The dingy-looking appearance occurs when hard water, which has minerals trapped in it, dries on your glassware.
woman hand taking clean glassware from shelves

Whether you're hosting a dinner party or reaching for a cup of water, few kitchen woes are more inconvenient than cloudy glasses. Although you know the piece is clean, it still—somehow—looks dirty. "Cloudy glasses are a byproduct of hard water," says Ron Shimek, the president of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company. "Minerals like lime are trapped in the water and the water sticks onto glasses and dries. This gives that cloudy condition."

There is a way to remedy cloudy glasses, though, and limit how often the unwanted haze returns—and you can do so with a few cleaning supplies you likely already have on hand. 

Necessary Materials 

Remedying cloudy glasses is a low-maintenance cleaning task—you only need a few easy-to-come-by materials. 

  • White vinegar
  • Plastic scrubber or nylon net
  • Lint-free towel
  • Sink or large bowl

How to Clean Cloudy Glasses 

Cloudiness in glassware is usually caused by two things: Calcium and magnesium left behind from hard water. Washing them by hand is the most effective way to keep them clean and spot-free, says Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company.

1. Soak in Vinegar 

You want the vinegar to be warm before using it as an effective cleaning agent. To start, fill your sink with hot water and let your bottle of white vinegar soak for one minute. Next, drain the sink and refill it with the now warm vinegar. Peterson says to use a bowl if you're just cleaning a couple of glasses. Once the sink is filled with vinegar, let the glasses soak for one hour. 

2. Remove the Film 

Take the glasses out of their vinegar bath and use either a nylon net or plastic scrubber to remove the cloudy film. Next, thoroughly rinse the glasses with hot water until crystal clear. 

3. Dry the Glasses

To make the drinkware look its best after cleaning, Peterson says to dry each with a flour sack towel or other lint-free option. This will ensure that stray fibers aren't left behind, which can make your glasses look dingy. 

How to Prevent the Cloudiness From Returning

Since glassware becomes cloudy from dried water droplets, Peterson says the best way to keep your glasses clear is to prevent water from drying on them in the first place—which commonly happens when using the dishwasher. "Hand washing and drying immediately will help keep your glasses from getting cloudy," she says.

She also recommends considering installing a water softener. "This is an expensive solution, but it will solve many other problems by reducing mineral buildup on your glasses and the insides of your pipes, faucets, dishwasher, showerheads, shower glass, and more," she says. 

Cloudiness Could Be Permanent 

If you've tried the process outlined above and your glasses are still cloudy after they dry, Peterson says the condition is likely permanent. "If you angle the glass toward the light, you'll probably see shades of pink, purple, brown, or blue," she says. "At that point, it's unlikely you can restore the glasses."

Comments (10)

Martha Stewart Member
March 4, 2022
unfortunately, the acetone doesn't work. nor does crl, wd40, lemon juice, vinegar et al. i've found the best way to get rid of hard water stains is to throw the glass in the trash, works every time
Martha Stewart Member
July 2, 2021
What about polishing the glass with something like "Bar Keeper's Friend?"
Martha Stewart Member
May 2, 2019
I find the best product for cloudy glasses is using cloudy ammonia in some water. Works a treat.
Martha Stewart Member
February 27, 2014
White vinegar also makes your crystal shine like never before!
Martha Stewart Member
June 15, 2009
Thanks for great idea.
Martha Stewart Member
June 15, 2009
Gret idea for tough job.
Martha Stewart Member
July 16, 2008
thanx alot for this idea...i really need it!!
Martha Stewart Member
July 16, 2008
thanx alot for this idea...i really need it!!
Martha Stewart Member
April 17, 2008
I have also used efferdent tablets to clean the milky film. Will try acetone for those hard to remove stains from now on! Great tip Martha!!!
Martha Stewart Member
January 12, 2008
I thought I woul dhave to search for this, but here it is! Thank you!