Posts Tagged ‘detergent’

Front load washer taking longer than it says it will?

January 23, 2012

But the washer said it would be done by meow! What's taking so long...

I love my front load washer. It fits double the load of my old top load washer, cleans better and spins out more water so I don’t have to ruin my my clothes by drying them for an eternity.

It also estimates the amount of time it will take to finish the cycle, which comes in handy when deciding whether I should wait around to throw the clean clothes in the dryer or run an errand.

But what about when the washer shows the wrong time estimate? Maybe sometimes when your washing machine says it will take 40 minutes, it takes 50 minutes instead.

Your clothes washer time to complete a cycle is based on the type of laundry detergent you use, the size and type of your load, which cycle you chose and temperature and pressure of your water.

So, for instance, if you use too much detergent, it will “oversuds” and take longer to rinse out of your clothes. (Some brands will flash “Sd” or “Sud” on the indicator when this happens. To avoid, use the recommended amount of HE detergent).

If the load is unbalanced, say, due to you only washing one item or particularly a bulky item, your washer will keep trying to rebalance itself and that will add minutes to the process.

No brainer: larger loads will take longer to clean, especially on specialty cycles like delicate.

If you choose a sanitatization or white cycle, the water will need to be hot and if the incoming water is cold — well, you get the idea.

Hard water wastes your energy and your detergent

August 17, 2011

If you’re not ecstatic about the performance of your dishwasher and/or washer, don’t immediately blame your machine. There could be something in the water.

Using a water softener can cut detergent use in washers and dishwashers by more than half and lower washing machine temperatures from hot to cold, as shown by two  independent studies released in the last two years.

Less detergent and cold water achieved the same stain removal in washing machines using softened water as double the detergent and hot water in hard water. And dishwashers using softened water needed less than half the detergent if used in areas having very hard water (Minnesota is among areas with the hardest water), while achieving the same results.

Plus, the study showed that untreated hard water can cause significant efficiency losses and added costs in water heating – up to 48% in some cases. In addition, hard water was found to rapidly lead to clogged showerheads, in some cases possibly as soon as a year and a half.

(After just one week of constant testing with hard water, more than three-fourths of showerhead nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. Showerheads using softened
water, meanwhile, performed nearly as well as on the day they were installed.)

All these factoids beg the question, at least for me: Do I have hard water? Is that why I have to wash my dishes after my dishwasher does?

Well, don’t look at me. I have no idea how to spot hard water. But our local guys, Water Doctors, can diagnose your water and if necessary, customize a water treatment system for your home.

HOW TO: clean a dishwasher

January 4, 2011

Dishwasher suffering from that "not-so-fresh" feeling?

Most of us think of dishwashers as cleaning our dishes, but you should routinely clean your dishwasher, as well — especially if you’ve noticed a change in its performance. (I’m a huge advocate for performing regular maintenance on your appliances, just as you would your car, to maintain the life and — therefore — get the most out of your investment.)

Dishwasher detergent and food residue might buildup over time (especially if you use too much dishwasher soap and pre-rinse your dishes, which can leave white film on dishes). Clean out the filters and scrub the spray arm nozzles with a toothbrush to loosen any food residue clogged inside.
Then, the real secret of how to clean dishwashers is hiding in plain sight of your own cupboard: white vinegar.

Fill a cup with vinegar and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher (don’t add any soap to the dishwasher dispenser) and run the dishwasher as normal. Voila!

If you don’t have any vinegar (or the smell grosses you out), my brother swears by powdered citric acid in the dishwasher soap dispenser, and I’ve also heard of people successfully cleaning the dishwasher using Tang in the detergent dispenser.

Photo courtesy eHow.com

Don’t add soap to your washer because there’s enough in your clothes

December 27, 2010

When my new front-load washer arrives this week, my high-efficiency detergents won’t see any action for at least another week. Why?

I’m going to wash all my clothes using the soap they already contain.

That’s right. Clothes washed in top-load washers (like mine) generally contain enough soap residue in their fibers that will suds and finally rinse properly once washed in front-loader washers.

