Monday, September 12, 2011

Cloudy Film on Dishes from Dishwasher

Background:  I used Cascade powder for a long time.  For the first year and a half of living in our house with our new dishwasher, I used Cascade powder.  When I began switching to less toxic cleaning products, I bought Whole Foods 365 Brand Automatic Dishwashing Detergent, Citrus scent. The dishes were clean as always.  I was happy that my green dishwashing detergent was working!

Potential Root Cause:
  I decided to use a few sample packs of Cascade gel packs that I had to save the 365 Dishwashing Detergent.  I used about 5 sample packages, about 4 gel packs in each.  Still good!  Dishes were getting clean!  Once I finished the samples, I went back to the 365 Dishwashing Detergent.  That's when the problems started!!!  The dishes were clean, but they had white, cloudy film on them. I began researching why there was cloudy film on my dishes from the dishwasher. My research showed the following potential issues:

1. Hard water - maybe, but the dishes were fine for 1.5 years, until I started switching among detergents/gels.
2. Too much/little detergent.
3. Gels - supposedly, gels are bad for dishwashers.  Using gels and then going back to detergent is awful!
4. Dishes too clean prior to dishwasher - rinsing too much food off and the detergent has nothing to work with.
5. Rinse aid.

Solutions Tried (and mostly failed):

1. Run the dishes through the dishwasher again - dishes still cloudy.
2. Scrub the dishes with baking soda - the cloudiness came off.
3. Scrub the dishes with a wet rag - the cloudiness came off.
4. Use less/more detergent - dishes still cloudy.
5. Add rinse aid (including Ecover Rinse Aid) - dishes still cloudy.
6. Run a light cycle with water - dishes still cloudy.
7. Run a light cycle with 1 cup baking soda, then another light cycle with 1 cup of vinegar poured in the bottom - dishes still cloudy.
8. Remove as much of the current rinse aid (not an easy thing to do) as possible, and add white vinegar to Rinse Aid Container - dishes still cloudy.
9. Run the cloudy dishes through the rinse cycle, once water starts filling, open door and add 1-2 cups of white vinegar, let the cycle continue - the cloudiness came off without me having to scrub each dish.  I ran the rinse cycle again to make sure the vinegar was rinsed, but this is not necessary.  This was the best method to get the cloudiness off in one swoop.  The light cycle finishes with some heat and the dishes mostly get dry (Heated Dry is not used), but the rinse cycle does not.  If I let the glasses dry on their own, there was some spotting, but it was much better than the cloudiness.

Update: Most recent attempt was not as successful as the first.  I am using less dishwashing powder. The initial dishwasher light cycle improved by 50% at the most.  Then I did the rinse with vinegar and got 25% more removal, for a total of no more than 75%.  I am still left with 25% cloudiness.

Solutions To Try:

The root cause still has not been determined as to why there was cloudy film on dishes from the dishwasher.  I did find a way to get the cloudiness off quicker, but running a light cycle, then a rinse cycle is not very economic or green.

Several root causes may be at play here.  I will continue with the following solutions:

1. Run hot water in the sink closest to the dishwasher before starting the dishwasher to clear the pipes of cold water and to ensure the dishwasher gets only hot water. --> Need to retry.
2. Use vinegar as a rinse agent if the cloudiness is caused by hard water (if you place a cup in vinegar for about 5 minutes and the cloudiness is gone after rinsing, then the potential solution is hard water).
3. Switch to a different detergent.
4. Start a light or rinse cycle, wait for the dishwasher to fill with some water, open the door and pour in anywhere from 1 cup to 1 gallon white undiluted vinegar.  Restart the dishwasher, wait 60 seconds, then stop it.  Let the solution sit for several hour or overnight.  Let the cycle finish.  --> In progress.
5. Rinse the dishes less before putting them in the dishwasher. --> Need to retry.

>> What have you found to be the greenest and the most economical way to get your dishes clean?  Do you have any homemade recipes?

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