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Adding Phosphates (TSP) to Miele Dishwasher

9 years ago

Recently I read an article about how dishwashing detergents don't work as well since phosphates were removed earlier this year and how some people are using phosphate additives (e.g. TSP) to get better results. Although my Miele Optima is a world better than my previous dishwasher, I still have problems occasionally with lip prints on wine glasses and stuck on food.

Has anyone here tried using a phosphate additive in a Miele dishwasher? If so, what kind, how much are you using, and are you getting good results? Is there any chance the phosphates will harm my dishwasher?

Comments (43)

  • dadoes

    TSP (TriSodiumPhosphate) is NOT the correct additive. It forms a precipitate ... basically dust in the water.

    The correct additive is STPP (Sodium TriPolyPhosphate), which does not form a precipitate.

    It's easy to get confused ... STPP ... TSP.

    There's zero risk of damaging the machine.

  • herring_maven

    Adding phosphates definitely will affect the likelihood that your glassware will etch with repeated washings.

    Have you tried Ecover powder? That is the only detergent that we use in our Miele; we wash wine glasses every night; and we never have had a problem with lip prints.

    As for stuck-on food, whenever we have dishes with a lot of starchy material adhered, we tend to let the dishes sit in the sink with cold water on them (stacked plates are o.k. as long as water gets on the full surface of each plate before the next is stacked on top) for a few minutes, then put them in the dishwasher still dripping wet just before we start the dishwasher. Works for us.

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  • friedajune

    What detergent are you using now? Consumer Reports had an article saying they revised their previous DW detergent ratings since the changes in phosphate levels. What CR had liked best before was now no longer their top picks. Also, gels tend to perform the worst overall in their testing, and tablets performed best overall. What are you using? CR likes Finish All in 1 Powerball tablets and Method Smarty Dish tablets. Internet buzz is that Method is preferable because it is easier to unwrap the tablets, and easier to break the tablets in half. Walgreens carries Method dishwasher tablets, and they're reasonably priced.

    You know, phosphates have been banned for good reason - they are harmful to aquatic and plant life (though I read from your post you are more concerned with harming your DW). Before you jump to add your own phosphates to your DW so that you can get the wine glasses clean, perhaps just try a different detergent. Or try using the more powerful cycles on your DW, like the pot cycle or sanitize cycle. Any of those alternatives would be better than throwing a handful of phosphates into your DW.

  • asolo

    CR does not disclose their water quality. By refusing to do so, they make their recommendations almost meaningless. And most people don't know what their own water quality is. Without that knowledge, it's really hard to know what to do or how much of it to do or what to refrain from doing.

    Have to say soft water solves a whole bunch of problems. Mostly by making them not occur at all. If you're still guessing -- as most folks are -- good luck to you.

    FWIW, I've had soft water at multiple locations for decades -- including now -- with many machines using detergent with and without phosphates in appropriate dosages. Everything's fine. Everything's always been fine.

  • deeageaux

    You know, phosphates have been banned for good reason - they are harmful to aquatic and plant life

    Not exactly. They are not completly banned nor are they directly harmful to anything.

    Phosphates are food for algae.

    In lakes and some slow moving rivers phosephates can cause an explosion of growth of algae that takes up all the oxygen in the water.

    This can kill animal life in that body of water.

    Disrupting the ecosystem.

    Dumping it into the ocean really makes no difference.

    Phosphates are not a toxin nor a pollutant.

    In fact they are also used as preservatives.

    If Los Angeles wants me to stop using STTP then they should sell my soft water.

