Lemi Shine alternative: citric acid? Something else for daily use?
March 17, 2014 4:06 PM   Subscribe

We have hard water in our house, and our dishes are showing it something wicked. It's to the point we'll need to wash with something other than plain dish detergent every wash. Lemi Shine is great (mostly*), but it'll be expensive to run every wash with Lemi Shine. So I looked around and this house-keeping blog tried citric acid with positive results and a significant savings, while this chemistry blog thinks Lemi Shine is citric acid hemihydrate. Is there any concern to buying bulk citric acid or citric acid hemihydrate?

* The "mostly" is because a few of our glasses and mugs have been too aggressively cleaned, with the printed/painted logos eroding, and a fired mug losing its luster and staining pretty easily now.

So, even if citric acid is safe, is there something more mild that would allow us to clean our dishes without eating away more fragile paintings/finishes? And is there a way to know what might be overly cleaned besides trial and error?

We're thinking of getting a water softener, but we've made some major investments recently, so low-cost fixes like this work for now, plus my wife isn't fond of the feeling of softened water, as she doesn't feel as clean after showering in soft water.
posted by filthy light thief to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My parents have similar frustrations with soft water, so they bought a dishwasher with a water softener built in. They add salt directly to the dishwasher and it keeps their dishes happy (even with incredibly hard well water). I believe theirs was a Miele, but if you google "dishwasher with water softener" there are a fair number of results these days.

Not sure it's cheaper than a whole house water softener, and I always used LemiShine at my own house, but it's something to consider.
posted by HermitDog at 4:16 PM on March 17, 2014

I use bulk food-grade citric acid to clean our dishwasher and to clear up our glassware if it starts getting foggy. The results are identical to the one time we used Lemi Shine. Our water is not very hard, though, so I only do that once every few months.
posted by zsazsa at 4:17 PM on March 17, 2014

We add a nip of TSP to the dishwasher when it stops working effectively (not every load and not loads with fine glassware). Since phosphates were removed from detergents, they just don't clean as well. The another option is to buy your dishwashing detergent at the restaurant supply place. That detergent has phosphates included though consumer grade detergents do not.

Also, keep your detergent dry. We store ours in a 2 gallon ziplock bag. Once it gets even a bit damp it degrades quickly.
posted by 26.2 at 4:19 PM on March 17, 2014

I have hard water (Arizona) and periodically hand wash my glassware with distilled white vinegar. Works amazingly well and is very fast. Unfortunately I haven't found anything that works this well within the dishwasher.
posted by belau at 5:43 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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