10 Surprising Things You Can Clean Using Dishwasher Tablets

updated Dec 15, 2021
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Credit: Kitchn

Dishwasher tablets were designed to tackle hard water, remove stains, and dissolve grease and fat found in protein-based foods — so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they can be used to clean things beyond the dishwasher. Meaning: You might want to buy some dishwasher tablets, even if you don’t have a dishwasher! (And even if you prefer the liquid or powder version.)

We’ve tested Finish Powerball Tablets on scorched pots and pans, and on a greasy oven door and were wowed by the results. So we went in search of other items in your home you can clean with dishwasher tablets. Here’s what we found.

Safety note: As always, when using cleaning agents it is a good idea to use protective gloves on your hands and try not to directly inhale any fumes.

1. Your Oven Door

Baked on food is always difficult to deal with — especially if it’s on the inside of your oven. Use a dishwasher tablet dipped in warm water to scrub down the glass and the door of your oven with ease.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

2. Scorched Pots and Pans

In the same way it works on your oven door, a dishwasher tablet cleans burnt and scorched pans with ease. While there are certainly other methods, this one works when you’re desperate.

3. Coffee and Tea Rings

If coffee can be used to dye textiles, you better believe it’s going to do a number on your mugs if they aren’t rinsed out right away. The stains can be tough to remove and might seem like they’re here to stay, but all it takes is warm water (fill the vessel 3/4 full) and a dishwasher tablet (or a piece of one!). After an hour you should be able to rinse all the stains away using hot water. Try this handy trick with flower vases, carafes, and bottles as well! 

Credit: Catherine Meschia

4. The Garbage Can

Garbage bins are gross but they shouldn’t be disgusting. Immediately wiping away food debris that spills on the lid or finds its way to the bottom will keep the bin relatively clean, but it’s a good idea to give it a bath at least twice a year. The easiest way to do this: Fill the can as high as you can with warm water and drop a dishwasher tablet inside. Wait for it to dissolve, then wait an hour before rinsing out the can with hot water. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

5. Your Refrigerator

Did a spill go unnoticed in your refrigerator, leaving a gross sticky mess behind? All you need is a dishwasher tablet and some warm water. Start by wiping away any loose food, then dip the tablet in warm water and use the flat side to scrape away the rest. Wipe clean and rinse with warm water. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

6. The Sink

It’s amazing how quickly the bottom of your sink can start to look dingy. Scrapes from pots and pans and discoloration from dark liquids can make even the cleanest sink look dirty. Barkeepers Friend is a fan favorite, yes, but if you’ve run out, a dishwasher tablet works as both a detergent as well as scouring pad. Just run some warm water in the sink and rub the dishwasher tablet around with a gloved hand. Once it looks shiny and new, rinse with warm water. 

7. Oil Spills

If your car has leaked oil in your garage or on the driveway, a dishwasher tablet can help take away the stain. After all the oil has been absorbed (cat litter or cornstarch does a great job), wet the area and use a dishwasher tablet to scrub all around the stain. Depending on the size of the spill you might end up using a few tablets. Let the detergent sit on the stain for a half hour or so, then rinse clean with warm water. 

Credit: I Spy DIY

8. The Toilet

When it’s time to tackle the bathroom, start by dropping a dishwasher tablet into the toilet bowl. Then, do the sink, floors, and shower, and save the toilet for last. This way, the tablet will have had time to dissolve a bit and should make scrubbing the toilet bowl a breeze. You can also use the tablet to erase rings left behind by hard water.

Credit: Brittany Purlee

9. The Washing Machine

Bacteria and lime build up in your washing machine over time, so it’s important to clean your machine every three months or so. As with all things, there are a few different methods, but this one requires simply popping a tablet in the drawer, and letting the machine run a cycle on hot. To be super efficient, toss in a load of rags or kitchen cloths so you don’t waste the water! Once it’s finished, check to see if there is any leftover residue from the tablet. If found, simply wipe out the drawer and drum with a wet washcloth. 

10. Plastic Patio Furniture

If you’ve found your patio furniture looking a little worse for the wear, dishwasher tablets are a quick and easy solution for cleaning stubborn stains. Dissolve one tablet in a bucket of warm water, or use the tablet as a scouring pad to remove tough stains. Note: This works best on plastic, and we recommend testing on an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t cause discoloration. 

Got any other surprising uses for dishwasher tablets? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below!