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Ask The Readers: What Happened To Dishwasher Detergent?

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about dishwashers and dirty, spotty dishes. To be more exact we were talking about the fact that dishwasher detergent is not what it used to be.

The dishes do not come out clean? They have spots and stains that they never used to have? Even the inside of my dishwasher is turning all cloudy and nasty.

Has anyone else noticed this?

From what I can tell the reason behind this is the recent changes that companies have had to make to their detergents. They have had to remove phosphates from their detergents due to laws and regulations in many states and the newer ones without the phosphates do not work as well.

Now, I have no interest in debating whether or not they should be required to remove phosphates, but what I do have an interest in is clean dishes.

We dirty a lot of dishes in our house and I would rather not have to wash them two or three times in order to get them clean.

Several years ago when we discovered that my daughter’s asthma was triggered by smells and chemicals, I gave up basically all my cleaners and soaps and switched to more natural solutions.

However, after trying many alternative methods for dishwasher soap, I gave up and went back that green bottle at the store that we are all familiar with. It worked and the natural type ones did not. The more natural versions did not get my dishes clean.

I did think about making homemade dishwasher soaps, but all the versions I have heard about contained borax, and borax is one of the things that triggers my daughter’s asthma. I discovered this when I tried to make homemade laundry soap.

Borax has a very strong smell and is very powdery and it immediately triggers an asthma attack for her. So, that green bottle of dishwasher detergent is what I have used until now.

However, that green bottle of dishwasher soap that I have used and loved for years has not been working the same.

So, my question for today is has anyone else noticed this problem? If so, have you found a good solution? Are some brands better than others?

Is there something I can add to my soap to make it work again? Or is there a homemade version that really works and is safe to use (and does not use borax)?

I would love to hear your thoughts on dishwasher detergent.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. I own 8 coffee tumblers from Tervis Tumblers that I very luckily found on major clearance and I accidentally purchased Cascade with bleach 2 weeks ago! Since then, they have a nasty white residue to the level where our coffee cups are filled up to. I cannot wash it out with a scrubbing sponge and dish soap. The dishwasher is relatively new and I believe it is NOT the dishwasher. As the stains coincide with the usage of the Cascade with bleach! I can seemingly scratch the residue off with a finger nail on all 8 tumblers. Does anyone know a way to get this stuff out of the dishes? Please help! Thanks!

  2. Add a slash of lemon juice to your main compartment of dishwasher soap (in addition to the soap) and fill up the prewash with lemon juice. I also put white vinegar in the rinse department and my dishes are now sparkling clean again! It works to add back in the acid that is now missing from dishwasher detergents.

  3. You might try the Shaklee brand. It worked about the same as other brands for us, so not perfect, but likely will not cause issues for your daughter. I did not get a strong smell of chemicals when I handle it.

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