Substitutes for Rinse Aid

rinse aid substitute

Substitutes for Rinse Aid

The dishwasher detergent companies would like you to believe that just about every dishwashing problem is caused by a lack of dishwasher rinse aid.  And, in most cases they are absolutely correct!  That’s why they’ve made and marketed products with names such as Cascade Rinse Aid and Jet Dry so successfully.

But these dishwasher rinse aids are about $4 per bottle. Depending on how often you do dishes this could add up to quite a bit. What if we could remove this expense?

Both vinegar and citric acid are very acidic, which makes them excellent dishwasher rinse aids. But how much should be used? Let’s start with the citric acid packets sold for use in ice chests or drink dispensers. Be sure to find pure citric acid, not a lemon-scented version.

These packets contain 1/2 gram of citric acid powder and cost about $1 each. If you use 2 or 3 per load as dishwasher rinse aids, they will last from 6 to 12 months.  That’s about 99 cents per year!

If you have lots of company and dishwasher loads are sometimes just half-empty, even better: one packet in a dishwasher load is more than enough.

Now the dishwashing power of vinegar. White distilled vinegar has a typical acidity of 5%. Dishwashers often leave a film on glassware — especially after it has been sitting for a few days — and sometimes even metal items such as silverware. This is caused by dishwasher detergents, not dishwashers themselves.

The vinegar rinse method will remove these films from your dishwasher-clean dishes every time you use it. On the other hand, dishwasher liquid with its added water softeners can leave a film on glassware after washing, so don’t expect sparkling glasses if you’ve been using dishwashers for years with no vinegar rinse!

When should I add the vinegar?

Vinegar serves two purposes in dishwashing:  it dissolves greasy residue just as well as any dishwasher powder or liquid and it also rinses away soap scum that would otherwise form a thin but stubborn coating on dish surfaces.

Adding vinegar at the dishwasher’s start may not be necessary with every dishwashing load, only those with greasier residue. But don’t forget that dishwashers often have residual soap left on items after a cycle has ended — especially if you have hard water — so the vinegar rinse is just as important even when all dishes seem clean.  If your glasses are still cloudy after washing, adding vinegar to the rinse compartment might help dissolve film residue and allow the dishwasher to do a better job next time.

How much Vinegar is required?

It takes less than half of 1/4 cup per dishwashing load to produce excellent results! That means each 16 ounce bottle of white distilled vinegar can be used for over 300 dishwashing loads! If you have the kind of dishwasher that allows you to add vinegar during the dishwashing cycle, do so. Otherwise, pour it into the rinse compartment at dishwasher’s end.

DO NOT use apple cider vinegar because it has a tendency to leave a dark ring around your dishwasher’s heating element due to its iron content.  It will also give off an odor until the smell of the vinegar dissipates over time.

Pour in 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar per dishwasher load, directly into the dishwasher detergent tray OR pour into the bottom of your dishwasher before adding dishwasher detergent OR fill a separate container with 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar and pour it into dishwasher’s rinse compartment.

For dishwashers with two compartments, use 1/4 cup of dishwasher detergent in the first compartment and then fill the second compartment with either 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar or just plain white distilled vinegar. 

If your dishwasher has an extra rinse aid compartment, use the same amount as you would under normal dishwashing conditions.  In other words, if you’re normally a “light” dishwasher user, use less than a 1/4 cup per load! If you usually go all-out for company or have a household of big eaters, don’t skimp on the vinegar!

One last thing to note: dishwashers will clean and rinse dishware better and more efficiently if the dishwasher is full.  If you can’t wash dishes for company or a holiday meal, load up your dishwasher with as many plates, glasses and silverware as it will hold! The dishwasher’s motor has to work less hard when there’s plenty of water to go around.

How Many Cups White Distilled Vinegar Is In A Gallon?

The standard measure for white distilled vinegar that contains 5% acidity (acidity levels vary from 4% – 6%) is 8.25 cups per gallon.

How Does The Vinegar Dissolve Greasy Residue?

Vinegar contains acetic acid which dissolves greasy residue when exposed to water at room temperature or when heated between 95 degrees F and 150 degrees F.  Acetic acid is a weak acid that does not produce harmful fumes when heated. In its undiluted form, acetic acid has a sharp, penetrating odor that quickly dissipates as it is diluted with water.  In dishwasher terms, this means that the dishwasher will not emit fumes during its dishwashing cycle and dishware will not have a vinegar smell after the dishwashing cycle is over.