Ask The Expert

Q: Have dinner party guests ever commented on your lovely frosted-glass goblets and tumblers, only for you to blush, saying, “Oh, no, I think the dishwasher’s just leaving that residue again?” So, what’s with the cloudy crud?

A: “It’s just the dirt, the food,” says Steve Mucci, owner of Westchester Appliance, a repair company in Yonkers. “People don’t rinse the dishes off. They feel that the dishwasher disposes of that, which it really doesn’t. If you’re leaving food on the plates, all that food’s gonna circulate inside the dishwasher. It can’t really exit.” Stuck, the food can deposit back on dishes. This is especially problematic for glasses on the top rack, because, “ninety percent of your washing action comes from your lower arm,” which can easily get blocked by improper loading. Cold water can cause residue too, because the dishwasher “needs hot water to activate the ingredient in the detergent.” So running your faucet until it’s hot right before turning the washer on is a good idea. Mucci also says that minerals (mostly calcium) dissolved in so-called “hard water” can leave clouds on dishes and even ruin a dishwasher. Water in upper Westchester is somewhat harder than the stuff down county, but Putnam is really the worst. “The town of Carmel? Dishwashers don’t last very long there.”

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