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Preventing Dishwasher Detergent Residue

Category Dishes
Preventing Dishwasher Detergent Residue
Having spot free, clean dishes come out of the dishwasher is what we all strive for. This guide is about preventing dishwasher detergent residue.


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August 1, 20060 found this helpful

I had the dishwasher repair guy here again this AM. He told me that the little blocks of dishwasher detergent (tabs) have Jet Dry already added to them and if you normally put Jet Dry in your washer and use these blocks, hazing of glassware will occur.

Also, new dishwashers coming out have little grids in the detergent cup area so you can not use these blocks (indicative of how many hazing complaints they have generated).

By Holly from Richardson, TX

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September 1, 20090 found this helpful

I have been doing dishes by hand for the last year as my new KitchenAid top-of-the line doesn't rinse the detergent. Had water tested and it is not hard. After 7 techs, I found that there is suds buildup even when I stopped using detergent. I am in the midst of tryng to get the dishwasher clean and having little results but from my experience, don't use over a tablespoon of dishwasher detergent and NO RINSE agent. KitchenAid says that using vinegar often will ruin the washer. Will try the Kool Aid. I will NEVER buy KitchenAid again. With the 2 containers for soap and one for rinse when you shouldn't use that much is a design flaw. Kitchen Aid offered me a 25% discount on a new $1100 dishwasher! ha I just used Crystal Light Lemonade as it was all I had in the house and there were not as many soap bubbles. Will try the actual Kool Aid pack.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
September 28, 2010

How do you get rid of scum on glasses that have been washed in the dishwasher? It has been gradually building up, and now the glasses look like they've never been washed. Regular hand washing doesn't help.

By Patty from TX

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July 21, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Put in 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar at the beginning of the final rinse cycle. Always works for me!

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 23, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Use Lemi-Shine (you can get it at Wal-Mart). I will not run my dishwasher without it. It cleaned out my dishwasher, all of my glasses are shiny (for the first time in years!) and it is safe for my septic tank.

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July 13, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

The troubleshooting section of my new dishwasher's manual says to try using less detergent (up to half as much) and it may stop this problem (while still getting the dishes clean) depending on the hardness of the water. Good luck.

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August 9, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try this new product: CitriClean. It's an all-natural powder that you add to each dish washing cycle. Use less detergent and 1-2 tablespoons of CitriClean, so your cost per wash does not increase. It contains no phosphates and it works great. Search for CitriClean of Florida.

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November 17, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have a small dishwasher, the portable type. It only takes a bit of detergent powder on a small compartment, some anti-streak liquid on another compartment and salt on a third compartment.

For the last month I have been going nuts because all the dishes come out with a white film-type residue that is hard to get rid off even by rubbing hard with dish-washing soap and a sponge.

I thought that it had to do with the water being too hard and I added more salt. It got so much worse!

I called the techician and he said that I should run as many cycles as necessary to get rid of as much salt as possible and never use this again since most modern powder detergents have salt already in them.

I did and after 5-6 cycles (and some digging in the compartment with a small spoon) I manage to get rid most of the salt and now the dishes come out OK. Hope that helps.

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September 28, 20100 found this helpful

I agree that Cascade is terrible! We had the same problem and tried everything! We recently tried 1 part Borax mixed with 1 part Baking Soda, with vinegar as a rinse agent. It helped a lot! Plus it's a whole lot cheaper than that expensive dish washing detergent. It also saved us money and saved water since I now no longer have to "rewash" the dishes by hand.

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September 30, 20100 found this helpful

There are a number of things to try. Switch detergents, try a rinse agent. Add vinegar to the rinse cycle, about a cup.

And sometimes it is the type of glasses. I had some made of Duralex years ago, and they got very cloudy. Regular glass ones did not.

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October 4, 20100 found this helpful

The cloudiness is likely not from the detergent. It's probably caused by hard water and is either etching (which is permanent) or mineral deposits (which can be removed). There's a very informative discussion of that stuff here: http://ths.gard  14183422410.html .

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October 13, 20100 found this helpful

Yes, now that Phosphates have been removed from most dish washing detergents, it makes it so much harder to get dishes clean. I live in Colorado and we have very hard water here. Even to the point that I have used bleach a few times (not recommended but it helped in a pinch) I am going to get a lot of vinegar tomorrow I already use vinegar to rinse my clothes in and that really helps with preventing static cling so now I will use it in the dishwasher too and try that.

