how to remove hard water stains from a dishwasher

How to Remove Hard Water Stains from a Dishwasher

Want to clean your dishwasher?

Here’s how to remove hard water stains from a dishwasher.

When your house’s water source contains hard water, it is inevitable that it will leave stains over time. Maintaining your dishwasher properly is necessary to make it look clean as much as possible. Here we have some simple ways to remove hard water from a dishwasher.

The Citric Method

The main topic of this article is the citric method. As the name implies, it is the mixing of citric acid with some other substances. The result will be the cleaning agent used to remove the hard water stains from a dishwasher.

Citric acid is a great cleaning agent because it dissolves rust and some mineral deposits easier than water.

Ingredients and Materials

  • Citric acid – ¼ cup
  • Lemon essential oil – 10-12 drops
  • Baking soda – ¼ cup
  • Stirrer or spoon
  • Small Bowl

What to do

First off, you simply need to mix the three ingredients – citric acid, lemon oil, and baking soda – in a small bowl or any small container. Stir the mixture well with a spoon.

Next, pour the resulting mixture into the dishwasher. Afterward, you should close the machine and turn it on. The dishwasher will then start its washing process but without any dishes inside. You will need to wait for 3-5 minutes before pausing the process.

Then, you simply need to wait for a few hours. The waiting process may last for 4 or 5 hours. This will depend on how bad the condition of the stains is.

After waiting for hours, you should resume the washing process until it is done. The mixture will be flushed out from the dishwasher automatically.

It is recommended to run the entire washing process again with warm water poured inside. This will help remove all the residues still left inside the dishwasher.

Other Methods

The citric method should remove most of your stain problems. However, sometimes you just need to have a more straightforward approach. Other times, you can solve your problems even easier with another method. Here are things you can do:

  • Use dishwasher detergent – Instead of seeking a more natural approach, simply buying and using dishwasher detergents can solve many of your problems. These come in different forms but are all effective against dishwasher stains. The downside is that they can be expensive.
  • Use the wipe-away method – The name might sound fancy but it is as straightforward as it can get. You can just wipe away the stains with a cloth and a liquid cleaning agent. Some stains are actually easy to remove without using any complicated or expensive methods.
  • Use a water softener for prevention – If you know that you have a hard water source for your dishwasher, you can use a water softener. The water softener can reduce the mineral content of the water. This helps prevent mineral build-up from happening in the first place.

Different Kinds of Stains

Even though most dishwasher stains are caused by hard water, they can still differ from each other. Therefore, the methods used to remove these stains may vary accordingly. This is a quick rundown on the different stains you may encounter and the removal method against them.

  • Rust stains – comes from stainless steel components reacting to water. The citric method is applicable.
  • Gray or brown stains – iron or calcium deposits. The citric method is applicable.
  • Yellow stain – hard water mineral build-up. The wipe-away method is applicable.
  • White stain – hard water mineral build-up. Use dishwasher detergents. Better prevented by a water softener.
  • Orange or red stains – usually from ketchup or pasta sauce. Not easy to remove with citric acid but will fade over time.


Stains caused by hard water sources are common. Therefore, knowing how to remove hard water stains from a dishwasher is crucial in maintaining it. If you maintain your dishwasher properly with the methods mentioned above, it will definitely serve you well.

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