If You See White Film on Glassware, This Is What It Means

Updated: Nov. 02, 2023

Here's the simple science behind your cloudy glassware.

Keeping things clean in the kitchen usually isn’t a one-step process. Whether it’s a wooden spoon stained with spaghetti sauce or a pan crusted with burnt-on food, the tools we cook with require plenty of TLC. I’m talking heavy soaks in the sink, endless cleaning products and more.

But the same rule of thumb doesn’t apply to glassware. If you see a white film on glassware fresh out of the cycle, don’t assume it’s a dishwasher problem—those cloudy stains might be from pre-rinsing.

Yes, You Can Rinse Too Much

It’s true. That annoying white film that settles on your glassware could be the result of you getting your hands too dirty before loading the dishwasher.

While we may think rinsing off bits of food before loading the dishwasher is helpful, it can actually decrease the effectiveness of our detergent. According to appliance company Warners’ Stellian, many of the dishwasher detergents on the market include phosphates, which can’t properly do their job without a little bit of food grime to work with. They need substance in order to clean, and if you’ve already washed any traces of food off in the sink, these phosphates will simply end up on your glassware.

A cloudy film can also be a sign of hard water or too much detergent, but try to stop pre-rinsing first. It will save you some manual labor and leave you with sparkling glasses if over-rinsing was the culprit.

This is what causes water spots on your dishes.

How to Get Rid of That White Film

If your dishwasher has just finished a cycle and a cloudy film has your glassware looking less-than-clean, try this trick. Grab your trusty white vinegar and pour 2 cups of it into a dishwasher-safe cup. Place the cup on the bottom of the rack, and run your dishwasher like normal. No need for detergent—the vinegar will mix with the water and clean up your glasses.

This isn’t the only way to use this natural household hero! Here are all the reasons you should clean your home with vinegar.