There are two reasons your glassware looks cloudy when you pull it out of the dishwasher. One of the reasons is film. Hard water, incomplete rinsing and high water temperatures can all contribute to filming. To remove the film, simply soak your glasses in undiluted white vinegar for 15 minutes, rinse them off and let them dry. Etching, however, also causes cloudy glass and is a much more serious problem. Etching is actually tiny scratches and gouges in the glass. While filming deposits residue on the surface of the glass, etching pits and damages the surface. There is no way to fix an etched glass or remove the etching. Once the damage occurs, it's permanent. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent it.
Does your significant other complain every time you drop a dish into the dishwasher without rinsing it first? That's good news, because he is wrong. People rinse dishes to remove any food debris before the dishwasher's drying cycle bakes it on. It seems, however, that rinsing the dishes is actually detrimental. Manufacturers design dishwasher detergent specifically to cut through food debris. When there is no food waste present, it powers through your glassware instead. Although you certainly don't want to put chunks of food in your dishwasher, it's actually beneficial to leave the milk ring in the bottom of your glass when you pop it into the dishwasher.
Keep Your Cool
The chemical processes involved in glass etching require a lot of heat. This is one of the reasons glasses aren't etched when you hand wash them. The water temperature simply isn't high enough to cause etching. If it was too high, you would burn your hands. To turn down the heat and prevent etching in your dishwasher, lower the setting on your hot water heater so that water coming into the appliance is 140 degrees Fahrenheit or less. If your dishwasher has extra hot settings like "power scrub" or "temp boost," refrain from using them. Use the "no heat" or "energy saving" drying modes, as well, to help your glasses stay cool and clear.
Dishwasher detergents sometimes use harsh chemicals called phosphates to get the job done, and these chemicals can etch glass. Soft water gives the cleaning agents a boost and helps them perform better, but this boost is potentially too much for glass. The softer your water, the less detergent you need. If your glassware leaves your dishwasher etched, it's time to get rid of the popular pre-measured detergent pods and go back to filling the detergent cup manually. Have your water tested for hardness and then use the recommended amount of detergent for your results:
- 0-3 Grains Hardness: Use 1 tablespoon of detergent (fill dispenser cup 1/4 full)
- 4-6 Grains Hardness: Use 2 tablespoons of detergent (fill dispenser cup 1/2 full)
- 7-9 Grains Hardness: Use 3 tablespoons of detergent (fill dispenser cup 3/4 full)
- 10-12 Grains Hardness: Use 4 tablespoons of detergent (fill dispenser cup completely full)