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Dishwasher Liquid...what's going on with Kirkland (Costco) brand?


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#1 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:30 PM

Dh and I have a running disagreement. I originally said our problem was the dishwasher but he claims it's the liquid...

I've been using Costco's Kirkland dishwashing liquid for years. However they changed it recently and now it appears that it's not quite working. After each load I run, there is still a good amount of soap leftover in the door and at times, I see little white specks left on the dishes. Am I the only one who's noticed this? Is dh right...is it the liquid?

If I'm forced to try something new, what have you all used that works and is NOT a powder? Can't use powder with our septic.

#2 Tap

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:34 PM

Dishes not clean? Don't blame your dishwasher
By Maggie Galehouse / Houston Chronicle
Published: February 02. 2011 4:00AM PST
Top detergents
Recently, Consumer Reports magazine tested 24 low- or no-phosphate dish detergents. Among the top performers were Finish Quantum, Finish Powerball Tabs and Cascade Complete All in 1.

Cascade Complete All in 1 pacs
Price: $7.50, 26-count package

Finish Powerball Tabs
Price: $6, 20-count package

Finish Quantum
Price: $13, 45-count package
TV commercials with smiling housewives unloading streak-free dishes from dishwashers? Please.

It's 2011, people. Men unload dishes, too, and no one feels compelled to smile about it.

More troubling is the revelation that dishes no longer emerge clean from home dishwashers. These days, they sport lipstick stains, icky food bits and a whitish film.

No one is smiling about this.

Thanks to state laws banning everything but trace levels of phosphates from household dishwasher detergents, clean dishes are a little dirtier. Phosphates are chemicals responsible for serious cleaning, but they also pollute waterways and encourage the growth of algae, which can threaten the health of fish.

Although most states do not have a law limiting phosphates in detergents, 18 do, including Oregon. Last year, detergent companies started taking phosphates out of their products.

Consumer Reports has suggestions for frustrated consumers. After testing low-phosphate dishwasher detergents, the magazine found that Finish Quantum (a CR Best Buy), Finish Powerball Tabs and Cascade Complete All in 1 worked best.

Consumer Reports also offers tips to maximize the effectiveness of dishwashers, which include loading large items at the side and back so they don't block water and detergent, placing the dirty side of a dish toward the center of the machine and placing items with baked-on food facedown and toward the sprayer in the bottom rack.

Still, consumers are missing the force of phosphates.

State environmental specialist Sam Feagley, who works for the Texas AgriLife Extension at Texas A&M, explains that phosphorus is a natural nutrient critical to human, animal and plant life; it is found in our bodies, our food, our water. It strengthens our bones.

Furthermore, Texas has seen algal blooms — a rapid accumulation of algae — in waterways for decades, Feagley says. “If you get a solid mat of algae on the surface of water, you don't get the waves that force oxygen back into the water,” he said. “Low oxygen can lead to bad-smelling water, and if levels get real low, you can end up with fish kills, though it doesn't always lead to that.”

All this can happen without any help from humans. But when phosphate products enter this scenario, we speed up nature and put our waterways at greater risk, Feagley notes.

Phosphorus debates in the cleaning industry began 40 years ago. By 1993, major manufacturers had stopped using it in laundry detergents, says Dennis Griesing of the American Cleaning Institute, a trade association in Washington, D.C. Automatic dishwashing detergents weren't part of the change because phosphorous was more critical to the cleaning process.

“Phosphorus likes to bind to things,” Griesing said. “It's a very sociable element. It would hold soil from plates and glasses in suspension in the water and prevent redeposition.”

But in 2006, when the state of Washington first voted to limit phosphates in automatic dishwashing detergents, manufacturers saw the writing on the wall. Washington's law, which reduced the allowable amount from nearly 9 percent to a mere half percent, became the standard for other states.

“We went to 18 states with historical interest in phosphate control and asked them to adapt their model to Washington,” Griesing said. “We had to realign chemical supply lines, make adjustments to manufacturing facilities. We knew what we needed was a uniform business environment.”

