Town Talk: You Ask — We Answer

Town Talk

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to comments@ci.new-ulm.mn.us.

Orange and Partly Cloudy

Recently three questions have been posed concerning water related problems. The first question concerned an orange-like residue that was found on items that had some lasting contact with water.

This colored residue has been noted in home showers, in shower curtains that are folded upon themselves and then remain wet for considerable lengths of time. I have seen pink colored residue in dog or cat water pans that are not cleaned regularly as well as around shower or bath drains where water may puddle and not actually drain away. This residue is sometimes described as a pink stain. This is caused by airborne bacteria that can be found growing in persistently wet conditions. This bacteria will not harm healthy humans, but it should be scrubbed away and the area allowed to dry. However since this is an airborne organism, this growth may reappear within a few weeks if the area stays wet.

The other two questions are related to each other. Why has our glassware developed a cloudy look after sessions in the dishwasher and can this cloudiness be prevented or removed? First you should determine if the glassware is etched or is there a film on the glassware. Put some cloudy glassware in a container of white vinegar for 15 minutes then remove the glassware and rinse off the vinegar and dry the glassware. If the cloudiness is removed then there was a calcium hardness residue on the glass. This can be prevented by hand washing the glassware and drying the glassware with a soft towel. These deposits can be reduced by using more dishwasher detergent and using rinse additives.

If the residue is not removed with the vinegar and you are using a water softener in your home, then what is happening is the corrosive hot water is actually etching the glassware. Once the glassware is etched it cannot be removed and will always appear cloudy. Dishwasher manufacturers recommend that you never pre-rinse dishes before putting them into a dishwasher because the detergent concentration will damage glassware and even dishes if there is not enough material on the dishes to react with the detergent. Another recommendation for preventing etching of glassware by dishwashers is to make sure that you use much less detergent if you have soft water and that you not use any “Turbo Cycle, Temperature Boost, or Power Scrub” settings if you are washing glassware because the high water temperature will speed up the etching of glassware. So to prevent etching, wash glassware in the shortest and coolest cycle that will get glassware clean, then removing and hand drying the glassware before the dishwasher drying cycle.

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