Get your dishwasher shiny and clean
Buildups of grease and grime in our dishwashers are inevitable. Just like food debris leading to clogging problems. Or hard water leaving stains behind.
Thankfully, with a good dishwasher cleaner, you can remove these buildups and get rid of the unpleasant odors that fill your kitchen.
We tested the best dishwasher cleaners on the market so you don’t have to. Thanks to our selection and with the right product, you’ll be left with a shiny, clean machine and a fresh smell.
Our Top PicksThe HouseWire earns a commission through the following independently chosen links at no additional cost to you.
The Best Dishwasher Cleaners of 2023 – Reviews
Best Overall : Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner
Work magic on your dishwasher with this cleaning product from Glisten. It’ll remove limescale, grease, rust, and food residue and leave your dishwasher shiny and clean!
According to our tests, it removed limescale, grease, rust, and food residue efficiently. It also left our dishwasher shiny and clean.
This Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner is a number one bestseller in Amazon’s Commercial Dishwasher Detergents. And this dishwasher cleans as well as disinfects – removing E-Coli, salmonella, and other harmful bacteria.
Plus, this Glisten dishwasher cleaner is the only EPA-approved dishwasher disinfectant we would test. So we knew our family and pets are in safe hands, but also that there was no compromise on performance.
And, you can buy this dishwasher cleaner in multi-packs of 3 or 6. The more you buy, the more you save.
- Really effective at cleaning and shining stainless steel dishwashers according to customer feedback
- Users said it got rid of limescale and mineral buildup
- Customers said it was well-priced and offered value for money
- Leaves glasses sparklingly clean and without a hazy film coating
- Some customers said that it wasn’t suitable for dishwashers that are plastic on the inside
A few found that the wax plug on the bottle didn’t melt and so the cleaner didn’t work properly
Best for Hard Water - XROM Natural Dishwasher Cleaner
Tackle those hard water stains with this natural dishwasher cleaner from XROM. It has a 3-in-1 formula that has descaled our machine, degreased and de-grimed, and clean it in one go.
This tablet has a powerful descaling capacity. And it also removed the unpleasant odors from our dishwasher.
You can use it in your empty dishwasher, or with your dishes and run a normal wash cleaning cycle. We tested both and we were impressed with how clean our dishwasher was!
However, it left some residues on our dishes.
This dishwasher cleaner is made of natural ingredients that are biodegradable, so you know you’ll be doing your bit for the environment.
And if you’re not happy with its performance, the manufacturer offers a 100% money-back guarantee.
- Safe to use in any type of dishwasher
- Customers even with very hard water said that it got rid of the stains and buildups this causes
- Lots of users said that it worked well at neutralizing and removing the nasty odors that can occur when there’s grease and grime buildup
- Feedback suggests these are super easy to use as you just pop a tablet in your empty dishwasher – no measuring out is needed
- Some users reported that bits of residue was still left behind on their dishes
- A few said that these were priced a little too high
|Usage||Monthly – every 15 cycles|
Best Tablets: Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets
Put one of these Affresh tablets into your dishwasher and you’ll be left with a shiny machine and descaled glassware and dishes.
During our testing session, they improved our dishwasher’s performance by removing limescale buildup and mineral deposits. But, they left a film on our glassware and dishwasher.
You can use these tablets on all machine models, including stainless steel and plastic models.
And they carry the EPA’s Safer Choice label, reassuring you that the ingredients are safe for your household and the environment.
Plus, this Affresh dishwasher cleaner is recommended by many leading brands, such as Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, and Amana. So you know you’ll be in good company when picking these tablets.
- Many customers were happy with the subtle yet fresh scent left behind after cleaning
- Feedback suggests it’s good at removing hard water marks
- Effective at cleaning out grease and gunk from the food trap
- Several users said it got rid of all the food particles from their dishes – including those tiny flecks that are sometimes left behind
- A few customers said that the tablet was too big to fit into their dishwasher detergent tray
- Some feedback indicated that these tablets might not work as well on long-term buildups, and is better suited to regular maintenance of newer dishwashers
Best Limescale Remover : Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner
Get rid of limescale and hidden grease with a dishwasher cleaner from the number one World’s Recommended Brand.
Finish formulas are the most recommended by dishwasher brands worldwide – so you can be sure of a quality limescale remover product!
This Finish dishwasher cleaner left the visible parts of our dishwasher stain-free and shiny.
But it also tackled the hidden parts – filter, pipes, spray arms – giving them a deep clean so our dishwasher functioned better overall. One downside though, we found that it left a strong smell in our kitchen.
Finally, Finish is there for you 24/7 if you have any problems. You can give them a call, pop into a store, or contact them on social media and they’ll get back to you no matter what time of the day it is.
We didn’t have to – but it’s nice to know!
- Customers said that the price was very affordable
- Users were happy with how it removed limescale buildup from silverware, dishes, and the filter
- Feedback suggests that it even cleans and descales older dishwasher machines that can have years of buildup
- Some thought that the scent left behind was a bit chemical-y and strong
- Some users said that despite putting their dishwasher on the hottest cycle, the wax seal didn’t melt fully
|Usage||Monthly – as needed|
Best Eco-Friendly :Eco-Gals Eco Scrubz Dishwasher Cleaner
Go eco-friendly with this dishwasher cleaner from Eco-Gals! The ingredients are all-natural, and even the wrappers that the tablets come in are environmentally friendly – so the whole product is good for our planet.
