Thread Number: 84294  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
What are the biggest challenges for dishwashers and detergents?
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Post# 1086775   8/27/2020 at 03:18 (939 days old) by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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Hi guys


How should I test the performance of my dishwashers and detergents?  I have machines ranging from brand new to 45 years old.  European and American.


I was thinking of coating dishes with measured amounts of spinach, egg yolk and oats.  Pyrex dishes get the same, plus cheese, rice, pasta and milk.  Spoons with tea stains and knives with peanut butter.

Then the whole lot baked in the oven for a certain length of time at a certain temperature -- your thoughts?


As a test of the spray coverage, I could place items in both racks.  To check for lazy corners in the upper rack, I could place a glass smeared with peanut butter.  A sprinkling of sesame seeds to check for redeposit/filtering.


Detergents will range from modern pacs and powders to traditional powders containing phosphate and chlorine.  I was planning on using the most intensive cycles available.


What do you think and what would you recommend?


Happy dishwashing!


Post# 1086776 , Reply# 1   8/27/2020 at 04:03 (939 days old) by Maytagbear (N.E. Ohio)        
I like it!

This sounds like a really interesting and fun project. You could let the dishes sit dirty in the machines for 24 hours, instead of baking them. Scrape, yes, pre-rinse, no.

That leading consumer reporting magazine uses the cycle which is most closely called "normal," for that is what the Energy Star people used(?) to use. I think your idea of usinng the maximum cycle is a better idea.

Your detergent game is strong. Is the water naturally soft or naturally hard there? If it is naturally hard, I would not salt the machines or use a rinse agent.

Please do take notes and pictures! I know most of us will be very interested in your results.


Post# 1086777 , Reply# 2   8/27/2020 at 04:37 (939 days old) by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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Hi Lawrence


Great ideas -- thank you!


My current ideas were based on what I have read on this site and also by looking at how CR (US), "Which?" (UK), OCU (Spain) and Choice (Australia) do their testing.  They have various methods that also differ between testing detergents and testing dishwashers.  All of them (except for CR) apply foods individually so that each detergent has a specific rating for each food.  They have their own ideas about which cycles to test.  I guess it's very relevant for them to test the normal and eco cycles, as these are the cycles that most people use.  But I thought that all of us here at AW would be more interested to see what a dishwasher and detergent can really do when set to the most intensive cycle.  But I could also test the normal/eco/short cycles too.


I was thinking whether I should let the dishes sit or bake them -- or both!  This seems to vary between the test institutes.  There will definitely be NO rinsing!


In both the US and Europe I have mechanically softened water.  But I can easily bypass this in the US and it would then be 12 GPG.  


There will be plenty of photos!  For this intercontinental experiment, the machines in Europe include a new Bosch, older Siemens, vintage Miele G550.  In the US I have a KDS-19, Bosch, GE GSD1250, Jennair reverse rack, Maytag Jetclean (non-RR), Whirlpool Power Clean.


I have no idea which one will do the best.  I imagine they will all have their strengths and weaknesses.  I'm looking forward to finding out!

Post# 1086786 , Reply# 3   8/27/2020 at 07:40 (939 days old) by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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Rice.  That has always been a challenge for a few of my machines, the WP built KitchenAid power-clean I have in the kitchen now will even stumble now and then with a few grains that escape the sprays.  I had a couple of grains stuck to the bottom of the tank a week or so ago.


Softened water and a Kirkland-Costco det. pod, sometimes adding a Cascade chlorine bleach gel in pre-wash.

Post# 1086804 , Reply# 4   8/27/2020 at 11:22 (939 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Oh, I do like this idea.

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We have three different perspectives on dishwashing.

When I'm using one of the Potscrubbers with multi-orbital arm, I don't pre-rinse, only remove bones and olive pits.

Throw everything into the machine so water can hit it, put in a standard WalMart pod in each of the holders, fill up the remaining space in the final wash with TSP (the horrors, the horror of it all, all those little white streaks it leaves when ironing the spoons afterwards), set it to the potscrubber, wash temp boost and fill with 125F water.

Everything comes out clean, clean, clean. Even burnt on egg.

