What is the most important issue for the desperate housewives of the Seacoast? It is not the deficit, unemployment, or global warming. It is how to get the film off glasses that come out of the dishwasher.
I had the problem, but was not aware that others did until a chance comment about the subject at a holiday party sparked a lively conversation, which even included the men.
Shortly afterward, the deluge of the e-mails began. By the first of January at least 15 a day were arriving in my mailbox with the subject line of “dishwasher.” They even outnumbered “Lower Your Bills” and requests for contributions to my college alumni association.
Every aspect of the subject was covered. All conversations with appliance repairman were reported. It was suggested that the problem was too much detergent, temperature too low, or water too hard. There were detailed instructions for cleaning the filter, if one could figure out what it was and where it was located.
However, the real culprit turned out to be that phosphates were no longer added to dishwasher detergent. It seems that phosphorus boosts algae in freshwater and threatens aquatic plant life. Because of the environmental impact, a ban on phosphorus in home dishwasher detergent took effect on July 1, 2010, in 16 states — including New Hampshire. We now have a choice. Clean water or clean glasses.
Looking for a solution I googled “dishwasher film on glasses” and found 320,000 responses. Obviously, this is a critical question, and the answers suggested on blogs were diverse.
Some resorted to subterfuge. When the ban went into effect in California, people drove to Nevada to buy detergent.
Some woman reported that she discovered the commercial product for cleaning dishes still contains phosphates, and found a place online to purchase it. Since it has to be ordered by the case, she now fights the recession by buying several cases at once and selling the extra bottles for a “tidy profit” —and she has clean dishes too.
Other suggestions included adding trisodium phosphate (bought in a hardware store) to the detergent, or using borax, Tang (because it contains citric acid) or baking soda. Another solution was to run one cycle with chlorine bleach followed by one cycle of vinegar. I concluded that this would result in shining glasses and undrinkable wine.
Consumer Reports suggested spending a weekend putting your dishwasher in good working order by inspecting the spray arms, washing the door gasket, and setting the temperature. Frankly, I can think of better things to do on my weekends — like going out to dinner so I don’t have to dirty any dishes.
All of the above did not appeal to me, and I could find no answers until a brilliant neighbor came up with a simple solution. Pour three glasses of wine. Put one glass of wine in the dishwasher with one cup of vinegar. Drink the other two glasses of wine, and when the cycle is finished, you won’t care what the dishes look like!
It works for me.