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Best Dishwasher Cleaners of 2023

Updated
7 products to spruce up your old dirty dishwasher. 

We recommend that you deep clean your dishwasher once a month. You can definitely use household cleaning products like distilled white vinegar or baking soda. But sometimes that’s not enough.

If you live in a hard water area, or your dishwasher is really grimy and smelly, a commercial cleaner might be best. Whether you’re looking for tablets, pods, something for mold or odors, we’re here to match you with seven of the best dishwasher cleaners. Based on expert advice, our own experience, and real customer reviews, we created this comprehensive list and buying guide.

Whether you want something in tablet form, something for mold or odors — we’ve got you covered.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Finish Dual Action Cleaner
Best for Hard Water
Finish Dual Action Cleaner
  • Fights odors
  • Fights limescale
  • Cleans the pipes, filter & interior
Product Image of the Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets
Best Tablets
Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets
  • Can be used with dishes in machine
  • Removes limescale & mineral buildup
  • Works on all dishwasher types
Product Image of the Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner
Best for Mold
Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner
  • Removes mold, mildew & buildup
  • Superb grease-fighting power
  • Cleans hidden grease & grime
Product Image of the Plink Dishwasher Freshener
Best Dishwasher Cleaner Pods
Plink Dishwasher Freshener
  • Safe on dishwashers & washing machines
  • Works with a full dishwasher
  • Cleans & freshens
Product Image of the Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner
Best Dishwasher Cleaner for Smells
Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner
  • Natural ingredients
  • Fights odors
  • Works in hard water areas
Product Image of the Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner
Best for Rust
Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner
  • Removes rust & buildup
  • Disinfects your dishwasher
  • Made in the USA
Product Image of the Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner
Best Phosphate-Free Dishwasher Cleaner
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner
  • Phosphate-free formula
  • Long-lasting results
  • Easy to use

Review Methodology: At Oh So Spotless, our team of professionals conducts thorough research, analysis, and hands-on testing to provide you with the most reliable information on the best dishwasher cleaners. We evaluate products from a user’s perspective, considering factors such as performance, effectiveness, and safety. Our experts compare various brands, assess their design choices, and measure their ability to remove grease, food particles, and limescale. Based on quantitative data and first-hand experience, we rank each product and identify key decision-making factors, such as ingredients, ease of use, and compatibility with different dishwasher models. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision backed by solid evidence when choosing the most suitable dishwasher cleaner for your home.



The Best Dishwasher Cleaners of 2023

Now that you know loads of new information about cleaning your dishwasher, it’s time to choose your preferred product. We’ve put together this list of the best dishwasher cleaners by studying expert advice, customer reviews as well as applying our own insight.

Here are seven super dishwasher cleaners to take your appliance from sloppy to shiny.

Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner

Best for Hard Water

Hard water can leave limescale build-up and stains on your dishwasher. To get rid of them, check out the Finish Dual Action cleaner. This gel cleaner will give your dishwasher a hygienic clean like never before.

What’s great about this is that it breaks down and removes limescale. Not just where it’s visible but in the hidden parts, too. It cleans, freshens, and even helps maintain your machine so it will last longer.

Also struggling with bad odors? Give this a try! It’ll leave behind a nice fresh scent.

This gel cleans the filter, the pipes, and the spray arm. No detail of your dishwasher is left untouched.

We recommend using this once a month or whenever you notice a build-up. To use, just empty the dishwasher, remove the sticker, and place the bottle upside down in your dishwasher. Run the hottest cycle possible. Discard the bottle afterward.

Keep In Mind

This is a single-use product.

Pros

  • Fights odors and leaves a fresh fragrance.
  • Fights limescale — great for hard water stains.
  • Cleans the pipes, filter, and interior.
  • Easy to use.
  • Removes grease build-up.

Cons

  • Single-use product.
  • Some customers disliked the smell.

