Rinse Aids are not dish soap, and must be used along with a quality detergent – so what are they, and do we need them?
Rinse aids make sure that your dishes dry completely and cleanly by lowering the surface tension of water using a chemical called a surfactant. This non-toxic ingredient makes water slide right off your dishes in sheets rather than forming droplets that stick to your dishes.
Without it, water droplets can dry and leave behind mineral deposits, leaving spots and streaks on your dishware. While the best dishwashing detergents already contain surfactants, other ingredients such as enzymes interfere with the rinsing process. That’s why your dishwasher contains a rinse-aid dispenser that distributes the liquid during the rinse cycle.
Rinse aids also prevent mineral deposits from building up inside of your dishwasher. If cleaning mineral deposits off your glassware and the inside of your dishwasher is not something you want to spend your time doing, you should use a rinse aid.
Whether or not you need to use a rinse aid depends on the mineral makeup of your water. If you have hard water, your dishes will never get clean and sparkly without it, and you run the risk of building up mineral deposits slowly over time inside of your machine and on your favorite glassware.
If you have a European or Korean dishwasher that does not use heat to dry your dishes, you will find that your dishes are noticeably cleaner when using a rinse aid. Also, some dishwashers, such as Bosch brand, will actually add time to your drying cycle if you do not fill the rinse aid compartment.
One of the biggest complaints about most dishwashing machines is that dishes aren’t completely dry when the cycle is over. Rinse aid is recommended by virtually every dishwasher manufacturer to solve this problem. It really does work!
Some people suggest that you can use white vinegar instead of a store-bought rinse aid but you should never put vinegar in the rinse-aid dispenser of your dishwasher. Vinegar is a strong acid that can melt and wear away the rubber gaskets of your rinse-aid dispenser. It also has a powerful odor to it that many people do not enjoy on their dishes or in their dishwasher. Since the rinse cycle is the last stage before drying, using vinegar may result in your dishes smelling like vinegar. It also doesn’t work as well as actual rinse-aid. So, if you go this route don’t expect the same results.
I recommend purchasing a good quality rinse aid like Jet Dry by Finish, preferably in bulk because you’re going to want to keep adding it to your washes!