Best Dishwasher Cleaner – Buyer’s Guide

A dishwasher cleaner seems like something unimportant since the interior of the machine should be clean due to the never-ending washing cycles, right? However, it’s very important to take care of the appliance as well. Hard water, bits of food, etc. may decrease the efficiency of dishwashing. There are special solid and liquid cleaners that will make your dishwasher spotless, odorless, and sanitized.

What is The Best Dishwasher Cleaner 2020?

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 6 Tablets | Formulated to Clean...
Summit Brands DM03N-SS Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner...
Summit Brands Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner, 4 Tabs,...
Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime,...
Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner - Dishwasher Cleaner and...
EPA approved. Powerful. Eliminating odor. Dish-safe.
DfE certified. Great disinfectant. Powerful formula. No contact with the contents needed.
Safe for standard and HE washers. Water-saving. Phosphate-free. Bleach-free.
No need for a separate empty cycle. Dish-safe. Powerful.
Environment-friendly. Natural ingredients. Phosphate-free. Bleach-free.
Powerful Choice
Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 6 Tablets | Formulated to Clean...
EPA approved. Powerful. Eliminating odor. Dish-safe.
Best Against Bacteria
Summit Brands DM03N-SS Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner...
DfE certified. Great disinfectant. Powerful formula. No contact with the contents needed.
Strong Fresh Scent
Summit Brands Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner, 4 Tabs,...
Safe for standard and HE washers. Water-saving. Phosphate-free. Bleach-free.
Best Hard Water Dishwasher Cleaner
Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime,...
No need for a separate empty cycle. Dish-safe. Powerful.
Best Environment-Friendly
Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner - Dishwasher Cleaner and...
Environment-friendly. Natural ingredients. Phosphate-free. Bleach-free.

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09

The market is full, so it may be difficult to choose the best option for your dishwasher. If there are no special requirements from the machine’s manufacturer, you may need help with the choice. And here it comes with the TOP 5 cleaners and some useful information about appliance maintenance!
dishwasher cleaner

1. Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets – Editor’s Choice

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 6 Tablets | Formulated to Clean...
  • Designed to penetrate,...
  • Patented tablet design lasts...

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09


This cleaner comes in the tablet form, with 6 tabs per pack. It’s said to clean better than bleach with no harm that would usually come from the latter. The unique tablet design was patented by the company and lasts the whole washing cycle.


The cleaner removes:

  • Lime.
  • Mineral build-up.
  • Odor.
Using one tab per month is considered a standard, but if the machine needs some extra cleaning, it’s fine to do it more often. You can also put two tabs into the washer for a better effect, one in the bottom, another into the detergent tray.

How to Use Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner

  1. If using with dishes inside, put a tablet under the lower holder.
  2. If using without dishes, put the tab into the detergent tray.
  3. Run a regular cycle.

The tabs will also help your dishes turn extra clean, so if you have anything that needs a powerful wash, this is the chance.


The cleaner is EPA approved as a Safer Choice. It’s safe for septic systems as well as both plastic and stainless steel tubs.
The Affresh brand is recommended by Whirlpool.

It’s irritant, so keep the tabs away from eyes, skin, and clothes. Wash your hands after using the product.

I highly recommend this cleaner due to its powerful formula. This is a good choice for your first cleaning in a long time. Some people don’t maintain their dishwashers in years, leading to severe build-up and quite a funky smell. The Affresh products are just the choice for such situations.

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Video Review

  • EPA approved
  • Powerful
  • Eliminating odor
  • Dish-safe
  • May remove the paint from the dishes

2. Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner and Disinfectant – Best Against Bacteria

Summit Brands DM03N-SS Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner...
  • 12oz Dishwasher Magic- Two...
  • Effective Disinfectant Against...

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09


This is a 2-pack offer, with one pack being a 12-oz bottle. It’s a liquid type of cleaner that should be used for empty machines only. The product is suitable for all kinds of dishwashers and disinfects them along with the cleaning.


The product removes:

  • Lime.
  • Grease.
  • Soap scum.

The cleaner also has disinfectant qualities, removing the danger of salmonella choleraesuis and escherichia coli bacteria.