To wash, top-load washers completely fill their tub with water and push clothes around in the soapy water by the agitator (that tall thing with paddles in the middle). This would be like washing your hands by filling a sink with soapy water and swishing your hands around in it. Plus, older, top loading washers simply don’t rinse as well and your clothes end up accumulating a decent amount of soap residue.

Don’t believe me? Examine your dark clothes. Do they look gray or faded? That’s soap.

Disgusting, huh? Now imagine how irritating all that soap is to your skin, too.

(Front-loading washers use far less water, only enough to get the clothes wet, which means they use less soap as well. Make sure you don’t use too much soap or your washer could “oversuds,” producing too much soap bubbles, which might not completely rinse out of your clothes, as a front loader washer is, again, designed to use minimal water. Saying that, they’ll also rinse your clothes much better than a top load washing machine.)

So, I’m going to wash out all the soap left over in my clothes from my old washer using nothing but tumble action and water from a front loader washer.

 

 

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwashing detergent left in dispenser

December 7, 2010

My new baby (and yes, those are blue laminate countertops)

I got a new Asko dishwasher a couple of weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it: the way all my pots and pans fit, the stemware holders for my house’s wine habit, the knife holder for my vegetable habit.

Nothing comes out with a speck of food, and we no longer have to yell at each other over a tsunami of washing sounds. My life has improved two-fold. No more dishwasher problems.

Well, there was one. The Cascade Action Packs we had just bought on sale were getting stuck in the dispenser.

After reading the Use & Care manual (gold star for me), I noted that Asko recommends using powder detergent, and only about a tablespoon of it depending on the hardness of your water.

When I switched back to powder, everything was fine. But it’s not always as easy as switching dishwasher detergent.

If you still have caked detergent after running your dishwasher, try these dishwasher troubleshooting tips, adapted from Whirlpool Corp.

Was the dispenser cup wet when you added detergent?

If dispenser cup is wet, the detergent can clump. This also means that if there’s still detergent left in the cup, don’t think, “Oh, well now I don’t have to refill it!” Clean it out and start over.

Is the cycle incomplete?

If the previous cycle did not complete, the detergent can become caked in the dispenser cup if it is left sitting in the dishwasher. But this probably isn’t the cause for those with chronic detergent-caking issues. Again, clean the detergent from the cup and start over again.

Is the detergent old?

Older detergent exposed to air will clump and not dissolve well, which will cause the dispenser door to stick to the detergent. Buy new detergent, and this time, keep it in a tightly closed container (i.e. not the box with an open flap) in a cool dry place (i.e. not under your sink right next to the wall where your dishwasher runs hot!).

Is the water temperature too low?

For best washing and drying results, water should be 120oF (49o C) as it enters the dishwasher, so check your water heater setting. I also try to remember to run the kitchen sink tip until hot water comes out to help this.

Were items blocking the dispenser that kept it from opening?

Items blocking the detergent dispenser will keep it from opening. Make sure water action can reach the dispenser.

Other good (if not obvious) detergent guidelines

  • Use automatic dishwashing detergent only.
  • Add detergents just before starting the cycle.
    • I’m guilty of this. I’ll fill the detergent cup when I’m done with the night’s dishes so I only have to press the button before bed a few hours later. Don’t be like me.
  • The amount of detergent to use depends on the hardness of your water and the type of detergent.
    • If you use too little, dishes won’t be clean.
    • If you use too much in soft water, glassware will etch.
  • Your manufacturer’s suggested amount is based on standard powdered detergent, so follow instructions on the package when using liquid or concentrated powdered detergent.
  • Water hardness can change over a period of time. You can find out your water’s hardness for about $15 by calling Water Doctors.

The bad habit that can waste 20 gallons of water

May 17, 2010

You might not wash your dishes before you wash your dishes, but even rinsing is completely unnecessary.

Energy Star, a joint program by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, cautions people to scrape, not rinse. Pre-rinsing dishes can waste up to 20 gallons of water.

Energy Star dishwashers and today’s detergents are designed to do the cleaning so you don’t have to pre-rinse.

And if your dirty dishes are going to sit overnight, use your dishwasher’s rinse feature. It uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse.

