Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Cloudy drinking glasses from the dishwasher

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

While I love the convenience of a dishwasher, I am not always happy with how it cleans the dishes. (Getting the water level sensor -- whatever it's called -- fixed on our dishwasher last fall did help get the dishes a lot cleaner though!)

After so many years of only hand-washing dishes, I notice the tiny scratches that appear after dishes have been washed in the dishwasher for a while. I notice the annoying way water pools in the crevices in plastic containers. I can feel any tiny specks left on what should be a completely smooth clean glass surface...

BUT, I do love using the dishwasher to lighten my evening kitchen cleanup routine! So, I ignore the less-than-perfect aspects of a dishwasher. After all, life is a lot about choosing to be happy about the "good" in things. :)

Our "real" drinking glasses (as opposed to mason jar drinking glasses) have had a cloudy surface on them since shortly after we started using a dishwasher 4 years ago. It's embarrassing to use them for guests because the glasses do not look clean, even though they are!

Cloudy drinking glasses from the dishwasher (soft water and detergent)

Today I decided to do some research and try to remove the cloudy film. I learned that cloudy drinking glasses could be either:

#1. Hard water deposits, which can be removed using vinegar, or

#2. Etching/scratching on the glass from the combination of soft water and dishwasher detergent, which cannot be removed.

Since Seattle tends to have pretty soft water, I figured it was more likely the second scenario. But, I had to try some vinegar. I scrubbed with vinegar, and then scrubbed with baking soda, and then discovered that the "film" was actually on the outside of the glasses, not the inside! So, I scrubbed the outside with vinegar and then with baking soda and when I rinsed and dried the glass... looked exactly how it did when I started.

So, my glasses are doomed to look dirty forever, I guess. Good thing we've broken all but 5 of that set (it was a wedding gift 11 years ago)...

SO, guess what Joshua got for me at Costco last week? New drinking glasses! And they are so pretty and so sparkly and so fun to drink from (and I so don't want to put them in the dishwasher but I will because they weren't that expensive anyway).

However, starting today I am going to use less detergent in my dishwasher. Hopefully these will stay nicer... :)

Do you have any tips for keeping drinking glasses nice in the dishwasher? I'd love to hear! :)

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1. Saving time on meatloaf (Sabby Ink)
2. DIY Softscrub (Whole New Mom)
3. Organizing frequently-used recipes (Titus 2 Homemaker)



I only use about a tablespoon of detergent in my dishwasher in the wash compartment only. Many people fill both, but you only need to fill one. Then before I close the door, I add about a quarter cup of vinegar directly in the dishwasher. My dishes come out sparkly every time, and I don't spend very much money on detergent or additives, etc.


Thanks, Sarah! I am trying using less detergent... I think that may have been my problem. I used to not rinse my dishes (just scrape) but with our daily oatmeal bowls it just wasn't getting them clean, so I've started rinsing some dishes with cold water before loading, but never reduced how much detergent I was using...

do you use some of that rinse booster stuff? cascade makes it and so does jet dry, also Ive used the walmart brand. if your dishwasher dosent have a little resevoir to put it in, jet dry makes the little bakets that clip onto the rack. I find that good quality detergent in the machine really does clean better too. glad to see you poisting again, we missed you!

Aww, thank you. :)

I haven't been using rinse booster or vinegar, and haven't really noticed spots (except on plastics sometimes but have been using fewer and fewer plastics so...). I do use good quality detergents (have tried several, from Costco). :)

My mother-in-law's glasses get that way. In her case it's because she carefully rinses the dishes before she puts them in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergents are evidently formulated to need the chemicals in the food to act properly, and if you rinse all the food away, the dishes won't wash correctly and you get things like cloudy glasses.

I figured that all out when we went to visit my in-laws and when we got home, my husband, who does lots of the dishes around here, reverted to the practices of his childhood (washing the dishes before dishwashing them) and our glasses started getting cloudy. I researched it (Googled and talked to a dishwasher repair man) and requested that he stop rinsing the dishes so thoroughly. It's hard to go against that early training from his mother, but he's been a good sport and now he leaves some food on the dishes and we've never had a problem since then.

Good tips! Thanks! :)

You need to use a commercial rinse aid in your dishwasher. You know, the blue stuff you only fill up every month or so.

Vinegar is commonly suggested as a simple substitute, but it won't prevent etching.

I use the Kroger generic and never have a problem. I did ruin many glass items when I was using vinegar in the rinse container.

Hmmm... the odd thing, that I didn't think to mention, is that only certain glasses have gotten etched... our small mason jars, which have been washed in the dishwasher hundreds of times, look just fine... only the ones like the one pictured are etched. (?!)

