Nope, it’s not the dishwasher…it’s the automatic dishwashing detergent!

You may have noticed that after you run your dishes through the dishwasher they end up with a film or spots or food still stuck to them. It’s been happening to me. I put dirty dishes in and I seem to take dirty dishes out. I end up having to run them through a second time or washing them by hand. My first thought was that there was something wrong with my dishwasher. Nope, it’s not the dishwasher…it’s the automatic dishwashing detergent that I’m putting into it.
As it so happens, 16 states created laws which prohibit the sale of automatic dishwashing detergent that contain more than 0.5% phosphorus. These laws took effect on July 1, 2011 in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Since phosphates are an effective cleaning agent it was a standard ingredient in automatic dishwashing detergent. It helped with the removal of grease and food, softened water, reduced spotting and kept food from redistributing on dishes. With all the benefits it created in the dishwasher, phosphates are causing problems in the environment. Eventually phosphates end up in our local water supply – rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs.

Here phosphates act as a fertilizer and promote plant and algae growth. Large blooms of algae form when there are excess phosphates in the water. Once their food source is depleted the blooms of algae die. As they die, bacteria feed on the dead algae and consume the water’s oxygen. This kills fish and other marine life, creates dead zones and can cause drinking water to have an odor and poor taste.

Because of these laws and the need to protect our bodies of freshwater, makers of automatic dishwashing detergent have changed their products. And they made the change across the board. It is more cost effective to change the product completely then make some with phosphates and some without. Many of these companies are now fielding questions on why these changes have been made and how to handle concerns. Concerns like why, after washing in the dishwasher, do dishes and glassware are filmy, cloudy and have spots.

The main culprit is hard water. Hard water is water that contains higher levels of calcium and other minerals. When hard water combines with detergent, it can cause dishes and glassware to become filmy, cloudy and/or have spots. The longer it continues; your dishes and glassware will become etched and damaged. Where ever you find hard water this is a common problem. Much of New Jersey has hard water, particularly in Bergen County.
Here are some tips for controlling hard water deposits

1. Fill up both dish detergent cups. More detergent may help reduce hard water effects.
2. Use a rinse aid. Modern dishwashers accommodate automatic dispensing of rinse aid.
3. Check your water temperature. Many automatic dishwashing detergent manufactures recommend a temperature of 130 degrees.
4. Consider a dishwasher with an on-board Water Softening System.

Some dishwashers include a built-in water softener that removes calcium and magnesium from the water. Some brands that make these types of dishwashers include Miele, Kitchenaid, Fisher Paykel, and Blomberg. If a dishwasher has a built-in water softener there will be a special compartment inside the dishwasher where the salt is to be added when needed. This salt compartment is separate from the detergent compartment, and generally located at the bottom of the wash cabinet (this is below the bottom basket). On most dishwashers, an automatic sensing system will notify the user when more dishwasher salt is required. If you have a dishwasher with a built-in water softener or are considering purchasing one please use the recommended water softening salt tablets because using table salt in the dishwasher’s water softening unit can damage it.

Also, as you know, not all automatic dishwashing detergents are made equal. Do your research, try different automatic dishwashing detergent products and use the one you feel works best for you. Also, try using a rinse aid or non toxic home remedies like white vinegar (for non-metal items only).

Home Remedy Tip #1: To remove film from dishes place white vinegar (2 cups) on the bottom rack of the dishwasher in a container. Load the dishwasher with the glassware and dishes that have film on them. Without any automatic dishwashing detergent run the dishwasher. Then with the detergent of your choice run the glassware and dishes through another cycle to remove any remaining white vinegar.

Home Remedy Tip #2: This one comes from my mother-in-law. She does this every time she runs the dishwasher. In one detergent compartment use your detergent of choice as normal. Fill up your second detergent compartment with Tang (keep in powder form) and leave the detergent compartment cover open. Yes, I said it…Tang. You know the orange powder the astronauts drink. If you do not have two compartments or only one cover for both compartments pour an 1/8 of a cup of Tang into the dishwasher. Load the dishwasher as normal and run them through a cycle.

