Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Dishes or dishwasher caked with white gunk? Here’s the fix!

Our dishwasher went out not long ago and we decided it was time to replace it rather than repair it. We’d repaired it in the past, it was time to replace it — ten years is a pretty good run for a modern dishwasher, dontcha think?

Anyhow. The new one just wasn’t doing well. We had a white film on our glasses, and eventually the “white gunk” started to build up and cause us problems. Eventually we had to call out a repairman. It turns out we’re not alone.

Video Courtesy of

The repair guy pulled apart the whole thing and removed half a popsicle stick from our impeller. That got things flowing again, but the white gunk was still all over the place. What to do?

It turns out that someone (:: cough :: me :: cough ::) had been slacking in his duties to refill the water softener’s brine tank with salt. That shouldn’t be a problem. Hard water deposits take a long time to build up, and a few months without salt wouldn’t cause THAT much build-up, would it?

Well, yes and no.

You see, the build-up wasn’t hard-water deposits, but they could have been avoided by proper upkeep of the brine tank. But we’re back to the fact that we didn’t have the “white gunk” problem before we installed the water softener, so what gives?

It turns out right before we got our new dishwasher the State of Utah banned the use of Phosphates in detergent. Phosphates are a cleaning agent — pretty heavy duty ones at that. Unfortunately, they also feed algae once it ends up downstream. That robs the water of oxygen, and chokes off the fish… in short, too much isn’t good for the environment.

But what about my dishes and my dishwasher?

Some people have said that adding ½ cup vinegar to each load does the job. Others haven’t had much luck. It’s worth running a few loads to see if this solves your problem.

Still no luck? Well, you could always go back to the dishwasher detergent that has phosphate in it. If you’re in Utah, that means you’ll have to go out-of-state to find it. Unfortunately, more and more states are banning phosphates in residential detergents.

Ah ha! A loophole! Notice how I said “residential” detergents? Commercial-grade detergents may not be subject to the ban! So head over to your commercial supply and pick up some of their commercial strength detergent.

Or, say you’ve got a bunch of the post-ban detergent on-hand, you can pick up some cleaner that has phosphate in it and add a small amount (a teaspoon or tablespoon per load).

Of course, the other option is just to keep your water softener filled with salt… and add some phosphate to boost your detergent’s cleaning power when needed.


You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. joelevi says:

    Dishes or dishwasher caked with white gunk? Here’s the fix!

  2. mckay says:

    A 1/4 cup of vinegar also makes a big difference.

  3. Jody says:

    there’s another good solution for removing these hard water deposits. Search for “CitriClean of Florida”

Leave a Reply