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How can we prevent dishwasher detergent residue?

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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