The best dishwashing detergents for hard water
Of all the countries in Europe, the UK has some of the hardest water, with 60% of us living in hard water areas, including most of the South-East. Hard water refers to any tap water that is high in mineral content, which might sound like a good thing on the surface. However, hard water can wreak havoc on your appliances if you don’t manage it properly. Of all the appliances affected by hard water, however, it’s our dishwashers that arguably bear the brunt of the problems.
How does hard water affect dishwashers?
While you might not notice much of an impact right away, over time, the longer the dishwasher is subjected to hard water the more you’ll start to spot your clear glassware becoming cloudy and a thin white film falling over your dishes. This is a build-up of minerals that the dishwasher is simply not equipped to filter out and if left to gather for too long it can cause your dishwasher to fail.
Damage can be minimised by using more detergent but it’s more important what kind of detergent you use than how much of it. A detergent with a high level of phosphate will help soften the water and rinse-aid always helps. You can also use specific cleaners and descalers every so often, once you notice a greater limescale build-up. Installing a water filter in your kitchen can also be a great benefit.
So, which of the common dishwasher detergents are best for those of us living in areas of hard water?
Finish Quantum Ultimate
The ads for this all-in-one tablet talk all about the grease-combating power of “Dawn.” While we’re not 100% sure exactly what this is, we can tell you that it certainly does the trick. The tablet uses three cleaning agents to dispose of food particles, so much so that it even works wonders on pots and pans. In our tests, we even found that it was able to remove baked-in food from cast-iron skillets. It didn’t leave any residue either. A definite winner.
This is the ideal option for those that are worried about the environmental factor, as it uses 97% natural extracts and gives off a pleasing citrus scent. It doesn’t have quite the same strength as the Finish tablets, but its gentler nature means it’s perfect if you have fragile dinnerware that you don’t trust with heavy-duty stuff.
Seventh Generation Free & Clear
If even the Fairy tablets are a little too inorganic for your wishes, then Seventh Generation offers a completely biodegradable option that’s free of phosphates, chlorine and aluminium. It is also fragrance-free, so if you prefer your dishes and cutlery to smell neutral this is probably your best bet. Note, however, that it isn’t 100% compatible with all dishwashers so if yours is an older machine you might struggle.