Product Specs

Type Gel
Ingredients Synthetic
Purpose Fights limescale and odors
Number of Uses One
Scent Fresh

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
3 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

Community Feedback

I've been using this dishwasher cleaner for a while now, and it has truly made a difference in the cleanliness of my dishwasher. We have hard water in our area, and this product has been effective in removing mineral deposits and keeping our dishwasher running efficiently. The stainless steel interior looks sparkling clean after each use, and the once unpleasant odor is now gone. The fragrance can be a bit strong, but it's not a deal breaker for me. The only minor issue I encountered was making sure the wax melts properly during the cleaning cycle, but it didn't affect the overall performance.

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets

Best Tablets

These handy tablets are suitable for all types of dishwashers, whether yours is plastic or stainless steel. If you live in a hard water area, you’ll love these. They’re designed to scrub away limescale and mineral buildup, leaving your dishwasher sparkling clean and super hygienic.

What we love about these tablets is that you can use them in a cycle full of dishes if you’d rather. That saves you money and energy. You can also use it on an empty cycle.

Choose whatever temperature you like, but keep in mind that hot water cycles work best to dissolve tablets.

Since you can use these alongside dishes, you’ll be pleased to know that the tablets will help remove hard water spots and stains on dishes, glasses, and silverware. So not only will you have a fresh dishwasher, but you’ll have spotless dishes, too!

Pros

  • You can use it with or without dishes in the machine.
  • Removes limescale and mineral buildup.
  • Works on all dishwasher types.
  • Tackles odors.
  • Cleans every inch of the dishwasher, including drain and hoses.
  • Septic-tank safe.

Cons

  • Some tablets may be crushed or broken.
  • May leave a white film inside the dishwasher.

Product Specs

Type Tablets
Ingredients Synthetic and natural blend
Purpose Removes limescale and mineral build-up
Number of Uses 24
Scent Fresh scent

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
3.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Community Feedback

My experience with this product has been incredibly positive, as it effectively tackled the persistent odor in my not-so-new dishwasher. The instructions were easy to follow and the tablet dissolved quickly, leaving the dishwasher looking and smelling much better after just one use. This product has become a staple in my home, especially since it works well with hard water and keeps my dishwasher performing at its best. Not only does it deep clean the dishwasher, but it also eliminates the need for those cumbersome upside-down bottles that don't fit in newer models.

Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner

Best for Mold

Have you noticed mold in your dishwasher? It might be an initial moment of panic, but what if we told you that Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner can help? These tablets are specifically formulated to clean mold, mildew, and hard water stains. So if that sounds like the inside of your dishwasher, transform it now with these tablets.

This product is extra cool because you can use it with the dishes inside, saving energy and money. Simply follow the instructions to add this to your next cycle and watch the dishes and the dishwasher transform from dirty to spotless.

Not only will this clean the dishes and the interior, but it will get into all the nooks and crannies. This includes the spray arm, the filter, and even the pipes! It has 100 percent more grease-fighting power than some of Finish’s other products, so you can be sure that your dishes will come out sparkling clean.

Pros

  • You can use it with dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Removes mold, mildew, and buildup.
  • Superb grease-fighting power.
  • Cleans hidden grease and grime.
  • Cleans every inch of the dishwasher, including spray arms and filter.

Cons

  • Not as effective as a liquid dishwasher cleaner.
  • May leave behind a residue.

Product Specs

Type Tablets
Ingredients Synthetic
Purpose Fights mold, mildew, and buildup
Number of Uses 12
Scent Fragrance not specified

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
3 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

Community Feedback

This dishwasher cleaner has been a helpful addition to my cleaning routine, as it addresses mold concerns and even leaves my plates cleaner with less oil. At first, I had some difficulty using the product, but after placing the pod at the bottom to the side of the dishwasher, it worked effectively without causing any errors. It's a great value for money, and I appreciate that it can be used while cleaning dishes, which saves water. I've been using this product to maintain my dishwasher and have been satisfied with the results. However, it's not my favorite cleaner since it needs to be used once a week with dirty dishes, but it does keep things fresh.

Plink Dishwasher Freshener

Best Dishwasher Cleaner Pods

These dishwasher freshener pods are super handy. Just pop one in at the bottom of your dishwasher, fill it as usual, and then turn it onto any cycle.

