White Residue on Dishes from Dishwasher

Updated on July 08, 2010
S.R. asks from Ansonia, OH
36 answers

I need help! I get so frustrated after running my dishwasher to find my dishes with white (sometimes grity) residue on them! We have hard water with a lot of lime (that we'll find in the faucet), so I'm thinking that's the culprit. I have used various detergents, and I use a rinse agent as well, and it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. I've also discovered a thin layer of white stuff inside my dishwasher. Does anyone else have this problem?? And, is there anything I can do about it?

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So What Happened?

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of your responses!! I have had dramatic results!! I decided to clean my dishwasher w/ LemiShine first (ran 2 empty loads)...but I still had some lime build-up. Since then, I have changed my detergent to Cascade Action Paks (w/ Dawn) while also adding some vinegar to each load. I have also stopped heat drying my dishes. And, I now have sparkling dishes every time I run the dishwasher!! I am convinced that the vinegar has a lot to do with it, because I tried using vinegar to clean out my bathroom sink (that had lime deposits in it as well), and I also saw dramatic results!! I am so pleased! Thank you for your help!

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

You might just be using too much detergent. We recently had a repairman in who let us know that we really only needed 1 tbsp. of detergent to take care of the dishes. Everything has been clean and there's no residue.

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Y.W.

answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,

There is a product called Lemi Shine(the hard water expert) and it's wonderful. My sister over heard some ladies in Target praising this product and she bought some for me. I've lived in Frankfort for over 10 years and my dishwasher was full of lime. All of my glasses and dishes would be covered with lime. I used this product and within a couple of cycles my dishwasher looked brand new and my dishes had a shine that I've never experience since moving to Frankfort. The first two times I used it, I was told to actually put some of the product on the floor of the dishwasher to help clean the dishwasher and remove the lime. I really love this product. I will say sometime it's hard to find at Target because it sells out pretty quick. I hope this helps.

Y.
Little Tots Sunshine Childcare
www.little-tots-sunshine.com

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D.R.

answers from Chicago on

I had the same problem and Lemi-Shine is the answer. I noticed a vast improvement immediately. It's at Wal-Mart and now I've just seen it at Meyer too. The directions say to put it in the detergent compartment, but I use it in the smaller pre-wash section (since it's more expensive than regular soap) and it still works great with the less than recommended amount used. I also use the regular dishwasher soap.

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S.B.

answers from Chicago on

You might just be using too much detergent. We recently had a repairman in who let us know that we really only needed 1 tbsp. of detergent to take care of the dishes. Everything has been clean and there's no residue.

1 mom found this helpful
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A.S.

answers from Rockford on

We had the same issue from hard water - buy a bottle of Lemi-Shine, I know it's sold at Walmart, not sure where else, it's a powder, about $3.75/bottle, works great!

1 mom found this helpful
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A.P.

answers from Chicago on

I have hard water also. We have a softener, but this sometimes still happens. You do need to clean the inside of the dishwasher. They sell a cleaner that you put in the washer empty and run it. That helps. I can alos only use cascade in the liquid form. I find that it works the best.

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

I had your exact same problem and tried everything! I recently started using Lemi Shine and boy what a difference it makes! No more white powdery stuff on my dishes or on the disherwasher floor!

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L.B.

answers from Chicago on

I'm not sure how to help with the dishes but to get rid of the white film on your dishwasher you can use Iron Out. You can get it at Walmart, Target, just about anywhere. Use is in your dishwasher like you would a normal dishwashing soap and run your dishwater without any dishes in it. It works fabulously!

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E.P.

answers from Chicago on

I ditto the vinegar rinse - just running your dishwasher, empty of dishes, every so often with just a cup of vinegar. Also, you can use 1/2 cup vinegar at the beginning of the rinse cycle when you are washing dishes - just open door and toss it in while cycle is running.

If you do have hard water, consider a water softening agent or water softener. Good luck.

