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Removing White Film From Dishes

Dishes cleaned in a dishwasher can develop an unsightly buildup of white film. This is a guide about removing white film from dishes.
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October 17, 2011 Flag

It was either throw out my apple shaped dish, and several others if truth be known, or figure out how to get that ugly white film off of them. Elbow grease is not my favorite way of doing anything so desperation took over.
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I read everything I could and citric acid kept coming up. Well Fruit Fresh is basically citric acid and I happened to have some so I gave it a try. I put around 2 tablespoons in 4 cups of cold water and immersed my apple dish in it, 5 minutes later I checked it. I couldn't believe my eyes it was sparkling clear. No elbow grease needed. I dried it and put it in the cupboard looking like new. You must try it to believe and save your elbows!

By Ann from Loup City, NE

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Anonymous Flag
March 20, 20160 found this helpful

I have to try this--but in the meantime if you don't have any Fruit Fresh but do have Mr. Clean liquid cleaner--use that ---works great--I filled up the cloudy glass with hot tap water and a couple of capfulls of Mr. Clean---5 minutes--perfectly clear glass!

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December 10, 2013 Flag

I have an old dishwasher and there was always a film on glasses. LemiShine worked, but was too expensive for the amount to use regularly. One day I bought Sunlight Lemonoxi complex powder. "No more film on the glasses."

This same company makes Sunlight liquid and it works too. Now, since that was 3 of their dishwashing products which worked well, I am looking at all their products - one of which is Wisk laundry detergent which Consumer Guide rated as high as Tide - so I will try that and it is cheaper than Tide!

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August 21, 2013 Flag

The government started recommending a reduction in phosphorus in detergent back in the '70's and many dish washing detergent companies lowered the amount of phosphorus in their products over the decades since. Same for laundry detergent. Phosphorus runoff causes algae blooms, most common in the Great Lakes. The EPA and various other green groups and individuals dislike algae blooms because it sometimes kills the fish that need the oxygen the algae uses up.

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Eventually various State government felt the need to act, but without all the information, and banned phosphorus from various products. The companies that make dish washing and laundry detergent, rather than make different mixtures for different states, simply removed it.

Whammo...white film on your glasses and gritty sand like particulates. Phosphorus is what prevents that from happening.

Unfortunately, it was easier to target the consumer than farmers and industries that leach phosphorus into the runoff all the time. Phosphorous is a major component of most fertilizers. So while they are spreading it on the ground by the ton, the government went after us by the spoonful.

Alternatively, municipal water treatment systems could have been retrofitted to remove phosphorous just like they remove a host of other chemicals we don't like to go into the water but again, it's just easier for the government and pressure groups to ban something than to think about alternate solutions.

As far as a solution, go buy a box of trisodium phosphate from Home Depot and add some to your detergents.

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May 29, 2012 Flag

I use Cascade packs. I also use Jet Dry rinse agent in the rinse receptacle. My dishes have a white film on them. How do I get rid of the film?

By Toni M

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November 17, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

I use the same thing you do. Random film on the glasses one day, used lemon and/or lime juice (those lil plastic fruit shapes with lemon/lime juice in them that sits in your fridge forever, because you had that party that one time..) Squirted the juice in, filled with warm/hot water, let them sit for 5 minutes then swished it around in the glass and used a wash cloth. Film came right out/off. Vinegar is probably the best way to go, but the smell of vinegar makes me barf so citric acid for the win!

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Anonymous Flag
May 14, 20160 found this helpful

Throw 1-2 tablespoons of Country Time lemonade (powder) in the bottom of your dishwasher. Turn washer on. You will not believe how quickly the citric acid from the Country Time resolves the issue. (A little trick from a friend who's a plumber!)

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November 6, 2010 Flag

I have been using Palmolive dishwasher liquid in my dishwasher. I have noticed that my dishes are coming out with a white film all over them. I contacted our local water company. They told me that the problem is not with the water. The problem is with the phosphates being removed from the dishwasher soaps.

I have checked the different brands of dishwasher soaps, both powders and liquids, and they all seem to have the phosphates removed. Since the phosphates have been removed, what can I do to get the dishes clean and free from the white film when the dishes come out of the dishwasher? Thanks for your help.