Manufacturers started rolling out revised versions of their products in early 2010 for the July 1 deadline. Some consumers noticed a difference right away. Hard water, which has higher amounts of calcium and magnesium, tends to leave a residue.

To get rid of residue on glasses and nonmetal dishes, the institute recommends placing two cups of white vinegar in a bowl on the bottom rack of the dishwasher and running the items through a cycle with no detergent. Re-wash with detergent to remove residual vinegar.

Of course, this means using more water, which isn't ideal.

Griesing says manufacturers will come up with new and better products for the dishwasher; they just need time.

“Laundry detergent evolved,” he notes. “This will evolve, too.”

#3 DianeW88

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:35 PM

It might be the fact that they eliminated phospates from all dish detergents in certain states. Don't know if yours is one of them, but I'm sure you can google it to find out. Our dishes looked HORRIBLE until we went and got some "bootleg" Cascade from a janitorial supply place. All commercial entities are exempt from the law. :glare:

#4 Swirl

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:40 PM

No brand is working for me since the phosphates went poof. :glare: Lately I've been adding Lemi Shine and that has helped some. It works even better if I decrease my detergent some.

#5 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:40 PM

Wow! Thanks for that article. It seems like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have the algae issue, on the other, more water AND electricity usage. Hmmmmmmmm. I can't use those three top products because they're powdered.

I know there has to be someone here who uses something homemade that works just as well. :bigear: :lurk5:

#6 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:41 PM

It might be the fact that they eliminated phospates from all dish detergents in certain states. Don't know if yours is one of them, but I'm sure you can google it to find out. Our dishes looked HORRIBLE until we went and got some "bootleg" Cascade from a janitorial supply place. All commercial entities are exempt from the law. :glare:


I wonder if I can get my hands on some of that!;)

#7 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:44 PM

Oh and it appears my great state of WA started all of this. :glare:

#8 Tullia

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:44 PM

We've stopped buying Kirkland and are using Cascade Advanced All in One powder instead. I'm impressed the Finish sample that came with my new dw and may use it occasionally but the cost would keep me from using it daily. However, as I posted in another thread, we may give up our dishwasher altogether when this newest one fails. With durability, soap issues, and clogged drains which our plumber says are partially caused by water saving appliances, I'm about to decide it's not worth the trouble and expense. Until dh and I were out of grad school, I managed to survive without a dw, disposal, or microwave. They're nice for mothers of many small children, though.

Edited by Martha in NM, 19 February 2011 - 07:32 PM.
clarify product name


#9 Guest_Cheryl in SoCal_*

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:45 PM

We bought some Cascade (jel type all in one things) at Costco and white power started collecting on anything plastic. At first I thought the detergent was etching the plastic but then realized I could scrub it off. When I changed back to the Finish power balls it went away. Since I purchase them at the same Costco I don't think it can be the phosphate issue. It was the first time I used Cascade and will be the last time!!

#10 Ellie

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:47 PM

Can't use powder because you have a septic tank? :001_huh: There are scores of septic-tank folks who use Amway's auto dishwash with no problems. I'm thinking Shaklee and other similar products could be used, as well.

#11 Julie in CA

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:48 PM

I can't use those three top products because they're powdered.

Are you sure? I'm not trying to be contrary, but we've always had septic tanks, and never had a problem with the tank regardless of which dishwasher detergent we've used. Even when we built a new house with a new tank we weren't advised against powdered dishwasher detergent, so I was wondering if somehow over the last 30 years, we've missed knowing not to use it. :001_huh:

#12 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 01:57 PM

Are you sure? I'm not trying to be contrary, but we've always had septic tanks, and never had a problem with the tank regardless of which dishwasher detergent we've used. Even when we built a new house with a new tank we weren't advised against powdered dishwasher detergent, so I was wondering if somehow over the last 30 years, we've missed knowing not to use it. :001_huh:


Well to be honest, I didn't actually check into it. We bought the house from a friend and she said she was advised against powders for both dw and wm because of the septic/well. Now I think I need to call her and ask her more about it! :)

#13 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 02:08 PM

Okay, just talked with my friend's dh and got the skinny on the issue with my septic/pipes.

