Few things, it seems, are a more universal concern than dirty dishes.
After I wrote last week about the problems Kevin Connolly of Safety Harbor is having with his LG dishwasher, more than a dozen of you called and dozens more e-mailed.
The problems people are having are primarily related to the detergent industry's decision to remove phosphates from its products because some states are banning them. Many dishwashers — in particular, newer models that are more eco-friendly and use less water — have relied on the phosphates to help clean the dishes.
Some dishwashers, as Connolly complained, are not responding to alternative solutions.
In the many responses that filed in over the weekend, some folks had not heard anything about why their dishwasher no longer cleaned their dishes very well. Others suggested a variety of alternatives.
Before you try them, just note that Deborah Berry of the Pinellas Department of Justice and Consumer Services says consumers should check their warranties and with their manufacturer about how adding supplements to their washers might affect the product and servicing.
Here's what readers had to say:
• A cup of vinegar in the dishwasher. I noted in another column the book Vinegar (Over 400 Various, Versatile & Very Good Uses You've Probably Never Thought of) by Vicki Lansky. Vinegar is a great cleaning product. Reader Tom Black noted that vinegar in the dishwasher or a little bleach helped with film on his dishes. Industry experts have suggested setting a cup upright in the dishwasher and filling it with vinegar before turning on the machine.
• Softening the water. It's true that your dishwasher will have a hard time getting the dishes clean if you have hard water and no phosphates. Tampa Bay area water can contain minerals that make it hard. Reader Claude Boutin said he has a water softener at his home, and it needed to be replaced. With the new water softener, the dishes are as clean as ever.
• Lemi Shine. Reader Anita Babcock calls it a "miracle product." And reader Barbara Graziani says, "Lemi Shine is your only option, to be used with your choice of dishwasher detergent." They add it to their wash cycle.
• Replacing or adding a water filter. John M. Mitchell said he had deposits on his dishes and in the kitchen sink. He bought a water filter for his whole house and installed it on the input on his hot water heater. After two weeks, the problem went away.
I can't guarantee that any of these ideas will work for you. As noted by Procter & Gamble in regard to Kevin Connolly's problem with his LG dishwasher, some of the problem is with the machines themselves.
At least now you know what your fellow readers are trying.
Ivan Penn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Consumers_Edge and find The Consumer's Edge on Facebook.