One of the first things we did upon moving into this house was replace the avocado green dishwasher, not for looks, but for lack of function. The poor thing just didn't clean the plates or glasses.
Jim and my dad installed a new dishwasher, and I was pretty surprised when it didn't clean the dishes very well either. They came out with bits of food sealed to them rather than rinsed clean and the glasses (dark blue) looked like they had been dipped in milk and left to dry. After a couple years of rewashing many dishes per load and having glassware that I was embarrassed to show to guests, we resorted to handwashing everything.
Our still pretty new dishwasher became a giant drying rack. That lasted for almost a year before I got tired of seeing the perpetual backlog of dirty dishes on the counter. So, I started looking for solutions.
Our water (from the Ohio River) has very high levels of calcium and other minerals. The water here is actually so hard that I'm reasonably wigged out when we're somewhere that water is more tempered. On a recent trip I finally asked Jim what he thought was in the water that just didn't rinse off. He informed me it was properly softened water and that the unpleasant experience was merely liquidity without massive mineral deposits (as opposed to the normal pelting of tiny rocks one experiences here).
It turns out that the hard water was giving our dishwasher a hard time. Rather than looking at a whole house water softener, I looked for a solution localized to our dishwasher. A lot of people with hard water suggested a performance boosters like Glass Magic to solve these problems (but such products are heavy on phosphates which encourage algae growth downstream).
Someone in the Amazon comments for Glass Magic mentioned the use of vinegar instead, so I started experimenting. By adding 2/3 cup white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwater before washing, I've been getting splendid results.
It's nice to be able to hand a guest a sparkling glass now (that I didn't have to handwash).
I guess there's a little Stepford wife in me after all.