What Does Dishwasher Rinse Aid Do?

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Are your dishes clean-clean? Or just sort of clean? Or, worse yet, kind of dirty? Water spots from the dishwasher are frustrating. If you have water spots or film on your dishes after completing a cycle, a dishwasher drying agent might solve your water spot troubles.

1. Do I Need a Rinse Aid?

If you’ve never used a rinse agent, you're probably seeing spots. You know, on your dishes. Not only do spots make it look like your dishes aren’t clean, they can make you wonder if your dishwasher isn't working properly. If you regularly see water spots or filmy residue on your dishes after completing a cycle, don't give up on your dishwasher before trying a rinse aid.

Cloudy clear glass bowl and drinking glass

2. What Exactly Does a Rinse Aid Do?

First off, rinse aids should probably be renamed “drying aids.” That’s because they actually help your dishes dry faster. Premium rinse aids contain surfactants, which lower the surface tension of water. So, instead of water forming droplets, clinging to surfaces, and leaving behind spots, it just rolls right off your dishes. This is really beneficial if you have hard water that contains a lot of minerals—no water drops loitering on your dishes, no mineral deposits!

3. How Do I Use a Rinse Aid?

Easy-peasy, bottle-squeezy. Seriously, using a dishwasher rinse aid is as simple as using detergent. Rinse aid dispensers are typically located on or next to your dishwasher’s detergent dispenser. Just fill the chamber to the maximum level, close it, and start your cycle. The rinse aid automatically dispenses during the final rinse cycle. That’s it. Easy-peasy… oh, yeah, we did that already.

Pouring liquid Cascade drying agent before running dishwasher

4. Still See Something on Your Dishes?

There’s no need to panic. If your dishwasher comes with dispenser settings, your owner’s manual will explain how to use them. Otherwise, try increasing the dispenser setting if cloudy spots, streaks, or water marks still appear after a cycle. Select a lower dispenser setting if you notice smears of foam. It may take a few cycles to fine-tune your rinse aid setting. There’s also a chance the problem is related to detergent use and not the rinse setting, so consider all possibilities.

5. How Often Do I Refill the Rinse Aid?

We recommend refilling the rinse aid dispenser once a month if you run your dishwasher pretty often. Or you can just top it off as needed—a lot of machines have a window that lets you see how much rinse aid is in the dispenser. Either way, be sure you have enough rinse aid on tap to get the squeaky clean, spot-free dishes you love.

We hope you enjoyed that spot-on lesson for a spot-off solution. Looking for more priceless nuggets of knowledge? Just take a look at our compilation of dishwashing solutions for almost any issue imaginable. You’re welcome.

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