Does the brand of dishwasher detergent make a difference? I've often thought about making my own dishwasher soap, but our well water has a high mineral content and I don't think it would work.

I don't know! I've always used commercial brands from Costco, nothing homemade...

We make our own dishwasher detergent. Equal parts borax and washing soda. We've never had a problem with our dishes getting clean, and I haven't noticed scratches or cloudiness on our glasses.

Mine used to look like that before too, but we do have hard well water and don't like the taste of softener water. Nothing I tried worked and I almost gave up, since we use cheap ones from Ikea. But after some googling (is that a word?) I managed to make two combined tips work for me. To remove the calcium/soap deposit from the glasses I soaked them overnight in the sink with lots of vinegar and hot water. After that I hand washed them with a scrubby sponge and put them back in the the dishwasher for another round of vinegar, adding soda. It worked! We use only half the amount of detergent recommended now, add 2 tablespoons of soda (I put it in the door) and 1/2 cup of vinegar (which can be poured in the bottom or in a little upright container in the top drawer). I only use powdered regular detergent, as it is cheaper. Some say to put vinegar in the rinse dispenser, but that might destroy your seals in there.
For water collecting in your plastics- my dad has a trick, that I've been using all my dishwasher life too: once the machine is done, take a dishtowel, quickly open the door, wipe off any water that collected and close the door again. The remaining heat should dry the rest just fine for most part.
Good luck and have an awesome day,

Thanks for the tips, Susanne! I'll have to try wiping off the door. :)

Great tip! I always wondered if there was anything you could do after your glasses start to get cloudy. It drives me crazy too when the glass looks dirty even though it isn't!

My tip this week is about saving time cooking meatloaf. I always seem to forget I was making meatloaf for dinner until about an hour before I am supposed to serve it. Not great since a meatloaf takes an hour to bake, not including prep. So this tip is for cutting bake time time in half.

Hello Tammy!

Here is my recipe for Homemade Soft Scrub. Thanks and blessings!

To prevent cloudy glasses....use a good quality liquid dishwasher detergent.
Rinse food from dishes before loading.

I had the same problem for years! The trick is the detergent. Cascade pacs with dawn are the answer. Run your dishwasher with them three or four times and all that residue and scratching will be gone. We have hard water too and really, this is the only solution I have found. They are more expensive, but I buy them in bulk and I is just worth it to get clean dishes that don't have scum all over them. Even what I thought were scratches was soap scum.

I buy a new, inexpensive set of glasses about once every three years or less for the same reason. Think about it... a set of glasses is around ten dollars. Disposable, plastic cups cost about 3 dollars for 30 or so, and we use them for parties or whatever. If you calculate it down ~ about three bucks per year for nice glasses... pretty do-able. So, I have no guilt when buying a new set and tossing out the old one. The jars we buy our spaghetti sauce in cost more per jar than our glasses cost per glass, and we throw out the spaghetti sauce jar. (please, nobody drink from those! Life is too short!)

Glad to see you posting again.
Missed you!

That cup looks like my flower vases until I soak them in vinegar. The way the cloudiness is ring-shaped. I've soaked a rag/paper in vinegar and pressed it against the cloudy part and then left it for a few hours (saves hot water and vinegar).

I hate spending so much on dw detergent and so use the formula on It involves borax, washing soda, citric acid and salt, with a little vinegar in the bottom of the dw as a rinse aid. Lemishine's active ingredient is citric acid, and it's super cheap on

You have to try Lemi Shine, it is a powder that you add to your detergent. Our dishes were like yours and after we used it once- they sparkled! I buy it at my local grocery store but have purchased it at chain stores too. Seriously, I have told so many people about this and they cannot believe how good it works!! I use seventh Generation powder with it.

See, we have soft water here though... I thought Lemi-Shine was for hard water issues?? Everyone is telling me to just use Lemi Shine... ;)

You could try switching detergents, too. We definitely DON'T have soft water (ours is off-the-charts hard), but we've found that since the mainstream companies started removing sulfites (I think that's the term; otherwise I'm drawing a blank) from their detergents, most of them don't work well anymore.

The Cascade tabs have still worked well for us, and Seventh Generation works for us. (They make a rinse aid, too.)

My addition:
(Organizing Frequently-Used Recipes)

I had this problem too. I tried Lemi shine and lots of things to get it off. Our current dishwasher is a portable one that doesn't work so well, so I figured it was the dishwasher. We are remodeling our kitchen and found a Bosch for a ridiculously cheap price and bought that, saving it for when we are done with the kitchen. I mentioned our glasses to the dishwasher sales person and he said the problem is that dishwasher detergents now don't have sulfates in them because of environmental rules. He said that the Cascade gel packs (I believe the most expensive ones) are really the ones that work the best. I buy the expensive ones and the cheaper ones at Sams club and alternate which one I use. Our glasses are much better now, even with the old dishwasher! Of course you have to decide if it is in your budget to use these. For me it was worth it to avoid the hassle (and expense of trying lemishine etc.). Good luck!

