Here’s Why Your Glasses Get Cloudy (and How to Fix It)

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If you’ve ever started to unload your dishwasher and pulled out a glass that has a milky film, you know how frustrating it is. That glass is supposed to come out sparkling and clear! Not cloudy!

Here’s why that happens and, more importantly, how to fix it.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Why Your Glassware Gets Cloudy

The most likely culprit for cloudy glassware is hard water, which wreaks havoc on your glassware in two ways: First, the minerals in hard water can leave behind a cloudy residue. Second, hard water is less effective than soft water at rinsing away your dish soap and dirty water, which also results in a milky film.

Another culprit? Your problem could be etching, which unfortunately can’t be fixed. Etching, which is caused by a few things — excessively hot water, water that is too soft, using too much detergent, or over-cleaning your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher — can be prevented, so try using less detergent (or a milder kind), cutting back on the pre-wash, and checking your dishwasher’s heat.

What You Can Do to Prevent Cloudy Glassware

If hard water is your problem (and it usually is!), you can prevent it by experimenting with how much (or, more accurately, how little) dishwasher detergent you use. Try more or try less to get that Goldilocks amount. And also use a rinse aid. You may also try adjusting the temperature on your dishwasher.

How To Fix Your Cloudy Glassware

What You’ll Need

  • Vinegar
  • Clean dish cloth or rag


  1. Fill a container with a diluted vinegar solution: Plug up the sink drain or grab a bucket. Fill your vessel with equal parts vinegar and water.
  2. Soak your cloudy glassware in the vinegar solution: Put your cloudy glassware in the solution and let the pieces soak for about 30 minutes.
  3. Test one of the glasses for cloudiness: Take one of the glasses out of the solution and give it a rinse. If it’s still cloudy, put it back in for another 30 minutes.
  4. Rinse the glasses with warm water: Test a glass again. If it’s good, unstop your drain or pull each glass out of the bucket and rinse each one with warm water.
  5. Dry the glasses with a clean dish cloth: Use a clean dish cloth or rag to dry your glasses, scrubbing off any last remnants of hard water deposits that might remain.


  • If vinegar doesn’t seem to have any effect on your cloudy glassware, your problem may be etching, which, again, can’t be fixed.