Here’s an inexpensive trick you can try with your older (not super energy efficient era) dishwasher that worked for people.
A number of dishwasher soaps have been eliminating phosphates from their formulas to help save the environment. It is a good thing to do, but few manufacturers mention that their dishwasher liquid or powder may not perform the same way.
A community of bloggers in VT were complaining their dishwashers were no longer getting the dishes clean and they were going to have to replace their machines.
What they eventually discovered was that their brand of dishwasher soap had been one that removed the phosphates. They switched brands and suddenly their dishwashers were cleaning again.
So, if you have recently noticed your dishes not getting clean, check the manufacturer’s website and see if they mention they have removed the phosphates. If so, for at least the short term, you could try a brand the manufacturer doesn’t mention removing them and see if that solves or improves the problem.
Some states have started banning phosphates in dishwasher liquid, so switching brands will only work as long as your state is not included. (This is the time when the non-ban border states triple their sales of dishwasher soap).
But if your environmental conscience won’t allow switching brands, I’ve included a link below filled with additional tips that may help you approach your dishwasher issue from some other angles.
First, a reminder when you go looking for another brand of dishwasher soap:
Dishwasher soap is only for Dishwashers.
Dishwashing soap is the type only for in sink dish washing.
Mix them up and you get lots of suds pouring out of your dishwasher. It’s only funny if you don’t have to clean it up! (I once had a roommate do this and I did laugh quite a bit, actually. Yes, I did help clean it up too.)
As to our clean dish dilemma,
Switching brands to a one with phosphates may not seem very green in the short term, but it may beat the environmental impact of sending a good dishwasher to the land fill or recycling center and then adding to the environmental impact of manufacturing an entirely new machine. And then there’s also that pesky cash issue.
The soap manufacturers are testing to find new, working formulas without phosphates, so let me know if you find one. The first manufacturer that does will win big. Better living through chemistry.
But for now, if temporarily switching to a brand with phosphates is a option, many people (including Consumer Reports.org) tested the brand FINISH and had significantly improved results.
The dissolving film packet drops cleanly into the dishwasher soap dispenser, dissolves completely leaving no residue on the dispenser and the formula contains a rinse agent which helps leave everything sparkling clean without water spots.
Using FINISH, a few people experimented with reducing the cycle time on their machines and were able to reduce it from the Regular 88 minutes to the Glasses 67 minute cycle with no change in results, unless the dishes were really dirty. If they were, they just chose the Regular cycle.
I’m sure that varies with the age and health of the machine. But, it’s nice to save a little electricity and have the dishes clean and ready sooner, if you can. (New efficient dishwashers have a normal cycle time of around 2 hours.)
Here’s also a link I think you’ll find useful. It’s to an article on several other reasons your dishwasher might not be performing well, with tips on what else you can do.
I’ll keep looking for more ways to help you get more enjoyment from your stuff!