When you next open your dishwasher, you’ll notice that these pods have freshened and cleaned your machine. This includes fighting buildup and foul odors in all parts of the machine, including hidden corners.

Free of phosphates and bleach, this is safe for all kinds of dishwashers. But you can also use these in the washing machine to freshen and deodorize it, too! So it’s a multi-purpose and versatile product.

We recommend using this regularly because it can help to prevent clogs. Clogs can often cause bad smells, so keeping on top of them is the best way to prevent them!

You’ll also love the lemon fresh scent that not only adds fragrance to the dishwasher but the whole room. However, some customers reported the scent throw was minimal.

Pros

  • Safe on all dishwashers and washing machines.
  • Suitable for a full dishwasher to save energy.
  • Cleans and freshens dishwasher.
  • Lemon fresh scent.
  • Contains no phosphates or bleach.
  • Prevents future clogs.

Cons

  • Some customers reported the lemon scent was weak.
  • Doesn’t fight odors for a long time. Odors may return quickly.

Product Specs

Type Pods
Ingredients Synthetic
Purpose Freshens and cleans
Number of Uses Four
Scent Lemon

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
3.5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
3 / 5
Total Rating
3.75 / 5

Community Feedback

Excellent product for maintaining a clean and fresh-smelling washing machine. I've found that using these tablets every three weeks keeps odors at bay, especially in my front-loading machine. The scent is pleasant and lingers for a decent amount of time, making each wash cycle more enjoyable. One minor issue is that the tablets tend to crumble when removing them from the packaging, but it doesn't affect their effectiveness.

Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner

Best Dishwasher Cleaner for Smells

Are you welcomed by a terrible smell whenever you open your dishwasher, even after you’ve washed a load of dishes? Well, for that, we recommend the Lemi Shine cleaner.

This natural dishwasher cleaner can tackle bad smells so that your dishwasher is nice and fresh for another few weeks! It’s powered by 100 percent natural citrus extracts to not only make your dishwasher smell great but to fight and remove odors properly.

As well as tackling odors, this cleaner cleans and optimizes your dishwasher, so it works better for longer. Even in hard water areas.

Simply pour the powder into the bottom of the dishwasher, run a hot cycle, and let the cleaner do the hard work.

Pro Tip

If your dishwasher limescale buildup is particularly problematic, you may need to use two packets.

Pros

  • Natural ingredients.
  • Nice citrus smell.
  • Fights odors within the dishwasher.
  • Works in hard water areas.
  • Easy to use.

Cons

  • Single-use product.
  • May need to use a couple packets for limescale build-up.

Product Specs

Type Powder
Ingredients Natural
Purpose Fights limescale and odors
Number of Uses One
Scent Citrus

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Community Feedback

From using this product, I found that it truly excelled at cleaning and revitalizing the dishwasher in my rental property. The once white, filmy residue coating the stainless steel interior was almost completely eliminated, leaving behind a shiny and clean surface. My dishes now come out free of any unpleasant film and the faint yet noticeable scent adds a touch of freshness. After trying multiple other products with little success, I was pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of this one, even though it took a couple of uses for the more stubborn areas. I'm definitely looking forward to using this product again and will consider updating my rating based on future experiences.

Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner

Best for Rust

If you’re looking for something specifically for rust, we recommend the Glisten Magic Cleaner. This powerful formula can remove rust and buildup caused by hard water. Rust isn’t a good look for any dishwasher; the quicker you tackle it, the better.

Not only does it remove rust, but it also removes grease, detergent build-up, and food residue that just isn’t budging. If you use this on a hot wash, it can also completely disinfect your dishwasher so that it’s a more hygienic place to clean your dishes. Basically, this cleaner can reset your dishwasher, so it’s as good as new and lasts much longer.

This dishwasher cleaner protects your home from viruses and bacteria, including E-coli and Salmonella.

Try This

Use the hottest cycle. It needs to be at least 125°F to melt the wax on the bottle. Plus, this temperature helps to sanitize your dishwasher.

