A hard water rain's gonna fall in my dishwasher.
November 28, 2009 4:27 PM   Subscribe

We have hard water and I've had to pull apart our dishwasher to clean out water deposits and gunk. Is there any way to limit accumulations without buying a water softener?

I keep seeing references, in the UK, to special baskets that fit in the dishwasher and hold water softening salt. Is something like this available in the US and would it work to reduce deposits in my dishwasher?
posted by mecran01 to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We have very hard well water and it creates similar problems. I toss about half a cup of plain white distilled vinegar in with every load of dishes and they come out sparkling clean. You can also use undiluted vinegar to safely remove mineral deposits from drains and faucets.
posted by balls at 4:30 PM on November 28, 2009

Same problem here . . . we've taken a liking to Lemi-Shine. Works wonders! I'll use it on an empty dishwasher - to wash out the dishwasher. Sometimes I'll also throw it in with my regular dishwasher detergent.
posted by Sassyfras at 4:44 PM on November 28, 2009

i know it sounds a little sketch, but i installed a "Water King" electronic water softener-- basically just an electromagnet wrapped around a hot water pipe, and it's worked fairly well for keeping deposits from building up.

I did a little looking and found some peer-reviewed science behind the concept (full disclosure: that link goes to a blog post I made on the article- if you have access to academic journals you can access the article here) The gist is that the EM field interferes with the precipitation of calcium carbonate, possibly through other ions such as Fe and Mn, slowing down the build up of limescale.

I also tried rinse aids in my dishwasher, though I didn't really notice a huge difference. YMMV.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 4:45 PM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

The EM thing does actually work, but be prepared to build a pretty robust shield for the thing. My parents used one, and while it did help the water, it seriously messed with their cordless phones. They wound up wrapping the thing in thin corrugated steel sheet.

I'd imagine it'd do something similar for wifi and cellular reception, though this was before either of those were in wide-spread use.
posted by valkyryn at 5:01 PM on November 28, 2009

I pour regular white vinegar into the Jet Dry dispenser. It cuts down on the gunk, and works as a rinse aid for the dishes.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:07 PM on November 28, 2009

A little sour salt (powdered citric acid) in the dishwasher periodically should do the trick nicely. Actual salt-based water softeners are a little tough on the environment.
posted by j-dawg at 6:09 PM on November 28, 2009

Seconding Lemi-shine - it's the only thing that makes my dishes actually look clean thanks to our very hard water.
posted by leslies at 8:10 PM on November 28, 2009

Response by poster: Ha ha! This is amazing--I feel like I'm the victim of an Improv Everywhere prank where everyone got together to give me the best advice possible about a totally obscure question! Thanks, and I will try this stuff out!
posted by mecran01 at 9:24 PM on November 28, 2009

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