Recently my dishes have been coming out of the dish-washer with a lot of white powdery-crust all over them. It's extremely hard to scrub off and often the only way to remove it is to soak them in vinegar.

What could be causing this and how do I fix it? My dishwasher is less than 6 months old.

I have tried jet-dry and have been using the little two-pack tablet things that dissolve in the dishwasher (seems to give me the best of all the bad outcomes).

  • Are you on well, intake or city water? If city, how big of a city/village? If well/intake, what sort of treatment equipment/filters do you have?
    – gregmac
    Nov 17 '10 at 2:45
  • City water, big city. We have hard water and don't have a water softener, but haven't for 3 years and it has only started doing this very recently.
    – cmcculloh
    Nov 17 '10 at 14:07
  • Have you tried varying the quantity of detergent? Perhaps you're using too much? Nov 18 '10 at 15:08

I agree that it is the dry detergent not dissolving. Try switching to a liquid / gel dishwasher detergent. Like this one:

Cascade Complete Dishwasher Gel Detergent

  • I do not think it is the dry detergent not dissolving. I think that there is calcium or something in the water that is hardening on the dishes. When I boil water on the stove (as a cheap humidifier) the exact same thing is left crusted on the pan when the water is evaporated. I switched to Cascade Complete Gel and it mostly resolved the problem.
    – cmcculloh
    Jan 24 '11 at 14:00

It sounds like the detergent not completely disolving. Is your water hot enough (it is hooked to the hot water, right)? Does it take a long time for your hot water to reach it? Try running it in the sink before starting the washer and see if that helps. You could also turn up the water temp (be careful though if you have small kids). Switching to a detergent that disolves better might help, or use a little less. Try liquids vs solids. As a last ditch, it could be your water is hard and you need a softener installed.


It looks like from your profile that you are in Indiana.

In June of last year, Indiana (along with 15 other states) banned the use of phosphates in dishwasher detergent. The story is that phosphates are difficult to remove from waste water, and end up being discharged into lakes and streams by the water treatment plant. They, in turn, encourage algea growth, which clogs up the waterfront and starves the lake of oxygen.

In any case, the detergent you are buying in the store now is a different formula then you could buy 6 months ago. I am guessing that you ran out of the phosphate detergent 3 months ago, and the new supply that you bought is the low-phosphate formula. The low-phosphate detergent does not clean as well as the phosphate formula.

You should try a few different detergents to see if you can find a low-phosphate one that will work for your setup.


Could also be mineral deposits. I've had to run a couple washes with vinegar in the dishwasher to clear out the deposits before. Pour a few cups into the bottom and run a cycle to see whether it clears up.


Have you got enough salt in the dish washers water softer?

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