By Janet from Joplin, MO

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August 9, 20111 found this helpful

Here's another solution. CitriClean of Florida also makes a powder that you add to each wash cycle. It's all natural and contains no phosphate. The nice part is that you use 1-2 tablespoons of CitriClean and only 1 tablespoon of your normal detergent. I use the cheapest store brand detergent and it works great with CitriClean. Dishes and the inside of my dishwasher look like new again.

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November 22, 20110 found this helpful

My mom had the problem with white residue on her glasses. She tried the vinegar trick but it didn't work. She found a product that did the trick. It was a Finish product called "Quantum". It looks like a square yin yang with a red ball in the center of it. She has only had to use it three times in the past two months. Use them as needed I guess. Looks like you use one and it cleans things up for a few weeks until you need another.

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November 22, 2011 Flag

What causes white residue on dishes after washing in a Kitchen Aide dishwasher? It does not wash off; I must use SOS or a scratcher to remove it. (I am using Cascade packets.)

By Patty A.

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November 22, 20111 found this helpful

Fill dishwasher with residue dishes. Pour 1 cup white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher and run a normal wash cycle. The vinegar naturally dissolves any hard-water residue or film without harming the dishwasher or dishes. Add the vinegar to the dishwasher cycle every three runs or so, as needed to combat white residue. If you have severe hard-water issues, use the vinegar every time you run the dishwasher, especially when washing glassware.

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November 28, 20110 found this helpful

I agree with the previous poster; it sounds like hard water residue. Use vinegar to get rid of it. I used to put a cup of vinegar in the last rinse. You could also try different detergents. There may be a different kind that works better.

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March 26, 2010 Flag

Everytime I run the dishwasher to clean my dishes, they always come out filmy with etching? We've tried several different dishwater tabs, but nothing helps. Why is this and are my glasses ruined now?

By Trish from Northfield, MN

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August 1, 20100 found this helpful

Try Lemi-Shine. It's in the dishwasher section. It's a dry powder type stuff. It is especially good if u have hard water. I had the same problem and my dishwasher was brand new. Was told about about his and it works great!

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August 2, 20100 found this helpful

Clean your dishwasher with vinegar or CLR which you can purchase at the hardware/grocery store. Hard water. Make sure you wash when you know your household use of soft water is good. We forget aftet alot of loads of clothes, showers.

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March 10, 2013 Flag

All of my clear glass drinking glasses have a film on them from the dishwasher. I have changed detergent from Finish to Cascade, but no help. What else can be done besides hand-washing?
Thanks.

By Nolasandy

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March 10, 20130 found this helpful

It sounds like you have hard water, the only thing that helped me, was to get a water softener. Before I had the money to do that, I never let the dishes go through the dry cycle, and I added sea salt to the rinse cycle. This helped, but did not eliminate the problem. Do you have a "rinse aid dispenser"? To save money instead of adding Finish or Jet Dry, add vinegar.

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March 11, 20131 found this helpful

Try using white vinegar in rinse cycle.

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0 found this helpful
November 5, 2011 Flag

I use (for safety reasons) plastic cups, toothbrush holders, etc., in the bathroom. When I put these articles in the dishwasher, they come out with an ugly coating. Some plastics are more prone to this problem. Any suggestions for keeping the plastic crystal clear?

By Sylvia from Great Neck, NY

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November 5, 20110 found this helpful

I just always wash this stuff by hand. Being it is hard for me to stand I fill a bowl with hot soapy water and take to my table to wash the items, then I go back to the sink, dump that water and get clear water to rinse, then dry the items and they go right back to the bathroom. I never have trouble with my plastic food storage containers getting a film on them when done in the dishwasher.

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November 8, 20110 found this helpful

Is it a hard water film or a greasy film? If it is hard water, try a cup of vinegar in the final rinse. Also, try different soaps. Some are very prone to leaving a film, and may react differently in different types of water. If it is a greasy film, it may be coming from other dishes that are in the dishwasher at the same time, something like a plate with a lot of bacon grease on it, for example.

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March 29, 2015 Flag

My dishwasher is leaving a cloudy film on the glasses.

By Vickie

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November 10, 2001 Flag

Does anyone know of a way to remove the milky haze (stain) that accumulates on glass's after being washed in the dishwasher repeatedly? It scrapes of with a finger nail, so the glass is not etched. Is there a home remedy, or a product I could buy? Please help.