  • mr_wash

    I remember reading the following in a Miele instruction manual from an earlier series when phosphate free detergents were coming onto the market. Their recommendations were the following:
    These new dishwashing detergents, although
    welcome from an ecological
    point of view, react to a different degree
    from conventional products to water
    hardness. The drawbacks may only
    become apparent after a prolonged
    period of use.
    The following problems may occur:
    � White deposits on crockery and
    inner cabinet.
    � Increased etching in the form of a
    bluish sheen on the surface of glassware.
    � Discolouration of silverware.
    Appearances of this nature are
    generally caused by the detergent
    used and are not attributable to any
    malfunctioning of the dishwasher itself.
    Preventive measures:
    1. If you wish to continue using the new
    chlorine and phosphate-free products,
    the following is recommended:
    � Try out an environmentally friendly
    detergent of the same type from another
    2. If you are still dissatisfied with the results,
    we recommend the use of
    chlorine-free but not phosphate-free
    Another suggestion if you lived in a hard water area was to increase the water hardness setting, so as to make the water softer, so to counteract the lack of phosphates in the detergent which were required to soften the water.
    I would not recommend to use a higher temperature cycle on glassware as this would increase etching.
    There is a fine balance to be environmentally responsible and getting good cleaning results. Using a more powerful cycle when not necessary is also not being environmentally responsible as it increases the use of resources as well. Phosphates in detergent has played a small role in harming aquatic life, it has been fertilisers that farmers have used which have leached into the waterways during irrigation that has caused the most damage.

  • asolo

    Must say I get kick out of the concept of self-contained water softeners per-appliance....a la Miele. What a hoot.

    Learn your water quality and if it is isn't right, fix it. From DW to clothes washer to baths and showers to water heater to plumbing and appliance longevity....everything works right and lasts longer with decent water supply. Sorry if that was a rant but it's all true.

  • Fori

    I'd actually prefer different water qualities for different uses! Currently my water is adequate for pretty much everything cleaning-related, but I have to adjust the hardness for some of my pets... :/

  • thull

    I side with the environmental impact of phosphorus argument. Not to mention that utilities across the country have made major investments in phosphorus removal to meet discharge requirements. If you're going to add a phosphate detergent to your DW, you lose any privilege to complain about the cost of your water/sewer service.

    There's also the issue that phosphorus supplies are dwindling globally (see linked article).

    Here is a link that might be useful: Article on peak phosphorus

  • montalvo

    I'm really concerned about exhausting my supply of phosphate detergent. I have soft water and Miele dishwashers but I think I'm one of only ten people in the country that actually uses a dishwasher. By that I mean USES the dishwasher to actually CLEAN the dishes, scaping the food off rather than rinsing the dishes perfectly clean prior to loading them in the dishwasher.

    I checked the price of sodium tripolyphosphate at and found that shipping was more than the cost of a five pound bag. For substantially less money, I can buy it in one pound increments locally. Just do a Google Maps search for "sodium tripolyphosphate" and your town/state and you'll likely find a local source.

    I plan to add a 1/4 teaspoon per load, increasing to 1/2 teaspoon if the results aren't satisfactory. I'll report back and let you know how it works out.

    As for those of you who wash your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you'll likely be fine without using ANY dishwasher detergent!

  • friedajune

    I'm one of only ten people in the country that actually uses a dishwasher. By that I mean USES the dishwasher to actually CLEAN the dishes, scaping the food off rather than rinsing the dishes perfectly clean prior to loading them in the dishwasher.

    I plan to add a 1/4 teaspoon [sodium tripolyphosphate] per load, increasing to 1/2 teaspoon if the results aren't satisfactory....As for those of you who wash your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you'll likely be fine without using ANY dishwasher detergent!

    What hubris. I have been on the Gardenweb forums for years, and your post ranks as one of the most supercilious posts I have read here.

  • weissman

    actually, I kind of agree with montalvo. Most of my friends, even those with new DWs, insist on rinsing the dishes before putting them in the DW. Old habits die hard :-)

  • friedajune

    I'm surprised Weissman. It's true that some people rinse their dishes. What I objected to was Montalvo's statement that s/he is "only 1 of 10 people in the country" that uses a DW, and his/her disdainful closing sentence. Also, that s/he hasn't thought about changing detergents rather than adding phosphates, nor to the reasons phosphates are banned, nor the etching on dishes and glasses that will result from throwing phosphates into his/her DW. Furthermore, since Montalvo states his/her water is soft, I doubt that lack of phosphates is causing a problem, if there even is a problem. Montalva has not explained why s/he needs added phosphates, especially given that s/he is one of only 10 in the country to use the DW correctly.

