How to Combat the Cloudy Film on Glassware

Cloudy glassware and dishes are a common problem in many households. It is especially irritating when you pull dishes out of the dishwasher expecting them to be clear and bright only to find a dingy film on them.

There are several reasons for a cloudy coating on glasses and dishware but the likely causes are usually etching or hard water. Many people are unaware of what etching is, let alone what causes it.

If you have a dull, cloudy film on your glassware that you haven’t been able to get rid, your glasses may be etched. Etching is the tiny scratches and pits on glassware that occurs when glass has been worn away. It can be caused by a variety of thing including detergent, excessive pre-cleaning or too hard or too soft of water.

While there is no way to repair etching, there are ways to avoid it in the first place.

  1. Use a different detergent. Milder detergents which have a lower pH number or detergents that don’t contain phosphates are your best line of defense. Harsh detergents tend to increase the amount of etching.
  2. Use less detergent. Using as little detergent as is necessary to get your dishes clean will help decrease etching. If your home has soft water it will require less detergent than if it has hot water.
  3. Skip the pre-wash. Today’s dishwashing detergents contain alkaline salts to neutralize the food and oils on dishes. When you rinse your dishes off before loading them into the dishwater there is nothing for the detergent to neutralize. This results in etching because the detergent is harder on the dishes themselves.

If hard water is the issue, you are dealing with a few problems. Minerals in hard water cause detergents to be less effective. This means people use more detergent. Further, hard water doesn’t rinse off as easily so a film is left on the dishes making them look and feel less clean. Minerals in hard water also dry onto glassware which creates a film.

Water filtering systems are the best way to eliminate hard water issues in your home but to control hard water deposits you also may want to use more detergent. Of course, too much detergent may cause a soapy build-up so you will have to find the right balance. Rinse aids also can help. Finally, consider turning using the high-temp setting on your dishwasher.


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