Here are some other tips to help you get better results from your dishwasher:
• Scrape and rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
• Follow the loading instructions for your dishwasher.
• Run the dishwasher when no other water is being used in your home. This will help prevent low water pressure.
• Let the hot water run for several minutes in your kitchen sink. This will bring the temperature of the water up before the dishwasher even starts.
Personally, I am going to try a couple of automatic dishwashing detergent products and see which one works best for me and my family. I applaud the changes that the companies have made to automatic dishwashing detergent.
Remember we can have a healthy environment and clean dishes!

If you need a new dishwasher, please visit Karl’s Appliance at any one of our six appliance stores, Paramus 469 Rt. 17 South (in the Verizon complex), Fairfield, Madison, Sparta, Orange and Montclair or visit us at http://www.karlsappliance.com.

Cleaning Ceramic Glass Electric Ranges and Cooktops

Jenn Air Electric Cooktop

Smooth-top or glass ceramic cooking surfaces have become the standard for electric ranges and cooktops due to their clean, contemporary look and ease of cleaning. These surfaces can be commonly found on electric cooking appliances including cooktops, stoves, ranges, ovens, as well as certain gas-on-glass gas ranges and cooktops. This article will cover a few simple procedures to follow to keep your kitchen appliance looking its best. Note that these tips come directly from a number of large appliance manufacturers.

General Guidelines

To avoid damaging the ceramic glass, do not use abrasive cleaners or steel wool. Items on this list include abrasive powder cleaners, chlorine bleach, rust remover, or ammonia.

For everyday cleaning, use a clean, wet sponge or cloth and dry thoroughly to avoid streaking. Regular and periodic use of cooktop cleaner is recommended not only to remove stains and polish but also because these cleaners provide a protective coating that helps to prevent scratching, pitting, and abrasions.

A cooktop scraper is a tool specifically designed for scraping stubborn soils off the ceramic surface without damaging the surface. These tools can be picked up at any home improvement store, ordered online, or even at many grocery stores. This is a must have for owners of ceramic cooking surfaces.

With glass-ceramic materials, different soil levers require specific cleaning measures. Here is a guide to follow:

For light to medium soil simply use a damp sponge or cloth or even a wet paper towel. After wiping clean, dry thoroughly with a dry cloth or towel to avoid streaking.

For sugary spills like syrup, jellies, and candy, use a cooktop scraper while the surface is still warm. Use of oven mitts to prevent burning may be appropriate. As soon as the cooktop has cooled down, use cooktop polishing cream and a clean damp cloth or paper towel. Rub cleaner into ceramic glass surface and continue rubbing until white film disappears.

For heavier staining such as discoloration, specks, dark streaks, and heavy soil use cooktop polishing cream or a non-abrasive cleaner. Rub agent into soil with a soft damp cloth or sponge. Work into stain and continue rubbing until white film disappears.

For burned on stains use a cooktop scraper, holding as flat as possible, and scrap off as much of the stain as possible. Follow with cooktop polishing cream, work into stain, and continue to rub until white film disappears. If necessary, repeat this procedure until staining is completely removed.

For stains from metals, including aluminum and copper, wait to the cooktop has cooled. Use cooktop polishing cream following the procedure already described in this article. Metal stains may not completely disappear but over time will fade and become less noticeable.

For tiny abrasions and scrapes, use cooktop cleaner directions previously described. Like metal staining, abrasions and scraping may not disappear completely but and will become less noticeable over time. Note that scrapes and abrasions will not affect cooking performance in any way.

Air Conditioner Buying Guide

Friedrich Kuhl Air Conditioner

As summer approaches with its hot and humid weather, it is that time of year to think about air conditioners. Whether you are replacing an old unit or purchasing a new appliance, the amount of choices available can be overwhelming. Karl’s Appliance, your source for air conditioning has provided this buying guide to help make your decision easier.

Types of Room Air Conditioners

The most commonly used type of AC is a window air conditioner. Window air conditioners are normally installed with adjustable side curtains to fit almost any window. These units are available in sizes ranging from 5,000 btu all the way to 25,000 btu. BTU stands for British Thermal Units and is the standard measure of an air conditioner’s cooling ability. Window air conditioners are the preferred choice as long as the room has a double hung window that can accommodate the size of the air conditioner. Another important thing to consider when choosing a window air conditioner is the voltage of the unit. Standard household electric outlets are 115 volt, while some a/c’s, especially larger models require 230 volts. The plug for 230 volt machines is different than a standard outlet so it is important to make sure you are purchasing the correct air conditioner for your space. Common window air conditioner brands include Friedrich, Frigidaire, and Whirlpool.