  • weissman

    Well, I took the post as kind of humerous, sarcastic overstatement, but as I said, a lot of people I know insist on rinsing even after I advise them otherwise.

    I'm in the position of still having some "old" Cascade Complete with phosphates. When that runs out I'll certainly try to find a phosphate free detergent that cleans my dishes but after reading the horror stories about dirty dishes and white residue, I'm not morally opposed to adding a little STPP to the wash. I have somewhat hard water, by the way.

  • asolo

    Yo do things smell in there when you've scraped in the morning but don't run the full load until night? I can tell you how it smells around here when I do that!

    FWIW, if I'm doing the load right now, I scrape a little and add 'em in. If I know it's going to be a while, I rinse before placing.

  • cat_mom

    I still have the older Miele tabs--hope the new ones will do as well when we have to order more.

    We scrape, don't rinse, and don't run the DW every day. During the heat of summer (our DW is on an outside wall), the DW will smell a bit, and we will run it before it is completely full for that reason. Otherwise, no horrible smell (I'm pretty sensitive to smells) and we sometimes go a few days 'til running the DW.

    Obviously if we've eaten fish/seafood, or some other odoriferous food, we'll run the DW that evening, no matter how sparsely filled the DW.

  • asolo

    With respect to those who only run full loads, I often run partials. Many friends with one or two-person households sort of wash things item-at-a-time at the sink rather than accumulate full loads. I'm willing to accumulate in DW for a day but then run it anyway. Machine still uses less of everything than if I had done what my friends do and gets things cleaner. I've had too many experiences with funkiness of dirty dishes in the machine to wait more than a day or so regardless of load size.

  • tahota

    Several manufacturers now make "Double Drawer" models for those who don't do full loads.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Example

  • WendyB

    I was just searching for sttp locally (as suggested above using Google Maps). It didn't find any, but look what I did find. OMG!

    Seafood suppliers buy the catch and all too often subject it to a further indignity: a soaking in sodium tripolyphosphate. Phosphate baths are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cut down on moisture loss in frozen seafood, but the agency warns that the chemical can also be used to get scallops to absorb extra water. This âÂÂwet packing,â as itâÂÂs called, increases the scallopsâ weight -- "and suppliersâ margins. But some consumers say it gives the scallops an off flavor and may mask the signs of spoiling.

    full reference link below

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • dadoes

    No surprise there. Phosphates are a common food additive.

  • mmiller2002

    I just switched from Finish Gel which was making everything look cloudy to Finish PowerBall tablets in our Bosch DW. Night and day difference!

  • eggcream

    The Finish Powerball Tablets do clean well, but appear to deliver too much detergent for my Miele. When I tried to cut them in half nightmare. Can anyone tell me if they have the same experience?

  • abiigdog_hotmail_com

    I just bought a 5lb pail of STTP, screw the hippies I want dishes clean again, I've better things to do with my time then hand wash dishes. If anyone else is interested in beating the watermelons at their game just go to the chemistry shop and order a pail of sodium tripolyphosphate.

  • foodonastump

    Interesting, I had no idea phosphates were banned. Just looked at my almost-empty box of Cascade Complete and sure enough, no phosphate. I haven't noticed any difference in cleaning performance. As always, I've just been using my 1-to-2 tablespoons per load of scraped-not-rinsed dishes which accummulate until the DW is full. That might be a half a day or it might be three. I guess I have good water? Or a good dishwasher?

