Dishwasher Detergents & Additives
Learn Why Your Dishwasher Detergent Is Not Cleaning Dishes
It’s not uncommon for us to receive service requests for dishwashers that are “not cleaning the dishes well enough.” This dishwasher problem can be extremely frustrating for customers because many times there’s nothing the repair technician can do. But WAIT! Before you get mad at the repair technician, read this article! You may find that the problem isn’t your dishwasher at all…it’s your dishwasher detergent! This may sound crazy, but if your dishwasher’s not cleaning well, a simple switch in detergents may resolve your problem.
How Dishwasher Detergents Work
As we all know, water and oil does not mix, so while water is effective at cleaning most substance, oil-based substances are particularly resistant to water-based cleaning. A soap or detergent acts as an emulsifier, which enables the oil-based substance to mix with the water.
Detergents have several active chemicals:
- Alkalies regulate pH levels which encourages food particles to swell and become removed more easily.
- Builders regulate water hardness to prevent limescale build up.
- Enzymes, similar to those found in the digestive process, are used to break down starch and protein into water-soluble particles.
- Bleach may be included to oxidize certain hard soils like coffee stains.
These active chemicals are why pre-rising your dirty dishes is no longer necessary. In fact, modern detergents work better when there’s some leftover food on your dishes. Just be sure to scrape off any large food chunks before loading as to not clog your filter, and you’re good to go!
Choosing a Detergent
The Finish brand gel and powder options offer the basic properties necessary in a detergent: breaking down hard food and removing grease (as well as a bleach additive to fight stains). However, customers often find these options messy and prefer to use “monodose” options requiring a single tab rather than an individual measurement.
Traditionally, all detergents came in powder form. Stored under the kitchen sink, these powders would absorb moisture and clump. Typically, the user would then break these clumps and continue to use the detergent. However, moisture activates the cleaning agent, so once it was exposed to water, the detergent was essentially just a weak filler material. As a result, people complained that powder produced poor results, even leaving detergent on the dishes.
For this reason, many users prefer to use gel-based detergents and are very skeptical of the efficacy of powder-based detergents. Yet, as a liquid, gel can only contain either enzymes or bleach, not both, as bleach will kill enzymes.
Finish gel products are among the few that favors enzymes over bleach. Finish All-in-1 Gel Pacs introduces pre-soakers to break down tough food particles and a rinse aid to reduce spotting, but removes the bleach additive. We strongly encourage gel users to switch to monodose powder-based options, as these are protected from ambient moisture and use both enzymes and bleach.