“I can’t stand my new dishwasher.”
Nearly every day of the week appliance store owners hear the complaints; “My dishes don’t get clean…they don’t get dry…my dishwasher smells so bad I can hardly stand it!”
“I understand their frustration,” sympathizes one store manager, “but there’s nothing wrong with the dishwasher. These new dishwashers are working exactly the way the government mandated.”
In January 2007, when Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1994, Speaker Nancy Pelosi advanced an ambitious agenda to mark the Democrats return to power. Part of this agenda included the Clean Energy Act of 2007, later renamed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which listed among its stated goals; “to protect consumers, increase the efficiency of products, and lower energy costs to consumers”.
Yes – this is the same energy bill that outlawed incandescent bulbs. Seems it was just chock-full of hidden goodies.
Among its many mandates, the Clean Energy Act (CEA) issued strict energy standards for household appliances ranging from dishwashers, to clothes dryers, hot water heaters, and room air conditioners. In order to comply with the new government-issued restrictions, dishwasher manufacturers were required to modify their products.
The result is that dishwashers don’t work as well as they did in the past.
Among the required design changes, new dishwashers no longer have a drying cycle with a fan. Government regulations restrict the amount of energy that can be used during a wash cycle and drying fans would exceed those limits. CEA-compliant dishwashers rely instead on heat condensation to dry dishes. This is less effective; often times leaving dishes wet, requiring consumers to towel dry their dishes.
Whereas older washers might use up to 12 gallons of water during a heavy-duty cycle, regular wash cycles are now limited to 3.8 gallons for the entire cycle. Also, newer dishwashers will not necessarily heat up the water until it reaches 140 degrees (the optimum washing temperature). Although new dishwashers do still have heaters, they are timed, instead of sensor, and will cut off whether the temperature has reached 140 degrees or not.
Previously, most dishwashers had a hard-food disposal built into the unit. These have been replaced with a fine food filter that needs to be regularly cleaned by the consumer. Most homeowners don’t realize this filter is the source of the unpleasant smells that emanate from their dishwasher.
As a final blow, in 2010, seventeen states banned detergents containing phosphates. Phosphates are extremely effective in dissolving food and grease, but have been blamed for causing algae-blooms in lakes and ponds. Without phosphates, consumers have discovered their dishes often come out of the washer still dirty, greasy, or covered in a fine film. Consumers also complain that pots and pans are discolored by the new dishwasher detergents.
To deal with the consumer frustration resulting from the new dishwasher modifications, industry experts offers the following suggestions:
- Hot water is critical to efficient washing. Since the dishwasher is only going to use a maximum of 3.8 gallons, you want to start off with 3.8 gallons of HOT water, not cold. Your hot water heater may be some distance from the dishwasher but most dishwashers receive their water from the kitchen sink so experts recommends running the kitchen faucet until the water runs hot prior to starting your dishwasher. This way the dishwasher’s heater will have a better chance of heating the water to the proper operating temperature.
- Always use a rinse-aid like Jet-Dry. This will improve the drying performance of your dishwasher and will help eliminate any residual grease or film.
- Select a dishwasher with a stainless steel interior as this is a better conductor of heat and will assist in the condensation drying process.
- Use only liquid dishwashing detergent, not powders or tablets. Dishwashing powders require high heat to break down the powder. If the water temperature is too low, it will leave detergent on your dishes.
- Scrape food from plates, but do not rinse. The new detergents work best if there is something for them to cling to while cleaning. Also, DO NOT FILL the soap dispenser, but instead use only one (1) tablespoon per cycle. Using more than one tablespoon of detergent can cause film etching on glass.
- To avoid unpleasant odors from your dishwasher, locate and regularly clean the fine food filter in your dishwasher every month. This is a very simple process. Refer to your manufacturer’s instruction book for directions on how to clean filter.
These few simple steps should help improve the performance of your new dishwasher. But in the meantime, feel free to write your local congressmen