  • larsi_gw

    I just switched from a La Perla Miele dishwasher (2007) to a La Perla Miele (2011). The first two or three loads of dishes I ran, I was a little disappointed. I called Miele, and they asked me to read them the label on my dishwasher powder. Sure new box of Cascade Complete said No Phosphates. I have had a Miele dishwasher, 4 of them, in the last 3 homes I have owned in the last 16 years. Miele provides quiet, flawless and super reliable cleaning. But, dishwasher detergent without Phosphates is inferior to detergent with Phosphates. This is why I still buy and use German Persil Laundry Detergent in my Miele W4842 washer. The Phosphates are LESS THAN 5%, but it makes a huge difference in cleaning!

  • segesta

    I mentioned this on another thread, but after my phosphate-free Cascade left all kinds of white residue on my glassware and black plastic utensils (even in my spiffy new Miele), I tried Lemi Shine, and it worked very well.

  • fauguy

    To anyone with a Miele Dishwasher, I would suggest try using the newer Miele Tabs that are phosphate free. I have used both the original Miele tabs that did contain phosphates and the newer ones that don't contain phosphates in my Diamante. I only have to put a half tab in the dishwasher, and everything comes out clean, including baked-on and dried-on food with pots/pans and dishes. I haven't had any reason to think about using another dishwasher detergent.

  • cat_mom

    fauguy--any need to change DW settings with the new tablets? I know they contain salt and rinse aid (the old ones did not). I don't want to mess up the set/achieved balance if you know what I mean.


  • kitchendetective

    This has been linked before, and it was updated late last June, but it may be helpful to see it again.

    Here is a link that might be useful: 15-State partial ban on phosphates

  • fauguy

    From what I've heard, the new tabs contain only a SMALL amount of salt and rinse aid to help with the WASH CYCLE. It does not replace using the built-in salt water softener and rinse aid dispenser.
    I didn't make any changes to the settings on my Diamante (Water Softener 4-6 grains, Rinse Aid 1ml).

  • fauguy

    Here's the link from last year about the new Miele Tabs.
    I have more info about them in the last few posts.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Newer Miele Tabs on the Miele site

  • cat_mom

    I have a call and email in to the svce tech sup'v (hadn't heard back as yet, hence my post here). Just want to make sure I don't need to change any of our Optima's settings with the new formulation tablets.

    I am going to look for the tablets locally--if none to be found, I'll order online. What site has the best deal on them : unit price, free s/h, no tax???

  • qwertmom

    The first few months of having my Miele, I was on the phone with customer service constantly trying every permutation of dishwasher detergent. I wanted to use Ecover, Seventh Generation or Trader Joe's. None of them worked well. I have photos of food left on the dishes and thick white film on the glasses, pots and pans, plastic food storage containers, and utensils. I tried the Electrasol/Finish tablets broken in half on the recommendation of one customer service rep - not good. Finally, a rep at Miele told me to use 1 tblspn of Cascade powder - not the more ecological detergents that I wanted - and sent a repairman out who changed the amount of rinse agent released in each wash. The rep said that because Miele uses so little water, there's not sufficient water for the ecological detergents. Also, because Miele uses so little water compared to the other brands of dishwasher, you should not use non-Miele tablets which are designed for standard American dishwashers. Lastly, the rep pointed out that using an energy efficient and water efficient Miele and the smaller amount of detergent, should offset the environmental impact of using a "non"ecological detergent. Hope this helps.

  • fauguy

    So you've been using the 1 tablesoon of Cascade powder ever since with good results? When you run out, you may want to give the new Miele tabs a try. I only use a half-tab and get excellent results. On occasion (maybe once a month), I may use a full tab if the dishwasher is (over) loaded and has a lot of baked-on stuff, just to make sure it gets everything clean.

  • fauguy

    cat_mom, are you near a local Miele store. There's one not far from me in South FL so that is where I go to purchase it. I know the Miele site sells it, but not sure about them charging tax and shipping.