Speaking of a using a fraction of the water, a dishwasher built before 1994 wastes about 8 gallons of water per cycle compared to owning a new Energy Star-qualified model. So if you replace one of these old dishwashers with an Energy Star dishwasher, you’re saving enough water each week to wash two loads of laundry in an Energy Star qualified clothes washer.

So be lazy: scrape, don’t rinse!

10 sneaky ways you’re wasting money in your kitchen

March 23, 2010

This is among posts I prewrote to be published in my absence while I took vacation time. I will respond to all comments when I return. Thank you!

You bought your kitchen appliances on sale. Bonus: they’re Energy Star, so you’ll save money in water and energy costs.

But did you ever think that the way you use your appliances can really affect your utility bills?

Here are 10 energy-wasting choices to avoid:

1. Making your dishwasher heat up cold water

Run hot tap water before you run your dishwasher it doesn’t have to heat up the water as long.

2. Setting your refrigerator and freezer too cold

Your fridge section should be set at 37 degrees to 40 degrees, and your freezer section should be set at 5 degrees. A deep freeze should be set at zero degrees.

3. Using an uncovered pot to boil water

Think of all the heat  — and time — lost without a cover on  a pot of heated water. Instead, a cover traps the energy in.

4. Selecting “Heat Dry” on your dishwasher

If you don’t wash a lot of plastic dishes, or lots of dishes in general, choose the “Air Dry” setting or simply prop your dishwasher door open after the rinse cycle.

5. Leaving foods uncovered in the refrigerator

Uncovered foods release moisture, causing the compressor to work harder. Instead, cover all liquids and foods.

6. Prewashing your dishes

Not only will it decrease the effectiveness of your dishwasher detergent, prewashing your dishes is unnecessary and wastes water. Just scrape off the big pieces of food.

7. Ignoring the gasket on your refrigerator

Close your refrigerator door over a piece of paper or dollar bill so it’s half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull it out easily, your door seals aren’t airtight.

Try moistening the gasket with a thin layer of Vaseline, which should create a better seal. If that doesn’t do the trick, you might need to replace the gasket altogether.

8. Cooking with dirty burners and drip pans

Clean burners and drip pans will reflect the heat better, cooking your food faster and saving you energy.

9. Placing small pans on bigger burners

Match pans to the size of the element. Otherwise, you’re using energy to heat a bigger burner only to let it escape around the sides of the smaller pot or pan.

10. Barely stocking your refrigerator

It seems backwards, but a full refrigerator holds temperature better than a poorly stocked refrigerator. Just don’t pack food so tight as to block the airflow.

Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishes not clean

November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving means two things: lots of food and lots of dirty dishes. And more dirt requires more soap, right?

WRONG.

Despite what you might think, too much soap can actually prevent your dishes from getting clean — especially on the top rack.

You should only use about half the amount of detergent recommended on the package. And if you have a water softener, you need only 1-2 teaspoons of powder — even less if you use liquid.

I think these people may have used too much detergent.

Too much soap can cause over-sudsing. Our customer service representative Maghan explained to me that the dishwasher tries to drain as much of the soap suds and food residue as it can. But when too much soap is used and it produces  so many suds, the dishwasher can’t drain it all in the time allowed.

So instead of draining, the soap bubbles pop inside, redepositing tiny food particles back onto the dishes, which show up most on glassware and silverware.

How do you know if you’re over-sudsing? Run a cycle without any soap. If suds are left at the bottom of the tub, you’re over-sudsing.

To remedy, we suggest a “vinegar cycle”:

  • Empty any dishes and shut soap door, without adding any detergent
  • Run dishwasher until it gets to the wash cycle
  • Open the door and check if the dispenser flap has opened
    • If it hasn’t, run for another minute or so until the flap opens
    • If the flap has opened, add the 1 cup vinegar and run through the full cycle.

You might have to repeat the process two or three times to ensure you’ve eliminated the build up of soap. Maghan also suggests trying a dishwasher cleaner like Glisten or Dishwasher Magic.

And I’ve said it again but I will continue to harp on about using rinse aid. It’s not just for looks, people! Maghan reminds us dishwashers today come designed to use rinse aid to help dry, as they lack a built-in fan.

So remember: gorge on turkey, just go easy on the soap, OK?

Photo credit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flexsleuthor/ / CC BY 2.0

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