Hard Water Wastes Your Energy and Detergent

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 shower heads, 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 shower head nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. Shower heads using softened water, meanwhile, performed nearly as well as on the day they were installed.

If it sounds like you have hard water, our local guys, Water Doctors, can diagnose your water and if necessary, customize a water treatment system for your home.

Dishwasher Troubleshooting: Dishwasher Detergent Left in Dispenser

Few things are more frustrating than when you finally work up the energy to unload the dishwasher, but notice the dishes aren’t quite clean. You investigate a little only to find out the detergent is still chilling in the dishwasher, and thus, never washed your dishes.

If you have experienced this phenomenon far too many times, try these dishwasher troubleshooting tips, adapted from Whirlpool.

Dishwasher Troubleshooting Tips

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 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.
  • 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. Want to find out if you have hard water? Get a free testing kit at any Warners’ Stellian location.

Share your best dishwasher tips in the comments section!