  • cat_mom

    Don't think so, but I'm going to make some calls to a few of the local-ish high-end appliance stores and ask if they stock it.

  • davidleespangler

    I vote for simply adding a Tsp of TSP in the detergent holder. I have been doing this for weeks and the dishes look great:

    I know the problems associated with phosphates, but I save water because I no longer have to pre-wash the dishes.

    Here is a link that might be useful: TSP for dishes

  • friedajune

    Davidlespangler, who has just signed up to the Gardenweb, resurrected this thread and posted just so that people will click on his blog, which he linked.

  • dadoes

    And, as stated already in this thread, TSP is the wrong additive.

  • cookie-canada

    I have been reading this thread and this is only the second or third time I have been online to talk about a problem.
    I have two Miele DWs at my cottage. We have a water softening system to take the iron out of our well water. We keep the machines set for soft water. Last year out of concern for the lake we live on I switched to a phosphate free DW soap. I used to use Finish tabs and break them in half (on the advice of a Miele serviceperson). The new tabs are generic from a large grocery chain. They come in a skin that you do not have to remove. After a year of use my friends started complaining that my wine and drinking glasses smelled soapy. First I switched back to Finish but I really don't like the powerball because you cannot break it. The dishes and glasses are getting worse and worse. I tried cleaning the dishwasher by hand and with a cleaning agent (finish product). I have been very upset about this and blamed the water softener. We wrote to Miele and they said to use less detergent after super cleaning the DW. Now I found this thread and wonder if it is because of the phosphate free soat and using an entire tab.
    I am going to pick up some Miele DW soap to try. Anyone having similar problems.

  • fauguy

    I'm on city water, but will say that the newer Miele tabs are also phosphate free, where the older ones that I got last year did contain phosphates.
    Both of theme cleaned equally well for me, but my issues was that the newer Miele tabs were creating a lot of suds in my Diamante unit, even though I was only using half a tab. It even cause the unit to trip the over-flow circuit, and I had to wait a few days before it started working again (Miele came out and checked the unit to make sure it was OK, I did show them the pics I had taken from the suds in the bottom of the unit from the Miele tabs).

    Since then I've been using the Method Smarty tabs from Target, which are phosphate free. I have tried a full tab and a half-tab, and don't get any suds from those, and still clean as good as the Miele tabs.

    See if you can get Miele to send you a couple tabs and a bottle of their dishwasher cleaner. I've used it twice before (ever 6 months) and it's supposed to clean out the entire washing system, hoses, pumps, spray arms, gasket seals, and the stainless interior. I just peal the cover off the bottle top, turn it upside down and place it in the middle rack so it won't fall over. Then place the unit on a Pots/Pans wash, and the hot water melts the wax seal on the bottle to dispense the cleaning agent into the unit while its running.

    After cleaning it, try the Miele tabs, but like I said, those are phosphate free, so there's no way to guess how those will work for you since you're on well water. You might also want to give the Method Smarty tabs a try too.

    Even though you're well water is treated at the house, are you also using the internal water softener in the Miele dishwasher? If not, you should, as some people have said it does help, even though they have a whole-home water softener/filter.

  • illinigirl

    TSP is very soluble in water...I'm not understanding this information:
    "TSP (TriSodiumPhosphate) is NOT the correct additive. It forms a precipitate ... basically dust in the water.
    The correct additive is STPP (Sodium TriPolyPhosphate), which does not form a precipitate."

  • cj47_gw

    I finally ran out of my old Cascade Complete dishwasher detergent and bought a new box of Cascade powder. I use one tablespoon in my Miele Inspira, which has no softener. I have not really noticed a big difference in cleaning. We have a whole house water softener. I do not prewash the dishes, we have teenagers and run the washer twice a day on average, more when we have spare kids around.

    After reading about the dissatisfaction with the new dishwasher detergents, it was a nice surprise to find out that the new stuff without phosphates works just fine.
    (for me, in my dishwasher)

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