Can dishwasher film be overcome or do I need a new one?

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I live in a coastal community on a North Carolina barrier island in a house I inherited from my father. I've noticed a film on the silverware I've run through the dishwasher that is difficult to remove. Just rubbing it with a damp towel won't do it but using Bartenders Friend cleans it up nicely. Still, I shouldn't have to clean most of the silverware that's been through the dishwasher.
I've tried running CLR followed by vinegar through it. I have tried using Jet Dry along with the Cascade Powder I generally use.
The dishwasher is a Maytag MDB9100AWQ of indeterminate age. The house was built in 1983 but the dishwasher has probably been replaced at least once. It still runs very quietly and aside from the film problem, I have no complaints with it.
I'm told our water here is very hard. I don't have a problem with rust stains and anything you soap up rinses off very quickly. So what should I do? Am I at the point I need a new dishwasher?
Jay
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Have your water analyzed (a freebie in some areas) and consider getting a water softener. Hard water is more damaging to faucets and fixtures than you realize, especially the much more complicated types now in the stores. Softeners are some work, but ask neighbors who have them about the benefits and that may help you decide.
Joe
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A softener would be good, but you should know that the detergent manufacturers under pressure from certain state environmental agencies have removed phosphates from dishwasher detergents nationwide.
If you pick up a box of true TriSodium Phosphate (TSP) powder (red box) - not substitute TSP and mix about one part TSP with 3 parts detergent, you may find you lose the film. You can also use Sodium Tripolyphosphate. Both are called binders. They keep any minierals in the water from attaching to the dishes.
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On 10/29/2011 4:53 PM, Jay Hanig wrote:

This may be due to phosphate-free detergents. Laws passed in 2010 limiting the amount of phosphates in household dishwasher detergents. Major manufacturers have reformulated their dishwasher detergents for the entire United States.
What are phosphates?
They are chemical additives in detergents that act as a cleaning agent helping to remove stains, break down grease and prevent spotting. During a washing, phosphates suspend food particles so they do not stick to dishes. Plus, they soften water allowing suds to form for cleaning.
Phosphates have been limited in detergents because they are difficult to remove in waste water at treatment plants. This water is then released into streams, lakes, rivers, and drinking water reservoirs where they can cause environmental harm. In freshwater, phosphates boost algae growth, which consume all the oxygen, ultimately killing the fish and plants.
How does this affect my wash performance?
This Eco-friendly change in detergents may cause white film on your dishes, glassware, plastic items, utensils, even the dishwasher tub.
How do I reduce the white film on my dishes?
Using dishwasher detergent tablets and pacs have been proven better than powder, liquid or gel detergents to reduce filming on your dishes. By using these tablets and pacs, over time this will start to reduce or eliminate white film. Also, by using a rinse aid you can minimize repeat build-up of white film.
The above info was stolen from Whirlpool's website:
http://preview.tinyurl.com/3lvlswn
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Jay Hanig wrote:

I've heard that some people run a cup of Tang drink crystals through a dishwashing cycle on an empty dish washer to clean it.
But your problem doesn't sound like it can be solved by cleaning the inside of the dishwasher. The problem is what's in your water.
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A new dishwasher wont do any good. A recent article in Consumers Report blames the new phosphate free dishwasher detergents for leaving a film when used with hard water. So, what you need is a water softener.
--
Larry Weil
Lake Wobegone, NH
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@Jay:
Sounds like you need a water softener...
That "film" building up on your silverware is whatever mineral that is causing the hardness of your water...
~~ Evan
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On 10/29/2011 4:53 PM, Jay Hanig wrote:

I though water in an area like that would be soft. Whatever, have it tested. Like others, I suspect detergent may be at fault.
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On 10/29/2011 6:28 PM, Frank wrote:

My understanding is that soft water would lead to sudsing that is very difficult to rinse away. Assuming that's the case, then I have the opposite situation. Suds rinse away very quickly here.
The water's too nasty for me to drink... has sulfur in it that is undetectable in cooking but drinking is another story. I use Pur water filtration which handles my drinking water effectively and just buy bags of ice for my drinks. I live alone so it's not that big of a deal.
I know the town's water is safe to drink; I just don't care for the beach water taste.

