Help! My Dishwasher Leaves Residue on Crockery, Cutlery & Glasses

dishwasher cover
The convenience of a dishwasher is known only too well by the many who own them, but when the dishes start feeling a little tacky with residue and the glasses look decidedly cloudy, it’s enough to throw you into pit of despair. The residue and cloudiness is a common problem to all dishwashers, from high-end right through to the entry-level models. You need not fear, however, as there’s no need to call a technician … yet. Read on for some tips.

  • Filmy natural minerals

If your tap water is hard, or you use well or borehole water chances are the residue comes from a build up of the natural minerals contained in the water. Over time, a thin film is deposited, layer over layer, onto your glassware until, eventually, your glasses start to look cloudy.

You can test for mineral deposits by soaking the glassware in white vinegar for 5 minutes. Vinegar removes the deposits, so load up your dishwasher with the cloudy glassware and start a rinse only cycle. Once your washer is about to start the cycle, pause the machine and add a cup of white vinegar, then let the cycle continue through to the end. If the cloudiness remains, there is probably another reason for the problem.

  • Screen clogged by food

It’s a good idea to rinse off your dishes and glasses before loading them in the dishwasher. Bits of food and other grime become problematic when the screen through which the water drains becomes blocked by the gunk and junk left on dishes. This causes the dishwasher to cycle through dirty water. Be sure to check the filter and drain area to ensure there is no food or build-up left behind.

  • Prewashing in the sink?

Contrary to what we assume, prewashing dishes in the sink is not a good idea, as dishwasher detergents work best with dirty plates and bowls. If you’re doing more than just scraping the plates or rinsing the coffee grinds from the bottom of the cups you’re actually working against the aim of the detergent. Dishwasher detergents need the icky sticky bits to neutralise the acidity. On a clean surface, the detergent will scratch the surface of the dishes and leave the cloudy signature seen most especially at the bottom of glassware.

  • Dishes like it hot

The water temperature in the dishwasher needs to be quite high. Water that is too cold doesn’t dissolve the detergent properly and in some cases causes little clot like balls to form, which, at the end of the washing and rinsing cycle, lands up splattered on your crockery, cutlery and glassware. You can run a test by washing these cloudy dishes by hand.

  • The perfect solution

There’s a bit of a trick to finding the perfect dishwashing solution because harder water needs more detergent and softer water a bit less to do the same job. Recommended measurements are based on universal standards. You might have to go through a trial and error process to figure out the exact amount of detergent you should use to get your dishes sparkling clean. Remember that it’s better to start off with less than the recommended dosage (a spoon less), depending on whether your water is hard or soft, and then experiment until you get the exact measurement that keeps your dishes film-free.

  • Suds vs. gel

Gel detergents win the popularity contest but lose the efficacy test. Gel has a nasty tendency to leave a thin film of residue on dishes that leads to cloudiness over time. Try switching to suds or perhaps the tablets, or give them a vinegar rinse when the machine goes through the final rinse cycle, as sketched out at the start.