12 Ways to Stop Cloudy Residue on Dishes from Dishwasher


Cloudy residue on dishes from the dishwasher can be frustrating, but there are several ways to prevent and address this issue. Here’s a brief summary of ways to stop cloudy residue on dishes:

  1. Use High-Quality Detergent: Opt for a reputable, high-quality dishwasher detergent that is designed to dissolve food residues and minerals effectively.
  2. Rinse Dishes Before Loading: Scrape off excess food from dishes and rinse them under running water to remove loose debris before placing them in the dishwasher.
  3. Load the Dishwasher Properly: Load dishes with enough space between them to allow for proper water circulation and ensure that water can reach all surfaces.
  4. Avoid Overcrowding: Overloading the dishwasher can prevent water and detergent from reaching all items, leading to cloudy residue. Load the dishwasher in a way that allows for good water flow.
  5. Check Water Temperature: Make sure your dishwasher is set to use hot water (around 120-140°F or 49-60°C). Proper water temperature helps dissolve detergent and clean dishes effectively.
  6. Use Rinse Aid: Use a rinse aid designed for dishwashers to help reduce spotting and cloudiness. It improves water sheeting and drying, preventing mineral deposits.
  7. Regularly Clean the Dishwasher: Clean the dishwasher’s interior, including the spray arms, filter, and seals, regularly to ensure it functions optimally. Mineral buildup in the dishwasher can lead to cloudy residue on dishes.
  8. Run the Garbage Disposal: If your dishwasher is connected to a garbage disposal, run it before starting the dishwasher to ensure that food particles are cleared from the disposal unit.
  9. Check Water Quality: If you have hard water, consider installing a water softener or using dishwasher detergents designed for hard water. Hard water can contribute to cloudy residue.
  10. Use Vinegar or Citric Acid: Occasionally run an empty dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar or citric acid crystals in the bottom. This helps remove mineral buildup and cloudiness.
  11. Regularly Clean Dishwasher Filters: Check your dishwasher’s user manual for instructions on cleaning or replacing filters, which can trap debris and affect cleaning performance.
  12. Inspect Water Inlet Valve: If your dishwasher has a faulty water inlet valve, it may not fill with enough water for proper cleaning. Consult a technician to check and replace the valve if necessary.

How to Get Rid of White Film/Residue on Dishes from Dishwasher?

There are several methods to remove the white residue from your dishes and dishwasher, some temporary and some permanent. Other methods involve a change of process, of how you have been using the dishwasher in the past.

The following are the different ways to prevent residue/film in your dishes/glasses from a dishwasher:

1. Install a Water Softener

If you are in area that has hard water, installing a water softener will help remove minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium and others that make your water hard.

Soft water is more effective for cleaning than hard water because it lathers rather easily. To counter the resistance offered by hard water, most homeowners result to using more detergents in the dishwashers.

The downside to this practice is that the soap will in most cases not rinse off completely, and you will end up with a gritty/soapy residue on the dishes. Using less detergent on the other hand will have calcium deposits in form of a white powdery film on the dishes, or the dishes will not be clean, leaving a food residues.

A water softener is not cheap but it will solve the problem. If you have also noticed calcium buildup in faucets and showerheads then you indeed hard have water in your house (especially if you use water from a well) and you will need to install a water softener.

2. Use Vinegar in the Dishwasher

This a temporary solution that works fantastic and is cheap too. If the inside of your dishwasher has lots of this residue, you will need to clean it, as some of it will be transferred to the dishes. Vinegar is a fantastic cleaner that is both safe (if you have a septic system) and effective too.

Remove dishes from your dishwasher and start a cycle. Once water has filled the dishwasher, open the door and pour 2 cups of distilled vinegar at the bottom of the tub. Resume the cycle.

Note: Some people recommend starting with the vinegar before filling the dishwasher with water and starting a cycle. The reason that is the wrong approach is because dishwashers starts a cycle by draining away the water already in the tub. The vinegar would therefore be drained out even before cleaning the dishwasher.

Once that is done, make it a point to always be adding half or even quarter cup of vinegar every time you are using the dishwasher. You will not have the white film on your dishes and glassware again.

3. Use a Packet or Tablet Detergent


According to a video by GE Appliances, the choice of detergent can be the difference between having sparkling clean dishes, and dishes with a white residue after using the dishwasher. Apparently, research by a top consumer magazine shows that packet or tablet detergents are far more effective in cleaning dishes and eliminating film.

If you have been throwing the detergent at the bottom instead of the dispenser of the dishwasher then you have been doing it the wrong way. For best results, add it to the detergent dispenser and latch the lid, to prevent wasting it away as it will wash out quickly and the dishes will not be properly rinsed.

Using these detergents ensures that you are using less detergent as well. When phosphates were banned in dishwashing detergents, most homeowners resulted to using more detergent to offset the low efficiency of the phosphate-free detergents. And sometimes that is what causes the white film on glassware in dishwasher.

4. Turn on the Hot Water

Hot water is just more effective in cleaning dishes than cold water. That is just how it is. It breaks down gunk easily, and it also dissolves detergent better than cold water hence you don’t need to use a lot of detergent.

Make sure that the water flowing into your dishwasher has the proper temperature (check by turning on the kitchen sink hot water faucet). Also, check if your dishwasher has the “ADD HEAT” option. Utilize it.

The problem is that if you have not run your dishwasher for some time, the water in the water supply pipe to the dishwasher will be cold. This is the water that will fill the dishwasher when you start a cycle.

There are 2 methods you can us to make sure that only hot water fills your dishwasher. The first one is to open the kitchen sink hot water faucet and let the cold water run out and then shut it off. Start a dishwasher cycle immediately.

The second method is to install a hot water recirculation system in your house. This method is more expensive, but it will ensure that you have instant hot water in your shower and all of your faucets and other appliances. Read more about it here.

5. Use the Heavy Load Option

Does the white residue only appear on dishes after running a short cycle? Selecting the heavy load option is then a better option as the short cycle may not be getting rid of the residue out of the dishes, or having them rinsed properly.

This method will however work well when combined with other methods outlined in this post.

6. Check the Water Pressure to the Dishwasher

Are you having low water pressure in the house? If that is the case, the water coming to the dishwasher might not have the required pressure to rinse off detergent from the dishes. When that happens, the detergent will dry off on the dishes and hence the white residue/film.

The water pressure in the house may be good, but the one getting to the dishwasher may be low due to a clog in the dishwasher water supply house or a blocked dishwasher water inlet valve screen. In that case you would need to unclog or replace the hose or the screen.

I have written a detailed article on how to replace or unclog a dishwasher water supply hose and water inlet valve screen. Read it here.

7. Scrape off the Plates


I know the reason for having a dishwasher is to do all the dirty work for you, but scraping off plates into the garbage disposal/trash before putting them in the dishwasher ensures that you use less detergent, which means better rinsing and no white film on the dishes.

Not only is scraping plates good for avoiding white residues on dishes, it also prevents clogged and smelly dishwasher drains.

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