Problems With Soap Bubble Suds in Bosch Dishwasher—No Solution Yet
Most people who move into the over 55 retirement community where we now live either custom order their home or buy something used from someone leaving. Our situation was a little different: we bought a house where someone was unable to complete the purchase. They had never moved in, never even paid anything but a deposit, but they had specified things like floor coverings and appliances.
We liked the model of the home and the location was perfect. We didn't like their choices in floor coverings, cabinets or appliances, but we felt the location over rode all that so we bought. The first thing we did was rip out half the carpeting they had wanted and replace it with wood, but we left the appliances as they were because we felt we could live with them.
The dishwasher was a cheap GE model and was very, very noisy. It didn't do a great job with the dishes and the loudness of it was annoying, but we lived with it for two years until I found out that my nephew and his wife had been living without any dishwasher for a year because they could not afford to buy one. I took that as opportunity and excuse: I wouldn't have to throw away a working piece of equipment (I detest waste like that), my nephew and his wife could escape the drudgery of washing dishes by hand for a family of four, and we'd buy something quieter and better.
By the way, my nephew has four screeching birds that live in their kitchen. The noise from the GE would be nearly inaudible compared to those birds.
So we bought a low end Bosch dishwasher. We saw no need to go for the fancier models; its just the two of us and as we eat lightly and simply, so we don't normally have much to wash anyway. Most of the fancy stuff is just more complicated controls for convenience features we don't need; we felt the low end was fine.
"Low End" with Bosch is still close to a $600 purchase. We picked the SHE33M02UC because it was well reviewed at Consumer Reports and because I was able to get a good deal on it from one of my customers who sells Bosch and other higher end products. I brought it home, called my nephew to come help and by the end of the day we both had working dishwashers. His wife was far beyond happy that day, though my wife kept apologizing to her about the noise.
Even if they didn't have screeching birds, I think she would not have cared if it sounded like a jet taking off. She was just happy that they would not be standing over that sink for hours.
The Sound Of Silence
We were very impressed by how quiet the Bosch was. Compared to the GE, it almost seemed to make no noise at all. But we soon realized that all was not well in dishwasher land.
Tiny Bubbles Make Me Feel Blue
One of our complaints about the GE was that it didn't seem to wash very well. We happen to be big water drinkers and we filter our tap water rather than contributing to more pollution with bottled water. We had noticed with the GE that we'd see little soap bubbles if we didn't rinse our glasses before using them. We could also taste it - we wouldn't have noticed it with milk or juice, but it stood out with filtered water.
That was another thing my wife kept apologizing for. I could see the look in my nephew's wife eyes: a few tiny soap bubbles were not anything she cared about at that point. A little soap is better than a backache. We had post-rinsed, she could do the same.
We had expected that problem to disappear with the Bosch, but it did not.
Wow. That WAS a surprise. Were we doing something wrong? I asked my appliance dealer and he suggested several possibilities.
Things that can cause left over soap
If the soap can't drain, all the rinsing in the world is not going to help. Could I have messed up the installation or or kinked the drain hose?
Well, the Bosch drain hose is very hard to screw up. It is attached to the side of the unit and almost impossible to kink. Still, I pulled it out and double checked and also interrupted the cycle to confirm that it was able to drain everything out.
If you happen to squirt any dish or hand detergent onto dishes waiting in the sink for later loading into the dishwasher, you can create too many suds for the dishwasher to handle. Dish and hand soap is designed to suds up, dishwasher soap is not. You'd see that it is unable to drain away all those suds if you opened it up during the cycle.
We made sure that didn't happen.
Not hot enough
We always run the hot water before doing the dishes and we don't keep our water heater turned down low. That goes against most advice for saving money, but my fear is of bacteria growing in the tank, especially as we don't use much hot water. It sits there a long time, I want it hot to kill stuff off.
Too much soap, too much Jet Dry with soft water
We tried using less and less soap and got down to less than a half teaspoon - still had bubbles. We tried it with less Jet Dry, no Jet Dry and more Jet Dry. No change whatsoever.
Built up soap
Here the idea is that your past sins are still haunting you. Soap residue has built up everywhere and is reintroduced at every wash. The suggested solution is to run through a few cycles with no soap and white vinegar.
I used up a gallon and a half of white vinegar in a dozen cycles with no soap and nothing changed.
I turned to Google for help. Unfortunately, if you search for soap film and dishwashers, you are more apt to find suggestions for dealing with hard water deposits and etching than left over soap that causes bubbles. If you search for bubbles instead of film, you find problems with sudsing and they all talk about the same things we had already tried.
I did find one person who claimed that the problem can come from dishes being too clean. His theory is that the detergent needs grease and grime to stick to and that without it, it can't ever really wash away.
If that is our problem, we'll be living with it forever because we don't eat greasy foods. We hardly ever eat meat at all. Do I have to add grease to my dishwasher? That seems unlikely.
So, one month shy of our warranty expiration, we called Bosch. They checked everything over and told us that our soap was the culprit. We've been using Trader Joe's; Bosch recommended Electrasol (now called Quantum Finish).
Fine. If that's what we have to do, that's what we have to do. He left us samples; we tried it.
There were even more soap bubbles. Sheesh!
Back to Google
I went back to Google and searched more. I found someone who said they had this problem but had improved it with 7th Generation detergent. We use their clothes washer detergent now, so we will try that, but really wonder whether this is unavoidable.
We never had this problem back in our old home. The major difference is that we had an older dishwasher not designed to save water. I had put that puppy in decades ago. I suspect that old model may have wasted a lot of rinse water, but didn't leave soap on our dishes. We used Trader Joe's there, so that's the same.
I wonder if other people have this problem and just haven't noticed it. If we did not drink filtered tap water, we would not have noticed. You expect milk and juice to have bubbles and anything but water will mask any taste. Even tap water will mask it if it has a noticeable amount of chlorine.
Maybe people have the same problem and do not know it?
We have Bosch coming back for another look-see. I honestly don't feel hopeful about resolving this.
If the problem is that our water is too soft (which is actually a silly phrase because water either has mineral content or it does not), the most often repeated advice is less soap. I don't know how little we can use and still hope to clean anything. However, we will keep trying and we'll see what happens.
I'll update this if I get any new information.
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