Millions of people are noticing something different about their dishes lately. They're just not getting as clean as they used to get, after a wash cycle in the dishwasher.
Is the problem your dishwasher? Your water? Turns out it may be something else.
Milky, Frosty Coating
Julie Schimpf has been at wit's end the past few months. No matter how much this busy mom runs her dishwasher, no matter how much detergent or rise aid she uses, her dishes are still coming out dirty.
Julie told me "right around the first of November, I noticed the dishes had this milky, frosty look left on them, a film."
It's especially bad on her drinking glasses, Julie explaining "there's this frosty, filmy look on the top and bottom and it won't go away."
The white film even shows up on her stoneware and china, especially on the
edges of her plates.
She thought she might need to buy a new dishwasher. Julie said "our dishwasher is about 8 years old. I thought maybe there was something wrong with it."
What has Changed
The good news: Her dishwasher, and probably yours, is fine.
The bad news: There's no simple solution to this problem now affecting millions of homeowners.
The reason: Cascade, Finish, and other detergent brands, in September 2010, changed their formulas, removing the ingredient the prevents hard water buildup. It's an ingredient called phosphates.
Dr. Ed Hunter is an adjunct chemistry professor at Cincinnati's Xavier University. He explained "phosphates would uniquely bond molecules in hard water like calcium and magnesium. It bonds to those items and removes them from wash water."
Dr Hunter says detergent makers have voluntarily removed phosphates, after several states banned them for harming wildlife in rivers.
But Dr. Hunter admits there's a downside to going green, saying "without phosphates there could be spotting and film inside our dishes and glasses."
Some Possible Solutions
So what can you do? Procter and Gamble, maker of top selling Cascade, would not speak on camera.
But in a statement, P&G suggests you:
- Use a rinse aid.
- Try Cascade "Action Pacs," which soften the water, preventing hard water buildup.
- Occasionally add white vinegar to the wash cycle.
Online blogs, meantime, suggest trying some store brand detergents, that still contain phosphates for now.
And still others suggest buying a rinse aid called Lemi Shine , that works similarly to vinegar, but smells better. It is sold at Walmart, Amazon , and other retailers.
Julie is going to try all those suggestions, because she's had it with glassware that looks like it was washed with milk.
As always, dont waste your money.
For more Don't Waste Your Money reports, click here.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.