Best Dishwasher Tip Ever

Do you fight with your dishwasher? Spots, dots and cloudy haze on your dishes drive you crazy?

My dishwasher repair man gave me the Best dishwasher tip ever!

I was pretty certain because I live in the country and have well water, the white haze that covered ALL my dishes would forever plague me! If you live in an area where you have soft water then you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. We have really hard water and rusty water, I tried numerous combinations of detergents and rinse agents nothing worked really well. I settled with using a green detergent from my local grocery store, a teaspoon full of Calgon water softening powder and a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in every load. That seem to work the best with mediocre results.

Best Dishwasher Tip Ever | How Lovely It Is

 My new dishwasher kept making funny noises and had to call the repair person several times over a period of time. Every time he came I would complain about what horrible job my dishwasher was doing. He suggested several things, I would nod my head, yes doing all those things. Then he would mention using some citric acid in each load, I just dismissed it every time he said it. I’m not sure why I  dismissed it, I guess I thought it sounded weird and improbable. So I finally decided to try it, what was the worst thing that could happen? It wouldn’t work?   To my surprise, it worked really well! I had to use it a few times to notice a big difference, but that’s because our dishes and dishwasher were so caked with calcium. It was my hallelujah dishwasher moment! I have clean shiny dishes, not sort of shiny but really shiny and no spots!

So what is citric acid?

 Citric acid is a white crystallized powder, (sometimes called sour salt) derived from citrus fruit and used mainly as a natural food preservative according to  Wikipedia. I found it at my local heath food store in the bulk food section. Two big scoops cost me $6-7 and last about 2 months, we do at least one load if not two a day. I use about 1 level teaspoon divided between each soap compartments, add the soap packet and turn it on the normal cycle. Clean spot free dishes every time, well unless my kids or husband overload the dishwasher and block off the sprayers. 😉

We have had great success with citric acid, also passed it along to my mother and mother-in-law. They both have said it’s worked for them. If you have spotty or cloudy dishes give it a try!

I have also heard of using Tang or lemon Kool-Aid powders, one packet per load. Both Tang and Kool-Aid have citric acid in them, I assume that’s why they would work too. I have never tried it, might be a little more costly but worth a try if you can’t find citric acid.

Other things we’ve tried that have helped:

1/4 cup White vinegar at the start of cycle

Add 1 teaspoon Calgon water softening powder (less if you have softer water)

Finnish Dishwasher cleaner (blue liquid one) once a month keeps everything squeaky clean.

CLR cleaner if you have lots of calcium or rust build up, run through a few times without dishes.

Trouble finding Citric Acid click Here.

Best Dishwasher Tip Ever | How Lovely It Is

Do you have any tips for cloudy or spotty dishes?


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  • Reply Lynda Yilmaz

    Hi. If you live somewhere you can’t get Citric Acid (like me in Turkey) You could also use cheap lemonade which is loaded with citric acid. My 87 year old uncle has a permanent catheter, which would get blocked all the time and he was told to drink loads of cheap lemonade and the citric acid does the same job on his catheter. (hope this isn’t TOOOO much information) 🙂

    July 22, 2013 at 12:24 am
    • Modern & Bloom
      Reply Modern & Bloom

      Thanks for the tip, hopefully no one needs to drink it 😉

      July 22, 2013 at 1:15 am
    • Reply ayşe nilüfer tunc

      I live in Turkey and want to inform all that we do have citric acid, it is called limon tuzu and used in preserving olives, pickles etc. I will try using it in my summer home down south where water is very hard…Thanks for the tip!

      February 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm
    • Reply Lee Mouacdie

      Actually … very good info about the catheter!! I will tell my 90yr old father in law!!

      June 25, 2015 at 10:07 pm
  • Reply Dishwasher Repairs

    Instead of Citric Acid I would prefer Weiman Brands sanitary lubricants for my appliances.

    July 24, 2013 at 6:25 am
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      We have simalir products in Canada and US, I think the main ingredient in them is citric acid. It’s used for cleaning glass cook tops. Do you use in the dishwasher?

      July 24, 2013 at 9:55 am
  • Reply lynn

    There is a product called lemishine that works well. There is a liquid form for the rinse and a powder for the soap compartments that works well. Found with dishwasher detergents at walmart. Also, citric acid can be bought where you buy cannot supplies. Ball sells a small bottle for a few dollars at walmart here.

