Problems With Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwasher Problems, Phosphates to Blame

Scrubbing, splashing water all over the floor and interrupting busy schedules to do dishes is a thing of the past thanks to dishwashers. This revolutionary machine allows more family time and less time behind a sink. In recent years, consumers notice dishwashers becoming less effective in cleaning. Some dishwashers quit working after a year. Most believe the dishwasher itself is to blame. Surprisingly, the detergent could be the culprit. Phosphates inside detergents eat grime left on dishes and within the dishwasher; however, these pollute water and cause unnecessary destruction to ecosystems. Dishwashers save time, but phosphates kill the environment.

These chemicals present problems within the environment. Phosphates pollute water, causing aquatic life suffocation and death. Algae thrives on phosphates to the point of depleting needed oxygen within the water. Fish and other water life forms need oxygen to survive. This presents a problem for ecosystems and future generations alike. Several states already ban phosphates in dishwasher detergents to prevent ecosystem unbalance; however, phosphates clean grime from dishes and the dishwasher. After a while, dishwashers stop working. Protecting the environment is a great cause, but costs time and convenience.

Losing phosphates means destroying appliances and dishes prematurely. Phosphates safely destroy food particles on dishes and within the dishwasher. Phosphate-free detergents corrode stainless steel inserts, metal utensils, and leave white splotches on glass. Some dishwasher safe plastics melt or fall apart after a few cycles. Eventually, parts inside the dishwasher clog and stop working, as well. Of course, the outcome is spending money on a new unit unless other ways are found to reduce damage or companies produce better dishwasher safe cookware.

Alternative detergents prove to work less effectively; however, more elbow grease and maintenance keeps dishes and the unit cleaner. Pre-soaking and scrubbing loosens caked on food that clogs dishwashers. Natural ingredients such as adding a cup of vinegar to the cycle significantly cuts grime. Before dishwashers, vinegar cleaned coffee pots, glass, dishes, and is non-toxic to the environment. Maintaining dishwashers allows for years of service. Checking hoses, drains, and the water inlet valve guarantee a longer life span.

For people who cannot physically clean dishes, stores may offer phosphate compound. A word of caution: some states outlawed phosphates altogether, including phosphate compound. For now, the struggle for clean dishes is against the consumer and the government. Until companies invent new detergents or higher cleaning dishwashers, expect to be behind the sink again.


  1. J. Young says:

    I have noticed in the last 3 or 4 months that my aluminum collunder, measuring spoons and frying pan bottom have discolored. I have had all of these things for years and have had no problem washing them in the dishwasher until now.
    I will have to replace most of these with plastic ones. The pan I will throw away.

  2. Yeah, that’s just what I want to do – have a sinkload of dishes stacked up waiting for the dishwasher…I can do them all by hand in less time than it takes to load the ##)($*(+@#() dishwasher anyway….How stupid are people to think that this is sensible??

  3. Why has my work dishwasher gone blue inside. The white racks & white plastic bits inside have a blue scum on them. How can it be cleaned off ??? Is it the dishwashing powder??

  4. James M. Gillen says:

    What a mess. My wife bought the large box 4.39 kg Cascade (shine shield formula) thinking to save money. She thought the dish washer was all of a sudden malfunctioning (we have small children here). The film on ALL of our dishes WILL come off with vinegar & plenty of elbow grease. I bought the next product I could find and now they are coming cleaner. (and cleaner with each wash). I WILL not buy yours again. Did NOT “leave the dishes sparkling”. What a waste of our money & time.

  5. Barbara Mueller says:

    My gelpacs are stuck together. Will not purchase again.

  6. Cascade has ruined my aluminum pans, cookie sheets, colander etc. turning them black. I scrubbed for almost an hour today to get the black off a brand new cookie sheet and only managed to scuff it up terribly. Despite rinsing all my dishes before putting in the dishwasher, I rarely end up with a clean load . I understand ,while reading this article , that there has been a change in the chemical composition of Cascade. In my opinion Cascade should have tried to reformulate their product ,making it a better product instead of an inefficient one. I will NEVER buy Cascade again. If I have to make my own dishwasher detergent then I guess I will.

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