When using the KA 15 portable, I have to scrape everything, first. Nothing which goes in the bottom rack every fails to come out perfectly clean (for obvious reasons). Top rack, well, I have figured out if I don't use the back of the bottom rack, the top rack cleans, too. Same detergent/TSP mix, same problem ironing the streaks off the flatware.

When using the Maytag reverse-rack, pre-scrape, no pre-rinse. No TSP as it foams too much as it is. Cleans OK, not great.

I'd love to see your results - and, yes, the 24 hour wait is a very good idea, regardless of baked on or simply dried on.



Post# 1086813 , Reply# 5   8/27/2020 at 12:44 (939 days old) by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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Great ideas, guys!  I'll definitely include rice.  I'll also leave them 24 hours before washing -- I wasn't planning on doing that.  I think I'll still also bake the food on.


panthera, I know you're a big fan of the GE Potscrubbers.  In fact, it was reading posts by you and others that made me hunt out my GSD1250 and drive half way to San Diego to get it!  Mine has 8 water fills on the Potscrubber cycle but needs a new fill valve and a touch of ReRACK before I put it through its paces.  I do have some STPP that I could try adding, although with soft water I wonder what difference it will make.  Hopefully it hasn't morphed into TSP as I would hate having to iron streaks out of my flatware smile (I've read your posts on STPP vs. TSP!).


Thanks for the advice.  Keep it coming.  I'm looking forward to this laughing


Post# 1086814 , Reply# 6   8/27/2020 at 12:57 (939 days old) by chachp (North Little Rock, AR)        
Consumer Reports

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Mark, I thought I'd check Consumer Reports to see if they went into much detail about how they perform their dishwasher tests.  They didn't list much that you haven't already thought of.  Here it is anyway if you're interested.  Look forward to your results.

  View Full Size
Post# 1086815 , Reply# 7   8/27/2020 at 12:58 (939 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        

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Has anybody here had luck with pods in pre 1985 dishwashers? My Hobart Kitchenaids will suds lock within 2 minutes if those are used. The RR Maytag would do the same around the 3 minute mark. My buddy has a mid 80's GE Potscrubber with the same results. This is all under hard water conditions.

Post# 1086846 , Reply# 8   8/27/2020 at 17:12 (938 days old) by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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Hi Ralph.  Thank you for posting that.  I believe that CR uses the normal cycle when testing dishwashers and also detergents.  I do subscribe to CR but I am not clear about whether they now select high-temp wash and heated dry -- they used to use these options, at least for testing dishwashers, if not detergents.


Dan: Finish Quantum Ultimate pacs and P&G's Platinum Plus pacs have very recently been reformulated within the last few months in Europe and they don't produce suds like they used to.  I don't know if this new formula is also being used in the US Finish and Cascade Platinum Plus.  I have used some pacs in my vintage machines with excellent results in softened water but some pacs are unusable for me under certain conditions.

Post# 1086929 , Reply# 9   8/28/2020 at 08:09 (938 days old) by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I never could spell that acronym right...

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When I still taught, I was able to purchase small quantities at a reasonable price from our university's supply store, cleans great, but,  gosh - it turns into TSP at the slightest failure to store it in a 0% humidity, cool, air-tight container.


Fill valves do fail, however, so does the float switch and it's hard to tell sometimes which is which. You might want to check the float and switch and consider replacing the switch at the same time as the valve.


No question about it, for a surprisingly long time, GE built dishwashers and washing machines which really and truly did what they claimed to do!

Post# 1086934 , Reply# 10   8/28/2020 at 08:58 (938 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Lipstick on glasses used to be a challenge for detergents.


If you have suds, add one or two 180 mg gelcaps of simethicone.  What keeps bubbles down in your gut will work in your dishwasher or washing machine.

Post# 1086997 , Reply# 11   8/28/2020 at 17:03 (937 days old) by Marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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Thanks for the tip, panthera. I’ll check the float switch. 

True about the lipstick. I guess I could always put some lipstick on and kiss each dish as I load them kiss


Looking forward to doing this stress test!  Are there any other factors to consider and things to do?

Post# 1087000 , Reply# 12   8/28/2020 at 17:35 (937 days old) by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        
Vintage Dishwashers & Modern Detergents

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Cannot really even use Cascade powder in GE Mobile Maid; just creates too much froth. Don't even ask about tablets or pods......

IMHO two factors contribute to these woes.

