Preventing Dishwasher Detergent Residue

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


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August 1, 2006

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 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


July 21, 20060 found this helpful
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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 sparky (Guest Post)
October 23, 20060 found this helpful
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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
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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
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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
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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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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 10, 2010

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 kimberly

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 Marge Mayhew

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 Holly


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 Bob

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September 28, 2010

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?

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