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K.P.

answers from Chicago on

All I can say is that the only dishwasher detergent that has ever worked for me is CASCADE. Anything else does what you are talking about and I don't even have hard water.

You might consider a water softener that only goes to certain places. You don't want to drink soft water. But I am sure that would help a lot of things.

Hope this is helpful.

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C.K.

answers from Chicago on

Add a 1/4 cup of plain white vinegar into the bottom of your dishwasher for every load. (Use detergent like normal). We had the same problem you're describing, and since I started using the vinegar, our dishes come out sparkling!

(And is it's super cheap, too!)

D.S.

answers from Chicago on

I had a similar problem. To resolve the issue, I run my diswasher monthly with 1 cup of vinegar and only use Cascade with Dawn to wash the dishes. Best of luck!

T.W.

answers from Chicago on

hi S.!
seems like alot of people are having the same issues as you! i think i'm going to go back to the powder after reading all your replies!

anyway, i still have the problem a little, but mine came from buying electrosol.....it was a total nightmare! i called the company and they sent me a ton of coupons! It took awhile for the cascade to take away the grime off the dishes, but eventually it did work......

also, make sure you run the water in the sink on hot for a minute before running the dishwasher. that way, when the dishwasher is tuned on, the water is immediately hot.

good luck! and thanks all for the tips! it's powder detergent and vinegar for me from here on out!

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L.T.

answers from Chicago on

Try wiping the dishes with wet vineger drag. It helps us for a couple of washes.

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M.C.

answers from Chicago on

If you live in Bartlett this problem will not go away unless you have a soft water heater installed. I tried Vinegar and eventually ended up washing dishes by hand because I was so sick of the iron and mineral deposit build up. My toilett bowls are now clean as well. I highly recomend this investment as it cuts down on the use of shampoo, dishwashing liquid, washing machine detergent, soap and your clothes will last longer. All iron out products on the market work but it comes back everytime.

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S.K.

answers from Chicago on

My daughter lived in Valpo in an apartment and she had the same problem. Nothing that she did worked. She found a product at Walmart that's called "Lemi Shine". It comes in a yellow container with a bright green lid. It says it "removes tough spots & film for sparkling dishes and glassware plus dishwasher cleaner". You can go to lemishine.com to get more info. She loved it and used it all the time!!! Give it a try. Good luck because I know how frustrated my daughter was with everything that came out of the dishwasher looking dirty!!!

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J.B.

answers from Chicago on

I was just having this same problem, and a friend of mine suggested throwing Calgon water softener in the bottom of the dishwasher for each load. It works like a dream!

I typically had used very little detergent with vinegar in every load (and had been doing this for years), and that stopped working after awhile. We also have a water softener. So, there's that. (I also regularly cleaned out my dishwasher by running it empty with baking soda and vinegar in it.)

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C.K.

answers from Tampa on

If you have residue on your dishes and use detergent tabs - you migth use too much detergent. I cut my tabs in half - everything is clean and no residue any more

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L.M.

answers from Chicago on

I second Tammy's suggestion of vinegar! Once every other month I run my dishwasher empty with vinegar instead of detergent (along with a full cup of vinegar in a cup on the top shelf) and it takes care of the nasty white filmy residue! Good luck!

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A.J.

answers from Rockford on

S.,
Sounds like you need a water softener. If you don't have one all ready.There are options of buying or renting. Buying is expensive so you may want to look into renting. When you rent , repairs aren't an expense to you, you can have salt delivered & put in salt tank. You do have to pay for the salt. IF you do have a softener all ready, sounds like it is in need of repair. Hard Water is not fun and can ruin your appliances, dishes, glassware and is hard on skin.
Good Luck !
A.

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R.S.

answers from Chicago on

Once the dishwasher has been running for approximately two minutes, pour 1 cup of vinegar into the bottom of the unit. This is a quick, natural fix for hard water problems that brings an amazing shine to your dishes. I use this all of the time as we have a hard water problem at our house as well. Best of luck!

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T.C.

answers from Chicago on

Hi S.!