How to use Glisten

  1. Remove the cap of the bottle without removing the wax plug.
  2. Place the bottle on the bottom rack or into the silverware holder, make sure it’s upside down and secured.
  3. Run the hottest cycle (avoid using quick or economic cycles).
  4. Make sure the bottle is empty by the end of the wash and recycle it.

Tip: For a better effect, make the water as hot as possible by running the nearest faucet until the water heats to the maximum.


Glisten is a part of Summit Brands – a group offering household cleaning products since 1958. They position their line as innovative, effective, and sustainable.
The cleaner is DfE certified and is safe for septic and plumbing systems. It should only be used in an empty washer, without any other detergents added.

Don’t add it to chlorine bleachers either to avoid toxic fumes. The usage of the product in the manner inconsistent with the official instructions is a Federal Law violation.
It’s an irritant, so make sure it doesn’t get on your skin, clothes, or in your eyes.
There are so many precautions to remember, which may be difficult for someone who’s doing all the cleaning for the first time. This is a very powerful disinfectant, though, and I recommend it for that. Make sure you read every precaution and the full instruction.

The product is great because you don’t have to touch the contents due to the wax plug. But you’ll only ensure the safety if using it right.

Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner Video Review

  • Disinfection
  • DfE certified
  • Powerful formula
  • No contact with the contents needed
  • The empty cycle only

3. Plink Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner – Strong Fresh Scent

Summit Brands Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner, 4 Tabs,...
  • Plank's Washer Dishwasher...
  • Proudly Made in America;...

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09


These dishwasher cleaner tablets are suitable for both dishwashers and laundry machines, giving them fresh lemon scent and removing residue. There are 4 single-use tabs in a pack, filled with the enzyme-enriched formula that will maintain your appliances well if used regularly.


The cleaner removes:

  • Odor.
  • All kinds of residue.

It’s safe for septic and plumbing systems, cleans drains and, if used on a monthly basis, prevents clogs.

As a result, you’ll get a clean machine and the kitchen that smells like fresh lemons.

Note: While it’s fine to use this product while the washer is loaded if you want to clean the washing machine, don’t put in any clothes. Just place a tablet inside and run any hot water cycle.


The cleaner is phosphate- and bleach-free. The manufacturer also notes the importance of using it according to the official instructions.

Plink is another brand of the Summit Brands group, the product is made in the USA.
I would recommend this one to people who love their kitchen to smell great all the time. Plink’s scents are great and they remain for quite a long time. It’s safe for the dishes, so there’s no need to run a separate cycle just for the cleaning, which saves water.

  • Safe for standard and HE washers
  • Water-saving
  • Phosphate-free
  • Bleach-free
  • Made in the USA
  • Some find the scent too strong

4. Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner – Best Hard Water Dishwasher Cleaner

Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime,...
  • Removes hard water stains and...
  • Powers away grease and...

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09


Finish is a well-known brand with a diverse line of cleaning products. According to the manufacturer, the products work best in combination with each other. However, these tablets alone can remove residue from even the farthest and most difficult-to-access parts of the dishwasher.


The cleaner removes:

  • Hard Water Stains.
  • Grease.
  • Mineral residue.
  • Limescale.
  • Odor.

It cleans the machines’ interior of the smallest pieces of scum and doesn’t leave any film or residue. Parts like the filter and spray arms that are difficult to access also get cleaned, prolonging the life expectancy of the machine.

There’s no need to run a separate cycle to clean the dishwasher, the formula is safe for the dishes. To maintain the pleasant smell and smooth surface, use one tablet a week.

Good Choice For Hard Water

This cleaner is recommended for areas with hard water.
US areas with hard water
More info about hard water you can find here.


The cleaner is a moderate irritant, so keep it away from pets and children. If it gets on the clothes, skin, or in the eyes, wash them as soon as possible. If the irritation remains for a longer time, contact a doctor.

The brand is quite well-known and effective; all their products have a great reputation. I tested it myself before putting the option on the list. Some say the tablet format isn’t as good as the liquid one, but if you don’t need a major clean-up and there’s not much residue accumulated, this product is just fine.

Finish Dishwasher Cleaner Video Review

  • No need for a separate empty cycle
  • Dish-safe
  • Powerful
  • Moderate irritant

5. Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner Powered by Citric Extracts – Best Environment-Friendly

Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner - Dishwasher Cleaner and...
  • CLEAN and DEODORIZE: Lemi...

