Dirty Glasses, Dishes and Damaged Pans from Your Dishwasher?

That is exactly what people are experiencing since Cascade and other dishwasher detergent manufacturers have had to switch from using phosphates in their detergents.

Environmentalist groups have pushed to have laws passed in several states regarding the removal of phosphates from soaps and detergents (anything that could go down the drain and end up in lake water and streams) in claims of helping protect the environment and wildlife. It’s not really the fault of dishwashing detergent companies that phosphate is being removed and they’re doing their best to find suitable replacements that will still clean dishes well.

In the meantime, some detergents are not working well. In fact, they seem to be ruining dishes, pans, glasses and even dishwashers themselves. People are really frustrated and some are even shopping for new dishwashers. It’s a big problem at the moment.

Don’t Buy a New Dishwasher – The Solutions

Thanks to the community here, a number of great solutions have popped up. They are restoring people’s dishes and dishwashers and dishes are once again coming out clean. Here are the solutions so far and we’ll continue to update this list – these are either dishwasher detergent with phosphate or others without it that have been proven to work:

  • Home remedy – add 1/2 – 1 cup of vinegar to the dishwasher detergent you’re using now. Just pour it into the bottom of the dishwasher before running it. Vinegar can affect metal items, so it’s not recommended for them. White vinegar works fine on flatware.
  • Home remedy – add 1/3 cup Borax to the bottom of the dishwasher.
  • Clean your dishwasher – run it empty with 1/2 cup of Tang to clean and freshen up your dishwasher.
  • To fix and clean glassware – soak all your glassware in distilled white vinegar for 30 minutes, completely submerged, and they will look brand new.
  • Detergent that works – Finish (formerly Electrasol) brand dishwashing detergent seems to work well.
  • Detergent that worksQuantum Finish Powerball with Jet Dry
  • Detergent that worksFinish Glass Magic Dishwasher Performance Booster
  • Detergent that worksLemi Shine, Dishwater Detergent Additive
  • Detergent the worksBioKleen Automatic Dish Powder

If anyone else has any other solutions, remedies, tips or comments, please post them here.


  1. gail wing says:

    All dishwasher detergents are removing phosphates from their product. Result–dirty dishes. When phosphates were removed from laundry detergents–the result was dirty, dingy clothes. Maybe the environment is safer but what about people in their homes?

  2. The environment safer?? What about us, how is the increased residue we are ingesting going to affect us longterm? Will we eventually find out its a carcinogen? We’ve switched to using plastic cups because of the film on all my glasses. Now that’s helping the environment! For those who haven’t seen the problem yet…we’re not talking water spots on dishes, we’re talking solid white film seen on all glasses.

  3. Stephen says:

    Gail and Bonnie,

    Don’t be naive. When scientists and engineers are faced with a problem such as finding a resolution to replacing phosphates in dish detergent, they WILL do so. We are humans and we adapt. Phosphates are extremely harmful to the environment. There are 3 MAIN areas of concern at a wastewater treatment plant (where you dishsoap is going). Biochemical Oxygen Demand, Nitrates, and Phosphates. Phosphates promote algae growth. If this water is introduced to a body of water (untreated) it will choke out the existing animal life and affect the entire marine ecosystem. This is a GOOD thing that phosphates are being banned in dish detergent.

  4. Jody Tompson says:

    I made a product that is all-natural, contains no phosphates, and it cleans dishes (and the dishwasher). And it contains organic orange peels. You add about a tablespoon to each wash cycle and you use less detergent. So your cost per wash does not increase. CitriClean.net

  5. To hell with the environment if that means dirty dishes. TO HELL WITH IT. We’re already circling the drain and I seriously doubt reducing phosphates we’ll be the thing that saves us.

  6. garrett says:

    Phosphates are a fertilizer (essential for plants and algae in fact) and the bio solids fertilizer I’ve gotten from the local water treatment plant had a good amount of phosphate in them, which means that phosphate isn’t being dumped in the river. (though the river is only 2 hours from the sea here, hardly time for an algae bloom)
    Meanwhile my $800 energy/water efficient dishwasher(great until now) not only won’t take fruit juice off a cup it turns it into a hardened on scum film! (without heated drying)

  7. @Stephen, you sir are dumber than a box of phosphate free dish soap. Check into how much of the phosphate pollution is coming from dish soap. Its a tiny fraction of the whole, and did not need to be done. so now I wash and rewash my dishes. more hot water wasted, more gas to heat the water, more water that needs to be treated, more electricity to run the dishwasher. Nice work greenies, way to think things thru.

  8. @ Stephen…..You are a good little lemming. Perhaps one day, your government will quit feeding you and we will see how you react to that. This idiocy is nothing more than gov’t control and succumbing to pressure from activist groups bilking a living off of tax payers. There was no problem to solve, but we definitely created another problem.

  9. Just go to your friendly hardware store and buy TSP. Ask for it if you can’t find it. You don’t want the liquid you want the powder. MAKE SURE IT IS TSP and NOT TSP substitute. Put about half a teaspoon in the cup with your dishwasher detergent and it makes your dishes just as clean as they used to be. TSP is still legal to purchase although you can’t get it in diswasher detergent. We need to write our Congressman and Senators to get this stupid law overturned.

    The tree huggers are killing us slowly but surely. I actually read where one said that American’s are spoiled people where if our dishes were not clean we freak out and refuse to eat off of them. Count me as spoiled.

  10. I had one detergent I could buy that still had phosphates in it but it’s now gone – and my dishwasher has become a big drying rack. I washed 3 loads with the phosphate free junk and my glasses looked like they had been sprayed with a thin layer of milk and then dried. So I had to return to washing by hand, what’s the point of using the appliance if it doesn’t work? That is what the greenies want, I suppose…I am going to try the vinegar trick but I don’t have much confidence in it. Disgusted with all this government intervention. Stephen, just go to the Consumer Reports website, you will be happier there.

  11. Lorie Robbins says:

    What is up with taking the phosphate out of dish washer soap.?
    For 200 yrs it was fine to use and now it is not? why does the govt fix things that are not broke.? Now the dishes look like sh*t.
    Guess I am done buying expensive dishwasher soap when it is not going to do any good anyway.
    The only solution I have come up with is to wash them by hand.
    I am extremely beyond myself with this.

  12. This is not a political issue, it is a scientific one. Stephen is right, however — we need to be shown an acceptable substitute when the ability to clean our dishes is taken away. I was angry when I found out why there was a whitish film all over my well kept stainless steel dishwasher interior. The detergent manufacturers took away phosphates and didn’t tell us squat! The dishwasher makers tell us — in fine print — to use citric acid to remove and keep away mineral deposits.
    Fine, but don’t buy citric acid in small quantities to support their profit margins. I buy at least 5 lbs of the crystals at a time, and it is working, with cheap store brand dishwasher detergent gels. I save on hot water and save on the citric acid. I hope I help save the fish, who have nowhere else to go when we have destroyed their environment.

    What goes around comes around, people. First the fish, then us.

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