In each box, you’ll get 12 tablets, so this will last you for a whole year. And this product has a unique scrubbing and disinfecting agent. This gave us a dishwasher and dishes that were both clean and sanitized.
We also noticed that this dishwasher cleaner penetrated the unseen areas of our dishwasher to get rid of hidden grease and debris that might cause blockages.
But the bad smell was still present after a few tests.
- Customers said that it was good at eliminating bad odors from their dishwasher
- Consumer feedback suggests that customer service is helpful and good at corresponding via email
- Users liked the fact that they were using a dishwasher cleaner that was eco-friendly, it made them feel better than when they used cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals
- Customers were happy that you get a year’s supply – meaning they didn’t have to think about buying anything new for a while
- A few users said that this product just didn’t always get their dishwasher clean, especially compared to other cleaners that weren’t all-natural
- Some said that the bad smells returned after a few days
Best Dishwasher and Washing-Machine Cleaner - Plink Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner
Clean 2 appliances with 1 cleaner with this Plink cleaner. Use it to get a fresh dishwasher and spotless dishes, or to deodorize your washing machine and get clean clothes.
There are no phosphates or bleach in the formula. But a powerful effervescent component creates a strong fizzing action. This removes residue buildups and clears pipes of all your washers so you won’t get clogging.
And unlike other dishwasher cleaners we could test, we were left with a fresh, lemon scent and no foody smell in our kitchen. But we remarked that some dried residue was left behind.
And Plink is part of Summit Brands, which makes its cleaning products exclusively in the USA – so we knew we were investing in a quality, home-grown brand.
- Users liked the versatility this pick offered – it worked as well in their dishwasher as in their washing machine to clean and remove odors
- Lots of feedback said that these tablets were really good at eliminating bad smells, better so than other comparable products they’d tried
- And many customers liked the fresh, citrus scent that was left after cleaning Option to buy in bulk, which will save you money in the long term[/item]
- Some thought that these tablets were too expensive, especially as you need to use them once a week
- Feedback from some suggest that they still got a filmy mark on their glassware after use
Best Pods - Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods
Pop one of these Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner pods into your machine and you’ll be left with a spotless interior.
They have 50% more cleaning power than Cascade’s previous pods and come in a large tub to last you many weeks.
You’ll save 15 gallons of water per cycle as you don’t need to use the pre-wash function due to the cleaning power of these pods. And you can save more time and money, as they also work just as well on the quick wash setting.
We tested without the pre-wash function but also with the quick wash setting. We also omitted to rinse our dishes on purpose before popping them for a cycle. And our dirty dishes were both spotless and left dry in both situations.
They prove to be effective but they leave dishes with a strong odor and aftertaste.
Cascade is the number one recommended brand in North America. So you know you’re buying a dishwasher cleaner from a brand that has performed well for millions of people.
- Users said that not only did these pods clean their dishes, but they were also really dry after the cycle had finished
- Easy to use and fit well into the detergent dispenser or tray
- Many customers said that they didn’t bother to pre-wash or rinse dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, as they’d had to do with other dishwasher cleaners
- Feedback indicates that glasses are left sparkling and streak-free
- Some users said that certain cookware, for example, silicone implements, absorbed the strong detergent smell – so they had to be washed again before use
- Make sure to store them in a cool dry place – some consumers said that they were prone to leak if they came into contact with even a small amount of moisture
Best Deodorizer - Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner
Winner of the Parents’ “Best Green Cleaners” award in 2021 – you can be sure that this Lemi Shine dishwasher cleaner has been recently endorsed and recognized. And it has the EPA’s Safer Choice label.
Lemi Shine was founded in the USA and its products are made in Texas. The formula for their dishwasher cleaner is biodegradable and doesn’t contain any bleach, ammonia, or formaldehyde.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s not as effective a cleaner. Instead, during our tests, the citric acid ingredient made sure that grime and germs were removed. And our dishwasher’s interior was left deodorized.
Unfortunately, we found that some cloudy residues were left behind.
- Users were pleasantly surprised that the inside of their dishwashers were shiny and clean – as clean as if they’d used a chemical-based formula
- Most consumers liked the fresh scent behind – and were satisfied that this dishwasher cleaner had done its job at removing unpleasant smells
- Convenient to use despite being a powder, as it’s pre-weighed out into individual pouches
- Customers said it worked even better in conjunction with the dish detergent booster from Lemi Shine
- Feedback suggests that it wasn’t as good at removing stains from hard water
- A few users said that the price was more than they’d like to pay
Dishwasher Cleaners Comparison Chart
|Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner||Liquid||Lemon||Natural||Monthly|
|XROM Natural Dishwasher Cleaner||Tablets||N/A||Natural||Monthly - every 15 cycles|
|Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets||Tablets||Lemon||N/A||Monthly|
|Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner||Liquid||Fresh||N/A||Monthly - as needed|
|Eco-Gals Eco Scrubz||Tablets||Unscented||Natural||Monthly|
|Plink Washer Freshener Cleaner||Tablets||Lemon||Natural||Weekly - as needed|
|Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Pods||Pods||Fresh||Chemicals||Every cycle|
|Lemi Shine Natural Dishwasher Cleaner||Powder||Lemon||Natural||Monthly|
How We Tested
We put 8 dishwasher cleaners to the test.