    July 28, 2013 at 11:20 am
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      I haven’t herd of lemishine, I’m glad you found something that works for you hard water can be so frustrating! 🙂

      July 29, 2013 at 5:03 pm
      • Reply Linda

        I use Lemishine also. It does a wonderful job. My dishes and glasses looked terrible and after about 6 weeks of using lemishine with my regular dishwasher detergent everything is spot free. Appliance salesman recommended it. Get it at Wal-Mart.

        September 8, 2015 at 4:12 pm
        • Reply Gwen

          I LOVE Lemi Shine!!!

          November 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    Just wanted to pass along that there is also a cheaper version of CLR called ‘Lime Away’ that they sell at Home Depot. It works every bit as well.

    July 28, 2013 at 3:22 pm
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      I have used lime away and it worked well, I really liked the toilet bowl cleaner. I can’t seem to find it anymore 🙁

      July 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm
    • Reply Lee Mouacdie

      I am so happy I found this tip. I am ready to get rid of my dishwasher!! Its getting to point where it appears I have soap scum buildup on my dishes and silverware. I have to hand wash it off if I want to use 1/2 my stuff!! Its driving me crazy!! I tried the vinegar. One day and the film started to build up again. I let the vinegar sit in the bottom of the dishwasher at least 24 hrs before washing an empty load. I am going to look and see if I still have some lime away …!!! If that doesn’t work, Citric Acid here I come!!

      June 25, 2015 at 10:14 pm
  • Reply Julie

    Just wondering if anyone has tried citric acid on glass shower doors?? Think I will try that!!

    July 29, 2013 at 6:43 am
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      I haven’t tried it, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! Just remember citric acid could burn your skin, maybe use some rubber gloves. 🙂

      July 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm
    • Reply 18chelseamews

      Hi Julie, I’m a little late to the party but… Just pour a bit of distilled malt vinegar in an empty spray bottle, spray all over the glass shower doors and let stand for a few minutes. Then clean as normal with a non-scratch scouring pad like Scotch-Brite or something and rinse. Works a charm without aching the arm! 😉

      July 12, 2014 at 3:11 pm
  • Reply susan

    Tang works fantastic! The orange powder drink mix. Chesp too. Run an empty cycle and the next time, ur dishes will look great!!

    December 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      Great tip! I have to use something every load our water is that bad 🙁

      December 18, 2013 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply Sandra

    i have a new dishwasher and complained about the horrible job it did too. I bought citric acid on ebay and add a tbsp. to each load and it works great.

    December 20, 2013 at 10:07 am
  • Reply Jackie

    We to live in a rural area, and had trouble with the cloudy glass’s so I started putting vinegar in the dishwasher before each time I start my dishwasher and bingo super clean dishes.

    January 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm
  • Reply jen

    save yourself a lot of money …. use tang !

    January 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm
  • Reply Jenny

    I’ve run a cycle through the dishwasher using Lemonade flavored Kool Aid – it works great to get rid of the hard water stains.

    May 30, 2014 at 6:56 am
  • Reply 18chelseamews

    Great post Lorie! I’ll definitely try this one tomorrow as I’ve just noticed a few marks after the cycle today. Instant panic; hence how I found your post 😉 I know it sounds a bit drastic but I’d rather go thirsty than drink from cloudy glasses. Even when I know they’re clean; I just can’t! Bleh! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

    July 12, 2014 at 3:20 pm
  • Reply jody

    We we made a product using dehydrated orange peels from here in Florida. All natural and contains no phosphate. Free samples available!!

    August 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm
  • Reply Dianne

    We had terrible clouding on our dishes and glasses. We tried CLR and the glasses still came out cloudy. We tried vinegar in the rinse compartment and that didn’t help either. We looked at a number of websites on how to clean your dishwasher or maybe even “fix” it so we could get our dishes sparkling again. So, we decided to take apart the inside parts of the machine to see if there was build up on any of the parts. Lo and behold when we took the cage that was on the bottom part of the machine off we saw the problem. There was a huge build up of “gunk” stuck to that area. We scraped and vacuumed up as much as we could. Now I use only a tiny amount of detergent in the pre-wash compartment and a small amount of Lemi-shine in the was compartment. My dishes and glasses now come out clear and sparking. My guess is that every 6 months or so we will have to do a new cleaning. A bit of a pain but well worth it.

