Dishwashers are supposed to make your life easier, right? Not when they make your dishes look GROSS!
When we first moved to our house, we didn’t have a dishwasher. For two years! It was awful.
Once we finally got our dishwasher, I thought that every problem that I had ever had has been solved! I wouldn’t have to worry about spots on my dishes or having to spend all day scrubbing them.
Not for me!
I learned very quickly that we have hard water. Hard water makes it very difficult for dishes to get completely clean. It can also make your dishwasher less effective. It builds up over time in the mechanisms in the sprayer heads and makes them only work at half or less capacity. This is a very big problem especially if you had just bought a brand new dishwasher and expected it to work perfectly. Like me.
I quickly discovered that our hard water was like nothing that I had ever dealt with before.
Where we live, there always seems to be an abundance of hard water. Some would say that the hard water, which is limestone in the water supply, is a good thing. Some would say that makes crops healthier and make the ground more fertile. That’s all well and good, but it does nothing to make my dishes any cleaner. In fact it made my dishes look dirty, cloudy, and just disgusting.
Our first experience with hard water was at our old house. One day, our dishwasher started spewing white chunks onto all of our dishes. No matter how many times I ran the dishwasher, the dishes were still coated in these hard, white chunks. They weren’t food, they were actually limestone build up that had gotten so bad that it started coming out in our water in the dishwasher in chunks.
A very wise plumber came out, took one look at it, and gave me a packet of citric acid. I had no idea what the stuff was, but he swore by it. Especially for this kind of hard water. He told me to put a tablespoon in and run my dishwasher and repeat until there weren’t any more chunks on the dishes.
Sure enough, despite my disbelief that anything other than a serious chemical would ever break apart the nasty build up, it actually worked! Not only did it clean up the inside of my limestone-covered dish washer, it also cleaned up all of my cloudy glasses. This discovery changed everything for me!
Fast forward to getting my brand new dishwasher and opening up my dishes for the first time and seeing they were cloudy. And not just cloudy, but they also had the hard water spots on them. I went and I bought citric acid just like I had before and I put half a teaspoon in with my detergent before I ran it. Sure enough, it worked like a charm!
I’m much happier using a natural alternative to a dangerous chemical.
There are so many different rinse agents, spot removers, hard water build up removers out there, but none of them seem to be something that I would ever want touching my dishes that I use to eat.
Citric acid is a common ingredient in a lot of food and soft drink products. Is in a lot of different bath bombs as well. As far as I’m concerned, I’m perfectly fine using it in a dishwasher.
So what does my homemade/ hippie dishwasher routine look like?
I use a packet of the Costco Kirkland-brand dish detergent (best bang for my buck AND Costco brand is the best). I also put in a quarter teaspoon of citric acid in with the detergent pod and another quarter teaspoon of citric acid in the bottom of the dishwasher. I use plain white vinegar as a rinse agent and it works even better then any other rinse agent that I’ve ever used. I also put in 2 – 3 drops of sweet orange essential oil to make it smell nicer. Truthfully, I don’t believe there any added benefits in adding the essential oil, but I just like the smell.
In our family of 5, we go through a box of the Costco dish detergent probably every 9 months (I like to PACK my dishwasher full). It took a while for me to figure out exactly how much citric acid I needed to put in to each load of dishes for it to be effective and not wasteful. For us and for the amount of limestone in our hard water, a total of a half a teaspoon of citric acid works perfectly.
If you have cloudy dishes or if your dishwasher looks like it has hard water build up on the inside, I definitely think you should try out adding citric acid to your dish routine. If your dishwasher isn’t working well, you might have hard water build up that you don’t know about. If that’s the case, run an empty load in your dishwasher on the highest heat setting with a teaspoon or more of citric acid. If it’s really bad you should do it more than once. It’s definitely less expensive then any other hard water solution on the market AND it’s also less potentially detrimental to your health!