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Sticky Dishes :(


My boyfriend has had a problem with his dishes, pots, pans, tupperware, drinking glasses, and silverware for some time now. After being washed, they all seem to develop a sticky, waxy sort of film on them. All I am sure of is that it has something to do with how they are being washed. He has some "excess" silverware that is sitting in another drawer in his kitchen that does not have this problem, so I know it's not something in the air or the drawers.

I can only assume that it is either the soap he is using or a problem with the water. My mother said she's had a similar problem with low quality dish soap and recommended Palmolive as the only brand that had never caused her any problems. We switched to that, and for a while it seemed to be helping. Now it's back, and it's driving me crazy. I would kill for a dishwasher right now.

My gut reaction is to soak everything in vinegar for a few hours, and maybe scrub with baking soda later. Does this sound like it might work? Do you have any other suggestions? Unfortunately, at the moment I am only able to try out quick fixes (if there is one), because I will only be here for one more day. My boyfriend isn't bothered by this residue and I am quite certain he won't keep up with any cleaning regimen I ask him to follow, unless I can simply replace his dish soap. You can feel free, though, to throw more long-term solutions at me for the future and I will try them out in two months when I move in.

ETA: Ok so I soaked all the utensils in vinegar, and while it seems a bit better, the problem is far from solved. I washed several glasses and even a metal pot-lid with both vinegar and a natural dish soap I found in the cabinet. Rinsed everything in the hottest water I could get out of the sink. No luck. I think this may be a lost cause =/



( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
try adding Lemishine to his detergent -- it's AMAZING. It works best with powdered detergent. Run a cycle with only Lemishine (no dishes) so it can "clean" the dishwasher. Then fill the detergent compartment with half det, have Lemishine and run a normal cycle. (dont' put anything in the "after rinse" compartment). My husband likes to add a few glugs of white vinegar into the bottom of the machine but I don't; lemishine works perfectly on its own. My dishes used to be filmy and cloudy and it got REALLY bad after they took the phosphates out of detergents. I tried everything I could think of -- vinegar, baking soda, omitting soap, changing brands, etc. Nothing worked until the Lemishine.
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
He doesn't have a dishwasher at his house, unfortunately. I'm very seriously tempted to drag all his dishes back to my mom's house to run them through a cycle in hers, though, because I'm starting to wonder if it is even possible to remove this film! Apparently Lemishine makes a regular dishsoap, so I will take a look and see if that works. Thank you!
Mar. 17th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
This is exactly what we use and it is so great!!!! Kind of expensive, but so worth it. We have hard water at our house and when our regular dish soap changed their formula to phosphate free it started doing this. It is really gross. The plastic dishes were like, WHITE and you could feel the film on everything.
Mar. 18th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
THIS! I love lemishine! It works so well. It seems pretty natural to me too.
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
Since it isn't a dishwasher issue, my first guess is that all of the soap isn't being properly rinsed off the dishes.

Also, I assume everything is air-drying. If there is something in the air, perhaps it is clinging to the wet dishes (and not the already dry, "excess" silverware).

My advice would be to first make sure everything is well rinsed before it is set out to dry. Then, if film persists, take to hand drying the dishes.
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
I find that plastics like tupperware will definitely get a film on them if they have been used for greasy stuff and then washed with not enough soap. I've never had the problem with anything else so I can't say what might be the cause.
I do think the vinegar and baking soda will cut through whatever it might be though. Not sure you need to soak in vinegar, maybe just try washing in that and if it doesn't work use the baking soda. Although soaking may be less work.
I do find certain 'cleaning products' tend to leave a film on things. For instance I never use Windex on glass or mirrors because once you do, the only thing that removes the film it leaves behind is more Windex, or lots of 'elbow grease', so I use only water or sometimes water and vinegar.
Because I know this about Windex it makes me wonder if the dish soap, even the Palmolive, might be to blame.

What is the water quality like where he is? Do you know if it's 'soft' or 'hard' water?
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:38 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about the water quality. I believe it's on the harder side, although we've never had it tested. I did once get a free water testing strip in the mail (one of those bits of paper that's PH reactive or something)and it didn't indicate any problem, although that's obviously no substitute for an actual water test.
Mar. 16th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
The more I think about it the more I think that swiggett is probably right.

Whether the water is artifically 'softened' with a water softener or is just naturally that way; the softer the water, the more difficult it is to rinse soap off.

The temperature of the rinse water makes a difference too. The hotter it is, the faster and cleaner the dishes will dry.
Mar. 16th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
Some people above have mentioned Palmolive. I have had the opposite experience with Palmolive--at least a few decades back when it was advertised in the U.S. to "soften hands while you do the dishes." At that time, Palmolive did not remove greasy film well--because that would also remove the natural oils in your skin, drying your hands.

I agree that you need to look at the process: Are the dishes really being rinsed thoroughly? I know some cultures where people do not rinse off the dishes at all (something I am not comfortable with). My mother uses a pan of rinse water, but obviously it starts to get the soap from previously-rinsed dishes collecting in the rinse water. I know this is a tricky subject among "naturalliving" people, because we wouldn't want to waste resources like hot water, but I personally use a fresh trickle of water from the faucet to rinse each dish or pot. (I figure I usually use about the same amount or less of water than the number of refreshed rinse pans I would need to do the same thing.)