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Anonymous Flag
November 15, 20010 found this helpful

While working on a dishwasher that needed repair, the man working on it told me that most everyone that uses a dishwasher, uses too much detergent and causes the haze on the glassware. He suggested only quarter filling the detergent cups. It will do the dishes just as well as filling them full, and I found this to be true. It saves money on detergent, saves your dishwasher and septic tank and also helps to eliminate the haze

- Carol

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Anonymous Flag
November 15, 20010 found this helpful

I have never tried it, but I have been told that vinegar will remove the stains. Good luck.

- Cheryl

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August 12, 2013 Flag

I hand wash my dishes and there is a film on my glass bowls, but not on glasses. I have been using Dawn. Is there a solution to getting rid of this film?

By Geri M.

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November 6, 2010 Flag

How do I clean my dishwasher? My dishes have a film on them.

By Pat L. from Phoenix, AZ

Answers:

White Film On Dishes

Put a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid in the detergent cup and run it with no dishes. If this doesn't help then maybe it's just your dish soap. I use BioKleen automatic dish powder and my dishes are spotless. Hope it works! (01/31/2010)

By CuckooNest

White Film On Dishes

It is permanent etching from using an automatic dishwasher. Hand wash (great for your hands) and you won't ruin the finish on your dishes or glasses. Thrift stores are full of originally beautiful dishes and glassware that looks like that. My 50 (a good many) year old glassware and dishes that have been hand washed nearly everyday still look brand new. Sorry you didn't know this sooner. (02/03/2010)

By EGGZ

White Film On Dishes

I have hard water that does this. We find putting vinegar in the rinse cycle helps eliminate the film. (02/03/2010)

By Pennypacer

White Film On Dishes

Try putting vinegar in where you normally put the Jet Dry, first! That's it! When your dishes start to look like they are getting the white film again, refill it. You will be surprised how long in between refills, and how much vinegar fits in that little hole. I have been doing that for years. Good luck. (02/03/2010)

By freebyrdz

White Film On Dishes

I had the same problem. I tried the stuff that cleans dishwashers, as well as, putting vinegar in every load, which made it a little better. I finally tried the Cascade Complete. What a difference. It is more expensive, but well worth it as I was putting half of the dishes back through again or hand washing them when they came out. Some of the dishes I thought were permanently stained, but after several washes they actually looked better. (02/03/2010)

By Gail216

White Film On Dishes

I'm in Tucson and just about 2 weeks ago started having the same problem (again). The only thing I've found that works is a product called LemiShine. I found it at Fry's and it's kind of expensive (about $5 for a container like a smallish coffee creamer). It was in the dishwashing section.

I put regular detergent (I use Great Value from Walmart which is rated as highly as Cascade Complete, but is a lot cheaper) in the pre-rinse cup and LemiShine in the main cup, then run as usual. Everything came out clear and the film was gone.

I don't know why this happens. It has happened three times in the 8 months I've lived in my house and it goes as mysteriously as it comes. I've been using this combination for a couple of loads and hope to stop soon. Good luck! (02/03/2010)

By Katie A.

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March 26, 2010 Flag

How do I get my glasses to come out of the dishwasher clear instead of with this milky looking film on them? You can't feel the film or taste it, but it makes my glasses look terrible.

By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC

Answers:

White Film on Glasses

Crystal glasses should never be put into the dish washer, it makes them "etch", tiny scrapes on the polished surface. A glass, made of glass, will do the same thing over time. Since it is actually cutting into the polished surface, I am unsure if it is fixable. (04/23/2009)

By Dedeswrkshop

White Film on Glasses

A repairman told me this is from too much soap. Don't use the name brand detergent. Go to the dollar store and get their large inexpensive box of dish washer detergent. Put your glasses in the dishwasher with a cup of vinegar to help get the film off and then use the cheap detergent. After a few washings, the glasses will be spotless. You can also use the Walmart Great Value brand. (04/28/2009)

By kwgzzs

White Film on Glasses

Make sure that you have some kind of rinsing agent like Jet Dry in your dishwasher.
To remove the film just fill a dish with enough vinegar so that you can roll the glass in it, the film will come right off. Put back in dishwasher. I save the vinegar and reuse it for the same purpose if needed again. (04/28/2009)

By PICO

White Film on Glasses

Sometimes this is etching, and sometimes it is caused by the quality of the water or the type of detergent. When I had this problem, I tried different detergents, and found one that kept the glasses shining. In another house, with different water, I had to pour a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle every time.