A second common type of air conditioning unit is what is known as a through the wall air conditioner. Through the Wall Air Conditioners come in two parts, the chassis (the air conditioner itself), and the sleeve (the part that is built through the wall). A through the wall application is used in situations where there are no windows or where the air conditioner needed is too large for a window. They are also common in hotels and apartment buildings where space is at a premium. With a thru the wall air conditioner, a hole is cut in your wall to fit the sleeve. The air conditioner then slides into the sleeve. Through the wall air conditioners expel heat through the back of the unit as opposed to window air conditioners which breathe out the sides. This allows these machines to be built through thick walls as ventilation on the side is not necessary. The same concerns with regard to 115 volt vs 230 volt electricity apply here. Another feature that is available on through the walls is the addition of heat. This is another feature that may steer you towards going with a through the wall A/C. Common brands of thru the wall air conditioners include Friedrich, GE, and Frigidaire.

For those of you with casement or sliding windows, there are also air conditioners for you. A slider / casement air conditioner is designed to fit the narrow, tall windows of slider or casement windows. These units often come with trim panels to fill out the extra spacing. There is less of a variety of sizes available; generally the sizes range from 8,000 btu to 12,000 btu and most are 115 volt. A common brand in Slider Casement Air Conditioners is Frigidaire.

For applications where none of the above will work there is one other option. Portable Air Conditioners are available for applications where no other air conditioning will work. Portable air conditioners range in size from 8,000 btu to 20,000 btu and often include bonus features such as a dehumidifier or heat. Portable air conditioners come with a hose that must be vented to the outside to expel heat and excess moisture. Generally these hoses can fit a small space in a vertical or horizontal window. Portable air conditioners are ideal for applications such as a basement or garage, dorm room, sun room, or any where a permanent installation is not an option. Popular brands of portable A/Cs include Danby, Friedrich, and Frigidaire.

How to Choose the Right Air Conditioner for your Space

Calculating the right btu’s for your space is extremely important. If you get an a/c with too little power your room will be hot but if you get an air conditioner that is too powerful, the a/c may remove too much humidity from the room and leave it damp and clammy. A properly sized unit will remove humidity effectively as it cools. Below is a chart to help determine how many btu’s your air conditioner should need.

Area To Be Cooled (square feet) / Capacity Needed (BTUs per hour)
100 up to 150 / 5,000
150 up to 250 / 6,000
250 up to 300 / 7,000
300 up to 350 / 8,000
350 up to 400 / 9,000
400 up to 450 / 10,000
450 up to 550 / 12,000
550 up to 700 / 14,000
700 up to 1,000 / 18,000
1,000 up to 1,200 / 21,000
1,200 up to 1,400 / 23,000
1,400 up to 1,500 / 24,000
1,500 up to 2,000 / 30,000
2,000 up to 2,500 / 34,000

To calculate the square footage of your room, multiply the length of the area by the width. If the room is heavily shaded you can subtract 10% off the btu’s and if the room is very sunny increase the btu’s by 10%. This is an approximate calculation and situations can vary.

If all of this information is overwhelming, you can always stop into any of Karl’s Appliance 6 NJ appliance stores or visit our online appliance store to speak to one of our air conditioning experts.

Dishwashers Buying Guide – How to Choose the Right Dishwasher for Your Kitchen

Stainless Steel Dishwasher

One thing is for certain when it comes to buying new appliance – there is more choices, perhaps too many, then ever before. Competition has been growing fiercely in the home appliance industry as both European and Asian manufacturers are bringing their products to the United States. This is especially true when it comes to the built in kitchen dishwasher. This article will try and make selecting a new built in dishwasher simple and easy.

1. Determine your size

Dishwashers come in two standard widths – 18″ wide and 24″ wide. The large majority of dishwashers sold in the U.S. are 24″ wide models. 18 inch wide machines are generally used where space is at a premium or a large dishwasher is not necessary. For instance, city dwellings, home wet bars, or one bedroom apartments are places you will often see an 18 inch side dishwasher. Dacor has recently introduced a 30 inch wide dishwasher available in both stainless steel as well as custom panel ready. However, since they are the only manufacturer for the sake of this article I will not label this as a standard size.

