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The Best Dishwasher Cleaner

Last updated on March 16, 2023

Our Review Process

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Our Picks For The Top Dishwasher Cleaners

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

Affresh Septic Tank Safe Dishwasher Cleaner

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Septic Tank Safe Dishwasher Cleaner

You’ll get six tablets in this package that you simply set in the detergent tray as needed to remove limescale and mineral deposits. The tablet works with all makes and models and can be used up to one time per month. The formula is safe for septic tanks and plumbing.

Overall Take

Easy to UseSimply drop this tablet into your dishwasher as needed for quick, efficient results.

 Runner Up

Cascade Build-Up & Odor Remover Dishwasher Cleaner, 6-Pack


Build-Up & Odor Remover Dishwasher Cleaner, 6-Pack

The gel pack build of this cleaner is similar to dishwasher detergent pods, making it a familiar option. You’ll get six gel packs in this set, and you can use them as often as once a month. Combine with the same brand of detergent and rinse aid for a full-service solution.

Overall Take

Pleasant ScentA lemon scent helps this dishwasher cleaner double as an air freshener.

 We Also Like

Lemi Shine Biodegradable Citric Acid Dishwasher Cleaner

Lemi Shine

Biodegradable Citric Acid Dishwasher Cleaner

A biodegradable formula makes this a more sustainable solution without sacrificing effectiveness. Citric acid helps with both buildup and odors to keep your dishwasher healthy and efficient. You can use this cleaner as often as once each month.

Overall Take

Extra EffectiveCitrus crystals boost this cleaner’s efficiency, helping reduce buildup while also eliminating odors.

 Also Great

Finally Fresh Lemon Essential Oil Dishwasher Cleaner

Finally Fresh

Lemon Essential Oil Dishwasher Cleaner

A biodegradable build with an extra-efficient formula makes this tablet both effective and safe. You’ll get 12 tablets that can be used as often as once a month to remove hard water stains and limescale buildup. Lemon essential oil helps neutralize any odors and leave a pleasant scent behind.

Overall Take

Heavy Duty OptionOne tablet every month or two will deep clean your dishwasher with minimal effort.

Buying Guide

You rely on your home’s appliances to keep your household running. But some of those appliances use water that comes from treatment facilities, which exposes them to potentially damaging minerals that can then linger on surfaces.

These deposits are more prevalent in something called “hard water,” which is a type of water with higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium. If you have hard water, you’ll notice that the minerals in that water react differently when soap is applied. The soap reacts to the calcium in the water, leaving behind a residue on surfaces. You’ll see it on your hands, but it can also be left on sinks, showers, tubs and inside appliances as something called “soap scum.”

You probably clean that buildup off your shower, tub and sinks regularly, but there are areas of your home you might be missing. Your dishwasher and washer both regularly see an interaction between soap and water. If there are minerals that leave residue behind, this residue can end up in areas that directly impact the performance of your dishwasher. It can clog the holes in the sprayer arms, bog down the mechanical components and even end up on your dishes, presenting as a milky white substance.

To improve your dishwasher’s performance and keep things smelling fresh, you should try to keep those mineral deposits to a minimum. You could manually clean the entire dishwasher, but getting into the cracks and crevices can be tough. Some find that vinegar is an option, but it still might not scrub away all the residue.

Luckily, you can buy dishwasher cleaners that are formulated specifically to tackle mineral deposits in dishwashers. These products feature ingredients that break up deposits and reduce odor. The formula can vary from one cleaner to another, but what you’ll get are ingredients that combat stubborn mineral deposits to help keep things squeaky clean.

Reducing the minerals in your water can also help with the issue. You can buy water softeners that will purify the water coming into your house. Not only will this help reduce buildup on your appliances, but it will also improve the quality of your water for drinking, washing your hands and bathing.

What to Look For

  • Unsure whether you have hard or soft water? You can buy a test kit that will let you know whether your water qualifies or not.
  • In addition to using a dishwasher cleaner, wipe down the walls and racks with baking soda or vinegar. This will remove as much residue as possible.
  • The holes in the dishwasher’s spray arm can get clogged. Check occasionally to make sure there are no obstructions and remove them using a toothpick or needle.
  • In addition to regularly cleaning your dishwasher, rinse aid can make a big difference. Simply keep the rinse aid reservoir full at all times to help reduce wear on your appliance.
  • Cleaning tablets aren’t just available for dishwashers. You can also buy them for your washer.
  • As with water elsewhere in your house, dishwashers need a little time for the water to heat up. This means that initial spray of water might be ice cold. You can improve your dishwasher’s efficiency by running the water in your sink until it heats up, then starting up your dishwasher.
  • Even if your dishwasher can handle unrinsed dishes, scraping food into the garbage bin can make a big difference in its efficiency. You shouldn’t have to pre-rinse your dishes, but at least try to remove food particles.
  • Your dishwasher’s seals and gaskets can wear out over time. These can easily be replaced to extend the life of your dishwasher and ensure it remains efficient.
  • You can use most dishwasher cleaners as often as once a month. You may prefer to wait until it clearly needs it. By setting up a routine to regularly clean your dishwasher, though, you can help prevent buildup.

More to Explore

The first dishwasher was made of wood and had a wheel that had to be turned by hand. When spun, the wheel splashed water on dirty dishes, and scrubbers took over cleaning. But this 1850 invention never caught on. An improved version came along ten years later, bringing an additional geared mechanism that helped spin water.

While those two iterations were invented by men, the dishwasher that eventually caught on was invented by a woman. Josephine Cochran created the first dishwasher to use water pressure to clean dishes. Previous versions relied heavily on scrubbers. Cochran was a socialite who’d taken to washing her delicate china herself so it wouldn’t become damaged, and in the process, she saw an opening in the market for a new invention. In fact, when she filed for the patent, she said if nobody else was going to create a dishwashing machine, she’d do it herself.

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