Tony Lawrence was born in 1948 and spent most of his career as a self-employed computer troubleshooter for Unix systems.
Most people who move into the over 55 retirement community (where I now live) either custom order their home or buy something used from the previous residents. Our situation was a little different: we bought a house where someone was unable to complete the purchase. They had never moved in, and never 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, but we didn't like their choices in floor coverings, cabinets, or appliances. We felt the location overrode our dislikes, though, so we went ahead with the move. 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 an opportunity and excuse: I wouldn't have to throw away a working piece of equipment, 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 was nearly inaudible compared to those birds.
So we bought a low-end Bosch dishwasher. We saw no need to go for the fancier models; it's 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's 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 Leftover 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 kinked the drain hose?
Read More From Dengarden
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, 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.
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 leftover 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 them.
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 the 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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How did you resolve the issue with your Bosch?
Answer: We have a new Bosch, with the same issues.
Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on May 19, 2020:
I have no idea, sorry.
sal1965 on May 19, 2020:
I did a thorough cleaning of the tub, filter, and screen. I replaced the washer blades last year. I just did another regular wash. There was no soap sitting in the tub.
So I decided to test it and took everything out of the bottom rack and left glasses in the top rack. Ran it for about 10 minutes, canceled the cycle and there was soap foam on the bottom.
Can I assume that residual detergent is sitting in the drain well and foaming back up? I use lemi-shine packs.
Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on May 18, 2020:
Have you checked your drain filter recently? Many people don't realize that they have this and it will fill up over the years and trap awful smelling stuff, and soap..
sal1965 on May 17, 2020:
Glad I found this page.
I have a similar problem with my 6-year-old Whirlpool gold but in a different way.
When I run a full cycle there is no soap at the bottom of my dishwasher, but our dishes had that funky smell, so I did a 1-hour wash for about 10 minutes to rinse them, then cancel the cycle, that is when the bottom is filled suds. With no soap in the dispenser and the rinse cycle not yet started, where would that soap be coming from?
It is draining fine, the filters are clean
Could the funky smell becoming from residual soap or rinse agent which is causing the soap to appear in the tub or do I look elsewhere?
Tony Lawrence (author) from SE MA on March 13, 2020:
Yes, I am also frustrated. We bought a new Bosch since then and we use very small amounts of 7th Generation detergent, but we still have to run an Express cycle with no soap after every wash.
We’ve given up and simply accept this as it is.
LemonKiss on March 11, 2020:
I LOATHE soap bubbles in my glassware and dishes. I try using the smallest amount of 7th Generation soap possible in my Bosch, but there are always bubbles. My husband thinks I am crazy and paranoid, but god dang I don't want to drink chemical soap. Frustrated.
Apartment Dweller on November 10, 2019:
Okay, I know this article began long ago, but until I found this, I did not find anything else describing the soap bubbles forming when clean glasses are filled with water.
I live in an apartment and this dishwasher is a Hotpoint (GE), which replaced one that had quit working after years, but hadn't had this problem. Initially, I thought it was working (though is VERY loud, runs a LONG time), the dishes coming out APPEARING clean.
I don't know when I first realized there were foaming bubbles, whether tasting it first, then seeing, then trying another glass and seeing foam. I began checking everything from the dishwasher, apparently having been drinking soap and serving to guests.