How to Remove White Residue on Silverware in the Dishwasher

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Things You'll Need

  • Basin, container or bucket

  • Ammonia

  • Dishcloth

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Stainless steel polish

Clean silverware is more appealing than silverware with a film.

Silverware is a catchall term for eating utensils. Generally, stainless steel flatware is the dishwasher-safe type of silverware. Laws and regulations forced detergent manufacturers to discontinue the use of phosphates in their products. Although phosphate-free products are better for the environment than phosphate inclusive products, the result is less than stellar. Many times, after a complete cycle through the dishwasher, silverware looks spottier, dirtier and worse in general than before washing it. The residue is the result of hard water deposits on the silverware.


Step 1

Load a plastic dish basin with the affected silverware. Fill the basin almost to the top with hot water from the tap. Add 1 tsp. of household ammonia. Allow the silverware to soak for 30 to 40 minutes. Pour the water out of the basin. Rinse the silverware well with plain, cool water and dry with a dishcloth.

Video of the Day

Step 2

Wash the flatware in the dishwasher a second time. Remove the flatware from the dishwasher before the drying cycle begins. Dry the silverware by hand with a soft dish towel.

Step 3

Place the silverware in a large plastic container, bucket or dish basin. Pour an equal mixture of white vinegar and water over the silverware until the mixture covers the silverware entirely. Allow the silverware to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the silverware, rinse well and dry by hand with a soft dish towel.


Step 4

Mix 1 tbsp. baking soda with water to form a thick paste. Dip the corner of a clean, wet rag into the paste and rub onto the flatware. Rinse well with plain water and dry with a dishcloth.

Step 5

Apply a commercially available stainless steel polish to the residue-laden silverware with a soft rag. Buff the polish off with a clean, soft rag.


Add a rinse agent to dishwashers to help prevent spotting. Add 1/2 cup of borax to the bottom of the dishwasher before running the dishwasher to soften hard water. Check your hot water heater temperature to ensure it is set to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.


Do not allow flatware to soak in white vinegar for an extended length of time; the acidic nature of the vinegar can cause pitting.


Video of the Day


Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...