I'm starting to think you're right. So many people here are saying the same thing. Thanks for your reply.
Jay
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Jay Hanig wrote:

My brand new Whirlpool was doing this too. I got on the phone with the customer support and they blamed the phosphate-free detergents. His solution was to use Jet-Dry and most importantly -- run the sink water until it gets as hot as you can stand before starting the dishwasher. That seems to have helped a lot.
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badgolferman wrote:

Hmmm, There is dish washer with built-in heater or steam generator. Sounds silly doing that wasting water.
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Jay Hanig wrote:

Hi, Water hardness and rust is separate isue. If you don't have a softner better have one. Tried Calgon ?
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Jay Hanig wrote:

If you want to blame something, blame the hippies in Washington state who got all exercised over an algae bloom in a stream. They blamed this on phosphates which the state legislature promptly banned in diswashing detergents. A few more states followed suit and finally the detergent manufacturers, who got tired of two different formulations, quit putting phosphates in diswashing detergents altogether.
Fortunately, you can put the phosphates BACK.
Buy powdered detergent. Add somewhere between 10-20% TSP to the box*. Shake well before using.
TSP is available at the BORG, about six bucks for a giant box. CAUTION: There exists a "Phosphate Free" TSP (how, I don't know). Don't get that one.
If you are tempted to dismiss this idea, it only costs six bucks to try it out. Six bucks if far cheaper than a new machine or a water softener.
--
* Here's how I do it:
1. Empty box of detergent in really big bowl.
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On 10/29/2011 7:34 PM, HeyBub wrote:

I won't be dismissing this idea at all. In fact, I was wondering what exactly to do with the TSP once I found some. Now I know thanks to you!
I'll be off to the Borg in the AM.
Jay
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On 10/29/2011 11:48 PM, Jay Hanig wrote:
Thanks to everyone who took the time to offer advice. I was on the verge of spending some big bucks on a new dishwasher and now know I would not have gotten any satisfaction out of doing so. So now I'll be buying some TSP and adding it to my dishwasher detergent to see if that won't get things back up to snuff.
I'll let you know how this ends no matter what. But thanks all!
Jay
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On 10/29/2011 8:48 PM, Jay Hanig wrote:

add a cup of vinegar to the washer when it's filled with water.
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chaniarts wrote:

One of the advantages of a dishwasher is set-it-and-forget-it. One doesn't really want to be hovering over the contraption to add vinegar to the water.
So, pour in the vinegar at the same time you add the detergent!
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wrote:

As others have said, probably from combo of hard water and no-phosphate dw soap.
I've had good luck with combination of Lemishine (google it) and switch from powder to the little combination detergent packs. I put lemishine in prewash dispenser and the gel-pack thing in the main wash.
The tip about running water in sink until hot is valid. Many dishwashers with built in heaters (all of them?) only heat the water on the main wash cycle. Running the water in the sink until hot ensures the pre-rinse is done with hot water.
HTH,
Paul F.
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**You got a lot of advice about softening the water. Be aware that if the pipes in the house are old, and coated with deposits from hard water, "shocking" them with water softener could damage the pipes; cause leaks, etc.
**Personally, I dealt with our dishwasher problem (not a hard/soft water situation) as follows: When it died a few years ago after 13 years of valiant service, I decided not to spend the money for a plumber to fix the water input, even if they could find the parts for such an old d/w
**Also decided spending big bux for a new good quality dishwasher (I don't buy junque) was waaaaay at the bottom of my house repair priorities. So I bought a counter-top dish drainer. Now everybody washes dishes by hand. True, it co-opts a lot of counter space. And true, it uses much more water than a dishwasher would. But ATC, we're OK with the decision. Now I just have to get around to finding a handyman to remove the dishwasher and build in a couple of shelves or drawers in the space.
HB
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wrote:

Are you talking about true silverware or silver plate? If so, it does not belong in the dishwasher and should be done by hand.
If you are using the term sort of generically to describe flatware made from stainless, look tot he water for a solution to the problem. Hard water is probably the cause, not the machine.
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