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How to Safely Clear Up Spotty Dishware

How to safely clear up spotty dishes

Hard Water Woes: Why Rinse Aids Are Worth a Second Look

If you live in an area with hard water then you’ve probably experienced spotty, filmy dishes and glassware that your poor dishwasher just can’t seem to clear up. Those cloudy spots are the result of minerals (usually calcium or magnesium carbonates), that are left behind by water droplets as they dry.

But before you blame your dishwasher, you may want to try a rinse aid. A rinse aid works by reducing the water’s surface tension so that it flows off your dishes in thin sheets, instead of forming lingering droplets that leave spots as they dry.

Since a rinse aid helps the water slide off more quickly, your dishes dry faster. In fact, a rinse aid could also be thought of as a drying aid!

Are All Rinse Aids Alike?

Glad you asked; no, they are not. According to the Environmental Working Group, many typical rinse aids contain ingredients that may pose “significant” or “likely” hazards to health or the environment, such as:

  • Sodium tripolyphosphate
    This ingredient helps “soften” hard water by neutralizing acidity. But like other phosphates it can be ecotoxic, polluting lakes and poisoning aquatic life as it finds its way into waterways.
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI)
    This preservative keeps bacteria and fungi away, but it’s been associated with allergic reactions in skin care products. In fact, it’s now reserved for use in rinse-off products like
    shampoos, conditioners and hand soaps, as well as in the manufacture of detergents, paints and glue.
  • Antiredeposition agents
    These additives help prevent soil from resettling on a surface. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives them an “F” rating, stating that they “may contain ingredients with potential for biodegradation; skin irritation/allergies/damage; general systemic/organ effects.”
  • Troclosene sodium, dihydrate
    This cleansing agent and disinfectant also received an “F” rating from EWG, which cited “evidence of skin irritation/allergies/damage” as well as moderate concern for chronic and acute aquatic toxicity.
  • Oxybenzone
    Most often used in chemical sunscreens, at least one rinse aid also contains this photostabilizing agent. Unfortunately, EWG cites oxybenzone as having “evidence of developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects.”

Am I Stuck with Spotty Dishes?

With questionable ingredients like these in some popular rinse aids, you may think the better option is to just put up with spotty glasses and cups. Think again! Norwex’s new Rinse Aid gets your glasses, plates and cups sparkly even in the hardest water. Best of all its biodegradable, plant-based ingredients deliver spot-free dishes every time with no harmful residues to pollute the ecosystem (or wind up in your family’s food)!


Spotty dishes may be due to other reasons besides hard water.


For example, you could be using too much (or too little) dish detergent. Or your water temperature may be too low.

If you know you don’t have hard water, but your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher spotty, try using a little less (or more) detergent and/or running your dishwasher on a hotter setting.

Not Sure If You Have Hard Water?

If your soaps, shampoos and detergents do not lather well it could be due to hard water. Another way to tell is if you see calcium deposits (aka limescale) on faucets, shower doors or even small appliances like coffeemakers and teapots. Also, unusually high energy bills can point to hard water, as limescale can clog your water-heating system, making it less efficient.

comment_2Do you have hard-water woes? We want to hear your solutions—just drop us a line in the comments below. And remember, if you’re not a Norwex Movement member, we’d love for you to join us today! Together, we’re learning to reduce harmful chemicals in our homes through small, conscious choices that help our families and our world.


Have you ever been embarrassed by spotty dishes or glasses?

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Lindsey Fideldy
Lindsey Fideldy
4 years ago

Love it!

Lia Thompson
Lia Thompson
4 years ago

Great article.

4 years ago
Reply to  Lia Thompson

Thanks Lia!

Jacqueline Morris
3 years ago

Love that you highlight that detergent residue can wash down the drain and make its way into the ecosystem. Becoming more aware post after post. Thank you Amy.