Washing dishes (along with doing laundry) is one of those chores that must be done on a daily basis, but it is also one of those chores that you absolutely dread doing. Of course, if you don’t do them, your sink will be piled sky high with dirty dishes.

Therefore, you buy a dishwasher to make your life a little bit easier. You simply rinse your dishes off, and then place them into the dishwasher. Your dishwasher takes care of everything else for you.

But what happens when you take your glasses and other dishes out of the dishwasher to find that grit has been left behind on them? When your dishwasher is failing to clean properly, there are a few different potential explanations.

Let’s talk about the possible reasons why your dishwasher is leaving grit on your glasses and dishware, as well as a few tricks you can do to potentially resolve the problem.

#1: The Drain Hose May Be Clogged

Located underneath your sink, the drain hose is responsible for draining water and food particles from your dishwasher. In the event that this hose becomes clogged, it will be unable to drain any debris from the appliance. As a result, your dishware will have a gritty appearance to them when you take them out after a full wash cycle.

To check the drain hose, open up the cabinet next to your dishwasher. The drain hose will enter the area from the dishwasher and will likely connect to the garbage disposal. Make sure you have a bucket or large bowl ready, as water is likely to come out when you detach the hose from the disposal .

Clean out the hose thoroughly to ensure that water is able to flow freely through it. More than likely, you’ll find small food particles blocking it. You may find anything from pieces of meat and beans to paper and pieces of glass.

Reconnect the hose, and run your dishwasher through a cycle to see if the problem has been resolved. If not, move onto the next possible cause.

A Couple repairing a dishwasher
A clogged dishwasher can sometimes be fixed without the help of a professional, you can try to do it by yourself.

#2: Your Filter May Be Dirty

Another possible cause of gritty glasses and dishes is a dirty filter and base. Food and particles accumulate at the base and in the filter over the course of several wash cycles. The particles that are too large to be broken down will get caught in this filter with nowhere to go except back onto your dishware.

The good news is that you can easily fix this problem. Simply take out the filter, soak it in hot, soapy water for roughly an hour, and scrub it down with a bristle brush. Rinse it off and place it back in the unit.

To keep this from occurring again, simply clean the filter on a regular basis. Generally, you can do this every three to six months (so consider doing it each time you replace your HVAC filter). However, check your manual to ensure your model doesn’t require cleaning more frequently.

How To Clean A Dishwasher Filter
If you’re noticing a bad smell coming from your dishwasher or are seeing food particles on your dishes after the dishwasher has run, it might be time to clean the filter.

#3: Your Dishwasher Base May Be Dirty

If your filter is dirty, there is a good chance that the base of the dishwasher is also dirty. Grime tends to accumulate at the base of the appliance and moves around easily during the wash cycle. This is commonly the result of an overflow from the filter.

Once the filter has been thoroughly cleaned, take the time to also clean the dishwasher itself. Ultimately, you should wipe down the interior of the unit before washing another set of dishes.

To perform a deep clean of the unit, set a dishwasher-safe cup of white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run a heavy, hot water wash cycle with nothing else in the dishwasher. This will help to eliminate any grime that has built up on the inside of the unit while also ridding the unit of any lingering food odors.

If there are any caked-on stains and grease, a cup of baking soda can be spread along the base of the dishwasher. Let this sit overnight. The next morning, set the dishwasher to run a short, hot water wash cycle. This will help to eliminate grime and bad odors from the unit.

#4: The Spray Arms May Be Blocked

Gritty residue on your glasses and dishes can also be caused from blocked spray arms. These spray arms can often become blocked from various food debris entering the small holes in the arm. Hard water can also cause the blockage. This blockage keeps the arms from working properly. Luckily, a good cleaning can take care of the problem.

Another problem that can keep the spray arms from working properly and causing gritty dishware is dishes blocking the arms. Therefore, make certain that nothing is in the way of the arms functioning properly. Pan handles and large utensils are often the main culprits of this.

Depending on the model of dishwasher that you have, you can remove the spray arms (located above the top and below the bottom racks of the unit. You can use a screwdriver or spin the arms counterclockwise to remove them. Soak them in white vinegar, which will loosen the built-up grime and food particles. Insert a small piece of wire into the small holes to loosen any debris caught inside.

Replace the spray arms after they’ve been thoroughly cleaned. Run a wash cycle with an empty dishwasher, as this will rinse the spray arms and allow you to ensure they’re working properly.

#5: The Water Temperature Is Too Cold

The water used in your dishwasher should be a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is any less than this, your dishes won’t be cleaned properly. If it is any higher than this, the water may decompose the soap too quickly.

Check to ensure that your dishwasher is connected to the hot water supply line rather than the cold water supply line. If your dishwasher is connected to the cold water supply, it won’t be able to wash anything with hot water. This could be the cause of the gritty dishware.

It’s a simple fact: cold water doesn’t clean as effectively as hot water.

Please note: check your unit’s manual to make certain that your dishwasher is designed to work with the hot water supply line. Some modern dishwashers are actually designed to hook up to either the hot or cold water supply, as they can heat the water on their own internally.

If your dishwasher is having trouble with hot water, then there could be an issue elsewhere. Start with adjusting the temperature of your water heater. Check this by filling a glass from your kitchen faucet with hot water and checking its temperature with a candy thermometer. This will tell you the temperature of the water entering your dishwasher.

If you’re dealing with water that is not hot enough and you’ve adjusted the temperature on your water heater, then you may want to speak with a professional. You may be dealing with an issue with the dishwasher thermostat or heating element.

#6: The Wash Cycle Is Too Short

If the wash cycle that you’re using is too short, your glasses and dishes may be gritty when they come out after the wash cycle. If you have a full load of dishes, it’s important you run not only a hot, but also a long wash cycle. It should never run on a short cycle.

While short wash cycles are designed to be more efficient and save water, these quick cycles are not full wash cycles. Therefore, when compared to a longer cycle, a quick wash cycle is unlikely to remove any caked-on food particles and grime from your dishes.

If you have a small load of dishes, a short wash cycle is likely sufficient and won’t leave you removing gritty glasses from your dishwasher at the end of the cycle.

#7: The Dishwasher Detergent Is of Low Quality

A low-quality dishwashing detergent can cause a gritty residue to be left behind on your dishes, as the soap just won’t clean properly. In fact, it may not even completely dissolve throughout the wash cycle.

If you’re using a liquid detergent, consider switching it for pods or powder. Liquid dishwashing detergent often gets stuck in different areas of the dishwasher, making it harder for the unit to clean efficiently.

Ensure you’re using the accurate amount of dishwashing detergent and not using too much. Too much detergent won’t dissolve entirely during the wash cycle.

If you’re using a quality detergent, the dispenser door could be your problem. The door may be blocked, preventing it from opening fully during the wash cycle, or the door may be faulty and require repair. Make sure to keep larger dishes away from the door to ensure this doesn’t keep the door from opening.


It is our hope that the aforementioned information has helped you troubleshoot the gritty glasses and dishware that you have been dealing with. After all, it can be extremely discouraging to open that dishwasher door to find your glasses and dishes not completely clean.

If you continue to have issues, consider reaching out to a professional for further assistance, as there may be an underlying issue. In the meantime, consider checking out some of our other articles below and thanks for reading!