They were advised not to use the powder because our pipes run underneath the cement slab and the powder can cause a build-up and possibly clog...which then would mean a fairly sizeable plumbing bill. However, my friends bought this liquid stuff (which I also bought the last time we had Roto Rooter out) that you put in the kitchen sink at night that is supposed to help break things down. Friend's dh said they used powder on and off, depending on what was on sale at the time. Sooo, apparently I can use the powder but I need to be diligent to use that liquid stuff from Roto Rooter.

#14 HappyCrazyMama

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 02:16 PM

Okay, just talked with my friend's dh and got the skinny on the issue with my septic/pipes.

They were advised not to use the powder because our pipes run underneath the cement slab and the powder can cause a build-up and possibly clog...which then would mean a fairly sizeable plumbing bill. However, my friends bought this liquid stuff (which I also bought the last time we had Roto Rooter out) that you put in the kitchen sink at night that is supposed to help break things down. Friend's dh said they used powder on and off, depending on what was on sale at the time. Sooo, apparently I can use the powder but I need to be diligent to use that liquid stuff from Roto Rooter.


Digging pipes up under cement would be awful! I did want to let you know though that the Finish Tabs come in both powder and gel form. I like the gel tabs because you don't have to unwrap them and they have been working great for me. Finish Gel Pacs I switched when Cascade stopped working.:glare:

#15 Alenee

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 02:18 PM

Digging pipes up under cement would be awful! I did want to let you know though that the Finish Tabs come in both powder and gel form. I like the gel tabs because you don't have to unwrap them and they have been working great for me. Finish Gel Pacs I switched when Cascade stopped working.:glare:


Cool beans! Thanks. :)

#16 Tullia

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 02:55 PM

At least that's been my experience, so take what I say with that in mind :). We have a septic tank and have never had any problem with the tank or drain field caused by what was put into the system even though we've alternated gel and powder for 20 plus years. [we did replace the drain field but it was structural failure; the pipe collapsed.] However, we recently have started having problems with a clogged kitchen drain after many years of no problems. The plumber who we called says he's noticed an uptick in his drain cleaning calls. His theory is that people don't flush enough water through the drains anymore. Older dishwashers used a lot more water, and a sink full of wash and rinse water when washing by hand takes care of this too. The new dw detergents powdered or gel just don't seem to dissolve very well especially when our softener is at the end of a cycle. His suggestion was to fill half the sink with cold water and then run it through at least once a day to keep the drain clear. We'll see how long the latest clean-out lasts.

#17 lisamarie

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 09:06 PM

I have been using Sams brand powder detergent for years and then in the last year it stopped working so well. Once I finally finished up my stash, I decided to try the Sams brand liquid detergent and see if it made any difference. Imagine my surprise when it did! My dishes are much cleaner and sparkly. My mugs would have a brown film on them left over from the coffee/tea and I'd have to wash them by hand. They now come out completely clean. I've never used liquid dw soap before now but I plan to stick with it.

#18 bookfiend

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 10:51 PM

Yes, the absence of phosphorus is the culprit. I was extra sad as I used to put dishwashing powder into my laundry for an occasional boost. Now, I put the homemade laundry detergent (recipies abound here and on the internet) in the dishwasher and everything is spotless! Only takes one scant teaspoon!

#19 kathkath

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:01 PM

Yes, the absence of phosphorus is the culprit. I was extra sad as I used to put dishwashing powder into my laundry for an occasional boost. Now, I put the homemade laundry detergent (recipies abound here and on the internet) in the dishwasher and everything is spotless! Only takes one scant teaspoon!


Do you use the duggar recipe?

#20 hsbaby

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:37 PM

I read that adding Tang to your wash will eliminate the white residue that results from the phosphate free soap. I haven't tried it yet, but plan on it! Anything to get rid of that disgusting chalky whit stuff!


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