I agree with the suggestion of trying either vinegar or baking soda. Vinegar will help dissolve any mineral deposit film left by your water. Baking soda seems to rinse very clean--and is good at helping scrub away light films.

Edited at 2011-03-16 10:17 pm (UTC)
Mar. 16th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
Working at a restaurant, I have found that 99 percent of the time when the dishes are like that, it's because the dishwasher didn't use hot enough water. I end up wiping them all off with steaming hot water from the tea dispenser on a washcloth, and that usually does the trick!!

However if your problem is more serious than this, good luck :) I myself need more knowledge in this arena!
Mar. 16th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
i don't even have hot water and i don't have this problem... just saying :)
Mar. 16th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
We have this problem sometimes - greasy dishes are particularly bad. We wash them twice, and it does the trick.
Mar. 16th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
He might have hard water. If so and he usually lets them drip dry, try manually drying them and see if it helps. (That gets the minerals off the dishes instead of drying on them.)
Mar. 16th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
I have a feeling it's too late for this, but when we buy a new set of dishes we'll definitely keep this in mind. Thanks :)
Mar. 16th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
This is super random (and I'm attempting to watch a baby with one eye so I haven't read the comments) but I would maybe rub some oil over everything and THEN do a super hot super soapy wash.
Mar. 16th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
Interesting idea. Would the oil make it easier to clean off the film?
Mar. 16th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
If it's fat-based then yes. Try it on something and see. Otherwise, I'd say vinegar could get it off (vinegar rinse post washing)
Mar. 17th, 2011 10:17 am (UTC)
I tried vinegar yesterday with no luck. Guess I'll give the oil a shot today. Thanks for the idea!
Mar. 16th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Could it be this problem? http://articles.ktuu.com/2010-11-03/dishwasher_24811518

Last summer, a bunch of states banned phosphates in dishwasher detergent. The problem is that phosphates prevent that cloudy, spotty film.

Mar. 16th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
It's possible, if this applies to dish soap and not just dishwasher detergent. And while it accounts for the not-looking-clean bit- which, honestly, I can deal with- the article doesn't say anything about stickiness. Interesting, though. Thank you!
Mar. 17th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
Except there IS a solution - Lemishine!!!!
Mar. 17th, 2011 03:59 am (UTC)
You know, I had this problem when I lived in an apartment with poor ventilation any time I cooked really greasy things- my dishes would be drying near the stove and I'd realize they had a greasy film on them when I went to put them away. Not sure if that helps or anything, or if it's even a real cause, but just thought I'd mention it.
Mar. 17th, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
Ooh that is interesting, actually. Now that you mention it, this residue does remind me a bit of the residue on my mom's range afteg she cooks greasy things. And my boyfriend's apartment does have pretty poor ventilation, especially in the kitchen. Unfortunately that would mean there is nothing we can do about it but it's good to know that it may not be.entirely our fault.
Mar. 17th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
Sometimes some of our bowls get this greasy film. I'll put a single drop of soap into them, and then use wet fingers to spread it all over the in and outside of the bowl. Sometimes a little splash of water is necessary to get the stuff to spread. Then after a thorough rinse I find the grease will be gone. Sometimes it takes a little direct attention. I think this may be caused by grease getting on our scrubber and then being spread from dish to dish as we wash.
Mar. 23rd, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
If you can, try out Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds. I will cut it with water (1 part soap, to three parts water) and add tea tree and eucalyptus oil for the antibacterial properties. I have a lot of hand wash pieces, and it works well in any temperature water and it cuts the grease. If it doesn't, then either cut it with less water or use it straight.
Jan. 12th, 2016 04:55 am (UTC)
I had a similar problem. Our water is very hard. And hard water does not dissolve or rinse things as easily as soft water does. So we had to change the way we washed the dishes.

We used to wash our dishes in a sink full of soapy water. This is what was happening: the soap and grease was not dissolving well in the hard water and it was coating the dishes as we extricated them from the water. We had to change the way we handwashed our dishes.

This is what worked:
We fill a dishpan with the hottest water we can stand, as hot water dissolves grease. (A good pair of rubber gloves allows you to wash with some very hot water.) The higher temperature in the dishpan does much to compensate for the hard water's difficulty with dealing with grease. Instead of immersing dishes in the hot water we

1. rinse bigger food particles off the dish with tap water,

2. immerse a sponge-scrubber (scotch-brite kind) in the hot water, apply soap to it and then squeeze the hot soapy water onto the dish we are washing. Then use the scrubbing side to thoroughly scrub the dish on all sides. (simply sponging the dish clean is not enough) The dish never gets immersed in the dish pan.

3. rinse in tap water

For pots and pans, we fill them with very hot water and soap to loosen food particles and let them stand before we do this process.

The first time we did this, it took some extra elbow grease to get the layer of stickiness off the dishes. But after that, it just took some thorough scrubbing each time to prevent it from recurring.

If you want further prevention beyond these 3 steps you can fill a round tub (about 18” diameter and 6-8” high works) half way with water, add about 1/8 cup of vinegar and give your dishes a short bath in those as a step 4 before you set them out to dry. The vinegar loosens soap and grease from surfaces if there are still traces left after the scrubbing.

Edited at 2016-01-12 07:57 am (UTC)
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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