Earlier today I sent the following in to Costco regarding the recent performance of their powdered Kirkland Signature dishwashing detergent. I then got on the CU website and saw the latest ratings which put their product near the bottom. What I realized after reviewing that ratings chart and the other info is that, indeed, I now recall the change in the product box graphics and the fact that the new eco-friendly formula contained no phosphate.
Since I typically "stock up" in advance of running out of supplies, it took me until 2-3 months ago to finish out the older boxes of the prior phosphated formula and begin using the newer-version eco-friendly stuff. By then I had forgotten about the difference (which I had originally noted when I couldn't find the older-version stuff in the store and first bought the newer boxes).
Between the time I wrote Costco earlier today, and getting on the CU site to "research" and write this note, I looked closer inside my Kenmore dishwasher and noticed more heavy white deposits of the hardened powder. Although the last couple of loads that were run with Cascade worked a lot better (as mentioned below), I wondered if any of those deposits were inside the pump itself under the intake filter. I decided to disassemble the components inside the tub down to the "chopper" in front of the pump impeller.
What I found were several hardened "nuggets" of the powder that were clogging up the intake and on which food and other junk had caught (preventing them from reaching the chopper). This "beaver dam" was keeping the pump from spraying nearly as hard as it used to (and also from draining as fast).
After cleaning up and reassembling the filter and pump intake, and using "traditional" Cascade powder, the dishwasher is running and cleaning as good as new.
I think that if I had let things go as they were going for a couple more weeks I would have had a damaged dishwasher and an expensive repair. If this performance is what we can expect from eco-friendly products, I'm NOT in favor of them!
After posting this I'm going back to the Costco web site and mention my recall/re-discovery of their new no-phosphate formula as being the culprit for the poor performance.
(The following was submitted to Costco earlier today:)
RE: recent performance issue with the Kirkland Signature dishwashing powder (comes in boxes).
I have used your store brand of the dishwashing powder in my Kenmore dishwasher for a number of years with no problems, at least until the last couple of months. Its performance has always been excellent, and being equal to that of Cascade brand, I switched over long ago.
However, in the last 2-3 months I've had problems with poor washing: dishes coming out with a gritty feel and glassware with milky deposits that I could sometimes vigorously hand-scrub off (say, with one of those 3M scouring pads) to restore clarity; crusts of food remaining that I would have to pop/chip off (and re-wash); failure of utensils to get clean where they leaned against each other; and some amounts of the powder remaining as an undissolved hardened cake in the lower corners of the "powder pockets" on the door (and yes, the cover over the "main cleaning cycle" pocket would have opened during the cycles). I have also been finding the powder clumped and hardened on the intake screens. It doesn't seem to be dissolving easily as before.
We have not noticed any changes in the water during bathing, washing clothes, etc.
I always keep the rinse aid (Jet Dry) tank full, and since the indicator slowly drops between loads, I'm assuming it is working OK. I hear the spray arms moving around (and opened the door to make sure they were changing position).
All this sounds like my dishwasher is not circulating correctly, so as a comparison, this past weekend (Mar. 6 2010) I bought a box of Cascade and starting running loads with it, and everything is coming out great, as it used to. Dishes and glasses did not have the gritty feel, no hardened/clumped deposits, glasses were not made "milkier", etc.
I seem to recall (when I originally switched from Cascade some years back) that the Kirkland brand used to have the little colored "crystals", similar to Cascade (though I may be wrong; and I don't know if they actually do anything or not). I did notice that for some time now there have been none in the mix. I also notice that the "feel" of the powder itself is now different (gritty), whereas a long time ago it seemed to be very similar to Cascade's (slippery, fine-grained).
Does that indicate a recent switch in suppliers to Costco that might account for the poorer performance? Or perhaps there was a lapse in quality control and I got a bad batch of product?
I'm hoping that as Costco continues to grow in popularity, the demand volume does not cause a drop in quality due to switching or adding suppliers.
I'd be interested to know if there have been changes. In the meantime I'm now favoring Cascade, and will mention my observations to Consumer Reports.
If your water is getting as hot as it should and there is sufficient water level, any detergent used will dissolve completely -- even in hard water. Certainly some brands dissolve more easily than others but any/all will dissolve completely in sufficient quantity of 120F+ water in the machine.
Clogged sprayer arms would be an indication of a problem other than detergent brand, IMHO.
Do I understand you're saying Oxyclean doesn't dissolve in 145F water?
I don't believe you.
Just for kicks, I just put a tablespoon full into a glass of 130F water and stirred gently with a spoon. It dissolved completely in seconds. Been using it for years in the laundry with zero residue. I use powdered laundry detergent and DW detergent at temperatures between 120F and 130F and have no residue. I pump my tank every few years and do not have what you described. Don't know what's going on at your location but suspect issues other than "powders are a problem" as a blanket statement.
i have never used powder detergent for any cleaning type until i was hooked on cascade with dawn pacs.(the cascade pacs DO have a small amount of powder in the bottom) the next spring we pumped our tank and it was all disolved. however looking at expense and consumer reports ratings(lets not forget user comments) i believe Im going to switch to cascade gel. i was just in costco but bought another tub of cascade pacs and noticed the change in the kirkland signature bottle. Our detergent from when we got our first dishwasher (11 years ago) we used cascade gel until about 2010. then the commercials got me. however the powder may have endidup on the bottom of the tank then degrated with the bacterial culture. (we have a familly of 4)
oh well. this is just my experiece of powder detergent. i will keep up to date with this. and we run our dishwasher 1 time per day. the detergent adds up.