Etching on Glassware

Etching can be caused by an over-concentration of granules in water or too little water. That over-concentration can be from too much detergent in a soft water situation or too little detergent in a hard-water situation.

This milky film-like surface cannot be removed because metal ions have been removed from the surface of the glass by silica compounds. The silicates (phosphates) are part of the dishwashing detergent formula. At first, these substances cling to glassware and appear as a rainbow-hued film. Later they etch the surface of the glass and cause a cloudy look. Even as a film, the silicates cannot be removed.

To prevent this problem:

  • Use less soap when the water supply is soft and use more soap when the water is hard.
  • Make sure you are getting a proper fill in the dishwasher.
  • Be sure to wash glassware in the shortest cycle that will get them clean.


Lead crystal, although expensive, is highly etch-resistant.