What causes cloudy glass? The answer is three-fold: a scratch-causing combination of water, detergent and you.
Let's start with the water. Usually softened to make soaps clean better. And dishwasher water is heated to 140 degrees to further increase its cleaning power.
Then there's the dishwashing detergent. It's packed with phosphates to boost cleaning power.
And then there is you and me - the user who dutifully rinses dishes before loading the dishwasher. The combination packs an almost too-powerful cleaning punch.
When the dishwasher runs, things get hot inside. And not in a good cleaning way.
Without hard-water minerals to act on, and little food waste to occupy them, those helpful phosphates turn into troublemakers for any glassware.
At the end of the cycle - or combination of months of cycles - the glasses come out foggier than when they went in, with a coating that no amount of cleaning can coax away.
A magnifying glass, however, would reveal the truth - your glasses aren't the least bit dirty or fogged with a film.
In fact, they're so clean as to be etched - as in the surface is scratched.
To determine which you're dealing with, drop vinegar onto the cloudy surface. Rub it around with your finger. Drain the vinegar; let dry. If the rubbed area dries clear, it's film. If there's no change, it's been irreversibly etched.
The most common culprit for film is hard-water drops of calcium and magnesium repeatedly drying into place and underuse of detergent.
Remove filming by adding an acidic rinse (such as white vinegar) to your dishwasher. Be sure to check your dishwasher's instructions for the right amount to use. Remove flatware and other metals before running the acid rinse.
To prevent this vicious cycle of etching, switch to a detergent with a lower phosphate level, or use less of your favorite detergent. Then give it something to act on - skip the rinsing before you pop that plate into the dishwasher. Or simply switch to a no-phosphate detergent.
You can help prevent future etched glassware by:
Check out the Clean Organize Home Store for the cleaning products and tools you need to simplify your home.