2. Determine your preferred door style

Full Console: The days of all dishwashers looking the same are over. Traditionally, dishwashers all had what I will call a Full Console and these are still available. Full console dishwashers are still popular especially in lower priced models. This type has the control panel at the top of the dishwasher door – usually about 4 inches high. Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is a link to a popular full console dishwashera

Fully integrated: perhaps the most popular style in recent years due to their sleek, clean look – these dishwashers have the controls on the top leaving only a solid door and handle. Cycle options are selected and then the user closes the door which activates the dishwasher to start the cycle selected. Since many new dishwashers are so quiet you literally can not tell they are on, some fully integrated add a small display on the front or a light that is aimed on the floor as visual indicators of cleaning status.

Semi or Partially Integrated: It was mentioned at the beginning of this article that there are more and more choices and the semi or partially integrated dishwasher is one of the newest types to come to market. These are a sort of cross between full console and fully integrated dishwashers having the controls on the top while at the same time having a display or panel in the front.

Custom wood panel ready: These are dishwashers that are designed to accept a custom wood panel to match the kitchen cabinetry and are available in both full console and fully integrated styles with the later dominating the market. Matching appliance handles or cabinet hardware may be used as a means to open the unit. This is a popular choice during kitchen remodels as it allows the designer to “hide” or blend in the dishwasher focusing guests attention to the homes décor.

Dishwasher Drawers or the DishDrawer: The DishDrawer was original designed and manufactured by Fisher Paykel Dishwasher, an appliance manufacturer from New Zealand who holds dominant market share in its home country as well as Australia. These are available in double drawer and single drawer configurations. More recently, dishwasher drawers have been introduced from DCS, Jenn-Air, Kitchen Aid, and Maytag. These are an excellent choice for those who would benefit from running smaller loads more often as the drawers can operate independently.

Other Types:

Portable dishwashers

These are on wheels and are not required to be built in having finished sides. Often used when the cost of modifying cabinetry is not in the budget or when space does not allow a permanent dishwasher. Portable dishwashers may be left freestanding or could be kept in a closet, rolled out, and hooked up to a kitchen faucet and sink as needed.

Conclusion:

While we did not cover the specific features of dishwashers, using this guide to narrow down you selection will save you a great deal of time when beginning the selection process. Remember that nearly any dishwasher you choose will be quieter, more efficient, and offer improved cleaning when compared to your current machine.

Air Conditioner Cleaning Guide for Room and Wall Air Conditioners

Friedrich Air Conditioner

It is important to keep room air conditioners clean. Not only do we want them to cosmetically look their best, proper cleaning and care can add to their lifespan and efficiency as well.

Always unplug the unit prior to cleaning and do not unnecessarily force louvers, coils, fins, or any other part of the unit.

Keep both window and wall room air conditioners clean by following these simple steps:

• Vacuum the entire unit with cleaning brush including the cabinet, indoor grill, outdoor grill, and areas behind the front grill.
• Mix warm water and a mild detergent and use a cloth to wipe down the cabinet, front and rear of the indoor grille, and the areas behind the grille.

This simple step, performed once a year or as needed, can maintain the beauty, longevity, and efficiency of your air conditioning units. Stay Cool!

BBQ Outdoor Grill Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning an Outdoor Grill

Barbecue grills simply offer cooking results that other methods can not duplicate. This is the reason that outdoor grilling has exploded in popularity. The main disadvantage for barbeque cooking is it can be messy, creating a great deal of grease splatter, smoke, and heat makes for difficult clean up. Also, most grills are left outside exposed to the elements. This article attempts to offer some simple cleaning tips to keep you BBQ looking and working its best for years to come.

There are some basic rules to cover first. Always turn the BBQ off, cutting the supply of gas, and wait for it to cool before cleaning. Aside from the obvious risk of burning, cleaning hot surfaces will reduce the cleaning effectiveness and may produce foul odors.

Never use oven cleansers, abrasive cleaners, cleaners that contain citrus products, or abrasive cleaning pads on exterior BBQ grill surfaces. These may damage the finish by scratching, staining, or otherwise discoloring. The best solution to use for cleaning barbeques is warm water and a mild detergent like liquid dishwasher soap. Also handy will be a soft brush and sponge for exterior surfaces and a stainless steel wire brush for cooking crates and other interior surfaces.