I use quantun by finish and turbo jet dry.


We use an environmentally friendly detergent that does not leave the film/residue or left over chemical. You might want to search those out. I know that since I switched, I only use 1/2 to 1/4 of what I used before, and I no longer have that horrid bleachy smell that eminates out of the dishwasher.

I don't know if this helps or not, but I also do not use the drying function on my dishwasher. I turn it off, and then when the dishes are done, I open the door slightly to let the steam escape. And if I don't rush the process, they are perfectly dry by the time I'm ready to empty the dishwasher.

Hope that helps :-)

Thanks, Janice! :)

I second using the lemi shine, Works great for cloudy dishes,, I just use about a tablespoon and put it in the pre rinse compartment.

I'm glad to see someone else mentioned Lemi Shine. The first time you use it, run a normal cycle---empty-- with just Lemi Shine in the main wash receptacle. This cleans your dishwasher. Then add a tablespoon of Lemi Shine (along with your normal detergent) to each subsequent load. It really does work! :-)

I totally agree with the person who said Lemishine. We have hard water and I thought our glasses were ruined. I tried lemishine and they look new again. I put powdered dishwasher soap in one side of the dispenser and a couple of tablespoons of lemishine in the other side. It is like a miracle!

Norwex makes a ball that goes in the dishwasher to take care of the mineral deposits! I have not tried this personally but am so excited to hear about it.

Here is mine:

And I have to agree with the Lemi-shine! Works great!

Completely agree with the other comments! Lemi Shine is awesome. I Love it!

I use those little pillow packet things from Cascade. They are kind of expensive, but they work really well. I've found that dishwasher chemicals are one place where name brand vs. generic makes a big difference, so it is the one place where I don't cut corners. I also hand wash a lot of dishes, particularly bowls, because they never seem to get clean if I stack them with any sort of efficiency in the dishwasher. If I have not a very full dishwasher, and I just want to throw in a couple of bowls perfectly upside-down to fill up space, I'll go for it. But the general rule is: put plates, glasses and silverware into the dishwasher, bowls into the sink. I always wash pots, pans and knives by hand anyway, so it isn't that much more trouble to do a few bowls.

When we moved into our new house the dishwasher was completely covered with detergent buildup. It was horrible! It wouldn't wash ANYTHING. We had a home warranty contract so I called a repair person & he scraped most of the gunk off then gave us straight citric acid to run through the machine. He said to run 1T through on the hottest setting and do this about 3 times & it would clean up the machine. We did that ... and the dw works perfect. We were about 3 seconds from buying a new dishwasher because we assumed it was just junk. He said to continue to use the citric acid at each washing w/ the detergent of choice (his suggestion was Finish Quantum), but to just use 1 teaspoon for the daily use. Our dishes are so sparkly and clean now. I'm not sure if Lemi Clean is the stuff at our local walmart, but I saw walmart had some dish cleaner stuff with some sort of 'citric' name and I'm guessing its basically citric acid (there was no ingredient list on the cleaner I saw). The bottle at walmart was green & yellow and I think it was about $4 -- very cheap. I bought my citric acid off of amazon and paid about $15 I think and got 5 lbs so it was actually cheaper, but I do have to store all the extra citric acid. It will always be used though. I swear by the stuff now.

Hey Tammy!

We see that you were having some issues with etching/ filming on your glassware. Just wanted to let you know that Lemi Shine is meant to break down mineral in your water so that you are washing with soft water, but it also helps remove the film that yoru phosphate- free detergent is now leaving. Email me at and let me send you some product to try! You won't be disappointed!!!

-Lemi Shine Ang

I use white vinegar in the rise aid part of my dishwasher and it works great.

Tammy..we make wine and so sparkling glassware is important to us. I was having this problem and the dishwasher repairman said too much detergent...he said use only the paks and pour vinegar in bottom of washer with each load. My dishes are streak and cloud free now.

When my glasses start to look like that from being in the dishwasher, I use BarKeeper Friend on it...gets them instantly clean!

What kind of vinegar......white or Apple?

Apple cider or white vinegar?

I used GE dishwashers in Seattle for 20 years and was very, very satisfied. Our new place came with a new Bosch, which has ruined all our glassware in short order. Not only did the G.E. machine clean without ruining anything, it also was quieter than the Bosch. My recommendation is to go with G.E. if you can afford to swap out. If not, hand wash, buy super cheap stuff and/or reduce the amount of detergent significantly.

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