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When you deep clean your kitchen, you probably aren't thinking about how to get your dishwasher clean—but you should be. Grease, grime, bits of food, and hard water residue build up over time. This can lead to unpleasant odors and clogging, which might make your dishwasher run less efficiently. The good news is that, with the right product, it's actually really easy to keep it clean, fresh, and in tip-top shape.
Here are the best dishwasher cleaners available today.
Best Overall: Summit Brands Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner
Glisten Dishwasher Magic is a tried-and-true cleaner and disinfectant. The powerful liquid formula gets rid of grease, breaks down food remnants, and removes soap residue, hard water, and rust. Additionally, it dissolves all buildup clogging the jets, pipes, and tubes, so your dishwasher runs as efficiently as possible.
But that's not all. This EPA-registered solution disinfects your appliance, killing bacteria, salmonella, and E-coli to make sure they don't touch your clean dishes. Glisten ensures a clean, fresh dishwasher for 30 days, so you'll get the best results with monthly use.
Best for Hard Water: XROM Dishwasher Pro Cleaner Tablets
XROM is great to have on hand if you have hard water. These three-in-one tablets clean, degrease, and descale your dishwasher in one cycle. A single use effectively dissolves and removes limescale while getting rid of detergent buildup, hard water stains, and odors.
You can count on XROM to clean every internal part of your appliance, including the pump, filter, and spray arm. You can use this cleaner during its own cleaning cycle or just add it to a full load of dishes to cut down on the number of times you're running your appliances.
Best for Limescale: Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner
If you're looking to remove and prevent limescale, we suggest Finish Dishwasher Cleaner. It breaks down and effectively dissolves limescale, grease accumulation, and detergent buildup while cleaning all interior components of your dishwasher.
Using it once a month will help you keep limescale at bay and ensure your appliance remains clean and smelling fresh. This formula should be used in an otherwise empty dishwasher, and one bottle is used per cycle.
Best Eco-Friendly: Eco-Gals Eco Scrubz Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Cleaner
If you prefer green cleaning products, Eco-Galz Eco Scrubz is an excellent choice. These environmentally-friendly tablets have a special foaming formula that cleans your dishwasher and eliminates funky smells without any strong fragrances.
Baking soda and natural disinfecting ingredients remove grime, soap residue, odor-causing food remnants, and hard water buildup while freshening up all internal components. Just place a tablet in your empty dishwasher and run a cleaning cycle—it's as easy as that!
Best Tablets: Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets
Affresh is formulated to break down limescale and mineral buildup in stainless steel and plastic-tub dishwashers. The EPA recognizes the septic-approved tablets as safe for both your home and the environment.
You can use Affresh to clean your dishwasher on an empty cycle or run a tablet through with a full load to descale your dishes and glasses. Either way, you can expect a sparkly clean finish.
Best Pods: Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Pods
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner comes in single-use pods. Just toss one into your empty dishwasher and run a cleaning cycle. When you open it back up, the walls, pipes, and spray arm will be free of limescale, grease, mineral deposits, and food residues.
Not only that, but you can count on a fresh-smelling dishwasher. For best results, run a pod through once a month to keep odors at bay and maintain an ultra-clean dishwasher.
Best Liquid: Oh Yuk Dishwasher Cleaner
The best liquid dishwasher cleaner is Oh Yuk. This dishwasher cleaner is formulated to keep your appliance clean and smelling fresh. It also works to remove contaminants, bacteria, and odor-causing residues.
With a squeaky-clean, disinfected dishwasher, you can count on it to safely clean your dishes. Plus, it'll run more efficiently and help prevent issues that require repairs. Oh Yuk also has a yummy citrus scent that'll enhance the ambiance of your entire kitchen. Each bottle has enough cleaner for four wash cycles.
Best for Smell: Plink Washer & Dishwasher Freshener & Cleaner Tabs
Speaking of refreshing scents, Plink tabs are made to clean your dishwasher while working double-time to deodorize it. The innovative formula contains powerful effervescent enzymes that create a powerful fizz to break down grease, food, and other buildup.
This formula is septic-safe and cleanses every internal component without any bleach or phosphates. Just place a tablet in your empty appliance and run it on a hot-water cycle. You'll be left with a super-clean dishwasher and an invigorating lemon fragrance in your kitchen. You can use the same tablets in your washing machine if that appliance needs a deep clean as well!
Best Deodorizer: Lemi Shine Dishwasher Cleaner With Powerful Citric Extracts
If you want to get serious about deodorizing your dishwasher, we recommend Lemi Shine. It's formulated to clean the machine that cleans your dishes, but its work doesn't end there. The pods dissolve odor-causing residues, bacteria, and other buildup on the walls and door gaskets.
This green product is safe and effective with a vibrant—but not overpowering—lemon scent. Your dishwasher will be clean and sanitized, and your entire kitchen will smell fresh as can be.
Glisten Dishwasher Magic Machine Cleaner (available at Amazon) is the best dishwasher cleaner overall. We appreciate that it's an EPA-registered product that works to cleanse and sanitize the interiors of your appliance. However, if you're looking for a green cleaning solution, we suggest Eco-Gals Eco Scrubz Dishwasher Cleaner (available at Amazon). The septic-friendly formula removes food buildup and detergent residues while eliminating unpleasant smells.
What to Look for When Buying Dishwasher Cleaner
Read the label on your dishwasher cleaner to determine whether or not it has certifications backed by science-focused organizations. Registration with the EPA, for example, ensures that the product works to kill microbes. By using a product certified to eliminate certain microbes, you can rest easy knowing that your dishwasher will be sparkling clean and extra safe.
When choosing your dishwasher cleaner, look for abrasive ingredients like alcohol, ammonia, and borax that will get your dishwasher ultra clean. The ingredients in a dishwasher not only allow you to understand the product’s cleaning power, but they also give insight on the product’s strengths or goals. Some formulas are specifically designed to fight bacteria buildup, while others prioritize whitening your appliance. Determine what you need out of a cleaner before purchasing one.
Ease of Use
Consider how easy each dishwasher cleaner is to use. Most tablets, for example, can be easily tossed into a load of dishes and typically don’t require you to do an extra load. Plus, you won’t have to measure it out before tossing it into the machine. That makes cleaning your dishwasher super easy, which is great for those of us with busy schedules.
Scent is a personal preference and highly subjective, but it should still be considered. If you have sensitivities to perfumes, opt for an unscented dishwasher cleaner that won’t irritate you. Dishwasher cleaners come in a wide variety of scents, so consider each one before purchasing to make sure you get a product you really love.
How do you use a dishwasher cleaner?
Each dishwasher cleaning product is different—follow the instructions on the product’s packaging for the best results. Most dishwasher cleaners are either placed directly in the dishwasher cavity or in the slot where you normally put detergent.
How does dishwasher cleaner work?
Once exposed to heat and moisture during the dishwasher cycle, dishwasher cleaners break down grease and bacteria and eliminate odor. With the help of water that rinses through your appliance when running, the cleaner can get into hard-to-reach areas that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to.
How often should you use dishwasher cleaner?
Use dishwasher cleaner about once a month to prevent bacteria buildup and to maintain your appliance’s efficiency.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This guide was written by Theresa Holland, a professional writer with significant experience researching, reviewing, and writing about home goods, organization materials, and cleaning products. She also contributes regularly to Byrdie and MyDomaine. Additional research was provided by Lauren Murphy, a long-time writer and editor who specializes in DIYs, home upgrades, and other home-related topics.