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October 15, 20100 found this helpful

I had build up on glasses for months, it just kept getting worse. Finally I tried LemiShine, used it on washed glasses, in the detergent holder, and it took most of the stuff off. I'll do it again to make them sparkle. I never would have known about that product if it hadn't been for the other posts.

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November 2, 20100 found this helpful

Almost bought a new dishwasher, then read posts here about Lemi-Shine. It worked beautifully. Never even realized the dishwasher formula had changed. Glasses and dishes look brand new!

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 10, 20100 found this helpful

Our dishwasher leaves a residue of detergent on everything we wash, especially glasses and plastic baby bottles. We've tried different detergents (powder and liquid), changed the amount of detergent (more and less), we use Jet-Dry, we've increased our water temperature, but the problem is still occurring. Does any one have any ideas for preventing detergent residue on dishes in the dishwasher? We're also looking for nontoxic detergent options.

Sarah from Brooklyn Center, MN

Stay Away From Gel Detergents

I know gel detergents are bad for dishwashers, so stay away from those. Have you looked at the sprayer arms? Could they possibly be gunked up? You might try putting some CLR in the bottom and letting it sit all day and then run it thru a cycle. You could have hard water, too, which means you'd have to have a detergent with a higher PH level. That's all I can think of right off.

By halloweenfreak

Hard Water

I think most of the kind of problem you described comes from the water that is used to wash the dishes. I have my own well and have very hard water. I have no problems with spotting or residue left on dishes. I use Electrosol powder or gel. I usually put powder in the first container and gel in the 2nd, but I only fill them half full. I don't use Jet Dry because I don't need it.

My daughter has the same problem you have. She was overloading her dishwasher and using it on a lesser cycle.

By Carol in PA

Water Softener

I've noticed with our dishwasher that we get a lot of detergent residue when our water softener is out of salt. When the water softener is working properly I don't even need to use Jet-Dry, and when it isn't working the Jet-Dry does nothing.

By Grayhairedmomma


Sounds like hard water deposits. Try some white vinegar in the rinse, maybe a lot of vinegar.

By Carla

Mini-Water Softener System

It's probably not the detergent, but hard water stains instead. You can buy a mini-water softener system for about $45 at Walmart that is just for your kitchen sink and dishwasher. Maybe you could try that!

By suzi_homemaker01

White Vinegar

Put in 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar at the beginning of the final rinse cycle. Always works for me! (07/21/2006)

By Grandma Margie

Uses Less Detergent

Have you tried using less detergent? I only fill up one of the 4 sections in the detergent cup and it works just fine. I also really like the Cascade Complete detergent. I don't pre-rinse dishes, and there's nothing left on them after using that.

By Allison

Jet Dry Dishwasher Cleaner

The once a month dishwasher cleaner is available at Wal-Mart and other stores in the dishwasher detergent aisle. It's called "Jet Dry Dishwasher Cleaner" and is quite simple to use. There is another brand, but as it's not available here, you'll have to find out for yourself.

You pull the tab off the bottle (this exposes the wax plug). You place it upside down in the silverware holder in an empty dishwasher and run the dishwasher on the hottest and longest cycle.
This does a nice job of cleaning the interior of the dishwasher and helping the reservoir/grid where the ground up food accumulates to empty itself.

I know that the ground up food is supposed to be flushed away every time you do the dishes, but my dishwasher isn't doing that. I have had the repair guy over twice and tomorrow will be the next time. Maytag isn't living up to its reputation.

By cookwie


Use Lemi-Shine (you can get it at Wal-Mart). I will not run my dishwasher without it! It cleaned out my dishwasher, all of my glasses are shiny (for the first time in years) and it is safe for my septic tank. (10/23/2006)

By Sparky

Glass Magic

I have to used Glass Magic (phosphate) in order to get clean dishes. We have very hard water where I live (central California). I'd rather not have soft water because its bad for the watershed. But, so is phosphate. I've decided that since I run my dishwasher twice a week I'm choosing the lesser of two evils. I have a newer version of the same dishwasher at work, and everything comes out looking great, same water source.

I've read that some dishwashers have a built in water softener. This may explain why some people with hard water don't need to add anything, while some do. Still this doesn't solve my problem tonight. I'm out of Glass Magic, all stores in town are out of it, and my dishwasher is full. I have tried vinegar and baking soda, but nothing works. I will look for that small water softener (thanks) just for the dishwasher though I hate to sacrifice all my undersink space.