Pros

  • Removes rust and buildup.
  • Disinfects your dishwasher.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Citrus scent.
  • Cleans hard water residue.
  • Contains product for cleaning the washing machine, too.

Cons

  • Single-use product.
  • Very expensive.

Product Specs

Type Liquid
Ingredients Synthetic
Purpose Removes rust, build up and disinfects
Number of Uses One
Scent Citrus

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
3 / 5
Total Rating
3.75 / 5

Community Feedback

My experience with this duo pack for dishwasher and washing machine cleaning has been mostly positive. The dishwasher cleaner worked wonders on my stainless steel LG dishwasher, removing water buildup and making it shine like new. The washing machine cleaner helped break down hard water deposits in my rental house's dishwasher, improving its performance. Although I initially thought the bottles would last for several months, the dishwasher cleaner is a one-time use and the washing machine cleaner provides three uses, which is still a good value for the price. The only downside I encountered was that the dishwasher solution leaked in the box and I couldn't get a replacement due to the return policy, but overall, the product delivered on its promise of clean appliances.

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner

Best Phosphate-Free Dishwasher Cleaner

Phosphate-free products are more eco-friendly since phosphates can build up in lakes and rivers and cause algal bloom (1).

Phosphates really aren’t necessary for a dishwasher cleaner because the other ingredients do a fab job. For a phosphate-free formula, we recommend the Cascade Platinum cleaner.

This pac can help eliminate your machine’s limescale, grease, and odors. What more do you want? Use this and be wowed by how clean your dishwasher is!

It comes with two ready-to-use, individual pacs. Cascade recommends using these on an empty dishwasher once a month to get the best results.

Customers love that the results from this cleaner are long-lasting. Some described that it tackled odors for up to four weeks, based on one use alone!

Pros

  • Phosphate-free formula.
  • Long-lasting results.
  • Easy to use.
  • Eliminates limescale, grease, and odor.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Many customers don’t like the scent.

Product Specs

Type Pac
Ingredients Synthetic and natural blend
Purpose Eliminates limescale, grease, and odor
Number of Uses One per pack
Scent Fresh scent

Our Ratings

Cleaning Effectiveness
4.5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Safety
4 / 5
Eco-friendliness
4 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Community Feedback

Best dishwasher cleaner I've used in years! This product effortlessly eliminates odors and leaves my dishwasher fresh and ready for the next load of dishes. The scent is a bit strong at first, but it dissipates after a couple of washes, and the convenience of having it delivered makes up for the slightly higher price compared to in-store options.

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best Type Ingredients Purpose No. of Uses Scent
Finish Dual Action Cleaner For Hard Water Gel Synthetic Fights limescale & odors 1 Fresh
Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets Tablets Tablets Synthetic & natural blend Removes limescale & mineral build-up 24 Fresh scent
Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner For Mold Tablets Synthetic Fights mold, mildew & buildup 12 N/A
Plink Dishwasher Freshener Dishwasher Cleaner Pods Pods Synthetic Freshens & cleans 4 Lemon
Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner Dishwasher Cleaner for Smells Powder Natural Fights limescale & odors 1 Citrus
Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner For Rust Liquid Synthetic Removes rust, build up & disinfects 1 Citrus
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Phosphate-Free Dishwasher Cleaner Pac Synthetic & natural blend Eliminates limescale, grease & odor 1 Fresh scent

Benefits of Buying a Dishwasher Cleaner

Dishwasher cleaners are specifically designed for your dish-cleaning appliance. While you can go down the all-natural route of baking soda or vinegar, it doesn’t always cut it.

Different commercial dishwasher cleaners have various uses. This includes fighting mold, mildew, and bad odors, as well as removing hard water stains and limescale build-up. Plus, they might have a lovely scent.

Lastly, tossing one of these products in the dishwasher is quicker than learning how to make your own, measuring out the quantities, and ensuring that you’ve followed the correct steps.

Types of Dishwasher Cleaners

The three main types of cleaners are tablets, powder, and gel.