When I had some "unbreakable" duralex glasses, they always had a film on them. My friend who handwashed never had a problem. I have a couple of glass mugs that are cloudy; they are very old. However, I have a glass that I know is at least 36 years old, and it has been washed in the dishwasher for all of those years, and it is just as shiny as when it was new. So, sometimes, it is the quality of the glass, and there is not much that you can do. I don't think the price of the glass has anything to with it as jam jars are less likely to film than fancy glasses. (04/28/2009)

By louel53

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January 31, 2010 Flag

I am using the borax and washing soda dishwasher soap mixture as well as white vinegar in the rinse aid holder. My dishes are still coming out with a white film on them. I have tried the light wash, the normal wash, and the pots and pans wash settings on my dishwasher. Nothing is helping. Is there anything else that I can do or use to get cleaner dishes? Thanks.

Cathy from Grand Rapids, MI

Answers:

White Film On Dishes

Fill rinse cup with Jet Dry instead of the vinegar. It works for me. (09/15/2008)

By Lee

White Film On Dishes

Are you up to date on putting the dishwasher salt in your dishwasher? A little thing like that may make a difference. (09/16/2008)

By cett

White Film On Dishes

We put a "filter" under our sink to filter the water that goes to the ice maker, dishwasher, and the water at the sink. These filters can be purchased at Lowes or Walmart, or hardware stores.
The filter has helped with the "white film" on drinking glasses, and other clear items. So I believe that the dark colored items, and patterned dishes are better, too.

Also, if you use the convenient drinking "powders" that contain Splenda, you will have a "cloudy" look to your drinking glasses. I sent an e-mail to a particular company, (we drink lemonade all the time) questioning the "cloudy" look. They sent me several coupons to purchase some more of their product, and apologized for the "cloudy" look to the glasses. They are aware of their product causing clear glasses, and pitchers to become cloudy, but evidently there isn't anything they can do about it. (09/16/2008)

By Barb in Tennessee

White Film On Dishes

I sometimes dump 4-6 cups or more of white vinegar right into the bottom of the dishwasher before a normal wash. I use dishwasher soap, too. It seems to take a large amount of vinegar once in a while to clean all the gunk out of the dishwasher. Give it a try. Vinegar is cheap and this method always works for me. (09/16/2008)

By loved1

White Film On Dishes

Several months ago I purchased my second dishwasher and I asked the salesman how to keep the dishes from becoming clouded and he said to put a bowl of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and put it through a regular cycle with no dishes in it and do this once a month. So far no cloudiness. (09/16/2008)

By Annette

White Film On Dishes

I don't know what the borax and washing soda mix is, so I don't know what that is trying to accomplish.

I have found that different types of soap work better in some water than in others, so my first suggestion would be to try a variety of detergents.

My second thought on this is that the vinegar and washing soda may be canceling each other out, as soda is a base and vinegar an acid, and they combine to form salt water. Also if you are using a lot of soda in comparison to the vinegar you may be neutralizing the vinegar so it can't do the job it might do.

If I were you, I would go back to a regular detergent, and try using vinegar in the rinse cycle. You may not be getting enough vinegar in the water to make a difference. I used to toss in about a cup when I had this problem in one place that I lived.

I suspect that the film is a hard water film on your dishes. The poster that suggested a filter may have the long term solution, but in the meantime, try the vinegar, as it is an acid which should dissolve the hard water lime deposit on the dishes.

If several cups of vinegar don't do the trick you may have to go to something like CLR to clean out the gunk in the dishwasher first. It is a much stronger acid, but maybe that is what you need to get rid of buildup. (09/17/2008)

By louel53

White Film On Dishes

I have tried a similar mixture, borax and baking soda, with a vinegar rinse in lieu of dishwasher detergent, but came up with the same results. Cloudy dishes. Dishwasher detergent contains phosphates, so that is why I tried a home version, trying to be kinder to the environment. So far I have not found a combo that leaves the dishes without a film. Sigh, so I am back to Electrosol, it works great for dishes, but not so great for the earth.

Trish in CT (09/25/2008)

By GirlNumber5

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April 21, 20090 found this helpful

How do you get white film off glasses from the dishwasher? It's a new machine and the glasses look foggy.

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December 6, 20060 found this helpful

My daughter did not let me know that we were out of dishwasher soap and proceeded to use the liquid Jet Dry as soap. Every dish had a chalky film on it.

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