Why ya gotta (phosp)hate
November 24, 2008 11:41 AM   Subscribe

How to counter the effects of phosphate free dishwasher detergent when we have hard water?

We recently tried a phosphate free automatic dishwasher detergent. The problem is that the effects of hard water (I'm pretty sure here in the SoCal, we have the hardest water in the nation) are fairly annoying (white-ish film/residue on plastics, spots on glass). We don't have a water softening system, and we don't have issues with the hard water otherwise. Using normal detergent doesn't have this effect. We also use a rinse agent, but it does not seem to help. Is this pointless (trying to be a little more green), or is there a solution?

Commiserations, or suggestions to counter this?
posted by tdischino to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You seem to have three options:

1) Get a water softener; or

2) Start using phosphate-based detergent; or

3) Stop complaining about your hard water.

The former two are the only solutions I'm aware of that deal with the effects of hard water in dishwashers. But the latter is probably your "greenest" option.
posted by valkyryn at 11:56 AM on November 24, 2008

The residue and spots are mineral deposits from your hard water. Not really dangerous at all, and I tend to ignore them.
posted by muddgirl at 12:27 PM on November 24, 2008

You can reduce the spots a bit by not using the heated dry function. This lets most of the water run off before the droplets dry. You can also wash and dry your finer glasses by hand, cold rinse and hand dry them.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:10 PM on November 24, 2008

Best answer: You might try LemiShine. I don't know about phosphate free vs not, but it works a treat on our hard water film.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:14 PM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting and worth a shot. According to their FAQ, it is phosphate free. I'll look for it, but since the standard rinse agents seem to be pretty weak, I've got nothing to lose. Thank you.

Unrelated...as I was inserting that link, I noticed part of their URL is their phone number. LOL to the marketing team for that one.
posted by tdischino at 2:55 PM on November 24, 2008

Water conservation is a persistent issue in SoCal, right?

Kill two birds with one stone. Use the phosphate dishwashing detergent, but dig a swale somewhere (like around a tree) and divert the graywater waste from your dishwasher into it. The problem with phosphate based dish detergent is that phosphate acts as a fertilizer and causes algae blooms which kill fish. This isn't so much of a problem in most people's back yards.

Note: I am not your landscaper, nor do I know how many times your local building inspector's head will turn around if he gets wind of this. This idea is referenced in an old Whole Earth catalog I had, but I don't know what book their using it as an example from.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:35 PM on November 24, 2008

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