To test in the toughest conditions, we loaded our dishwasher with extremely dirty dishes. We didn’t rinse the dishes beforehand. And the dishwashers themselves were also full of grime, grease, and scale.
We then used the same amount of each product.
What to Look For in a Dishwasher Cleaner
Single Dose Pods or Tablets
Single-dose pods or tablets are very convenient. The correct amount is already premeasured, you just need to pop the pack into your dishwasher.
Lots of tablets even have wrappers that dissolve in the wash, so you don’t even need to unwrap them first! And they usually contain rinse aid already, meaning that they normally perform better than powders overall.
A drawback is that they are usually more expensive per wash than buying a powder in bulk. So consider the cost before buying this type.
However, they are still the most popular type of dishwasher detergent.
Simply, make sure that your dishwasher model can take them – they’re not suitable for some dishdrawers.
Gels or Liquids
These gel or liquid cleaners are thick and come in large bottles or containers. They’re easy to use, as you simply pour as much as you need into the dishwasher dispenser.
They have a higher concentration than washing up liquid. And as they dissolve quickly in water, you don’t need to worry about any soap residue being left behind.
But, the fact that they dissolve so fast can be a downside. This might mean that all the gel is dissolved before all the dishes are clean.
For example, see this Oh Yuk Dishwasher Cleaner.
Powder dishwasher cleaners are usually the cheapest option. But, they don’t always perform as well as tablets or gels.
The container should tell you how much powder is needed per wash. This will be based on either their recommended amount, or on what type of dishwasher you’ve got.
Therefore, the amount you use might vary. You should get better cleaning results using more powder – but this means you’re using more product and therefore the cost per wash will be higher.
A rinsing aid helps the water in your dishwasher to spread evenly over the dishes’ surfaces. So, droplets aren’t as likely to form and you won’t be left with wet spots.
Most dishwasher tablets come with rinse aid included. But powders won’t contain it as it needs to be released at a specific point in the wash cycle.
Ingredients and Labels
But, manufacturers of chemical cleaning products don’t need to list their ingredients on the packaging or make them public, as food manufacturers do. So you might not be able to check exactly what’s in it.
See, for example, this Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner & Disinfectant. The label on the bottle says that its ingredients are 25% citric acid plus 75% other ingredients.
Plus, dishwasher cleaners that are made of chemicals tend to leave more residue on your dishes. But on the other hand, feedback from consumers suggests that natural-based detergents don’t clean as well.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to try and find a product that both cleans effectively and doesn’t leave residue.
And if you’re a bit worried about some of the chemical ingredients found in cleaning products, look out for an EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) label.
The EPA recommends keeping an eye out for 1 of 3 labels when buying your dishwasher detergent (1).
The “Green Seal” indicates that the product is safe for human health and the environment. And there won’t be a compromise on performance.
The “Ecologo” shows that the product has reached a standard in relation to human health and the environment.
The “Safer Choice” means that every ingredient in the product has reached strict safety criteria relating to both human and health and the environment.
How Do You Use A Dishwasher Cleaner?
- For a tablet dishwasher cleaner, remove the tablet from its wrapper. Or as we’ve said above, some will have a wrapper that dissolves so you don’t even need to do this.
- Open the dishwasher door. Put the tablet in the dishwasher detergent tray or dispenser. They should only go in this compartment of your dishwasher and not loose in the bottom of the machine (unless specifically told to do so by the dishwasher cleaner manufacturer).
- Tablets thrown into the bottom of your dishwasher might dissolve too quickly. You’ll then get a less efficient wash as the detergent will be released too soon and so won’t clean your dirty dishes in the main wash cycle.
- For a powder or liquid dishwasher cleaner, pour the recommended amount directly into the detergent dispenser.
- Set your dishwasher on its regular cycle. Close and allow it to run.
How Does A Dishwasher Cleaner Work?
The surfactant element of a dishwasher cleaner picks up food residue from your dishes when it’s mixed with water.
Specific enzymes in the cleaner formula will break down starchy proteins from your food debris. And compounds called builders remove calcium and magnesium ions that create those hard water marks.
Then, there should also be some safe bleaches to remove stubborn stains.
Your dishwasher will release the tablet or other detergent from the dispenser at the optimal time during each cycle. This way, the dishwasher cleaner will dissolve, and the ingredients are released to tackle each stain and clean both your dirty dishes and the interior.
How Often Should You Use A Dishwasher Cleaner?
Or some products, as we’ve said above, recommend you use it every few weeks or once a month – and this can be done in an empty dishwasher.
You can operate your dishwasher without detergent, but you need to put it on the rinse cycle. This will clean your dishes well without the need for a cleaner, as long as it’s on this type of cycle.