Tablet

Dishwasher cleaner tablets look like detergent tablets, but it’s important not to mix the two. Take away the guesswork when it comes to measuring. All you need to do is pop this pre-measured pod in the dishwasher, turn it on, and let this deep clean the appliance.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Pre-measured.
  • Abrasive texture for deep cleaning.
  • Strong cleaning qualities like removing mold, limescale, and odors.
  • Affordable option.

Cons

  • Don’t always fully dissolve.
  • You need to use hot water.

Powder

Many families prefer powder, so you’ll be happy to know you can get dishwasher cleaner in this form. Powders are more likely to be made with natural or safer ingredients. So if you like to watch what you use in your house — this might be an excellent option for you.

Pros

  • Most likely to have kind ingredients.
  • You can adjust the quantity.
  • Most cost-effective.
  • Scented options.

Cons

  • May have issues dissolving in cold water.
  • May not be as powerful as other types.
  • Measuring it out may be messy.

Gel

Gel dishwasher cleaners are effective and easy to use but pricey. This liquidy formula is very powerful and dissolves well in all water temperatures. However, it can be more expensive and often only comes in a single-use quantity.

Pros

  • Incredible cleaning power.
  • Dissolves easily.
  • Easy to use.
  • Scented options.

Cons

  • Pricey.
  • Increased plastic waste.
  • One-use.

How To Choose the Best Dishwasher Cleaners

When shopping for your new dishwasher cleaner, look at these important details to help you choose.

Type

Consider your preferred type. Is it a tablet, a powder, or a gel? Each has pros and cons, as listed above, so be sure to choose the one that sounds best.

Ingredients

You should consider the ingredients, especially if you want something a bit more eco-friendly. We have a few green options on our list, but if you want to be truly eco-friendly and zero waste, you can make your own dishwasher cleaner.

To make it easier for you, we’ve let you know if each product uses synthetic or natural ingredients, or maybe a blend of both.

Purpose

What’s the purpose of the cleaner? This depends on the state of your dishwasher. You might need to remove mold, odors, mildew, limescale build-up, grease, grime, or something else.

Number of Uses

Consider how many uses the cleaner has. Many are single-use, so ensure you have the budget for this over time. Others, like the tablets, are more long-lasting since they come with a few tablets.

Since you only need to clean your dishwasher once a month, one purchase of tablets may last around a year.


FAQs

Do Dishwashers Have Filters That Need To Be Cleaned?

They sure do! The filter is where all the food gets caught during the cycle.

You should remove it after every use to check it’s clear. If not, pick out food, rinse it under warm water, and use a cleaning brush to clean the nooks and crannies. Put it back in the dishwasher.

For a deeper clean, soak it in warm soapy water for an hour before using your cleaning brush.

How To Get Rid of Bad Smells in the Dishwasher?

If you’ve got bad odors in your dishwasher, it’s asking for a deep clean. Use any of these best dishwasher cleaners to bust foul odors out of the park. Many are designed explicitly for odors, so if that sounds like something you need, shop within that category.

Can You Put Vinegar in Your Dishwasher?

Check with the manufacturer before using vinegar in the dishwasher. Some machines might advise against it in case the acid in the vinegar damages the rubber seal. If it’s safe, though, vinegar is a great product to use as a rinse aid and a dishwasher cleaner.

Can You Use Bleach in a Dishwasher To Clean It?

You can use bleach if your dishwasher isn’t made of stainless steel. Generally, though, bleach is best for plastic interiors.

How Often Should You Deep Clean Your Dishwasher?

You should deep clean your dishwasher at least monthly. Run detergent or white vinegar through your appliance on a wash cycle when empty to clean the interior components.

What Is the Brown Gunk in My Dishwasher?

The brown gunk in your dishwasher is likely food residue and soap scum. It typically gathers near the base of the door, under the seal, and coats the filters.

Why Does My Dishwasher Make My Dishes Stink?

Your dishwasher makes your dishes stink for several reasons. It could be the spray arms are blocked with food residue, the filters are clogged, the drain is blocked, or insufficient salt in the dishwasher.


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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!