Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

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KT785
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Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by KT785 »

We've used automatic dishwashing pacs for years, originally using Member's Mark (Sam's Club) and switched to Kirkland Signature (Costco) when we moved closer in proximity to Costco.

Both brands have provided excellent cleaning performance, but over the past few months, we noticed etching on a number of our glasses. I suspect this is in part due to increased usage of glasses (trying to switch away from plastic items) and may also be related to Costco releasing a new version of their pacs (Ultra Shine Platinum).

In looking into the issue, seems like what we're experiencing is "etching" as opposed to hard water film or deposits given we have water softener. I should note that we've only had softened water for the past 3-ish years.

We initially bought Seventh Generation powdered detergent to lessen the amount we use for each wash but that product left a weird film (or etching) on the glassware despite a reduction in dosing.

From my preliminary research, we may need to look for detergents that contain Zinc (supposedly acts similar to the anode rode in a water heater). Given this, we may have to limit our search just to Cascade and Finish given lack of Zinc in most other products.

Ultimately, curious if anyone else with water softeners has encountered these etching issues and/or if you had any recommendations for detergents that work well with softened water?

KT785
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Bogle7
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by Bogle7 »

You need to use a rinse agent to reduce etching.
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CyberBob
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by CyberBob »

It’s not the detergent so much as the amount of it. We solved our etching problem with soft water simply by using less detergent. Forget the pacs, as they are too much. We also use Cascade and Finish, but never more than half (or less) of the recommended amount. No problems getting dishes clean.
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KT785
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by KT785 »

Bogle7 wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:22 pm You need to use a rinse agent to reduce etching.
I should have noted in my OP that we have always used Finish Jet Dry.
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KT785
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by KT785 »

CyberBob wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:24 pm It’s not the detergent so much as the amount of it. We solved our etching problem with soft water simply by using less detergent. Forget the pacs, as they are too much. We also use Cascade and Finish, but never more than half (or less) of the recommended amount. No problems getting dishes clean.
Thanks, CyberBob--assume you're just using the regular Cascade Complete or Finish powders (whatever's available) with no discernible difference in cleaning power or etching?

KT785
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by livesoft »

Etching: Be careful which product you use. If you put bowls or cups right-side up on both the top and bottom backs of your dishwasher, so that they are full of water when the cycle finishes, do they have ANY grit or sand in them? If you repeat without using dishwasher detergent and there is no grit nor sand in them, then what would your conclusion be?

Do you think grid/sand in your detergent is etching your dishes? Or does grit/sand comes from the water supply?
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gavinsiu
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by gavinsiu »

Keep in mind what I have said is based on reading. I am not a chemist, but do listen to the explanation to see if it's sound.

Try using less detergent. Most people overfill their detergent line. A lot of people overfill to the top of the dispenser, which result in too much detergent which will result in a residue on your glasses. If you look at the pods, they don't fill the whole dispenser. I find that overfill of detergent is the major cause of residues.

If possible, use powder instead of liquid detergent. This is because the active ingredents in detergent that react with eachother when mixed together when it is hit with water. Liquid detergent are subspended in liquid, which means they have to leave out some ingredents, making them less effective.

The pods are essentially just a marketing gimmic. The extra color and shape gives customer that it is a better product than just powder. In reality, all that is just decoration. It works because my relative tell me how impressed they are by the engineering of the red ball and blue block contributing to the effectiviness of the detergent.

What the pod does well is to prevent overfill of detergent, what it goes against how the washing cycle works. The way a dishwasher works is that there is an initial fill, which sprays water all around to knock off the initial grease and gunk and then drain the water in the first short cycle. Aftewards, it is filled again with clean water for a second and longer cycle where the actual wash occurs and the detergent dispensed. If you look at the detergent dispenser, there is a indentation that you are supposed to add a bit of powder detergent to. This mixes together with the water in the first cycle to better rince off your dishes. By using the pod, you are rinsing in the first cycle with just water, which does work, but just not as well.

Also clean out your dishwasher with some citric acid and filter every once in a while. My dish washer has filter, which when I remove contains a lot of gunk, which I rince off in the sink and reinsert. I also run the dishes with some citric acid in the dispenser. You can get citric acid at hardware store and is use for canning. You can buy powdered packs at the store, but I think they are just citric acid.
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by Capsu78 »

Had a dishwasher service tech who asked me "Do you rinse everything?" I said yes, everything get rinsed. He suggested to cleaning off all solids, but leave some liquids (jelly, gravy, condimentson) the plates when loading. The soap has something to grab onto and it prevents etching.
He couldn't repair my dishwasher at a pricepoint I needed, so I have been experimenting with leaving just a bit of liquid scraps and I think I'm seeing better results. YMMV
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tadamsmar
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by tadamsmar »

Three possible reasons:

1. Too much detergent in soft water. One of my old dishwasher manuals said that you need 1/3 as much for soft water.

2. Pre-rinsing so that dishes are too clean before the dishwasher starts. The harsh detergent has nothing to do but etch the glassware. It's a timesaver too. There is a reason (which many ignore) that the device has that catchy name "dishwasher".

3. Water too hot.
The cause of etching on dishes can be from too much detergent in soft water, items that are pre-rinsed multiple times, or washing dishes in water that is too hot.
https://www.carterservices.com/blog/201 ... 0too%20hot.

Pre-rinsing dishes can actually cause a dishwasher do worse at cleaning the dishes. Some modern dishwashers have a cleanliness detector to limit the etching, but the detector works better if the dishes are dirty.

One trick is to read the manual and follow the directions. There are many generations and designs for dishwashers. The optimal procedure can be different for different dishwashers. The manual may give you instruction on the limited pre-washing necessary for good results. And you need to follow the loading instructions to get good results if you stop manually washing the dishes before you automatically wash the dishes.
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KT785
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Re: Dishwashing Detergent for Softened Water

Post by KT785 »

tadamsmar wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:48 pm Three possible reasons:

1. Too much detergent in soft water. One of my old dishwasher manuals said that you need 1/3 as much for soft water.

2. Pre-rinsing so that dishes are too clean before the dishwasher starts. The harsh detergent has nothing to do but etch the glassware. It's a timesaver too. There is a reason (which many ignore) that the device has that catchy name "dishwasher".

3. Water too hot.
The cause of etching on dishes can be from too much detergent in soft water, items that are pre-rinsed multiple times, or washing dishes in water that is too hot.
https://www.carterservices.com/blog/201 ... 0too%20hot.

Pre-rinsing dishes can actually cause a dishwasher do worse at cleaning the dishes. Some modern dishwashers have a cleanliness detector to limit the etching, but the detector works better if the dishes are dirty.

One trick is to read the manual and follow the directions. There are many generations and designs for dishwashers. The optimal procedure can be different for different dishwashers. The manual may give you instruction on the limited pre-washing necessary for good results. And you need to follow the loading instructions to get good results if you stop manually washing the dishes before you automatically wash the dishes.
Agree that our issues likely stem from #1 and #3 in combination with our soft water . . . we never pre-wash or pre-rinse anything save for the occasional burnt-on pan.

My initial reading is that the ingredients in most detergents that act to soften hard water during the wash end up reacting with the minerals in glassware in the absence of anything else (e.g. calcium) in already softened water. This is what produces the "etching" effect on glasses. It appears that Cascade and Finish include Zinc as an ingredient to prevent this corrosion/reactivity issue . . . but seems like it's absent in various generic formulas as well as the eco-friendly ones we've tried previously.

Current plan is to grab a box of Cascade Complete powder and turn off the "sanitize" function on our dishwasher and see if that corrects the problem.

KT785
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