How to Put an End to Foggy Glassware & 10 Other Dishwasher Tips

March 28, 2016

We’ve admitted that we can be a little, um, particular about food and cooking—whether hoarding certain ingredients or going on peculiar cooking sprees.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Perhaps not surprisingly, we’re also a wee bit fastidious about cleaning up, too.

We have a number of best practices for hand-washing but our dishwasher game could use some work. We know enough not to run our knives or wooden utensils through the dishwasher, but are there non-kitchen items we should be putting in the dishwasher to get clean? What’s the best way to clear up foggy scuzz that ends up on our glasses? We asked the Food52 community for your best dishwasher tips, and luckily for us, you dished:

  • To cut through soap buildup. Sam1148 recommends running the dishwasher (empty!) with a few cups of white vinegar (or a tablespoon of citric acid).
  • Citric acid helps combat the effects of hard water, too. Susan W makes her own dishwasher pods with citric acid, among other ingredients. After using a couple at her mom’s house with hard water, she noticed the dishes and glasses had a visible cloudy fog on them. She made a new batch of dishwasher pods, increasing the amount of citric acid and her mom’s dishes now sparkle.
  • Ounce for ounce, powder soap works better than liquid soap,” claims cv.
  • Cv also puts the dishwasher to use cleaning non-kitchen items: “I occasionally run a cycle with some plastic household or personal grooming items (like combs or electric toothbrush heads). Also, glass lamp shades.”

Ktr is full of dishwasher best-practices, in part thanks to tips received from the installer when she recently replaced her dishwasher:

  • If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, consider a mid-level model with a stainless steel interior—they are quieter than the lower-end models with plastic interiors. Higher-end models have more modes, but most people tend to use the same 1 to 2 modes all the time.
  • Bowls should be placed in the bottom rack and should face the center.
  • Many of us at Food52 are big believers in keeping like silverware with like silverware for easier unloading. But this only works if your dishwasher has a silverware tray or other means of keeping them separated. Otherwise, ktr notes that spoons should be spaced so they do not rest together, preventing them from getting cleaned.
  • "Do not put anything with a label in the dishwasher. It can break up and get all over your glasses and won't come off." (Unfortunately, she's speaking from experience.)
  • Take the time to scrape food off before putting dishes in the dishwasher, but do not rinse them until they look completely clean before loading: The soap needs something to cling to in order to work best.
  • “Top rack only” warnings might not always be true. Ktr says: “I put plastic kids plates and bowls on the bottom level without any problems. I haven't had any of them warp or melt and I've been doing it for 3+ years.”
  • And finally, should your dishwasher be of the human variety, John Jastram says: “Kiss him/her, say thank you, I love you.

Tell us: Do you have dishwasher tricks and tips? Do you run anything unusual through your dishwasher?

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • arielcooks
  • Parent82
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  • reen
  • Gayla
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


arielcooks June 24, 2018
If your dishwasher does NOT have a heating coil (for drying the dishes) inside the dish compartment, you can put the soft plastic items anywhere, not just on the top rack.
Parent82 June 24, 2018
Make sure to remove labels from jars! One managed to come off and block our discharge filter and dishwasher flooded wood kitchen floor.
Rhonda35 January 15, 2017
I use a product called "Lemi-Shine" to keep my glassware and dishes free of hard water haze. It's a powder, sold in a green and yellow container in the dishwashing section of the grocery store. I add a small amount to the "pre-wash" section next to the detergent section of my dishwasher. My glasses and dishes sparkle!
reen October 16, 2016
When we bought our new dishwasher, the salesman suggested I use only half of the detergent recommended (said this helps with the hazy on glasses/dishes). At first I was leery but gave it a try and it worked. So, I break one of the Finish tabs (one load gets the rinse agent tab, the other doesn't & it's okay because I use Wetdry in the dispenser). I always run the tap water until it's really hot before turning on the dishwasher. Dishes come out clean & no more fog or soap haze/spots (and it saves you money)!
Claudia T. December 8, 2018
My apartment's appliance repair guy said the same things- use something like Jet Dry, and to run the hot water first. I don't want to just waste water though so I either load my dishwasher, add soap and close it and then do my hand-wash-only dishes in hot water, then press the dishwasher start button- or I keep a big pitcher by the sink, and I fill that with hot water and when it cools it goes to my dogs or my houseplants (then, I figure, the chlorine has evaporated out as well).
Gayla May 7, 2016
I use finsh powerball detergent in the dispenser in the dishwasher with some borax. My glasses and dishes always sparkle and my dishwasher always stays clean and smells good.
amazinc April 19, 2016
Unusual items I process through my dishwasher are the grates from my Bosch Gas Range, as well as the burner covers from same. I use the power wash cycle for these and they come out perfectly clean. While these are cleaning, I use Barkeepers Friend to gently scrub the top of the stove. It doesn't scratch the brushed stainless surface and works very well. I hate cleaning the stove....hate it....hate it..........
Cynthia April 19, 2016
When the inside of my dishwasher gets dull and yellow I run a cycle through
using sugar free Kool-aid. It also takes the cloudy film off the glasses, so I put all the glasses in for the cycle and they sparkle. Sounds crazy but it works!!!
Claudia T. December 8, 2018
It doesn't sound crazy, I think sugar free Kool aid has a bunch of citric acid in it which is clearing off the soap residue and hard water stains.
Don B. April 17, 2016
About once a month, I'll run a load of spotted (from the hard water in our area) dishes through a cycle using citric acid instead of the Cascade I normally use. (Citric acid in powdered form is available from Amazon for pennies per use, but you have to buy pounds of it.) The glasses and plates come out gleaming and spotless.
Janet V. April 16, 2016
In the cleaning tips with ready available home products,I.e.vinegar...please tell me what washing soda is.
Barb April 16, 2016
It's stuff you buy in the cleaning supply aisle of any store. Walmart always has it.
Gloria R. April 16, 2016
I periodically run my glassware through a wash cycle with white vinegar in the soap dispenser. Works great!
Caroline S. April 16, 2016
A very timely topic. I have a "new" dishwasher and find myself washing all the glasses and anything with a pattern by hand. I've spent hours on line searching for suggestions for detergent/ techniques that will clean without harm. I'd love to know more about "homemade pods" for example.
Maria April 16, 2016
I don't know about the above mentioned 'home pods', but I have heard a lot of people make their own dishwashing soap from Soap Nuts and it works really well especially in hard water. I've been meaning to try it as well, as I use soap nuts instead of shampoo and they work great!
HalfPint March 28, 2016
I use white vinegar in the rinse dispenser instead of JetDry. Works reasonable well, but I might try adding some citric acid too. I've also noticed that since I try to fill my dishwasher up to capacity, using 2 of the detergent tabs/pods makes a world of difference. It was a "D'uh!" moment for me. Since dishwasher detergent was designed not to produce suds, I never worry about using too much detergent now.