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Why Does Dishwasher Detergent Stop Working?

This Lazy Budget Chef is also Lazy Budget I Hate to Wash Dishes. That’s why I have a dishwasher. I’d hug it, but it’s built into the wall so that’s a no go.

Thing is, my dishwasher seems to be fickle. It will clean the dishes as well as it did the day we had it installed and then go into a not cleaning the dishes very well at all jag. Sometimes cleaning the filter basket and checking the dishwasher spray arms for clogs makes my dishwasher clean better but all too often it doesn’t fix the problem. It doesn’t matter what brand or kind of dishwasher detergent I use. When I open a new package it cleans well. Later on the same package of dishwasher detergent will not get my dishes clean. Why?

After some research I realized every type of dishwashing detergent has this  problem and has a very simple solution.

 

why won't my dishwasher clean dishes
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How to Make Your Dishwasher Clean Better Without Taking it Apart!

The thing about the ingredients in dishwashing detergent is that they are a little fickle when it comes to moisture and water. In the beginning of home dishwashers powdered detergent was the only type available and even now, it is considered by independent experts who test these things (Consumer Reports, etc.) to clean dishes best. Not to mention it is the most economical option. 

Unfortunately powdered detergents are drawn to moisture (which is how they do their job) and are are activated by water. Since most come in an eco friendly cardboard box, powdered detergents can loose their cleaning oomph if they are stored in a place with moisture – like under the kitchen sink. If the box accidentally gets wet, all the cleaning that can happen, will happen in the box before you use it. This is why my dishwasher had good and bad cleaning jags.

So liquid and gel dish washing detergent must clean better, right? No. Not really. Actually liquid and gel dishwasher detergent cleans worse than powdered dishwasher detergent per independent tests.  The problem is that liquid dish-washing detergents are made of bleaching ingredients and cleaning enzyme ingredients that work great together when they are first combined. 

Unfortunately when those two types of ingredients are sitting around together as a liquid dishwashing detergent in the jug, after awhile chemistry comes into play and the liquid bleach ingredients tend to kill the cleaning enzyme ingredients. And just like that your container of liquid dish washing liquid or gel  loses it’s cleaning oomph.

Which is why dish-washing detergent companies created the hybrid dishwashing gel pacs. To workaround the moisture and liquid issues dishwashing detergent tabs and pacs are over concentrated, most have a plastic coating, are sold in plastic containers,  and in smaller quantities so they are less likely to sit around and lose their cleaning power because you have to keep running to the store to buy tiny bags of dishwasher detergent tablets. Grr!

Even so dishwasher detergent tablets and gel pacs are still going to lose their cleaning oomph sitting around your house because they experience the worst of both powder and liquid dishwashing detergent worlds - and at a more expensive price point as an added bonus! 

And on an environmental note. I’m not entirely convinced those plastic plastic coating on dishwasher gel pac entirely "goes away" when they dissolve in the dishwasher.

Fortunately there is a super easy and inexpensive way to make your dishwashing detergent powder and tablets work better. Pour it out of the bag/box and store it in a sealed plastic/glass/metal container with a screw on lid. Oh, and skip buying liquid or gel dishwashing detergent because there’s no hope of saving a solution with two types of ingredients that cancel each other out. Sorry.

 

how to make dishwasher detergent work better
You can store either powder or packs in a container with a better seal than the package it came in. I use powder because the gel pacs are often too big and won't let me close the dishwasher detergent door properly.


It doesn’t have to be fancy, just more moisture resistant than a cardboard box. I use a repurposed protein powder container (my husband is a runner and protein powder containers populate the house like stray cats.) I was surprised that it honestly makes a difference. I also repurposed the plastic scoop that came in the container to make sure I don’t accidentally pour too much detergent into the dishwasher cup because I’m very, very, good at that!

 Looking for more moisture free  dishwashing detergent storage ideas? Check out the following options – and more! – below!

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Comments

Our dishwasher does the same thing and it drives me bonkers. Interesting read! I'm switching to good old fashioned powder after reading this and I have a protein powder jar to hold it in. Thanks for the tips!
Good info to be aware of for dishwasher detergents. I wasn't aware of the facts you talked about.