Informational Guide

Dishwasher Leaving White Or Gritty Residue?

If your dishwasher leaves a white or gritty residue on your dishes, read on to discover how to effectively deal with it.

by Ian Haynes

Dishwashers are meant to leave our dishes sparkling clean. However, sometimes a gritty residue can stick to your crockery after a cycle.

What is this residue, and what can you do to prevent it? If your dishwasher leaves a white residue on your dishes, read on to discover how to deal with it.

6 Common Reasons Why Dishwashers Leave a White And Gritty Residue

1. Water is too hard

In hard water areas, limescale can affect more than just the taste of your water. The hot water can leave limescale deposits on your dishes in dishwashing cycles. Limescale is entirely natural but not the best for eating, so we recommend adding filters to your water systems to prevent this type of dishwasher residue from happening in the future.

2. Too much detergent

For those who prefer powder detergent, it can be a pain trying to accurately measure out the detergent – especially if you are in a hurry. If too much detergent is in your dishwasher, it may not completely dissolve. This undissolved detergent can settle on your dishes and create a gritty residue.

3. Water temperature too cool

Hot water is the key to disinfecting your dishes and properly dissolving your detergent. If your detergent is not dissolving correctly, it can leave residue on your dishes. Dishwasher water temperatures should be between 120- and 150-degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend inspecting your dishwasher's heating element for damage and either repairing or replacing it as necessary.

4. Too low water pressure

Along with hot water, your dishwasher also relies on high power jets of water to clean your dishes. If your water pressure is too low, it can affect your wash cycle's efficiency. Scrutinize the arms for clogs and other blockages and remove as necessary. You can also contact a local professional to recommend how to raise the water pressure.

5. Food stuck on dishes when put in the dishwasher

While dishwashers can be powerful cleaning tools, they need a hand to do their jobs properly. If you regularly have a dishwasher greasy residue on your dishes, you may have food still stuck on them. We recommend rinsing or wiping your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher to prevent food from sticking to them.

6. Dishwasher spray arms are not properly working

The spray arms are vital in distributing water around the dishwasher tub. If the spray arms are stuck, broken, or clogged, it could lead to the detergent not dissolving or food being stuck on the dishes. Ensure that you are not putting too many or too tall items in the dishwasher. If the arms still don't work correctly, scrutinize them for damage and blockages.


How to Clean Your Dishwasher: Maintain a Good Working Order

Remove and Unclog Spray Arms

Remove the spray arms according to your manual's instructions. With them out of the dishwasher, it will be easier to inspect them for blockages and give them a clean in the sink. Inspect the water holes for jams, removing them as needed with a small piece of wire or a toothpick.

Soak spray arms in white vinegar

To be safe, we recommend soaking the arms in a water and white vinegar solution for 5-15 minutes can help loosen any clogs or debris within the components. Vinegar is an acid that can cut through grease or blockages but should not be used regularly to prevent damage to your dishwasher. Once they have been soaked, wash them with warm soapy water to see if the clogs are cleared.

Clean out the dishwasher trap

Remove the dishwasher trap according to the manual instructions and rinse it with warm, clean water. This will remove any food or dirt particles built up in that area. If necessary, scrub it with a dish brush or sponge to remove stuck-on pieces. Replace according to manual instructions.

Eliminate Scale & Mould Build up

Limescale and mold can build up in the pipes and small parts of your dishwasher, causing it to malfunction or leave a residue. We recommend purchasing a dishwasher descaler and cleaner and running a cycle according to the box instructions.

Remove Smells

If you are experiencing nasty smells from your dishwasher, doing the previous steps should help. If you are still having issues, you may need to use baking soda, lemon, or a different detergent to remove your home's odor.



Is white residue on dishes harmful?

It can be, but it depends on what the residue is made of. We recommend removing the residue carefully before putting your dishes away.

Does rinse aid leave residue on dishes?

Rinse aid encourages water, and therefore food, to run off your dishes. It does not typically leave a residue.

How do you get white residue off plastic?

We recommend hand washing it in warm soapy water.

How do you remove white residue on stainless steel?

We recommend hand washing it carefully.

Why does my Bosch dishwasher leave gritty residue on my dishes?

It could be a few things depending on what the white residue is. We recommend following the steps above to remove and prevent the white residue from returning.


Your dishwasher white residue issues are inconvenient but do not have to be a regular occurrence. By learning how to clean white residue from your dishwasher, you can minimize and remove these particles from appearing again in the future.

Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.