How to Get Rid of Etching on Glass in the Dishwasher

Etching, a slightly iridescent, hazy manifestation on glass surfaces, is actually many micro-scratches and not a removable film.
Etching can ruin once sparkling glassware.
If your dishwasher has etched your glassware, you can’t fix the glasses on your own. As a last-ditch effort, take the glasses to your local glazier for an acid bath, which may reduce the appearance of light etching. You can, however, prevent the problem from reoccurring. Get rid of dishwasher-related etching on your glassware by tackling its most common cause: improper selection or use of dishwasher detergent. .

Step 1

Check your hot water heater’s settings. Many dishwasher detergents won’t dissolve unless very hot water can reach the unit. Undissolved detergent left inside glassware can etch the glass. Make sure your hot water heater is set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and run hot water to your sink before you start each load of dishes.

Step 2

Reduce the amount of detergent you use in each load, especially if you have soft water. Try using half the recommended amount, and then add more in later cycles if you aren’t satisfied with the results.

Step 3

Clean old soap out of your dishwasher, its filter and its related pipes. Place a coffee mug full of undiluted vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher. Run your dishes as you normally would; the vinegar will dissolve any lingering detergent.

Step 4

Note your glassware’s placement in the dishwasher. If you organize your glassware racks so glasses touch, they can rub against each other during the washing process, which cause etching’s telltale micro-scratches. In the future, leave about one-half inch between each glass, and make sure each glass is securely placed pointing downward.

Things You Will Need

  • Coffee mug
  • White vinegar


  • Make sure etching is really the problem. Etching and calcium buildup from hard water leave a haze on glassware that is similar in appearance. Try soaking a glass you believe is etching in vinegar for a couple of hours. If the cloudy film dissolves into the vinegar, your glasses aren’t etched, and you can address the issue by using a rinse aid in your dishwashing cycles.
  • If your efforts at troubleshooting the etching problem yourself fail, enlist the help of a professional adept at appliance repair. If your dishwasher is not functioning properly in some way and leaving detergent on your dishes, the leftover detergent will etch the glasses. Possible problems include a blocked filter, a broken spray arm or water transport issues.

About the Author

Katherine Harder kicked off her writing career in 1999 in the San Antonio magazine "Xeriscapes." She's since worked many freelance gigs. Harder also ghostwrites for blogs and websites. She is the proud owner of a (surprisingly useful) Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas State University.