I got the dishwasher blues
January 29, 2012 12:21 PM Subscribe
Dishwasher residue buildup. It isn't mineral buildup. What now?
posted by crapmatic to home & garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have a Whirlpool Quiet Partner II dishwasher, about 1 year old, and have been having lots of problems with a grimy/chalky white film on dishes, mostly on glassware. It can be scratched somewhat with a fingernail.
I assumed this was mineral buildup, but for two reasons now, I realize that's not what it is. A few months ago I tested the faucet water with a $25 pool test kit, and the alkalinity came out on the low side. Second, just today I realized I have a vial of 30 molar hydrochloric acid from a rock test kit. It makes a sedimentary rock sizzle and smoke, but it causes no reaction at all on this residue and won't remove it any more than water will.
I tried Googling ideas for what else it could be, but most of what I get are people saying it's hard water and to just throw vinegar or citric acid in the wash. I did do that, of course, earlier when I thought it was hard water, even using CLR and rinse. No change at all.
Last week I disassembled the dishwasher all the way down to the macerator, and found no blockages and just the white film as a white gunk buildup here and there, which I cleaned out. No real improvement after that.
As far as our dishwasher habits, we've used Electrasol liquid and Meyers Clean Day powder. Wash is always with heat, and no sanitary (heat) rinse. I'm suspecting it could be a milk or lactose buildup of some kind since we use a lot of dairy, or maybe even the dishwasher liquid isn't washing off. And this is a longshot but I also worry what if it's a plastic film from the dishwasher internals.
For now, I think I'm going to scrub all the "bad" dishes by hand to try to reset things and make an extra effort to pre-rinse stuff before putting it in the dishwasher. Anyway my questions:
* Any thoughts on what this buildup is? Maybe one of you worked in a restaurant kitchen and have seen this kind of thing. What's a good additive to get rid of it? Vinegar is good for calcium buildup, so likewise maybe there's something that helps cut into dairy buildup if that's the culprit.
* I'd like anecdotes, advice, or links about dishwasher issues where blockages or hard water are already ruled out.
* I heard phosphates were removed from consumer dishwasher liquid, but are still available in commercial liquid. Has anyone gotten hold of the commercial liquid with phosphates (maybe from Amazon or a restaurant supply company) and put it in their home dishwasher? Did it improve things any? I'm not saying I'll get phosphate liquid, especially if it's environmentally harmful... I'm just curious if it's a detergent problem.
* Is there any chance this white residue could be plastic residue condensed or solidified onto the dishes? There is a heating element in there, of course. I guess this is a bit off-topic but I'm finding I really don't like the idea of a heating element and plastic in the same volume... maybe I should've got one with a stainless steel interior, unless the plastic in there is a safe formulation.
Sorry to beanplate this dishwasher thing to death but it's been an annoyance for the past year for me.