If your home has hard water, you may have seen a white film or spots on your dishes when removing them from the dishwasher. We’ll discuss how to remove hard water spots from dishes with natural and commercial cleaning products. We’ll also review how to remove this buildup from dishwashers and how regular use of a rinse aid can prevent problems.

Wondering How to Remove Hard Water Spots From Dishes? Try These Techniques

Dishwasher maintenance isn’t always high on our list of priorities. From a clogged dishwasher to a buildup of hard water stains, most dishwashers could use a little TLC. If your dishwasher leaves water marks on dishes, this guide is for you. We’ll review the most effective products for how to remove hard water spots from dishes and dishwashers. But first, we’ll review exactly why hard water leaves these stains behind.

Dishwasher Leaves Water Marks

FAQ #1: Why Does Hard Water Leave White Spots on Dishes?

Water typically travels to your home underground, where certain minerals are deposited. In addition to magnesium and copper, calcium is one of those minerals that can be found in rock and earth. If water absorbs a certain amount of calcium and minerals, it’s considered hard water.

When repeatedly exposed to hard water, dishwashers can develop a thin film of lime from excess calcium. If it builds up over time this lime scaling appears as white stains or spots inside the dishwasher and on dishes. Below are some of the best options for how to remove hard water spots from dishes and your dishwasher.

FAQ #2: What is Dishwasher Rinse Aid and Can it Remove Hard Water Spots?

Though dishwasher rinse aid is often advertised as a way to make dishes sparkle, that’s only part of its function. So what is a dishwasher rinse aid supposed to do? Simply put, it works to break the surface tension of water. This prevents droplets from forming, making water run easily off dishes and glassware.

Rinse aid can be specifically helpful in preventing hard water stains on dishes from dishwasher water because it prevents water from collecting on glasses. We recommend this rinse aid to remove hard water spots on glass and dishware:

  • Finish Detergent Booster: this time-tested product not only removes hard water stains but rust and food staining as well.
hard water spots on glassware

Image Source: Finish

FAQ #3: What is the Best Natural Hard Water Stain Remover?

Are you wondering how to remove hard water stains from cups, dishes, and your dishwasher without the use of a commercial cleaner? Vinegar, lemon juice or baking soda can also remove hard water stains safely and effectively. We suggest starting with just a few teaspoons of one ingredient and increasing it as needed with one of these methods:

  • Add vinegar to the rinse dispenser of your dishwasher before a wash cycle
  • Mix a few teaspoons of baking soda in with your regular detergent
  • Place a small bowl of vinegar, lemon juice, or baking soda in the top rack of an empty dishwasher and run a regular wash cycle
  • For more information, take a look at our guide on how to clean your dishwasher

How Do I Remove Hard Water Buildup in My Dishwasher?

For those times when hard water buildup is significant or natural methods aren’t effective, dishwasher cleaning products can be helpful. We recommend the monthly use of Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner to prevent buildup and eliminate odor. When using pre-made products, we also suggest these tips:

  • Products that come in loose powder form can be more effective when added to the base of an empty dishwasher as opposed to the dishwasher’s dispenser.
  • Some products may require a second wash cycle to remove buildup completely.
hard water stains on dishes from dishwasher

Photo Credit: Affresh


As your Tampa-area dishwasher experts, Appliance Repair Specialists can address any dishwasher concerns. From providing advice on how to remove hard water spots to performing rapid repairs, we can help!