How To Prevent Hard Water Spots on Dishes

Fred's Appliance
May 14, 2014


It’s frustrating when you begin to unload the dishwasher only to notice frost-like smudges covering your dishes. Known as hard water spots, these imperfections often manifest after washing dishes in the dishwasher, forcing individuals to re-wash them for a second time. And while they generally considered harmless, most people prefer clean dishes as opposed to ones covered in hard water spots.

What Are Hard Water Spots?

Hard water spots are the direct result of a high concentration of mineral buildup in water. If pure, unadulterated H2O was used in the dishwasher, it would not leave behind these unsightly spots. However, practically all municipal tap water systems and private wells possess at least some form of minerals, and when the water evaporates, these minerals are left behind in the form of hard water spots.

Calcium and magnesium are the two most common types of minerals found in water.  This is due to the fact that limestone, chalk and dolomite often contain these minerals. As water travels through the ground, it picks up calcium and magnesium to create ‘hardness.’ Water treatment facilities aren’t designed to remove these minerals, but rather eliminate water-borne pathogens that may cause illness.

Tips To Prevent Hard Water Stains:

  •  Go easy on the dish detergent. Using an excess amount of detergent in your dishwasher will increase the chance of hard water stains forming on your dishes. Too much detergent may result in a slimy layer of residue that attracts and holds minerals from the water.
  • Don’t overload it. Overloading the dishwasher is bad for a number of reasons, only one of which is the increased chance of hard water stains. When the dishwasher is overloaded, water tends to only reach certain dishes; thus, causing hard water stains.
  • Use a rinse aid. Most modern-day dishwashers feature a separate compartment designed specifically for rinse aid. You can fill this compartment with any brand-name rinse aid, or you can simply fill it with white vinegar.
  • Hand dry your dishes. This isn’t technically going to prevent hard water stains, but hand drying your dishes will reduce its impact. Stop your dishwasher before it enters the dry cycle and manually dry the dishes yourself.
  • Install a water softener. The most effective solution to combat hard water stains is to install a water softener. These devices replace the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium. Installing one to your home’s water line will essentially filter out the minerals responsible for hard water stains.
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