Dishwasher Leaving Grit on Your Glasses? 7 Reasons Why

Man Looking Inside a Dishwasher Found Grit

Stuck trying to figure out why your dishwasher is leaving grit on your glasses?

Don’t worry, this is a very common issue. The good news is that if you have a spare 10 minutes and aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves, then you’ve come to the right place for answers.

If your dishwasher is leaving grit on your glasses, there’s a good chance you’re not using a rinse aid, you have hard water, your filter is dirty, or the spray arms are blocked. Using the wrong temperature or detergent could also explain the issue.

Read on to learn how to get rid of the issue!

Why trust us? This article was written in collaboration with James Blackford, our appliance repair expert. James has over 16 years of experience as an appliance technician, works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair company.

Solving A Dishwasher Leaving Grit On Your Glasses

There are different reasons why your dishwasher is leaving grit on your glasses, some of the most common ones are:

#1 Hard Water

If you live in an area with hard water, mineral deposits can be left behind on the surfaces of your dishes.

Luckily, there are different things you can try to solve the issue.

In my experience, adding 2 teaspoons of table salt to the soap dispenser before adding the soap can help you maintain your glasses sparkly, even if you have hard water.

I also recommend filling a cup with regular vinegar up to 1/4 of its capacity and placing it on the top rack. As your dishwasher fills with water, the cup will slowly release the vinegar, which will help remove any buildup and keep your dishwasher clean.

#2 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 .

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

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.

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#3 Your Filter Is Dirty

Another possible cause of gritty glasses and dishes is a dirty filter and base.

You see, food and particles accumulate at the base and in the filter over the course of several wash cycles. If the particles are too large to be broken down will get caught in this filter with nowhere to go except back onto your dishware.

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.

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 wire or hard nylon 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.

#4 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 deep clean your dishwasher, I recommend using dishwasher sanitizer once very 6 months (a full liquid tub), and dishwasher cleaning tablets every month or so.

These will work well to eliminate any leftover bacteria in your dishwasher.

For the ones who prefer a natural alternative, you can 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.

#5 The Spray Arms May Be Blocked

Gritty residue on your glasses and dishes can also be caused by blocked spray arms. These spray arms can often become blocked by various food debris entering the small holes in the arm. Hard water can also cause blockage.

Functional Spray Arms of a Dishwasher
This blockage keeps the arms from working properly. Luckily, a good cleaning can take care of the problem.

To clean the spray arms, you’ll need to remove them (they’re 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 overnight to help loosen the built-up grime and food particles. Insert a small piece of wire into the small holes to loosen any debris caught inside.

Another problem that can keep the spray arms from working properly and causing gritty dishware is dishes blocking the arms. Therefore, make sure that nothing is in the way of the arms functioning properly. Don’t forget to place your dishes facing toward the center and large items at the back.

If you notice that the spray arms are broken or damaged, please replace them. Doing this is a quite straightforward task, but it’s recommended to refer to your manufacturer’s manual, as the process may vary depending on your dishwasher’s model.

#6 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.

If you don’t have a thermostat, you can check the temperature by placing your hand under the running water in your sink, as dishwashers and sinks usually share a hot water line. If the water feels too hot, and you need to pull your hand away after just a few seconds, the temperature is probably within the desired range.

You also need 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.

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 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 to a professional. You may be dealing with an issue with the dishwasher thermostat or heating element.

#7 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.

So, 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.

#8 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.

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.

#9 You’re Not Using a Rinse Aid

Rinse aid lowers the surface tension of water, which helps prevent water sports from forming on glasses and improves the overall cleanliness of your dishes.

So, making sure the rinse aid dispenser is full can help you prevent the issue from happening again.

You simply need to remove the small cap that covers the rinse aid compartment. Then, you’ll notice a plastic dial inside that has a “min” and “max” mark. Make sure it’s set to the max level.

You can purchase rinse aids at every supermarket or online retailer, such as Amazon. They typically cost $5 to $15.


I hope that the tips above have 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!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more