The Best Cleaning Products for a Fresh-Smelling, Grime-Free Dishwasher

published Aug 1, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Wooden spoon in dishwasher.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

It’s important to remember that the products and appliances designed to clean your home frequently need cleaning themselves. If you don’t pull the tangled hair out of your vacuum’s brush roll, for example, the machine will get jammed. Worse still, failing to remove the lint out of your dryer’s filter can be a downright hazard. And, if you don’t clean your dishwasher from time to time, it runs the risk of becoming damaged in the long run. What’s more, all of that grime and buildup from dirty dishes can cause foul odors that permeate your kitchen every time you open the machine’s door. Thankfully, there are lots of cleaning products out there made to prevent these exact problems. It can be a challenge to determine which one is best for your dishwasher and preferences, so we decided to give you the full breakdown below. A couple of these finds are editor favorites, while others are popular across the internet. One thing is for certain, though: They’ll all leave your dishwasher looking, smelling, and working like the day you got it.

1 / 10

Is there anything vinegar can't clean? It'll disinfect your sink, help remove floor stains, and, yes, get the gunk out of your dishwasher. Contributor Shifrah likes to run a cycle with a vinegar rinse every now and then to help combat hard water staining. "Place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher, and set your dishwasher on a hot water cycle," she wrote. "This will clean out any lingering grease or grime that’s clinging to your machine and will also help prevent musty odors from forming." Your dishes will no longer sport hard water stains, plus this trick is totally non-toxic.

2 / 10

We asked plumbers about their favorite dishwasher detergents, and they all agreed on the Cascade Platinum pods. It stands to reason that the same line would carry a pretty stellar dishwasher cleaner, too. Walmart shoppers can't get enough of this product, with reviewers writing that it keeps their machines in tip-top condition and literally makes them shine. You can count on these pods to remove even the toughest limescale stains on your dishwasher's surfaces.

3 / 10

Certain cleaners will require you to run a few cycles to truly get that clean effect, but one round with Glisten, and Lowe's shoppers say your dishwasher will be in tip-top shape. Additionally, the bottle's small size allows for easy pouring; simply flip it upside-down and place it in your silverware compartment. Then run a cycle on hot, and open the door afterward to reveal a stain-free interior.

4 / 10
Home Depot

The cool thing about this product is that its probiotic ingredients will continue to clean your dishwasher even as you run normal dish cycles, preventing the accumulation of residue for weeks. What's more, its triple-threat forumlation of surfactants, probiotics, and odor control will remove every last bit of food and stuck-on muck from your machine's corners and crevices. And if you're not partial to scents, Frigidaire ReadyClean is also a great fragrance-free option.

5 / 10

After discovering this best-selling dishwasher cleaner on Amazon, contributor Lisa Freedman had to try it for herself. She placed a tablet into the detergent compartment, ran a cycle without any dishes inside, and was amazed at the results. "How did these tablets work for me? I have two words for you: Five stars!" she wrote. "My dishwasher was pretty dirty: The walls had a chalky mineral buildup, and it had some gunky brown smudges that I didn’t love. After one cycle with a tablet, the walls were cleaned right up." She also noted that the tablets left her machine with a fresh, lemony scent. Overall, zero complaints.

6 / 10
was $5.02

Another one of Amazon's most popular cleaners, the Finish Dual Action solution will have you questioning if your dishwasher was every really clean to begin with. It has more than 33,700 five-star ratings, with one reviewer writing, "I didn’t even know my dishwasher NEEDED this deep cleaning. I used to use a different dishwasher cleaner and just wanted to try this once, but I am now obsessed!" Whether you're dealing with hard water stains, bad odors, or both, you ought to give this product a shot.

7 / 10

Not only does Lemi Shine's citric acid formula remove calcium, lime residue, and other nasty, damaging substances, but it also releases a pleasant lemon scent. Not to worry, though — the cleaner is free of phosphates and uses biodegradable ingredients, so it won't deposite harmful chemicals onto your plates. All you have to do is our one pouch of Lemi Shine into your empty dishwasher and let the brilliant solution work its magic.

8 / 10
The Container Store

Another citrus-scented grimebuster, the Plink cleaner knocks out two jobs with just one tablet. Specifically, these little capsules can be used in both the dishwasher and washing machine, in turn protecting both clothes and dishware against built-up gunk. Just pop a tablet into either machine, run a normal cycle, and it's good to go — no scrubbing required!

9 / 10
Therapy Clean

Of course, you can't forget about the outside of your dishwasher. For stainless-steel units, our editors highly suggest picking up a bottle or two of this smudge-erasing spray. Contributor Erin used it to clean the exterior of her fridge and fell in love with its lavender-scented, streak-free formula. "Although I had tons of smudges and stains on my fridge door, it required little effort to wipe them away," she wrote. "Just a few wipes, and they were gone, a shining surface left behind in their wake." Plus, the spray is designed to leave a protective barrier against fingerprints, dust, dirt, and oil.

10 / 10
was $21.20

Amazon shoppers say these Active tablets not only fully deodorized their dishwashers, but more importantly, they loosened up all the gunk inside, allowing kitchengoers to wipe it off in just a couple of swipes. "After trying numerous different cleaning methods to try and eliminate the unfortunate odor that most dishwashers start to have over time, I finally decided to give these a try," one reviewer wrote. "I had seen these making the rounds on a lot of social media posts but figured it was just a gimmick. I was wrong. They smell great, they do what they claim they will do, and they fixed my smelly dishwasher."