White Chalky Residue On Your Dishes? Here’s What To Know About Your Plumbing & Dishwasher



Washington, D.C. water softener installationsThere’s nothing more frustrating than seeing white chalky residue all over the dishes after you just ran them through the dishwasher. Getting that chalky coating off the dishes isn’t easy either. You certainly won’t have any luck running them through the dishwasher again!

While you may think the white coating on your dishes is soap, it’s very likely not. It means you have a plumbing problem that needs a solution, and who better to tell you all about it than our Washington D.C. plumbers with more than 30 years of experience?

Here’s what to know about what’s causing that white chalky residue in your plumbing & dishwasher.

Limescale Is In Your Dishwasher

The white chalky substance that coats the dishes in your dishwasher is limescale. Congratulations, you have hard water! It may look thin and translucent but it will turn into a rock-hard substance if you don’t do something about it. This is likely already going on inside your plumbing pipes, read more about that below.

Limescale forms when the magnesium and calcium in hard water get broken down by heat. Heat makes the minerals less dissolvable. The result is solid limescale. Because your dishwasher gets the water hot, the limescale problem will only get worse.

Limescale Is Building Up Inside Your Water Heater Tank

What’s going on inside your dishwasher is also going on inside your hot water heater tank. Trust us, you don’t know how many water heaters we’ve been called to repair where the limescale has built up so far inside the tank that it burns out the heating element at the top part of the tank. We’ll tell you how to deal with this below.

Limescale Is Also Corroding Your Pipes & Other Fixtures

Just keep in mind that all that hard water is also affecting your entire plumbing system. If you’ve ever seen pictures of the inside of old steel pipes, you can clearly see how corrosive limescale is to your plumbing. It affects your pipes, faucets, shower heads, toilet, tub, shower, sinks, water heater, boiler, dishwasher, and your washing machine.

What To Do About The Limescale In Your Dishwasher & Plumbing

Keep in mind that cleaning your dishwasher is like putting a band-aide on the problem. However, you should clean your dishwasher to remove the limescale buildup that’s causing your dishes to get chalky.

  • Descaling Your Dishwasher – There are various ways to remove the limescale from a dishwasher, so you’ll want to do what works best for you. Set your dishwasher to the long hot wash setting and pour 2 liters of white vinegar in the bottom and then let it run. There are also dishwasher cleaning products for limescale removal and some people use salt in with the rinse aid to soften the water and keep the problem at bay.
  • Get Your Water Heater Flushed Out – Water heaters need yearly maintenance anyway, so if you have limescale running through your plumbing pipes, get your water heater flushed out. The plumber will attach a hose to the water heater tank to flush the limescale to the outdoors.
  • Install A Water Softener – The only real way to permanently solve the white scaly problem on your dishes (and to protect your plumbing) is to install a water softening system. Whole-home water softeners are the only way to go if you have hard water because the limescale sticks to everything, and as we mentioned above, it causes significant plumbing corrosion.


If you’re looking for a professional Washington D.C. plumber, give us a call today at 301-567-2001 or fill out our online request form.