By Symbi

Clogged Drain Lines

The white residue can be left by a number of conditions. If you have tried all of the possible solutions mentioned, such as changing detergent, using vinegar, etc. and have had no success the problem is probably caused by poor, improper drain lines/pipes or a clogged or slow drain that does not allow for a proper and complete rinse cycle. Drain lines tend to build up dirt and slow or clog in a similar way as human arteries do. Clean them out!

By bpoto

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May 8, 20160 found this helpful

It is probably NOT the water hardness! The bottles with dishwater gel are all crusty without ever having seen any water. We tried using regular hand-dish-detergent. The white films on the stainless steel on the inside of the dishwasher disappeared gradually after five or so washes.

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September 28, 20100 found this helpful

I used an eco-friendly dishwasher detergent made by Palmolive. It has left a hardened white coating on most of my dishes, glasses, and silverware. I have Jet Dry in my machine, but that hasn't helped. Is there any way to remove these unsightly deposits? My dishes never look clean.

By SusannL

Water Temperature

Check to make sure your water is hot enough to dissolve and rinse detergent. Run the hot water at the sink before you start the dishwasher to make sure hot water runs into the appliance. Select options (if available) for extra hot rinse or a sanitizing rinse.

By OliveOyl

Bar Keepers Friend and Glass Magic

One more thing I forgot to mention. If you notice the coating on the inside of your dishwasher, you should clean that with the Barkeeper's Friend also. If you don't, the Glass Magic will get it off over time, but in the meantime, some of the residue that is on the inside surface of the dishwasher will continue to be re-deposited on your dishes. BKF and Glass Magic will work. I promise!

By RDLaure


I thought my glassware was etched and ruined too. Nope, just go to WalMart (if you dare) and get a product called Lemi-Shine. Works like a charm.

By Angie

Less Detergent

The troubleshooting section of my new dishwasher's manual says to try using less detergent (up to half as much) and it may stop this problem (while still getting the dishes clean) depending on the hardness of the water.

By tahlula

New Cascade

Cascade! That's the culprit. My husband brought home a new box of Cascade (new packaging) and that's when my dishes went to hell in a hand basket. I also have used the old Cascade for years, and loved it, but this new stuff left my glasses and silverware with a terrible coating of white film that is almost impossible to get off unless I scrub them (after washing in the dishwasher!) with Dish Buds, or some non-scratching metal scrubber. The previous commenter Fanhel was "spot on" when s/he noticed the change in formula. I know phosphate is bad, but Cascade phosphate-free formula just doesn't do the job.

By Brinna

My Experiences

Now that dishwasher detergent makers have taken phosphates out of their detergents, washing dishes in hard water is horrible. I have very hard water and I read numerous forums trying to find a solution. I tried a variety of remedies suggested by this forum and others and here are my results:

Things That Did Not Work by Themselves:

Things That Did Not Work Well:

Things That Worked:

I ordered the Glass Magic by mail because it's no longer sold in my area (neither is Lemi Shine or any other additive with phosphates). Glass Magic works well, but I am sensitive to putting phosphates in the water system. I learned on the Kitchenaid forum that the solid Jet Dry is more effective than the liquid or gel that goes in the dishwasher dispenser because more of the solid is washed onto the dishes. It really works well and I ordered it by mail because it wasn't sold in any stores around me. On the Kitchenaid forum, I also learned that I must use the hot scrub cycle for hard water and that seems to be true.

If the solid Jet Dry hadn't worked, then I would have installed the Difi, a dishwasher filtration system which goes under the kitchen sink and filters the minerals out of the water before the water goes into the dishwasher. The downside of that system is that the filters must be replaced every month or so and they are expensive at $17.00 each. However, the people who used it said they liked it.

By JeannetteC1


I too was having problems with white residue on especially my plastic items after they came out of the dishwasher. I went to Walmart and looked at various powder dishwashing detergents and all are now phosphate-free which has to be the problem as someone on this blog mentioned earlier. Another blogger mentioned using Lemi-Shine to remove the residue, so I bought it, used it as recommended, and it worked! No more residue. It was so bad that one of my Faberware black spatulas looked gray with residue , but now it's black again. Thanks for the tip. It really really worked!

By BamaGrobie

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