What Does Dishwasher Rinse Aid Do?

Dishwasher rinse aid is one of the consumables that is used inside a dishwasher. It’s the absence of it that is indicated when your glassware suddenly starts to have noticeable streaks after a dishwashing cycle. Then you run the cycle again and it doesn’t improve!

Put simply – rinse aid allows your handy cleaning appliance to deliver shiny plates and perfect wine glasses every time.

Editor’s note: A common mistake people make is that they add the rinse aid to every cycle. Instead, top up the rinse aid only when the warning symbol shows. Most dishwasher rinse aid compartments can handle more than 150ml, so you can fill it up and that will last you at least one month.

What Are the Benefits of Using Rinse Aid?

There are several benefits of using dishwasher rinse aid in your dishwasher appliance.

  1. Clean, sparkling dishes, plates, and glassware
  2. More effective drying
  3. Prevent precious glassware from picking up chips or scratches

If you’re not sure which rinse aid to choose, then check out out dishwasher best buys here.

    How Does Dishwasher Rinse Aid Work?

    Without getting all scientific, rinse aid cuts away at the surface tension of water as it’s used during the cleaning cycle.

    Why is this important?

    Because with less surface tension, water is less likely to bead up with droplets coming together. So, instead, they flatten out. In so doing, extra air can access the contents of the dishwasher which helps enormously in the drying process at the end.

    Otherwise, the plates, bowls, cutlery, and glassware would still be wet when opening the dishwasher door. It also means that the drying process requires less time to be effective too.

    Why Does Rinse Aid Cause Streaks to Disappear?

    The streaks that are most obviously spotted on glassware happen because water hangs around too long. This causes the water to run down and creates streaks (a bit like when cleaning the windows outside).

    When using dishwasher rinse aid, the water is dispersed much faster leaving fewer opportunities for it to create any unwanted streaks or spots.

    Is Rinse Aid Necessary? What If I Skip Using It Altogether?

    While your dishwasher appliance won’t necessarily suffer without it being present, it will render it unable to deliver pleasing results.

    Likely, you’ll discover an increasing number of spots and streaks present. This will get worse as time goes on.

    Also, the drying part of the cycle will struggle to complete its task properly. With less and less rinse aid available to the machine, it will become ineffective at completely drying the contents of the dishwasher. Then it’ll be necessary to either put away wet cutlery, plates and so forth or dry them by hand.

    Most machines can’t only run just a drying cycle – especially budget versions – which leave no machine-based way to dry the contents if they’re still wet.

    Also, eventually, the sparkle will be gone, and glassware may pick up scratches it wouldn’t have overwise. At that point, it may be a source of regret that the rinse aid wasn’t refilled sooner.

    Are There Dishwasher Tablets Which Include Rinse Aid?

    Yes, there are. However, be wary of using these. They are designed for convenience but that’s about as far as it goes.

    By filling rinse aid in the internal container, the dishwasher can dispense the appropriate amount when required. As such, the appliance takes care of what’s needed automatically. It applies not too little or too much and removes any guesswork.

    The bottom line is that you’ll get better results by refilling the rinse aid than by using tabs that have a layer of it.

    Do Plastic Items Dry Better by Using Rinse Aid?

    Unfortunately, the answer is not really.

    One feature of plastic is that it is hydrophobic which is a fancy way of saying it doesn’t attract water. This causes it to dry less effectively than china or other materials.

    Is Vinegar a Smart Replacement for Rinse Aid?

    Certain types of vinegar have wondering cleaning properties. For instance, to clear the internal workings of a dishwasher, owners often do a vinegar cleaning run. This disinfects the dishwasher to remove any bacteria present too.

    With that said, white vinegar comes with problems like acidity. Because of this, it doesn’t do much to prevent streaks or spots appearing. It also isn’t as effective in assisting the drying performance of the dishwasher either.

    Lastly, when it comes to shiny dishes, this won’t happen when using vinegar as a replacement for high-quality rinse aid. That certain sparkle only comes from using rinse aid and nothing else. It’s also far more expensive as an alternative too.

    What is Rinse Aid Made Out Of?

    It depends on the individual brand and product as to what its primary ingredients are. However, many brands often have common ingredients that are easy to identify on the label.

    • CI Acid Blue 9 – This is a colouring agent to make rinse aid a blue hue.
    • Tetrasodium EDTA – This is an agent that is effective at dissolving minerals like calcium and is useful with hard water supplies too.
    • Citric Acid – This is a useful sequestering agent to handle calcium to prevent it from marking dishes and plates.
    • Alcohol ethoxylate – This is a surfactant which works to keep water moving and not resting on the dishwasher’s contents too long.
    • Sodium cumene sulfonate – This one is clever because it’s a surfactant, but it can hold an electrical charge too. Both factors serve to keep water off drying plates, bowls, and more.
    • Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone – These two unpronounceable little wonders prevent bacteria from developing within the rinse aid bottle while it’s stored in a kitchen cupboard (or inside the dishwasher itself).

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