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09

Citric Acid Dishwasher Cleaner

This is a powder-type cleaner, designed to remove any amount and toughness of buildup. It reaches the farthest and smallest parts of the machine’s interior, prolonging the life of the appliance. The product will optimize the washer performance if the issues are connected to the buildup accumulation.


The cleaner removes:

  • Limescale.
  • Grease.
  • Rust.
  • Hard water residue.

The main ingredient of the product is citric acid, which is safe for plumbing and septic systems. For the best effect, it’s recommended to use the cleaner once a month.


The formula is non-toxic, containing biodegradable surfactants and no artificial dyes and fillers. It’s also free of chlorine bleach and phosphates.

The product is made in the USA and certified by the EPA as a safer choice for human health and the environment.
This is another very powerful formula, which I strongly recommend. It’s environment-friendly, relatively safe for pets and children, but you should still restrict access to the pouches since they contain acid. The powder form may not be the most convenient, though.

Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner Video Review

  • EPA-certified
  • Environment-friendly
  • Natural ingredients
  • Phosphate-free
  • Bleach-free
  • Powder form

Buyer’s Guide: FAQ on Dishwasher Cleaning

What are the alternative solutions for cleaning a dishwasher?

Say, you forgot to buy the new cleaner but the dishwasher needs it asap. You can use:

  1. Citric acid (lemon juice, water-based solutions).
  2. Baking soda.
  3. Vinegar.

These will work pretty well, but you’ll need to do much more work to achieve the desired results.

How is a cleaner better than regular bleach or vinegar?

It’s always better to buy specialized cleaners. They have a bunch of advantages:

  • Saving time.
  • Cleans better.
  • Getting to hidden places.
  • Easy to use.

Let’s agree, it’s much easier to put a tab into the detergent tray once a month and running a regular hot cycle than taking an old toothbrush and trying to scrub off the build-up remains for eternity.
Besides, a lot of cleaners don’t need a separate empty cycle, you can use them along with the regular detergent to wash dishes. Also, bleach doesn’t help a lot when it comes to mineral residue from hard water, for instance.

How often should I clean the washing appliances?

Both dishwashers and laundry machines should be cleaned once a month if used regularly. In case the water in your region is hard, monthly maintenance is crucial for the longevity of the appliances.

Even Cleaning Machines Need to Get Cleaned

Some people think that if a machine has soapy water running down its pipes, it doesn’t need any cleaning. However, remember that there may be food or grease that will be left on the filter, door frame, and other parts of the dishwasher. If left unattended, the efficiency and longevity of the machine will suffer greatly. So, whenever you’re cleaning the kitchen, give some attention to your good old (or new) dishwasher as well.

How to Clean Your Dishwasher: A Comprehensive Cleaning Guide

How many months have passed since the last time you cleaned your dishwasher?
How to Clean Your Dishwasher
If you’re like most of us, it would be quite a few weeks. We are not talking about running empty dishwashers with hot water cycles. But a much more comprehensive cleaning on a much deeper level. The truth is, your dishwasher is not going to clean dishes properly unless it’s clean itself. As a result, your dishes will come out dirty or slimy with oil, and grime still stuck to them.
Thankfully, there’s a way around. In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly how to clean your dishwasher. It’s super easy, and even a 5-year-old can do the job. So, get your things together.

Arrange Your Resources

We are going to need a few things to get your dishwasher clean. Fortunately, you can find all of them in your house. Here’s what you need:

  • A cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • A cup of baking soda.
  • Detergent.
  • Dishwasher cleaning tablets (read buyer’s guide).
  • Toothbrush.
  • Sponge.
  • Paper clip.
  • Hot water.

Dishwasher Cleaning Tablets

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner, 6 Tablets | Formulated to Clean...
  • Designed to penetrate,...
  • Patented tablet design lasts...

Paid Links / Last update on 2020-12-09

You can use dishwasher cleaning tablets to clean your dishwasher. They are quite effective and eat away any grime, grease, and water minerals. If you have got massive amounts of residues, a dishwasher cleaning tablet might be a good choice.
Now, we will get down right to the fundamentals.

A. A Guide to Deep Cleaning

You should deep clean your dishwasher once a month. However, if you haven’t cleaned your appliance for weeks, you need to be a bit more thorough. I will cover everything in the following steps.

