Thread Number: 74087  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
Dishwasher Detergent Recipe, with phosphates?
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Post# 978682   1/17/2018 at 10:01 (275 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        


I've posted here in the past, talking about my 30 year old kitchen aid DW, that, alas, recently went to its grave. This was due to the purchase of a new Maytag DW, MDB8969SDM0 which I suspect will last maybe 5 years, instead of 30. We call that progress. I digress!

We have hard water, about 13.7 grains, or 244 mg/l if you prefer.

With the new (2 years old) DW, we have been using cascade complete powder in both cups, and the "power blast" cycle, which runs for about 3 hours and uses about 9 gallons of water. We often use the sanitize option which boosts water temps. We use jet-dry in the rinse aid dispenser. We found that adding about a tsp or better of "lemi-shine" to the cascade in each cup helped it clean better, and so have been doing that for a year plus. In the past few months, granular deposits have been showing up on the dishes, little white deposits that apparently didn't rinse off fully. The cleaning action is generally worse than previously, especially in the top rack.

There is no stand-alone filter in this washer, just an accumulator below the wash arm, which shows a little white buildup on the fabric screens. I wasn't able to remove the accumulator for proper cleaning, due to not knowing how to remove the upper wash tube.

This has had me on the path of researching homemade dishwasher detergents with phosphates. I've read a number of posts on this sites and others, which have been much help, especially the post with info on STPP. Does anyone have a good recipe for either a homemade detergent with STPP, or a recommendation on commercial detergent plus STPP? Maybe it is best to just use Cascade Complete + STPP at a 2:1 ratio? Also, I've read about the Cascade Fryer wash out soap, but that stuff is about $16/box at Amazon...pretty expensive to me.

Post# 978702 , Reply# 1   1/17/2018 at 12:54 (275 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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I use Cascade Complete powder mixed with STPP added at about 15-20%of the weight of the detergent.  I have a large Rubbermaid pitcher with a sealing pour-spout and it works perfectly.  I have softened water and don't really need the phosphates, but it's mimicking what Cascade used to be right before the phosphates were taken out.  


I have used the Institutional Cascade with phosphates and chlorine bleach and it doesn't seem to perform as well for me as the Complete with enzymes.  I keep it on hand as it's very nice for some loads that need the bleaching benefits.  Generally, enzymes are going to perform better at the lower target wash-temps in the newer machines.   I have used the enzyme detergent in the pre-wash and put chlorine bleach detergents in the main wash cup with very good results.  Theory is that the temps are cooler in the beginning of the cycle as the load and tank warm up, the bleach works more effectively at higher temps.  

Post# 978707 , Reply# 2   1/17/2018 at 13:29 (275 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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I have very hard water apparently, but I don't know what the level is.  A couple of months ago I had to have the diverter valve replaced on my 23 month old Kenmore Elite (KitchenAid product).  2 weeks later the circulation pump stopped spraying water even though it was trying to.  The assessment waws the pump module had to be replaced, under extended warranty.  The guy who did the service to replace the pump assembly has been repairing appliances for 30 years.  I told him I was following instructions and using the Affresh dishwasher cleaner as instructed.  He replied and told me that wouldn't address my problem due to the hard water scale.  He suggested I use Lemi Shine detergent booster in each load and their dishwasher cleaner once a month because that deals with lime scale that Affresh doesn't address.  He said that's what he's advised customers in hard water areas for years to use.  I've always used Cascade Platinum pods, but hadn't been putting anything in the pre wash cup generally unless extremely soiled loads.  I now use the Platinum in the main detergent dispenser and Cascade Complete in prewash. I've also selected to use Finish detergent booster rather than Lemi Shine detergent booster.   And use the dishwasher cleaner on the 1st of every month. 

Post# 978720 , Reply# 3   1/17/2018 at 15:12 (275 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        
maybe it's a problem with the DW, too?

gansky1, that's what I was leaning toward doing.

However, maybe I have a problem with the pump and/or other components, as appnut described? Maybe the water flow isn't adequate to the upper rack. I tried to access the service manual for my DW on the Maytag site, but the PDF was missing when I tried to download. I've got an email into them, maybe they'll come thru for me.

Post# 978721 , Reply# 4   1/17/2018 at 15:37 (275 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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I have dabbled with STPP both in the dishwasher and laundry. From what I saw the quality of the detergent is far more important. A while back I ran out of STPP and I really haven't missed it. I use a Cascade Platinum pack in the dispenser and some generic dishwasher detergent on the door, I can't recall anything not coming out perfectly clean. My dishwasher only runs twice a week so the dishes have generally sat a few days too.

My area has very hard water but I have a softener so that is a non-issue. At 14 grain hardness, I'd suggest a water softener before STPP, it improves everything you do with water in your house.

Post# 978748 , Reply# 5   1/17/2018 at 19:03 (274 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        

Thanks for the softener idea. Don't want to do that for a host of reasons, among them it wrecks my water for brewing due to sodium ion addition.

