Before I buy shampoo I have to decide if I am a blonde, redhead or brunette (which is not as easy as you might think); then I have to classify my hair as dry or damaged or colored or fine or curly or normal (whatever that is) or some kind of a combination of various conditions. And these are only some of the choices that I can remember. At the grocery store, the shampoo aisle goes on and on. There have been times when I have walked down this aisle, reading the labels, and then walked out of the store in despair because there were simply too many kinds of hair soap to make a decision.
Not so with dishwasher soap. There appear to be very few choices and all of them are etching my glassware.
I did a little research into what causes etching and from the mixed responses I can only conclude that no one really knows, nor do the manufacturers really care. First, it appears that hard water can cause glassware to go cloudy – but this can be fixed if you use a rinse agent. Our water isn’t hard, but I use the rinse agent anyway because that is supposed to help with the drying.
If anything, our water is soft, or at least on the softer side. Soft water can cause etching as well – if you use too much detergent. But, since most dishwasher detergent comes prepackaged as tabs or in pouches, it seems hardly fair to blame the customer for using too much. Splitting either a tab or a tightly stuffed pouch is going to lead to a mess and resentment and me moving on to another product.
I also found that you can cause etching, or at least help it along, if you rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Apparently detergents these days are made to be extra powerful cleaning agents – more powerful than in the past – and they need to grip the food smears and bits and pieces to do an effective job. Those of us who rinse hinder the cleaning and bring on the etching.
But, here is what manufacturers are not taking into consideration. I don’t run the dishwasher every day. With only two of us, there is no need to. If I don’t rinse, things will smell. In addition, there is no built in garbage disposal in the dishwasher, so if I don’t rinse the filter is going to get yucky (and smelly) really quickly and I’ll most likely have to call the plumber. Now, I like Vinnie, the plumber, but he has better things and bigger jobs to do than clean out the dishwasher. In short, I don’t need extra powerful detergent.
So, if all this is true and there are various causes to the etching problem, why can’t I buy dishwasher detergent specially formulated for my circumstances? Why am I not forced to choose among myriad boxes that advertise themselves as being best for hard water, for soft water, for rinsed dishes, for lightly soiled dishes, for glassware, for half loads, for baked on yuck, etc.? Why isn’t the aisle endless? Why doesn’t it bring on complete confusion and brain gridlock?
Soap manufacturers would have us believe that in the matter of shampoo, one size does not fit all. Surely if their claims to fix dreary, dry, fuzzy, frizzy hair are true, then why is keeping my glassware from clouding over so difficult?