    July 18, 2015 at 7:05 pm
  • Reply sarahemmmSarah

    You do all keep the salt dispenser topped up, don’t you? That softens the water as the dishwasher runs.

    As well as that, I run an empty cycle each month with 4 Calgon tablets, which pretty much keeps mine clear. But I think citric acid will be both cheaper and better for the environment, so I shall try that for a couple of months – thanks for the tip!

    July 20, 2015 at 6:18 am
  • Reply Angie Waldner

    I mix mouth wash from Costco( 3 bottles for 7.99) and peroxide 50/ 50 in in a spray bottle I clean my dishwasher with that.I use that same mix in trash cans and garbage cans.and I clean my sink, garbage disposal with that.and the washing machine and stinky camping thins. grandma Angie

    July 25, 2015 at 3:15 pm
  • Reply katie

    Do you use the citric acid in addition to dishwasher detergent? I’ve cleaned my dishwasher in the past with Tang.

    September 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      Yes Katie, I do. I sprinkle a little in each of the dispenser cups with the soap and run the normal cycle. Hope that helps! 🙂

      September 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm
  • Reply Diane

    You can get limeaway toilet cleaner at dollar tree. I bought 6 for .99 EA
    Had a rust ring from well water in my bath house toilet nothing worked tried limeaway and it sparkles.

    October 10, 2015 at 7:08 pm
  • Reply Hilary

    I just wonder if anyone knows if any of these products cause long term corrosion problems with parts or pipes?

    February 14, 2016 at 8:54 am
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      Hi Hilary, I have been using citric acid and vinegar in my dish washer and washing machine everyday for about 4 years or more and haven’t noticed any damage to machines, parts, pipes or dishes. In fact it’s kept everything squeaky clean free of calcium and rust build up. The only thing I would use extreme caution with is silver and pewter, the acidity would probably cause damage to those items. Hope that helps! Lorie

      February 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm
  • Reply Geniebeaniechilibeanie

    does the citric acid remove the already white-ish film from glassware or just prevent it from forming?

    March 8, 2016 at 10:23 pm
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      Yes it does remove existing white film, just may take a few washes 😉

      July 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm
  • Reply Julie

    I was told by my Maytag repairman to be careful not to use too much detergent. I have soft water and the packets of pre-measured detergent may be too much soap. The white etching you see on glassware can come from soap etching the glass. If you have soft water, like I do, you may want to try using 1/2 the detergent you normally use. He suggested Cascade gel. I tried this and it worked! No more etching. Also I still use the Rinse Agent, it helps sheet the water and the drying process work better.

    March 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm
  • Reply Linda

    Powdered drink TANG is the same thing. A few dollars for a large container and its inexpensive.

    March 22, 2016 at 4:30 am
  • Reply Bonnie Williams-Barrucci

    What a cool idea!! I’ll definitely use the CLR and s3e how it works. And what a great idea for the shower door to. I can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks so much for the tip.

    March 24, 2016 at 9:24 pm
  • Reply Beverly

    I used the citric acid for about a month, every day, and did notice that the dishes were spot-free and the inside of the dishwasher seemed much cleaner. I did, however, discover a possible negative. Some of my glasses and coffee mugs which had various designs on them, began to fade and eventually were gone completely. This didn’t happen to the higher quality designs, but with the ones where the design was painted on, not part of the mug. Before I started using the citric acid all the designs were fine. I’ve decided to limit the use of the citric acid to maybe once per week. I was wondering if anyone else noticed this issue.

    March 27, 2016 at 12:06 pm
  • Reply Suzanne

    You want to be careful about using citric acid too often in your dishwasher. While it does an amazing job of cleaning…it also eats up the gaskets. I learned it the hard way. :\

    March 31, 2016 at 5:13 pm
    • howlovelyitis
      Reply howlovelyitis

      Sorry to here that happened to your dishwasher, we have had the same dishwasher for 8 years and have used the citric acid for 5 of them and haven’t had a problem. I wonder if it wasn’t actually an issue of the hard water it self? Our taps and hot water tank corrode from our water, but the dishwasher is great!

      July 6, 2016 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply Cathy

    Absolutely beyond doubt the best thing EVER!!! My dishes because of our horrible hard water have never ever, ever been so sparkly clean and shiny.

    Thanks for the wonderful tip😃

    June 17, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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