For outside surfaces:

Mix warm water with a mild soap and apply the mixture with a non-abrasive sponge or brush. Rinse with clean, cold water.

For cleaning grease catching drip pans:

Remove excess grease with a paper towel or other rag. Wash with warm soapy water and rinse.

For cleaning cooking grates, bars, briquettes:

Do not use soap on these surfaces, simply clean with a stainless steel bristle brush. If additional cleaning is required use mixture of warm water and mild soap with brush and thoroughly rinse.

Inside of BBQ grill lid:

This is perhaps the most frequently asked question. Build up of grease on the inside lid surface can appear to look like flaking paint. However, this is not paint. To keep lid clean wipe inside with a paper towel while hood is still warm to prevent grease build-up.

Cleaning stainless steel surfaces:

Do not use any abrasive materials including wire brushes on stainless steel surfaces as these can easily scratch the finish. Do wash stainless steel surfaces with a soft cloth and a solution of warm soapy water. When cleaning stainless steel, always scrub with the grain. Do not use cleaners that contain acid, xylene, or mineral spirits. Rinse extremely well following cleaning.

Cleaning Your Front Load Washer

Cleaning a Front Load Washer

Just purchased a new front load washing machine? Of course, you want to keep it as clean and fresh as your clothing you are putting in it. We recommend that you clean a front load washing machine on a monthly basis using these procedures.

Front load washers are a huge improvement over top load machines. They have better cleaning performance, are gentler on clothing, have larger capacities, and use less water and energy. However, a common complaint is that the washer develops an odor over time. This can be easily solved with regular preventive measures and cleaning.

As a preventive measure, leave the washer door slightly open following use. Also, it is a good idea to use a dry cloth to dry the rubber door gasket after each use. These simple steps may lengthen the time between cleaning intervals.

First, check your user guide or manual that was included with your machine before attempting any of the following procedures. We recommend you follow manufacturer cleaning instructions – ignoring their suggestions may void your warranty.

Cleaning the Interior Wash Tub:

Many newer front loading machines have specially designed cleaning cycles. If yours does, follow the steps described in the manual that was included with your machine, if not we recommend that you follow the following simple steps.

First, only clean an entirely empty washing machine being sure to remove any and all clothing. Never add laundry detergent for this process.

Open the washer door and pour one cup of liquid bleach into the basket. Close the door and select the normal wash cycle. If you machine has an extra rinse option select this too. Run the cycle as soon as possible after adding the bleach. Note that some manufacturers recommend not adding bleach directly into the tub but instead filling the detergent compartment instead. Check you manual for manufacturer recommendations.

Start the wash cycle and without interruption allow the cycle to fully complete. Once complete, run the cycle again with no bleach or detergent to completely rinse the tub. Repeat the rinsing cycle as needed.

Note that after this procedure your machine may have a slight bleach odor. This is normal. Also, it is recommended that you run a light color load after this cleaning procedure.

For especially foul odors in washers repeat the cleaning process with the bleach and/or also fill the bleach dispenser to the fill line. This will add a second dose of bleach to ensure odors and bacteria are stopped in their tracks.

Cleaning the Door Gasket:

Open the washer door and remove all clothing from the wash tub. Also, inspect the inside of the gasket making sure there are no small items of clothing stuck inside. If there are, remove these as well.

Wearing rubber gloves, mix a solution of ¾ cup liquid bleach to 1 gallon of water. Using a cloth damp with this solution, carefully and fully wipe down the entire gasket. Let stand for 5 minutes and rinse well with cold water.

Cleaning the Dispenser:

Detergent and fabric softener can build up in the dispenser of a front load washer. When this happens the following procedures may be followed.

Remove the dispenser using care to avoid breakage. Machines may differ on how this is done, so check owner’s manual for guidance on your particular machine. Most have some sort of tab that will need to depress to unlock the dispenser. If the dispenser is made of multiple components, disassemble again using care so as not to cause any damage.

Wash thoroughly and completely using hot water and a mild detergent. Rinse with cold water and dry.

To clean the drawer opening use a small brush, such as an old toothbrush, to remove all residue.

Reinstall clean dispenser.