Why does my dishwasher leave a white film on my glasses and dishes?

Why-does-my-dishwasher-leave-a-white-filmIf your dishwasher is leaving white residue or a white film on your dishes, it might not be due to your appliance, but your detergent.

In 2010, phosphates were removed from dishwashing detergents. If you live in an area with hard water (high mineral content) your dishes and glasses could be left with a white film from mineral build-up. To combat this, add a citric acid cleaner like, Lemi-Shine or this Dishwasher Citric Acid Cleaner by GE, with your dishwashing detergent in the dispenser. You can also run your dishes through again with the Dishwasher Citric Acid Cleaner alone.

Rinse aids and other “hard-water boosters” can also keep glasses from becoming cloudy and soften water as well.

If after doing this you are still finding a white residue remaining on your clean dishes, then there might be another cause behind the white film. Improper loading, too-cold water, too much or too little detergent and a dirty dishwasher could be the reason your dishes are not coming clean.


Lemi Shine Original dishwasher detergent additive keeps dishes and glassware shining by removing hard water minerals in the main wash cycle of your dishwasher.

Improper loading

Make sure larger pans or dishes are not blocking the spray arms that dispense the water and soap that get your dishes clean.  Move larger pans and dishes away from the center of the lower rack, so that all dishes can be cleaned properly.

Too cool water temperature

Whitish residue on dishes might be caused by the water temperature being too low and the detergent not dissolving properly. It might also be causing spotting and or filming on your glasses.

The temperature of your hot water should be between 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit when it enters the dishwasher tub. You can try running the hot water on your tap before turning on your dishwasher to see if it makes a difference or try turning up the temperature on your water heater.

Too much/too little detergent

If you have hard water – water with a lot of minerals in it – you made need a little more detergent to get your dishes clean. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage on the packaging and also consult your dishwasher’s user manual.

Signs of hard water include:

  • A “ring around the bathtub.”
  • Soaps and shampoos don’t lather easily.
  • White residue around your faucets and drains.
  • Washed fabrics feel stiff, not fluffy.

Source: American Cleaning Institute

You can also buy a Water Hardness Testing Kit. This kit contains 50 treated test strips that change color with level of hardness and is easy to use.

A dirty dishwasher

A dirty dishwasher might have a harder time getting your own dishes clean. Check out our dishwasher cleaning tips in Spring Cleaning for Your Kitchen Appliances.

For more dishwasher repair help, visit the Dishwasher Repair Guide.

Find and buy Dishwasher Parts at www.pcappliancerepair.com.


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