I have found that vinegar works great for removing this build-up! I soak my glasses, when I begin to notice it, in HOT water mixed with vinegar. It takes it right off with a little wipe! I also did this on my plastic hand held sprayer... I soaked it since I noticed a lot on there and it was always sticking- well, when I went to rinse- the build up was the only thing still holding the thing together! LOL I also remove the tips of my faucets and my shower head and give them soaks now which helps with water pressure!

Unfortunately my only dishwasher is my hubby and he is not willing to soak them before washing every time but my mother has been using vinegar in her dishwasher in place of things like Jet Dry etc. Her glasses sparkle like they are brand new! It also helps to keep the inside of her machine clean and running in tip top shape! Best of all it is affordable and chemical free!

Good luck and blessings to you and yours!

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J.M.

answers from Chicago on

1 cup vinegar durring the rinse cycle. my mom has the same problem.

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J.M.

answers from Chicago on

I second the Lemi-shine. Fill and run your dishwasher with this a few times and you'll notice a SIGNIFICANT difference.

After things are looking clean, you can pour the rest of the bottle of Lemi-Shine in with the regular powder detergent to make it last a bit longer but still keep things nice and clean.

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S.A.

answers from Chicago on

I read in Consumer Reports about this recently. My glasses have always come out cloudy looking and I couldn't get them crystal clean anymore. I thought it was lime deposits or calcium from our water since we have so much of that in the water.

Turns out I've been using too much dishwashing detergent....you know more is better. Nope turns out the detergent etches your glasses. It actually kinda scratches it. And the more you put in there, the more it scratches them...so I was making it worse.

They recommend that you only put 2 Tb of dry detergent in each compartment no more. I started doing that and my dishes look much better.

The other problem I had was all this sand in my dishwasher and on my dishes. I read up on it and it turns out I have a crappy dishwasher....the one that came with the house...and it doesn't grind up food particles. The food left on dishes (not much mind you because I was rinsing them some) is burning up on the heating coils and then being splashed all over the dishes. It wasn't sand at all, but dried up, burnt food particles. So now I have to wipe my dishes down before I put them in the dishwasher....after all the effort to get the food of the dishes; I wonder why I bother. I should just hand wash them. We can't afford a new dishwasher just yet...will need to save the money.

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D.T.

answers from Chicago on

Start by cleaning your dishwasher!....easy and cheap.
Pour about a cup of white vinegar into the machine and run it empty. Do this several times to get rid of the original film, then about once a week do this as routine maintainence and your problem should be solved.

Good luck!

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S.K.

answers from Chicago on

Use a half of bottle of white vinegar in the wash cycle and make sure your water softener is working. We have the same problem due to hard water and it's gross, but we are able to reduce it with the vinegar and a good water softener.

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P.B.

answers from Chicago on

I don't use a rinse agent, I just pour in some vinegar during the rinse cycle.

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T.O.

answers from Chicago on

you can run Limeaway in your dishwasher and even with your dishes in it to get that off... However, We found the hard way in a different house, that we HAD top get a water softener and then the problem went away:)
Good luck.
T.

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K.M.

answers from Chicago on

This may sound weird, but it works. I read that you should buy a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid and run that in an empty dishwasher to clean it. I had to give it a try and it worked. Needless to say, after doing this, we aren't drinking lemonade Kool-Aid! But, we tried those dishwasher cleaners and they did basically nothing. This was such a cheap fix.
I also had the white residue on our dishes. So much so, it ruined some serving spoons. I couldn't get it off with anything. My Mom had been told by a Maytag repairman to ONLY use powder diswasher detergent - never use the gels. Even if your dishwasher states it's OK to use the gels. I tried using the powder and the residue problem is gone.