Step 1: Deal with the Drain

Deal with the Drain
Consider the drain of your dishwasher as the dustbin. All the dirty water drains through the drain, so this is where our journey begins!

First, remove the bottom rack of the dishwasher. Now, take a good look at the drain. Put your head inside the dishwasher, and look closely, if you need to. Look for any leftover food, hard residue, or solid material that can block the drain and damage the pump. Don’t be surprised even if you find bits of glass or even small gravels- they are quite common! Remove all the dirt and grime from the drain. You can use your toothbrush or sponge to get rid of the yucky guck.

Move on to the next step once your drain is clean and clog-free.

Step 2: Next Stop – Clean the Filter

A clean filter leads to clean dishes – there’s no way around it! A dirty filter not only leaves spots on your dishes but also hinders the drainage. So get down to the task and take the filter out from the dishwasher.
Now, place the filter in warm, soapy water for about 10 minutes. Next, take your toothbrush and give a good scrub to the filter. Focus on removing the grime and gunk from the mesh and plastic parts. Use more water to rinse the filter clean. Once your filter is spotless, put it back in place.

Step 3: Check the Water Jets in Spray Arms

Check the Water Jets in Spray Arms
The water jets in your spray arms do the main task of cleaning your dishes. So, it’s imperative you need to keep the water jet openings free of residue.

You will need the paper clip for this step. Straighten the free-end of the paper clip to get a straight wire. Then check the water jet openings to see if they are clogged. If you find any residue or mineral buildup, use the paper clip end to clear the openings. Do this for both the upper and lower water spray arms.

Next, we will get down to cleaning the interiors of your dishwasher.

Step 4: Time for Some Vinegar Action

Time for Some Vinegar Action
Did you get your cup of vinegar ready? Now put it on the top rack of your empty dishwasher.

Next, close the door and run a cycle of hot water. This will help you:
● Clean loose grime, gunk, soap particles, and grease;
● Remove any unpleasant odor.
Remember – your dishwasher shouldn’t have anything else inside – dishes or detergent.

Using Dishwasher Cleaning Tablets
You have the complete freedom of using cleaning tablets to make your dishwasher spotless. In fact, they may be quite effective for thorough cleanings; especially, when you haven’t cleaned your appliance for quite some time.

Pro tip: Do read the instructions when you use cleaning tablets. You may need separate cycles to use them minus the detergent or dishes.

Step 5: Top It Up with Baking Soda

Top It Up with Baking Soda
We are getting your dishwasher cleaned properly, right? That’s why we are going to get an extra step forward and include a second washing cycle. The only difference is we are going to use baking soda this time.

Take the cup of baking soda and spread it evenly on the basin or bottom of your dishwasher. Then, carry out a short cleaning cycle with hot water settings. The baking soda further cleans and removes grime, and also drives away moldy odors. You can also remove hard water collections and limescale.

Pro tip: You can clean your racks manually with soap water if they are grimy. Use a sponge or toothbrush to scrub the racks with soapy water. Then rinse them clean with tap water.

Well, that’s about it. If you followed our steps, your dishwasher should be sparkling clean by now! Next, we are going to answer a very important question.

Can I Clean My Dishwasher with Bleach?

Some people suggest you use a bleach cycle to get your dishwasher looking brand new. However, the step might do more damage than good.

You see, bleach is corrosive and can damage the interiors of your dishwasher. It can even damage the stainless steel areas and make you regret using bleach. So, stay away from bleach if you want your dishwasher to have a long and problem-free life.

You now have a good idea of how to clean your dishwasher deeply. So, aim to clean your dishwasher using these steps at least once per month. Next, we are going to talk about how you can develop a regular cleaning schedule for your dishwasher. We know some of you may ask – what’s the need?
Well, if you clean your dishwasher regularly, you can be less thorough with your monthly deep cleaning. Surely, all of us like to save work and have some extra free time. So here’s what you have to do.

B. Tips for Daily Sanitization

Try to clean your dishwasher every time you clean the dishes. Of course, you don’t need to deep clean; but, focus on only a few areas.

Step 1: Look for Culprits

Look for Culprits
Look around the dishwasher for any bits of food, detergent, minerals, stuck to the walls, and racks.