I figured the STPP was primarily for water softening, so if you have soft water, it likely would have little effect.

Post# 978763 , Reply# 6   1/17/2018 at 20:20 (274 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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I can understand the brewing issue, but that is super easy to work around, just have an unsoftened tap. My outdoor faucets are hard water as is the filtered drinking water in the kitchen.

Seriously, the water softener at 14 grain hardness would be a great change. You would use less detergent, valves and faucets last longer, bathing is more pleasant and whites and dishes get clean etc. I think about 7 grain hardness or lower would be the point where I might consider not having a softener.

Post# 978775 , Reply# 7   1/17/2018 at 21:41 (274 days old) by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
A suggestion about water softeners.......

Just route it through the water heater, and not the main line coming into the house?

That's what we did.....when we had the house. Now, since I live in an apartment, 20 Mule Team Borax is my friend.

I use Borax in the open cup of my dishwasher and Cascade Platinum and Jet Dry for the rest of it.


Post# 978954 , Reply# 8   1/19/2018 at 10:08 (273 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        

I ordered 2.5 lbs of STPP, to give it a try. I'll try to post after testing, but my plan is: use cascade complete in a 2:1 ratio with STPP, and see how it goes.

The water softener suggestion is something I'll keep in the back of my mind. Might be a good thing to pursue on the hot water line as suggested.

Post# 978957 , Reply# 9   1/19/2018 at 10:29 (273 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
The white buildup

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Needs to go - whatever the reason. Tackle that, first.

As to STTP or TSP (which is what most automatic dishwasher detergents used), they help tremendously. Buy a good commercial detergent, add either 1 teaspoon FRESH STTP or one tablespoon TSP. If the STTP isn't fresh, fresh, fresh, it has already turned into TSP. Which is in many ways better for dishes and pots and pans.





Post# 978963 , Reply# 10   1/19/2018 at 11:21 (273 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        
white buildup removal!

Panthera, thanks, that's helpful. With regard to the buildup I mentioned earlier, see the attached photo. I took this the other day, after running a cycle with about a cup of vinegar for cleaning. You can just see the screens under the spray bar - that's about the only buildup that I can see. Might be more in the pump and related parts. I was hoping washing with vinegar would remove the buildup entirely, but appears unsuccessful. Maybe another acid or mechanical removal (remove parts and scrub) is the path forward.

I had removed the spray bars a couple days ago, and tried to get at the accumulator, but was prevented by the upper wash tube you can see in the photo. I tried to obtain a service manual from Maytag, who politely told me that only certified technicians can have access to those manuals. I guess they prefer me blundering thru the process by trial and error? At any rate, it looks like I need to remove the upper rack, uppermost spray bar (mounted in roof), upper wash tube, and then remove the accumulator.

Any suggestions on how to clean that buildup?

  View Full Size
Post# 978972 , Reply# 11   1/19/2018 at 12:11 (273 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
A few ideas

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One, the Maytag/Whirlpool (your dishwasher is a Whirlpool mechanically) experts around here can help you with disassembly - I'd suggest a separate thread on that.

As to the white stuff, stop using vinegar. It's combining with something (probably a magnesium chelate) in the water and making a nasty problem worse. Next step is citric acid. Four packs of Lemon Kool-Aid in the hottest wash program should show a major improvement. If they do, then pick up some citric acid in the caning section of Walmart. Be careful, it's still an acid.

Hope that helps.

This post was last edited 01/19/2018 at 18:30
Post# 978988 , Reply# 12   1/19/2018 at 13:01 (273 days old) by lakewebsterkid (Dayton, Ohio)        

I place an entire box of Cascade Complete powder in a plastic container with screw on lid. Next, I add 2 cups of STPP. This is approximately 20% by volume. This works great and the enzymes are still in the mix. I use on medicine cap full. ~25 mLs in the mainwash cup only. We run our dishwasher 5X per week and we find this lasts for ~6 months. Our dishes are always spotless. Our water is about 10 grains. I do have a bottle of Cascade gel with bleach for occasional use in the prewash cup to remove bad tomato and coffee stains.

Post# 978989 , Reply# 13   1/19/2018 at 13:06 (273 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        

Thanks for the thoughts, I'll give it whirl.

Post# 979029 , Reply# 14   1/19/2018 at 15:22 (273 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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Personally I wouldn't soften hot water only, you loose too many benefits. When my last water softener quit it was striking how often the toilet needed cleaning. We used to have hard cold water to the kitchen faucet itself and the cartridge and rubber O-ring parts needed frequent replacement. The idea of cold water laundry rinses in full hard water don't seem appealing either. We do have 18+ grain hardness, the aquifers here are in limestone :(

Post# 979069 , Reply# 15   1/19/2018 at 22:15 (272 days old) by mike_g (Aberdeen SD)        

Our water is pretty hard, but not that bad, overall. It's rural water, piped from the Missouri river, about 100 miles away. Very consistent water, since the reservoir is so big.

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