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Dishwasher question - dirty dishes

Lately I have noticed that my dishes are coming out of my dishwasher still dirty, they get a nasty white coating on them which is difficult to get off. I am stuck handwashing nearly everythig that comes out of my dishwasher, which obviously defeats the purpose. my dishwasher is new-ish, about 5 years old. I tried everything - a weekly rinsing with CLR (in case hard water is an isssue), switching detergents, adding lemon juice to the rinse cycle. Any suggestions?

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  1. Check the soap dispenser on the door. After a few years, the dispenser often become warped from the heat and does not open properly -- leaving unclean dishes and soap residue. They are actually fairly easy to replace and you can easily find replacement parts on the Internet.

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    1. re: wanker

      Make sure your dishwasher is getting all the water it needs by checking throughout the cycle. there can sometimes be a problem in the water line/

    2. It might also be an issue with phosphate free detergents. Which don't seem to clean nearly as well.

      1. Which brand (and type) of dishwashing detergent are you using?

        1. Other possibilities apart from already mentioned include water not hot enough, rinse agent not dispensing or not being used, maybe a filter clogged if it's a Bosch.

          Water not hot enough could be a problem with the machine or a problem with the water heater, although you would probably notice in other things like showers or at least at the sinks if the latter.

          To me "white coating" suggests the detergent itself and it not getting rinsed somehow. This could be lack of water as mentioned or perhaps the heat issue or perhaps the filter not allowing stuff to rinse away properly. Using the rinse agent (Jet Dry) should help somewhat if you are not doing this and other things check out alright, but I kinda doubt it is this alone, plus you say it is a recent development (so would only apply if you recently stopped using it).

          Another simple issue in some dishwashers is you must make sure that upper level wash spray is not blocked by putting something in the center of the bottom rack. Different designs do not have this limitation, so this would have to be caused by a new type of item being placed in dishwasher or a new person doing the placing. ;-)

          1. Call a service company. There are a number of reasons this might happen, and other than a clogged filter, which you can clean yourself, there is no reason to live with this. Dirty dishes can be caused by clogged jets, cold water (plumbing problem), clogged filters, a malfunctioning pump or even the microprocessor that controls the cycles. You will probably not be able to fix this yourself. It is probably worth the service fee.

            1. We can't use any kind of Cascade or Cascade rinse agent in our dishwasher. The dishes and glasses would have the white haze and I would end up washing the dishes again in the sink.

              We have no problems with Jet Dry Quantam and a Jet Dry rinse agent.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sydneyeats

                Sydneyyeats. it sounds as if you have used Cascade/Cascade and Jet Dry/Jet Dry. We have never used any kind of Cascade detergent, but we prefer Cascade Crystal Clear rinse agent to the Jet Dry rinse agent. We use the Cascade rinse agent with Ecover powder as the detergent, and out dishes come out spotless, no film.

              2. Years ago, my father became fanatical about washing the dishes before he put them in the dishwasher, which he said never really got them clean and left a haze on the glasses. One day I happened to be at their house and unloaded the dishwasher. One cup had tipped over so it was right side up....there was no water in the cup! When we tried it again we discovered there was no water going into the dishwasher--for who knows how long!

                1. My dishwasher is less than a year old so this may not help, but...I realized that the powder I was using was leaving a white residue on some of the dishes. The instructions that came with the dishwasher suggests using those all-in-one tablets (of few of which came with the machine). I started using those and no more residue plus the dishes are much cleaner.

                  1. Changing detergents is an easy one -- the brand I was using must have changed their formula, as the tablets look the same but stuff wasn't getting clean and I was getting a LOT more residue. Changed tablets and the dishes look great (bonus - one of the earth-friendly brands was on sale...and it works way better than the "new and improved" formula)

                    I don't think you have to put salt in US dishwashers -- but if yours has a salt reservoir, try filling it. Our water is very hard, and European dishwashers have a softener on board...it makes a huge difference. (and the salt is cheap, so it's okay).

                    Make sure you're using rinse agent...I had a dishwasher years ago in the US on which the rinse agent dispenser had broken...but the little Jet-Dry basket thingies that hang from the upper rack do work. (not as well as the dispenser, but any port in a storm)