How to Dissolve Hard Water and Lime Buildup in a Dishwasher

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Things You'll Need

  • White distilled vinegar

  • 1/2 cup citric acid powder

  • Paper towels

  • Lemon juice

  • Spray bottle

Dissolve hard water and lime buildup to return the dishwasher to its original condition.

Hard water contains a high concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The minerals will build up inside the dishwasher and leave behind a residue, which causes the appliance to look unattractive. The hard water can also cause dishes to appear cloudy. When you notice hard water buildup, remove the stains as soon as possible. Regularly cleaning the dishwasher with common household items will help to keep it in good condition.

Step 1

Remove all the dishes from inside the dishwasher.

Step 2

Pour 1 gallon of white distilled vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher. Allow the vinegar to sit in the dishwasher for two to three hours to remove any odors.

Step 3

Open the dishwasher door. Add 1/2 cup of citric acid powder to the soap dispenser reservoir.

Step 4

Run the dishwasher through one complete cycle using the hottest water possible.

Step 5

Soak paper towels with vinegar if mineral deposits remain. Place the paper towels over the hard water deposits and allow them to sit for one hour. Rinse the inside of the dishwasher with clean water.

Step 6

Pour lemon juice into a spray bottle if lime buildup remains. Spray the lemon juice directly onto the buildup and allow it to sit for one hour. Wipe the inside of the dishwasher with a damp washcloth to rinse away the lemon juice.


Clean the dishwasher with vinegar monthly to remove deposits and deodorize the appliance.

Purchase citric acid at your local supermarket.


Angela LaFollette

Angela LaFollette

Angela LaFollette was born in raised in West Virginia, but she currently resides with her husband and children in Minnesota. She is food freelance writer and blogger as well as a full-time stay at home mother. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University. Angela's work has appeared on many online publications like Yahoo!, eHow, and Leaf Group.