First and foremost these vintage machines not only use more water per wash cycle, but many of them throw it about rather forcefully (my GE actually shimmies when in operation).

Next when these machines were designed and built domestic dishwasher detergents weren't that much different than commercial/industrial products. All relied upon heavy use of caustic/high pH substances (including a bit heavy on chlorine bleach), with surfactants available at that time.

For automatic dishwashers issue is finding right surfactant that wouldn't create too much froth, but get things clean.... Happily for automatic dish washing you can pretty much blast off soils and oils using high pH detergents and very hot water along with powerful spray action.

Today's modern automatic dish washing detergents often make extensive use of surfactants. This among other things allows them to lower pH a bit, and make good use of enzymes and other ingredients that give good to excellent results with newer dish washers.

Machines today use far less water, at lower temperatures and have longer cycles.

My GE Mobile Maid doesn't need several hours to complete a cycle. But then again it can be murder on some things because of its sandblasting wash action.

Since have silicone anti-foam on hand anyway for laundry, always add a few drops to detergent compartment when using Mobile Maid. This keeps forth under control and saves one from having to listen to pump struggling to move froth/air instead of water.

Interestingly rinse aid in excess (and it doesn't take much) will also cause froth problems in my GE dishwasher. Tried used Ecolab solid rinse aid (as substitute for Jet Dry). Anything more than a small pea sized amount causes incredible froth.

Post# 1087292 , Reply# 13   8/30/2020 at 11:22 (936 days old) by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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All interesting points there, Launderess.  I have also found sudsing / pump cavitation to be exacerbated if the dishwasher is under filling slightly.  Also seems to happen with certain food soils or a lack of sufficient food soils.


Today I applied foods to plates, Pyrex dishes and flatware.  Then all baked on in the oven for 5 minutes at 200 °C (400 °F).  All foods are stuck on like crazy.  I will leave them for 24 hours and then wash them tomorrow.  This should be tough enough so that all my dishwashers and detergents will fail to different extents, allowing us to compare.  I will make a new thread of results.  Looking forward to this!


On the plates we have oatmeal, spinach, Parmesan, egg yolk.  One plate has tea in the middle, the other has milk.  

Pyrex dishes have egg yolk, spinach, oatmeal and rice.

Knives have peanut butter.

One spoon has tea, the other has milk.


See you soon in the results thread!


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Post# 1087298 , Reply# 14   8/30/2020 at 12:03 (936 days old) by GELaundry4ever (Killeen tx USA)        
I'd test the legendary whirlpool powerclean

and see how it comes out on top in cleaning power.

Post# 1087504 , Reply# 15   9/1/2020 at 10:32 (934 days old) by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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First results are in!  After baking on all food residues, then leaving everything to sit for 24 hours, I used my vintage Miele G550, made in 1975, with two Aldi Magnum detergent tabs (one in the prewash and one in the main wash).  After loading, the empty space in the bottom basket was filled with clean dishes.  No redeposit anywhere.  The idea was for this test to be so challenging that all dishwashers and detergents would fail to different extents, allowing us to compare them.  Unfortunately this test may not be challenging enough.  So, the question is, how can I make it more challenging before proceeding?


Knives with baked-on peanut butter: 100% clean

Spoon with burned-on milk: slight specks remaining

Spoon with baked-on tea: 100% clean

Glass Pyrex dish on lower rack (baked-on egg yolk, oatmeal, rice and spinach): 100% clean

Identical Pyrex on top rack: a speck of spinach and slight residue stains visible around the edges when held up to the light

Plates with baked-on cheese, spinach, egg yolk and oatmeal: FAIL.  No trace of oatmeal or cheese, but one had a blob of spinach, the other had a speck.  Both have plenty of remaining egg yolk.  

In a separate cycle, I placed a food processor pusher, coated with peanut butter, in the corner of the upper rack.  Fail.  This machine has 3 spray arms, but the middle one seems a little too short to spray effectively inside tall items in the corner of the upper rack. 


What's interesting is that the dinner plates must have rotated while washing!  The back one was loaded with the egg yolk right at the bottom and the front one had the egg yolk at the very top.  But they had changed position during the cycle!  In this machine, the spray is much stronger from the bottom spray arm compared to the middle and top spray arms.



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