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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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White Film on Dishes
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October 17, 2011 Flag

Apple shaped and stemmed glass dishes after cleaning.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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November 6, 2010 Flag
1 found this helpful

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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May 29, 2012 Flag
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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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Anonymous Flag
October 10, 20120 found this helpful

I had the same problem recently and I couldn't get the white off the dishes. Here's what I did, I put all the glasses in the top rack and spaced them out. I put all the plastic kids dishware that got ruined in on the bottom rack plus some other dishes that got ruined. All evenly spaced (don't overload). I ran a "normal" wash with NO heated dry. I started the wash and waited for it to fill. I added 1 Cup of Vinegar and ran it. I did that twice and all the dishes are completely restored. I did have to do another wash for just the glasses that had been totally ruined by using LemiShine Machine Cleaner and followed the directions for a regular wash (not an initial wash). The vinegar did a fabulous job on the glasses, but I wanted them to sparkle again! So I followed up with the LemiShine. You cannot use lemishine on anything other than GLASS, or it will get ruined. So follow the directions. I know I'm late to this conversation, but this saved me hundreds of dollars on replacing what I thought was a broken water softener... turns out my hubby let the salt run out... oops! Oh well! Hope this helps! :D

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March 24, 20130 found this helpful

I had the same problem with the white film. I was told to get a water softner. The small town where I live put in a new water system and I was told they had to turn the main water softner off. I never did get a water softner, as I don't have well water. As soon as they turned it on my dishes started coming out crystal clean.

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November 22, 2011 Flag
1 found this helpful

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 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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December 9, 20150 found this helpful

1st STOP using those packets! They are terrible; they RUINED my pots & had to throw them out. Even regular detergents may leave some residue but nothing like those horrid packets! For that other film, you can try vinegar, or I prefer the citrus based products - they not only work, for *slight* film, they smell great! Also you may want to read what someone wrote above, about phosphorous! It's amazing to think that we are suffering the consternation & added expense dealing with this issue, for the negligible effect on the environment that could have easily been handled by processing at the sewage plant (& probably should have, for there's other contributors than just dishwashing detergent!) while our environment is being polluted by the TONS by big AG.

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March 26, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

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 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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August 9, 20111 found this helpful

Search for CitriClean of Florida. They make a powder that you add to each wash cycle. You need to use only 1 tablespoon of the cheapest store brand detergent plus 1-2 tablespoons of CitriClean. So your cost per wash does not increase! All natural product that contains no phosphate.

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March 10, 2013 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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November 5, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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December 10, 2013 Flag
1 found this helpful

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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    November 10, 2001 Flag
    0 found this helpful

    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

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

    - Cheryl

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    January 27, 20091 found this helpful

    Oooooooh I loved this one and it worked so well... I had a problem once where a plate blocked the soap dispenser in the dishwasher. The dishes came out completely dull, cloudy, and with a nasty texture, not to mention the ones that had food particles and other junk on them. I read that soaking the dishes in your sink in warm vinegar for 1 hour would do the trick. Well, obviously I didn't have enough vinegar to submerge all my dishes, so I improvised. I filled a tall pot with warm tap water all the way to the top, added about 2 cups room-temperature vinegar and submerged the glasses in it for one hour. It worked well, but I reused the water for the next batch of dishes, kept them in for 30 minutes and worked just as well. Then all my cutlery for 30 minutes with the same water and it did wonders. After each batch I hand-washed the dishes and set them out to dry. They are now sparkling clean. I heard baking-soda does the same (haven't tried it).

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    August 21, 2013 Flag
    0 found this helpful

    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.

    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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      November 6, 2010 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      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
      0 found this helpful

      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
      0 found this helpful

      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.

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