Dishwasher Leaving White Chalky Residue - Help Please!

Updated on July 18, 2012
H.G. asks from Mount Joy, PA
11 answers

My dishwasher is about 7 years old and has never given me any problems. I use it at least once daily, sometimes twice. It has started leaving a white chalky residue on everything and I'm stuck washing dishes by hand which I hate. I've bought several things that promise to clean everything out - none of them worked. I've run at least a gallon of white vinegar through it too. There is plenty of rinse solution in the dispenser. My husband did a quick once over and unscrewed the thing at the bottom of the dishwasher and looked inside. Nothing looks out of order (that we could see at least). The inside of the washer is stainless if that means anything.

Short of calling a repair person, what can I do?

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answers from Minneapolis on

Try using Lemi Shine - little goes a long way. For some reason the same thing happened to us last year and after trial and error I finally hit on a product that worked. I followed their instructions for cleaning the dishwasher once first, then I did a load of dishes with it & since then, no problems.

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answers from San Francisco on

Are you sure it's not the dishwashing detergent you are using?

For a while I was using a Kirkland (Costco) brand of dishwashing detergent, and my glasses became all milky-looking. I finally stopped using that detergent, and washed all my dishes about three times with vinegar.

Did you only use the vinegar in the dishwasher? Now you need to run your dishes through a couple of vinegar cycles, to remove the built-up residue that's on them. Make sure you put the vinegar in the main wash cycle, so that your dishes get maximum exposure.

After a couple of times of doing this, my glasses were sparkling again.



answers from Dallas on

Have you recently changed your detergent? I never use cascade because it only causes me problems, just like what you speak of. I usually use palmolive dishwasher detergent and have had no problems (psst...its also cheaper!) Also, consider the fact that the city water does change from time to time. Change your detergent and see if that helps. The type of detergent that works best in your house I think largely depends on the mineral content (or lack thereof) of your water.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Did it get ANY better after the dishwasher cleaners/vinegar cycles?
If not at all-I'd call someone in.

Our guy said only to use powder (or powder paks) in a dishwasher.

Our mistakes were:
*using a gel/liquid
*using too much of it
*rinsing the plates before putting them in there. Apparently the detergent needs *something* to "work on"!
Now I use the Cascade pre-measured powder paks, scrape, no rinsing--no problems.

(BTW, it's the opposite for clothes washing machines--liquid only!)



answers from Missoula on

Maybe there is something up with the rinse solution... Maybe empty it, flush it, and refill it with new stuff?

Or maybe switch your detergent.

Do you have a water softener, or is it hard water going through your dishwasher? I don't know if that would make a difference, but it may give you something else to look at. lol.

That's all I can think of.


answers from Columbus on

We had the same problem. We ended up taking out the mesh ring at the bottom and scrubbing it with a stiff brush. In fact, we took everything out and scrubbed it. Upon closer inspection, the traps, the arms, the holes for the water to come out, all had a gunky white residue that would only come clean with our good scrubbing. We put it all back together after cleaning, did a cycle with vinegar, and switched to those powder packs. We've been pretty happy since then. I kind of think we'll be taking our machine apart again in half a year to a years time to do the same thing, but oh well.

Good luck to you!



answers from Albany on

It's your water as much as your dishwasher. Do you have a water softener? Is it working properly? I also found some stuff called Lemi-Shine at Target. You use it in conjunction with the dish soap, and it cleaned up all my dishes and glasses. When I finally replaced my dishwasher, I had to play with dish washer soap, too, to find the one that worked best with my new dishwasher (turns out those pre-measured tabs work REALLY well in the newer dishwashers).



answers from New York on

This happened to me as well. They changed the chemicals in Cascade and suddenly our dishes had the residue. We thought it was the dishwasher because ours was pretty old. My husband was so annoyed he bought a new dishwasher only to find out it did not solve the problem. Then I researched Cascade and found out it was the dteregent. They sent me some coupons for free detergent but I had to make sure I did not buy the one with the new chemical.


answers from Salt Lake City on

I had always used a dishwasher, same problem. Years and years of changing the detergent and taking everyones advice on tricks to use. Now, Every night right after dinner (and i mean every night, never fails) we wash the dishes by hand and dry them . The dishes are so nice and sparkling afterwards. We get the best satisfaction. We are a busy family as well. However we worked it into our routine. Try it out for a week! You will hate your dishwasher afterwards, trust me!



answers from Dallas on

The dishwasher soap manufacturers were recently (within the last few years) required to remove some ingredient from their soaps. The answer is lemi-shine. Buy it near the dish soap and it works GREAT!



answers from Washington DC on

I had this problem too. I switched to Seventh Generation detergent and that worked, but when it ran out, I went back to my Cascade and the problem started again. I recently got OxyClean rinse, same as Jet Dry, and it solved the problem even with Cascade.

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