How to get rid of White Films on Dishes in Dishwasher?


A dishwasher often has a love and hate relationship with homeowners. You love it when you open the dishwasher and find sparkling and clean dishes.

However, you will hate the dishwasher when you find thin white films on the cleaned dishes. When you see a thin layer of white residues on the dishes, you need to wash them manually.

Thus, you would want to get rid of white film on dishes in dishwasher. This urgency from you is valid since the white film looks ugly. Also, it can scratch the porcelain or ceramic dishes in your kitchen.

The white films from the dishwasher into the dishes mainly come from detergent residues and hard water contaminants. You can clean these white residues with dishwasher cleaner or white vinegar to get them sparkling and shiny dishes.

Why There’s White Film On Dishes in Dishwashers?

We use a dishwasher to clean our dishes after use quickly. In most cases, the machine will provide us with the cleanest glasses, plates, and other dishes. However, the problem starts when we see white films on the cleaned dishes.

In fact, it is visible as a residue and can be either white or grey color. Also, it can sometimes be a thick layer. The dishes will look ugly even after cleaning in the dishwasher. So, what causes the white or grey residual development on the dishes inside the dishwasher?

We will go through the top reasons, so you know what’s causing the problem.

Hard water:

Hard water with a high amount of dissolved minerals is the number one enemy of your kitchen and bathroom plumbing system and fixtures. It quickly leaves white or yellow stains in the bathtub, kitchen, or bathroom sink and where not.

Similarly, hard water in your plumbing will leave white residues inside the dishwasher. Most household water supplies in America are affected by hard water development. Naturally, your dishwasher will suffer from a hard water problem. Also, the amount of hard water in your region will control the white residual development in the dishes.

Usually, hard water comes from the groundwater. When the groundwater runs underneath the soil, it contains lime, gypsum, calcium carbonate, etc. Thus, these mineral elements will contaminate the water. When the groundwater reaches your plumbing system, these minerals will also get mixed in the sinks, dishwashers, etc.

The hard water will leave residues inside the dishwasher. As a result, it will be stuck with the cleaned dishes to make them look dirty.

Inappropriate water temperature:

The right water temperature is essential for the dishwasher and dishwashing detergent to work efficiently. If the water temperature is below the recommended level, the detergent will fail to work properly. 

The water inside the dishwasher should be warm. Otherwise, it won’t prevent residual development in the dishes. It happens because the detergent won’t dissolve in inappropriate water temperature. Since the detergent won’t dissolve in the water inside the dishwasher, it won’t remove the residues.

Thus, you need to ensure proper hot water for the dishwasher. Usually, the recommended temperature for the dishwasher is 100-120°F. So, ensure that the device has the right water temperature.

Thankfully, you don’t need to measure the temperature of the water in the device. These days, most dishwashers come with a thermostat. It will heat the water at the right level before washing the dishes inside. You should check the thermostat if you see white residues on the dishes. Sometimes, the thermostat may fail, and thus, it won’t heat the water properly.

Alternatively, you may increase the temperature of your water heater. But, it is risky since too much hot water can cause scalding of your hands. So, be aware of the problem.

Detergent residual development:

Previously dishwashing detergent contained phosphate. It would perfectly remove the white or grey residual films from the glasses and plates. However, federal laws have eliminated phosphate from dishwashing detergent. So, it has reduced the white residual removal capacity of the dishwasher.

Henceforth, modern-day detergents use different chemicals or elements to get rid of white films on dishes in dishwashers. As it appears, these formulas haven’t worked effectively. So, you need to find an alternative way.

Get Rid Of White Film on Dishes in Dishwasher

We’ve already discussed the problems that cause white film development in your dishes. So, it’s time to see how to eliminate the reasons and get shiny and clean dishes.

Use a water softener:

Using a water softener will work wonderfully if you live in an extremely hard water region. It is a whole-house filtration system. It will remove magnesium, calcium, and lime development from the hard water. So, the dishwasher will get fresh water for cleaning the dishes and won’t cause residual films.

Ensure proper water temperature:

Another key point to eliminating white films in the dishes is ensuring the dishwasher’s right water temperature. We have already mentioned that the dishwasher must use hot water. Its temperature needs to be 100-120°F. So, check that the thermostat of the device is working properly.

Apply white vinegar:

To remove white residual development, you can apply white vinegar directly inside the dishwasher. First, choose a dishwasher-safe container. Then, pour one or two cups of white vinegar on it. The amount will depend on how many dishes you want to clean and the device size. For larger machines, you may add more cups of white vinegar.

After that, empty the dishwasher and access the bottom rack. There you will place the white vinegar-filled bowl. Finally, turn on the dishwasher and run it for a “full cycle.” As the machine runs, it will dissolve the white vinegar in hot water and spray it throughout the machine.

The white vinegar removes calcium and magnesium from the device. Now, open the door and allow the vinegar to evaporate fully. Since the vinegar has decalcified the machine, it won’t cause any white film development on the dishes. Also, it’s enough to decalcify the machine once a month.

Use a dishwashing tablet:

Many dishwasher manufacturers have developed dishwashing tablets these days. They claim that these tablets are stronger than regular dishwashing powder. So, they will easily remove even the white residues from the dishes.

Use dishwasher cleaner:

If nothing works, you can choose a particular dishwashing cleaner. Yes, many manufacturers have brought dishwashing cleaners with calcium carbonate cleaning ability. These are usually acidic cleaning agents. You can purchase it from superstores and use it similarly to white vinegar.

If you don’t have the cleaner o white vinegar, any citrus fruit will work perfectly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is my dishwasher leaving a white film on my dishes?

Usually, hard water in the plumbing system and using a phosphate-free dishwasher will cause white residues. Also, the inappropriate water temperature will leave stains.

  • Can I put baking soda and vinegar in my dishwasher?

Yes, you can use white vinegar and baking soda mixture to clean the dishwasher. Baking soda efficiently removes lingering and foul odor from the machines indoors.


We all want our dishes, glasses, and other kitchen items to look clean and shiny. The white film is the biggest enemy to such sparkling cleanliness. When there’s hard or cold water inside the dishwasher, it will cause the white or grey film build-up on the dishes. You can, thankfully, remove it by cleaning the machine with white vinegar or calcium carbonate cleaner.

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