Review: Affresh Washer Cleaner

A Cleaner That Contains Boric Acid

Box of Affresh Washer Cleaner.
Karen Peltier

The Bottom Line

This washing machine cleaner was super easy to use and did a great job deep cleaning my washing machine and eliminating odors, but I was disappointed to discover it contained boric acid. Check out the review for more details.


  • Effectiveness: Removes odors and residues very well
  • Environmental Friendliness: Biodegradable product and packaging
  • Price: Competitive price; approximately $1 per cleaning (based on price for 6-tablet package)
  • Sizes: 6-packet pouch currently available; 3-packet box coming soon


  • Certifications: None
  • Company Transparency: Ingredients are not fully revealed on product packaging
  • Ingredients: Boric acid is a safety concern


  • Type: Washing Machine Cleaner
  • Cost: $5.99 per package for 6 tablets (Price for 3-tablet package isn't available yet)
  • Scent: No scent is noted on the label
  • Size: 6-tablet package is 120 g. (4.2 oz.); 3-tablet package is 60 g. (2.1 oz.)
  • Ingredients: Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate, Sodium Carbonate, Boric Acid

Company Background

Affresh products are made by Whirlpool Corporation, which is one of the leading manufacturing and marketing companies of appliances worldwide, including well-known brands, such as Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and more. Other products in the Affresh product line include washing machine, stainless steel, cooktop, and kitchen cleaners. Information about Whirlpool's sustainability practices, mission, products, and more is available on the company website.

Product Directions

This product is quite easy to use and is recommended for monthly maintenance. In an empty washing machine, simply place a tablet directly in the machine, not the detergent cup, and run the machine on "normal" using the hottest water possible. If your machine has a "clean washer" cycle, use that setting instead. For machines with particularly bad odors, the manufacturer suggests running three consecutive cycles using one tablet per each cycle. When the cycle is complete, wipe away any remaining residue.

Product Effectiveness

This product was a breeze to use and was very effective at reducing mineral and soap scum build-up leaving the interior of my washing machine clean, shiny, and odor-free.

The manufacturer notes this product eliminates mold and mildew, but I didn't have any such problems, so I couldn't test those product attributes; however, front-loading machines are notorious for mold issues, so I think this product would be an effective way of preventing such issues from arising in the first place.

Health & Safety

With regard to the ingredients — which are not fully listed on the product label, but are on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) — boric acid stands out as a safety concern because it is considered of moderate acute toxicity. Unfortunately, whether it is a highly concentrated ingredient in the product or not is difficult to tell. For more information on borax, check out the article, "Is Borax a Good Ingredient for Green Cleaning?" The other two ingredients don't raise any red flags with regard to safety and health effects, by the way.

Under normal usage this product does not appear to have any adverse health effects according to the product MSDS. However, upon direct contact with the eyes, it can cause redness, burning, and watering. Repeated contact with the skin can cause problems, such as a skin rash. In addition, breathing in dust from the product can irritate the respiratory tract resulting in symptoms, such as coughing. Also, the MSDS notes that ingesting the product may be harmful.

First-aid measures noted on the MSDS and the product label differ slightly in some cases. If eye contact occurs, the directions on the packaging note to flush the eyes with water for 15 minutes. In addition, the MSDS notes to contact an ophthalmologist. If swallowed, the MSDS recommends drinking two glasses of water or milk immediately and then seeking medical attention. The label doesn't mention anything about drinking liquids, but suggests to immediately contact a Poison Control Center or doctor. If skin contact occurs, rinsing well with water is recommend on the product label; whereas the MSDS suggests using soap and water and then a moisturizing cream, if needed for dryness. If any irritation persists, seeking medical attention is suggested. Finally, the MSDS notes that if excessive amounts of product dust are inhaled, to get fresh air and seek medical attention if cough or other symptoms develop. Vomiting is not recommended.

Environmental Notes

The MSDS states that once this product is decomposed, what remains is much less toxic to fish than the product itself. Also, it does not bioaccumulate in the environment.

With regard to the product packaging, it is recyclable.


This product is safe for septic systems according to the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

I liked that this product is in tablet form, which makes it easy to use and cuts down on accidental spillage or inhalation. What I didn't like is that it contains boric acid, which I don't really consider a safe green chemical. Also, it's a problem that not all of the ingredients are listed on the product label (even though they are on the MSDS). Therefore, it didn't quite deserve a full five-star green cleaning rating.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.