If you have a dishwasher, you no doubt know there are several different choices you’ve got in choosing a dishwasher detergent. That’s because of all the improvements in the making of dishwashers. Previously, dishwasher owners had the option of only powdered detergents to clean their dishes. Not long after that, gels and liquids quickly became the favorite choice. Nowadays, soap manufacturers are moving towards single-dose soaps as an alternative to powders, liquids, and gels. The beauty of using these, is that dishwasher owners don’t have to measure anything, just toss them in the washer and you’re done.
Another trend starting to emerge is store brand detergents are rivaling name-brands regarding quality. That is great news for you because stores sell their brands for much less, this means the price tag on washing dishes could go way down without sacrificing cleaning power, but that’s all depends on whether you are operating your dishwasher properly. Below are some things you can do to ensure your dish detergent is effective in getting your dishes nice and clean.
Dishwasher Detergent Do’s and Don’ts
Dishwasher detergents clean much better if you remove any dried on food before you load them into the dishwasher. But you’ll save energy and water if you prerinse them first. You will also want to ill your dishwasher with the larger items on the sides and back of the rack so that the water and detergent are not blocked. Another thing to consider is when loading your dishwasher, ensure the side with the most dirt faces the center of the washer, and don’t let the utensils or dishes get stacked up against each other. Additionally, you’ll want to put heavily soiled pots and pans in the lower rack face-down towards the spray arms. Put cups and glasses open-side down on the rack prongs, so they don’t get filled with water and detergent. Lastly, place all dishwasher-safe as well as plastics and knives in the top rack.
The hot water used in your dishwasher can be harmful to certain types if fine china, silver, brass, gold-plated flatware, or fine glassware. Hand-wash items that have value to you, if it’s no big deal then drive on.
In Hot Water With Hard Water?
Hard water diminishes your dishwasher detergent cleaning performance. If you’re having problems getting your dishes clean, contact your water company to determine the hardness of your water. You can also use a home testing kit to test your water if you don’t use municipal water. If the test shows you have excessive levels of calcium, magnesium or other minerals in your water yu can add a water softener.
To lower the chances of spotty dishes and help dry your dishes quickly, many dishwasher manufacturers recommend using a rinse aid in addition to dish detergents. Check your dishwasher’s owner’s manual for more details. Ironically, many manufacturers recommending using more detergent to solve this issue. Once again, check your dishwasher’s owner’s manual and detergent instructions if you think you have hard water.
Pods, Powders, Gels and More – The Story on Suds
Dishwasher detergent comes in a variety of forms, however, no one particular brand has shown a greater propensity to clean better than the rest. Depending on who is doing the testing, pods and tablets did a lot better than gels, but this could change with improvements in research and development. The following are a few different forms of dishwasher detergents:
Tablets – tablets are solid cakes that are premeasured to deliver the appropriate cleaning solution for your dishes.
Packs – like tablets, packs (or pods) quickly deliver a premeasured amount of detergent during the wash cycle.
Liquids – Unlike pods and tablets, liquids have to be measured and poured into the dispenser.
Gels – Gel detergents are about the same as liquid detergents, but slightly thicker.
Powders – Powder detergent comes in a box or tub and has to be measured the same as gels or liquids.
How Detergent Additives Stack Up
Detergent manufacturers sometimes add phosphates as an active ingredient to their products. The phosphates help prevent the soiled water deposits from re-attaching to a clean surface (dishes). Sometimes manufacturers will add other ingredients such as the ones described below:
Bleach – Manufacturers sometimes add bleach to their detergents. Based on product testing, results show there isn’t any noticeable improvement in the cleaning of heavily soiled dishes.
Enzymes – Enzymes aid in breaking up stubborn food particles for easier cleaning.
Rinse Aids – Using a rinse aid will help eliminate spots on your dishes when drying.
Hopefully you have gained further insight on the various dishwasher detergents that you can use to get your dishes clean. While much of the information focuses on a conventional dishwasher, you can certainly apply it to either a countertop dishwasher or portable dishwasher. As always, consult your owner’s manual for the proper detergent to use when operating your washer.