without phosphates. This is not a huge deal for folks with soft water, but if you live in the Tehachapi or Kern County area, chances are that doesn’t apply to you.
So, how can you get this horrible residue off of your dishes? The first step is to clean your dishwasher. Go to your favorite store and look in the dish detergent area for a dishwasher cleaner. They come in a plastic bottle that you open, turn upside down in your silverware basket and then run the dishwasher as normal (but without any dishes).
Once you have the dishwasher clean, now you can work on the dishes. Load up the dishwasher, then fill both sides of the soap dispenser with vinegar and run the dishwasher on your preferred cycle. Do be careful about including metal items in this run, vinegar is acidic and can cause metal to discolor.
If you are lucky, one cycle is all it will take to clean the residue off your dishes. If once didn’t get it done, try it again a time or two should do it. Even so, you may have to hand wash some things, like the black nylon utensils with a soap and vinegar solution.
Now that everything is clean again, you want to keep it that way. Chances are that means a change in dishwasher detergent. Go check the one that’s under you sink right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
If it does not contain phosphates, you need to stop using it immediately. Check out other alternatives at the store, if you can find one with phosphates, that should solve the problem. Despite having been a confirmed Cascade user for years, I switched to Consumer Reports magazine recommended Finish All-in-one and it seems to be working just fine.
Share your dirty dishwasher experiences below. Don’t forget to note what worked for you.