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Why are my glasses cloudy after washing in the dishwasher?

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Why are my glasses cloudy after washing in the dishwasher? Photo Credit: Nathan Blaney / Getty Images
Question: Why are my glasses cloudy after washing in the dishwasher?
A reader, Deborah, writes, "Every time I open my dishwasher, I find cloudy glasses that seem to be smeared with something. It's so frustrating. Is something wrong with my dishwasher? I've tried several types of dish detergent, and it's almost always the same."
Answer: It's frustrating to hold up a glass that should be sparkling and clear, only to see a cloud of milky film covering the glass surface. Cloudy glassware can be caused by a couple of different issues.

Is It Hard Water Deposits?

One of the most common problems with glassware occurs when hard water is involved. Hard water is water that contains a high number of minerals. Soap has a much more difficult time dissolving grime and dirt, and rinsing everything fully away, when water is hard.

To tell if your glasses are plagued by hard water deposits, try soaking a glass in vinegar for 5 minutes. If the cloudy deposits are removed, then hard water is your problem.

Controlling Hard Water Deposits

If you have hard water there are a few things you can try.

1. Fill up both dish detergent cups. More detergent may be effective at removing all of the deposits from your glasses.

2. Use a rinse aid. Liquid rinse aids will do, but a solid form of a rinse aid is sometimes more effective.

3. Check your water temperature. Run the water at your kitchen sink for 1 minute. Put a candy thermometer in a glass and run water into the glass to measure your incoming water temperature. Many dish detergent manufacturers recommend a temperature of 130 degrees.

Is It Etching?

If the cloudy film on your glassware isn't removed by the vinegar, your glasses may have etching. Etching is a wearing away of places on the glassware. Often it happens more commonly in areas with very soft water.

Controlling Etching on Glassware

There are a few ways to control etching on your glassware.

1. Don't pre-rinse so heavily. Modern dish washing detergents actually need a little bit of soil to work with. If you get all of it off before you wash your dishes, the chemicals in the dish washing detergent won't always get fully washed away and may do damage to your dishes, instead of the dirt.

2. Use less soap. This is especially true if you have soft water. Less soap will be needed, so experiment with using less to have a softer effect on your dishes.

3. Don't use a water softener. If etching is the problem, don't use a water softener with your dishwasher's water. The softer the water, the more likely you'll be to have etching occur.

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