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By Alan Heavens
One of my favorite lines from television was delivered by Jonathan Harris, who played the diabolical yet cowardly Dr. Smith on "Lost in Space."
He and Will Robinson were out searching for iron pyrite, and as Will scanned the horizon with binoculars, he reported that his mother and older sister were doing laundry.
"Spare me the dreary domestic story," Smith told him.
Well, what Dr. Smith would consider dreary, we here at "Your Place" consider our meat and potatoes.
So, when we write about dishwashers that produce glassware with a filmy coating, a tidal wave of email leaves us floating in possible solutions.
The issue seems to be that the formula for dishwashing detergent was changed in order to have a lesser impact on the environment. It may be gentler on the planet, but it appears not to be doing its job on glassware.
This situation has its parallels in low-flow toilets, paints without volatile organic compounds, and lead-free solder. Trying to be first on the market, manufacturers jumped the gun in releasing products before the bugs were worked out, leaving consumers wary and looking for black markets in the older models.
As time went on, all three improved markedly. And so will dishwashing detergent.
A lot of my readers offered their recommendations for getting rid of these spots, so here goes:
Alice Choper from Exton, Pa., was about ready to toss the cloudy glasses but tried handwashing them with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and was successful. Her engineer-husband suggested changing dishwasher detergent.
Alan M. Rothman offers a scientific approach: The retired chemist was ready to call a repairman when he read an article in Chemical & Engineering News about the problem. "Apparently, as a result of federally mandated removal of phosphates in dishwasher detergents, some manufacturers were having problems coming up with satisfactory formulations," he said. The article rated two brands as the most successful: Cascade pouches and Finish 4 in 1 tablets. Both worked. In Florida, Publix brand detergent also worked.
Her email "handle" is Avalon: "Nothing works better than pouring a gallon or more of white vinegar directly into the machine before running the cycle. Works beautifully."