Strange Dishwasher Problem

I have a Panasonic DCS12W counter-top dishwasher which has run fine for a while, but yesterday started to give me cause for concern. Following the instructions, each wash has hitherto been soaped by half a tablet only. I use Ecover tablets.
Noticing that everything in the last wash felt greasy when it came out, and that the filters at the bottom looked dirty, I took them all out to clean them. I was horrified to find that their undersides were caked in congealed grease, approaching the consistency of hard wax. It was astonishingly difficult to remove, but after using general kithchen cleaner and a scouring pad on them for a while, I did manage to clean off nearly all of it.
Thinking that most of grease must have come from empty peanut butter jars over a long while, I reckoned I'd rather hand-clean the jars rather than the filters, and decided to leave them out in future.
I then did a wash with a single plate as a test, again with half a tablet, as I had a half left over. Although the plate was not pristine afterwards, it didn't feel greasy and the filters and the water in the bottom looked a lot cleaner. I also realised then that I hadn't put any salt in for a while, so I put in all that I had left, a reasonable amount but not enough to fill the container, put back in all the previous greasy wash with a whole tablet, and set it going.
Today, when I came to empty the machine, I was again astonished. There were some brown marks on the cutlery, which, note, is stainless steel. When I tried to remove these with a scouring pad, I realised they were RUST, on stainless steel? Further the surface at two or more marks appeared to be pitted and damaged for good.
Can anyone explain from the above history why it appears to be that the dishwasher suddenly seems to be eroding my cutlery?
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Problem is probably crap washing detergent, combined with never cleaning the machine. First, you need to buy a one-shot dishwasher cleaner, which you can get from any supermarket, and run it with nothing else in the dishwasher, on hottest wash. That should dissolve all the fat in the machine.
Also buy a decent dishwasher detergent. Tablets are a compromise for convenience, and not at all convenient if you're breaking them in half. Buy a liquid or powder detergent (depending how your machine releases the detergent), and use an amount appropriate for the machine size and dirt load. Also, keep salt topped up, and rinse-shine if the machine has a dispenser for it.
You might further help prevent this in the future by making sure you sometimes do a hotter wash, and adding just 1 drop of washing up liquid per wash can also help, as it dissolves some fats which the dishwasher detergent seems not to.
Allowing a machine to get into this state can be serious, because areas you can't get at without major disassembly can also get clogged with fat.

Not very good stainless steel. Is there a dosing control for the salt? Often you can set it according to your hard water level. I would try turning the dose down. (In very soft water areas, don't bother with the salt at all.)
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Andrew Gabriel
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Thanks for all the advice. Most helpful ...
On Fri, 24 Sep 2010 19:40:47 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote:

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18/8 is one of the most stainless, but isn't good for knife blades, so it's not uncommon to have good quality stainless steel cutlery made from 18/8, with the knife blades made from a different steel ratio.
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We used to get this with the highest grades of surgical steel on instruments in sterilisers. It's not rust as such but a discolouration caused by two differing metals being in close proximity apparently. It should wipe off easily and leave no damage to the surface where true rust will pit the surface of the steel.
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