Best Dishwasher Cleaners of 2020

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Categories Dishwashing
Spruce up your old dirty dishwasher. 

We recommend that you deep clean your dishwasher once a month. You can definitely use household cleaning products, such as 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.


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, it’s quicker to toss one of these products in the dishwasher 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

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 12 Tablets (2 Packs, 6 Tablets each) | Formulated to Clean Inside All Machine Models
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Dishwasher cleaner tablets look a bit like detergent tablets, but it’s important not to mix the two.

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

Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner, 1.76 Ounce
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Many families prefer powder, so you’ll be happy to know you can get dishwasher cleaner in this form.

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

Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner: Fight Grease & Limescale, Fresh, 8.45oz
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Gel dishwasher cleaners are effective, easy to use but pricey.

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?

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.

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. Shop accordingly.

Number of Uses

Consider how many uses the cleaner has. Many are single-use, so make sure that 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.

Scent

Finally, consider if you want a scented option. There are many scented options on the market, and lots of families prefer this. However, it may be overpowering for some people.


The Best Dishwasher Cleaners of 2020

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.

1. Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner

Best Dishwasher Cleaner for Hard Water

Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner: Fight Grease & Limescale, Fresh, 8.45oz
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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 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 afterwards.

Keep in Mind

This is a single-use product.
PROS:
  • Fights odors.
  • Fights limescale.
  • Cleans the pipes, filter and interior.
  • Easy to use.
CONS:
  • Single-use.
  • Requires a minimum of 149°F — some dishwashers don’t go that hot.

Additional Specs

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

2. Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets

Best Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 12 Tablets (2 Packs, 6 Tablets each) | Formulated to Clean Inside All Machine Models
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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.

It’s okay to use these with 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 clean and 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.
CONS:
  • Some of the tablets may be crushed or broken.
  • Some customers reported it left a white film inside their dishwasher.

Additional Specs

Type Tablets
Ingredients Synthetic and natural blend
Purpose Removes limescale and mineral build-up
Number of Uses 12
Scent Fresh scent

3. Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner

Best Dishwasher Cleaner for Mold

Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime, 12 ct
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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, meaning you save 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% 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.
CONS:
  • Not as effective as a liquid dishwasher cleaner.
  • May leave behind a residue.

Additional Specs

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

4. Plink Dishwasher Freshener

Best Dishwasher Cleaner Pods

Summit Brands Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner, 4 Tabs, 4-Count, Yellow, 4 Piece
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These dishwasher freshener pods are super handy. Just pop one in at the bottom of your dishwasher, fill it as normal 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 bad 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.
  • Lemon fresh scent.
CONS:
  • Some customers reported the lemon scent was weak.
  • Doesn’t fight odors for a long time. Smell may return quickly.

Additional Specs

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

5. Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner

Best Dishwasher Cleaner for Smells

Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner, 1.76 Ounce
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Are you welcomed by a terrible smell every time 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% natural citrus extracts to not only make your dishwasher smell great, but to properly fight and remove odors.

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 extra bad, you may need to use two packets.
PROS:
  • Natural ingredients.
  • Citrus smell.
  • Fights odors.
  • Works in hard water areas.
CONS:
  • Single-use.
  • May need to use a couple packets for limescale build-up.

Additional Specs

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

6. Glisten Dishwasher Magic Cleaner

Best Dishwasher Cleaner for Rust

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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, and the quicker you tackle it, the better.

Not only does it remove rust, 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.

With this dishwasher cleaner, you’re protecting your home from virus and bacteria including E-coli and Salmonella. The effects of this product last for 30 days so your dishwasher is a happy, hygienic place until it’s time for the next clean.

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.
  • The effects last for 30 days.
  • Citrus scent.
CONS:
  • Single-use.
  • Wax doesn’t always melt, meaning the product doesn’t work properly.

Additional Specs

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

7. Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner

Best Phosphate-Free Dishwasher Cleaner

2-Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner 1-Fresh Scent Pac
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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 in 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 limescale, grease and odors in your machine. What more do you want? Use this and be wowed by how clean and spotless your dishwasher is!

It comes with two, ready-to-use, individual pacs. Cascade recommends using these once a month, on an empty dishwasher, 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.
  • Long-lasting results.
  • Easy to use.
  • Eliminates limescale, grease and odor.
CONS:
  • Expensive.
  • Many customers don’t like the scent.

Additional Specs

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

Dishwasher Cleaner Comparison Chart

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

Dishwasher Cleaner 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 bad odors out of the park. There are many that are specifically designed 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?

As long as your dishwasher isn’t made of stainless steel, you can use bleach. Generally, though, bleach is best for plastic interiors.


Get the Shine Back

Nobody wants a dirty dishwasher. Not only is it yucky to see every time you open it, but it won’t do a good job of cleaning your dishes.

Cleaning your dishwasher doesn’t take long at all, and it can be even quicker with these cleaners. Especially if you choose one that works while there are dishes in the machine!

There are lots of options for cleaners. Some are more eco-friendly than others, while some are great at busting limescale buildup or odors. Choose the one that sounds like it will work best for your dishwasher. Keep in mind that you may have to try a couple before you find your perfect match.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something 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!
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