Why Does My Dishwasher Leave White Powder On My Dishes?

Unloading the dishwasher only to find a strange, white film on the supposedly clean dishes is disconcerting at best. After all, the dishwasher’s entire job is precisely that – to produce sparkling clean dishes. So, when you end up finding residue on the dishes, it’s irritating. 

What is the white powdery film? How do you get rid of it? We gathered some information, along with some tips and tricks to get rid of this issue. 

What Is The White Powdery Film Left On My Dishes?

Most of the time, the white, powdery film you find on dishes fresh out of the dishwasher is the result of mineral deposits. You might notice the problem came on suddenly, like when you stopped using a specific rinse aid in your dishwasher. 

If you have hard water in your home, mineral deposits can build up in the appliance, leaving little spots on your clean dishes. In 2010, the phosphates that helped remove this film were removed from dishwashing detergents. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to prevent the filmy gunk from ending up on your clean dishes. 

How Do I Stop My Dishwasher From Leaving White Residue?


If you keep finding hard water spots or mineral deposits on your clean dishes, there are a few things you can do. It takes three simple steps: clean your dishwasher, add a step to your dishwashing routine, and use liquid detergents. 

Clean Your Dishwasher

Before you make changes in what additives you use to wash dishes, you need to clean your dishwasher. When we say “clean your dishwasher,” we don’t mean scrubbing by yourself. Instead, let the dishwasher do its thing. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White vinegar

First, ensure your dishwasher is completely empty and that all the detergent is washed away. Next, start the dishwasher on a regular cycle. Once the basin fills with water, stop the cycle and open the door. 

Add two cups of white vinegar to the basin, then shut the dishwasher door. Turn the appliance back on and allow it to finish the cycle. Repeat this process as necessary until your dishwasher is clean. 

The acid in the vinegar helps break down the mineral deposits caused by hard water, which will help prevent water spots on your clean dishes the next time you run the dishwasher. 

Incorporate A Few Additives

Finish Jet-dry, Rinse Agent, Ounce Blue 32 Fl Oz

The next time you run your dishwasher, you should add a few things to help prevent the buildup of mineral deposits. So, add a rinse aid (like Jet Dry) when you start your dishwasher. Most dishwashers have a little dispenser for rinse aids on the door, but it varies from one model to the next. 

Additionally, add an acidic additive, like Lemi Shine. This particular product is made from natural citrus oils, which help ward away mineral deposits.

Use Liquid Detergent

Another thing to change to skip the pesky mineral deposits on your clean dishes is the right dishwashing detergent. Instead of using those gel pods or powders (we get it – they’re convenient), use a pure liquid dishwasher detergent. 

When using a liquid, your dishwasher doesn’t have to break down and dissolve the powder or gel pod first. Many brands make liquid dishwasher detergents, so you have plenty of alternatives instead of the pods or powder. You’ll probably even be able to find a dishwashing detergent in the same brand as the pods/powder if you’d prefer to stick with that brand. 

If you have a water softener in your home, ensure you don’t use excessive amounts of dishwashing detergent in your dishwasher. Hot, soft water combined with excessive amounts of dishwashing detergent can cause irreversible etching on your glassware, so proceed with caution. 

Consider Investing In A Water Softener

Whirlpool WHES40E 40,000 Grain Softener | Salt & Water Saving Technology | NSF Certified | Automatic Whole House Soft Water Regeneration, White

If you don’t already have one, a water softener may be a solution to your hard water issues. You can buy filtration systems for a single faucet or whole house water softeners – the choice is ultimately yours.

These systems work by moving the hard water through beads that remove the salt ions, turning the hard water soft. Of course, these systems need to be cleaned periodically for optimal function, although some machines perform this cleaning process automatically. 

Alternatively, you could switch out your current dishwasher for one with a built-in water softener. This way, you don’t have to commit to a whole house water softener and can instead focus solely on the mineral deposits issue with your dishes. 

If you’re not interested in paying $1,000 to $2,500 for a whole house water softener, a dishwasher with a built-in water softener is a much cheaper alternative. Of course, you could skip the water softener route altogether and tackle the mineral deposit problem as flares, using vinegar, rinse aids, acidic additives, and liquid dishwashing detergents. This is an even cheaper alternative to buying a whole new dishwasher (especially if you just bought your current one).

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