Maytag brand dishwasher filled with glassware.

How to Help Prevent Etching on Glasses in Dishwashers

Understanding what etching is, what factors may be causing it and ways you can help prevent it from happening can help you get the most out of every load of dishes. Read on to learn more about how to help prevent dishwasher etching with a step-by-step guide.

Filled racks of a Maytag brand dishwasher during a cycle. Filled racks of a Maytag brand dishwasher during a cycle.

What causes etching on glasses in the dishwasher?

Etching occurs when glassware develops small, irreparable scratches on its surface, leaving a permanent cloudy appearance. Prewashing your dishes, soft water, high water temperature, and a lack of soil or grime on your glassware are some factors that can cause etching.

Although etching cannot be undone, there are ways you can help prevent it from happening.

Person loading a glass cup into a dishwasher. Person loading a glass cup into a dishwasher.

How to help prevent the dishwasher from etching your glasses

When you notice a cloudy film develop on your glassware, your items may have been etched while in the dishwasher. It’s important to take the steps necessary to determine if your glasses are etched and to minimize further etching since it cannot be reversed.

  • Dishwasher detergent

  • Vinegar

  • Water

  • Appliance manuals

  • Dishwasher

  • Glassware

  • Microfiber cloth

Dishwasher appliance manual table of contents.

Step 1: Check your dishwasher manual

To make sure you’re using your dishwasher properly, review your appliance manual. Be sure to revisit sections that instruct you how to properly load your dishwasher, how to clean your dishwasher filter and recommend proper detergents. Review sections that detail whether your dishwasher uses a water softener, as hard water can create a cloudy film on glassware which is a separate issue from etching.

Glasses, bowls and silverware being cleaned in a dishwasher.

Step 2: Spot clean your glassware

If cleaning cloudy glasses with a microfiber cloth and vinegar removes the film, your glasses are not etched. Cloudy glasses signal a build up of silica film that can be removed with acid-based solutions, such as vinegar. If the film doesn’t disappear, your glasses may be etched and you will have to take additional steps.

Stainless steel interior of a dishwasher.

Step 3: Clean your dishwasher

Taking care of your dishwasher as directed by the manual helps it to work as intended load after load. Dishwasher cleaner can help remove mineral buildup and clean the overall interior of your dishwasher, while also helping to remove unnecessary grime that could attach to your glassware. Use affresh® dishwasher cleaner tablets1 monthly or more often as needed to maximize machine performance.2

Person adjusting the settings on a Maytag brand dishwasher.

Step 4: Adjust your water temperature

If your water is too cold when it enters your dishwasher, it may not clean all the detergent from your glassware and can leave a residue or film behind. If your water is too hot, it can damage your glassware. To achieve the best results, water entering your dishwasher should be heated to 120°F.


Refer to your water heater’s manual when adjusting the temperature to ensure this is done properly.

Person loading a detergent pack into a dishwasher.

Step 5: Use different dishwasher detergent

Many dishwasher detergents contain ingredients known as chelates, which are designed to interact with elements in hardened water to clean grime off of your dishes. If you’re using softened water, there may not be enough calcium in your water for the detergent to work properly. If you soften your water already or your dishwasher has a built-in water softener, you may need to switch to a detergent with a glass-protecting formula.

Dishwasher detergent compartment.

Step 6: Stop prewashing your dishes

Many dishwasher detergents contain chelating agents that are designed to powerfully clean your dishes. You may want to stop prewashing your dishes, as your detergent is intended to do this for you. Many dishwasher detergents are designed to tackle grime, so reducing the level of soil on your dishes and could eventually cause etching on your glassware.

Plates and silverware being cleaned inside a dishwasher.

Step 7: Run a shorter dishwasher cycle

Try running a shorter cycle the next time you wash glassware in your dishwasher. If you use a powerful detergent, shorter cycles can give your detergent less time to come in contact with glasses after they have already been cleaned. Your detergent may clean your glasses in less time than you suspect and could be removing the outer layer of your glassware for the remaining period.

Shop Maytag® Dishwashers

Maytag® dishwashers are built to power through tough messes left on your dishes. Stainless steel tubs and PowerBlast® cycle on select models are some of the features that help Maytag® dishwashers deliver an optimal clean.

Person loading a dirty bowl into a dishwasher. Person loading a dirty bowl into a dishwasher.

How can I tell if my glasses are getting etched in the dishwasher?

If cleaning cloudy glasses with vinegar removes the film, your glasses are not etched. Cloudy glassware signals a build up of silica film, which can be removed with acid-based solutions. Etched glassware cannot be reversed and cleaning them will not undo the damage, however you can reduce the likelihood of etching in the future by following your owner’s manual and these tips.

Person loading glass cup into a Maytag brand dishwasher. Person loading glass cup into a Maytag brand dishwasher.

How to remove dishwasher etching from glassware

Once you’ve determined whether your glasses are etched, it’s important to be aware that this cannot be removed and is permanent. As listed above, there are steps you can take to help prevent this from happening further. Determining what is causing glass etching in your dishwasher can help you protect your unaffected glasses.

Explore Maytag® Dishwashers & Accessories

Maytag® dishwashers and accessories are built to be dependable, helping you power through daily messes and achieve a quality clean. With features on select models like Dual Power Filtration, which eliminates the need for soaking and pre-rinsing, Maytag® dishwashers work hard for you.

Learn more about your dishwasher with Maytag brand

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1. affresh® brand products and the recommending brands’ products are all owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.

2. Heavily soiled machines may require extra cleaning cycles.