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Y.W.

answers from Chicago on

Hi S.,

There is a product called Lemi Shine(the hard water expert) and it's wonderful. My sister over heard some ladies in Target praising this product and she bought some for me. I've lived in Frankfort for over 10 years and my dishwasher was full of lime. All of my glasses and dishes would be covered with lime. I used this product and within a couple of cycles my dishwasher looked brand new and my dishes had a shine that I've never experience since moving to Frankfort. The first two times I used it, I was told to actually put some of the product on the floor of the dishwasher to help clean the dishwasher and remove the lime. I really love this product. I will say sometime it's hard to find at Target because it sells out pretty quick. I hope this helps.

Y.
Little Tots Sunshine Childcare
www.little-tots-sunshine.com

A.B.

answers from Champaign on

You can buy a water softener for your house. You have to refill it with softening salt-type stuff every once and a while, but personally I have found that my dishwasher still leaves that residue. About once a week I hand wash all my dishes and that helps keep that residue from building up. I had blue plates that were almost white! But hand washing every once and a while is actually recommended for most of your nicer plates, so if you have the time that's the way I'd go.

As for what's lining your dishwasher you can run an empty (please note the EMPTY!) load with white vinegar instead of detergent and that should clear it right up.

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J.M.

answers from Chicago on

It is hard water and I experience this too. I actually made my husband buy me a new dishwasher thinking that was the problem.
I read the iron out comment which I have never used, but I do use a product called LemiShine, it is like Glass Magic, but I like this brand the best. I got it at Walmart, and before that at Woodman's. Once your dishes are etched or white mostly on glasses, use it instead of your regular detergent, once your dishes are clean again, you can use half and half. Hope this helps.

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M.R.

answers from Chicago on

This is going to sound so counterintuitive. When you put your dishes in the dishwasher, do you 'rinse them clean'? I grew up being trained by my mother to completely rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. The habit continued and as 'dishwasher technology' improved, my over-rinsing caused my dishwasher to stop working properly.

Why? Soap is designed to move around the dishwasher and cling to the leftover bits and particles of food on your dishes. When there isn't anything to grab onto, the soap might cake on the dishes or, even worse, cause a clog so that the dishwasher won't work properly. Or, at least that's what the repairman told us when he came out to visit. It still felt weird to skip rinsing entirely.

If you haven't done so, try putting your dishes in the dishwasher a bit more dirty and see if that works. It's worth a shot!

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E.R.

answers from Chicago on

There is a Dishwasher cleaner you can find in the grocery store right next to the dishwashing soap. I forget the brand name but it is in a little white bottle with a blue label. You just put it in your silverware holder and rin the wash cycle when it is empty. I have used it a few times and it works well.

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G.H.

answers from Chicago on

It could be from greasy pots and pans. Just rinse in HOT water before loading in washer. It also could be build up from granulated detergent. In that case, switch to liquid cleaners. It's a good idea to use liquid soap in your wash machine also. My nephew is a plumber and actually had to change out pipes from granulated soap build up in the pipes. Make the changes now. Run your dishwasher enpty a couple of times and wipe out well with Mr Clean or one of those cleaners to get rid of any unwanted residue first.

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T.R.

answers from Rockford on

Get the chemicals out of your home! GO GREEN! This will help with your family's health and save your appliances.Consider getting a water softner (if you dont already have one). I use to use vinegar until I found out that it doesn't disinfect. I now use safer better alternatives and I still save money this way. Advice evryone gave I think is great. I just have a little more insight on what you don't know can hurt you because it first hurt us (my family). No offense to anyone I think this site is awesome! Mom helping Moms. I'm a mom to and I'm just here to help please feel free to email me I would love to share. Many blessings

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J.D.

answers from Chicago on

nothing worked for our classes to get them clean. We had to buy new glasses and stop using the heated dry and sanitize features on our dishwasher. All's good year + later.

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D.R.

answers from Chicago on

I had the same problem and Lemi-Shine is the answer. I noticed a vast improvement immediately. It's at Wal-Mart and now I've just seen it at Meyer too. The directions say to put it in the detergent compartment, but I use it in the smaller pre-wash section (since it's more expensive than regular soap) and it still works great with the less than recommended amount used. I also use the regular dishwasher soap.

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