Step 2: Get Rid of Guck and Slime

Get Rid of Guck and Slime
Take your sponge or a paper towel and wipe any grime or grease. Do this after each cycle of cleaning.

Step 3: Keep the Drain Clean

Keep the Drain Clean
You should also focus on keeping the drain clean. Wipe the basin of your dishwasher with your sponge. This will keep residues from building up and even cut back on any foul smell. You can use white vinegar too, to clean the dishwasher basin.

Pro tip: A bit of extra work may help cut down the grime and guck inside your dishwasher. Before you load the dishes, wipe off the extra oil, food, or grime with paper tissue or sponge. Then run them through the cleaning cycle as usual.

Next, we will move on to weekly cleaning.

C. Weekly Cleaning Routine

Following a weekly cleaning routine will make your monthly deep cleaning far easier. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Keep Filter As Good As New

Keep Filter As Good As New
I already told you how important the filter for the proper functioning of the dishwasher is. So, it’s not surprising you need to shower your efforts on keeping the filter clean. You can follow the same steps we discussed in our deep cleaning guide to clean your filter. Do this once each week for clean and spotless dishes.

Step 2: Clean the Exteriors

Clean the Exteriors
The door of your dishwasher will also need cleaning once a week. Food particles, oil, detergent, and other things might land up on the inside door surface. You may even find residue on the door handle, controls, and nearby areas.

Now, what will you need to do? Take a sponge or tissue and wipe the door surface clean. Remove any grime or oil from the controls and door handle. Look for residue in other areas near the door. Wipe them clean, if you find any.

You can use a dry cloth to clean the exteriors of your dishwasher. Mild liquid detergents are okay for cleaning plastic parts. You can use stainless steel cleaning products if your dishwasher has a stainless steel exterior. Also, move your sponge in one direction matching the grain of the metal. This will give you the best finish.

Pro tip: Don’t use harsh chemicals like chlorine to clean stainless steel exteriors. Also, always use soft sponges or clothes if you want to keep your dishwasher shining and scratch-free.

We are almost at the end of our post. Before we wrap things up, here are a few tips to keep your dishwasher clean.

Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

1. Clean Your Dishwasher Regularly

This cannot be stressed enough! You need to clean your dishwasher regularly to get clean dishes.
Regular cleaning will save efforts on deep cleaning. You will also save time and money in the long run as your dishwasher will need fewer repairs and maintenance.

2. Load Dishes Carefully

Don’t overload your dishwasher. You will only prevent proper cleaning in this manner!
Leave enough spaces between dishes to allow the water to reach and clean the dishes. Overcrowding will lead to problems, and your dishwasher will need more cleaning.

3. Give Your Dishes a Quick Rinse

Rinse your dishes before you load them in the dishwasher. It will make the cleaning better and keep your dishwasher clean. You will have fewer food particles and oil sticking on the insides if you pre-wash your dishes.

4. Check the Rubber Seals

The rubber seals around the dishwasher door can also get grimy and greasy. As a result, your dishwasher may develop leaks. You need to clean the rubber seals every once in a while. You can use a moist sponge or cloth to do the job.

5. Use Warm Water for Dishwasher

This is a good idea to prevent the collection of grease, soap materials, and grime inside the dishwasher. Wait till the faucet water turns hot before switching on your dishwasher.
Hot water makes it easy to drain away from the waste materials.

6. Run Your Garbage Disposal

Many dishwashers’ drainage connects to garbage disposals. As a result, your dishwasher may clog up if your garbage disposal is not empty. So, before you start your dishwasher, be sure to run your garbage disposal.

Pro tip: Clearing the garbage disposal can solve unexplained dishwasher drainage problems.

Final Thoughts

So, how did you like our dishwasher cleaning guide?
I hope you can clean your dishwasher following the guide just like I do. Generally, you will not need to put in much effort if you clean your dishwasher frequently like me. Just follow the steps for daily and weekly cleaning dedicatedly to keep your dishwasher spot-free.

Every month or once in a while, give your dishwasher a deep cleaning. Also, remember to clean the water jets and filter thoroughly. Cleaning your dishwasher is not a difficult task, especially if you know what to do. If you have got any suggestions or tips, leave your feedback in the comments. We would also like to know how you clean your dishwasher!