How to Clean a Dishwasher with Our Cleaning Pros’ Favorite Product

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Sure, your dishwasher cleans your dishes. But have you ever thought of cleaning the appliance itself? Learn how to clean a dishwasher with our Test Kitchen's go-to product.

Is your dishwasher on your cleaning list? No, not just loading the dishwasher but actually taking care of the appliance itself. It turns out, learning how to clean a dishwasher is key to keeping your dishes sparkling clean.

There are lots of steps you can take to keep your dishwasher working its best, like cleaning the dishwasher filter, but you can also use shortcut cleaning products to keep things spotless.

What Is Dishwasher Cleaner?

These dishwasher cleaners are different than your everyday dishwasher detergent. Dishwasher cleaners are specialized soaps and tablets designed to remove mineral buildup and limescale from the inside of your appliance. It helps keep the stainless steel shiny and your rack limescale free.

Most dishwasher cleaners are designed to be used on a regular basis—most on a monthly schedule. This keeps things running smoothly between your deep cleaning and maintenance.

We Tested Dishwasher Cleaners

Our Test Kitchen pros are serious about clean, both at Taste of Home headquarters and in their own homes. To test dishwasher cleaners, our experts tried seven popular brands at home and in the Test Kitchen. We looked at the following criteria:

  • Ease of use: Cleaning doesn’t need to be hard. The more hands-off and fuss-free these products are the better.
  • Price: A good clean shouldn’t break the bank. Our Test Kitchen looks for affordable and effective products.
  • Quality of clean: After cleaning, the dishwasher should look noticeably better—darn near brand new. A fresh scent is always appreciated, but overpowering smells aren’t always welcome around food.

Over the course of several weeks and many, many loads of dishes, our testers agreed that only one product could be called Test Kitchen-Preferred (our top honor!).

The Best Dishwasher Cleaner

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaning Tabletsvia merchant

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets

Affresh Dishwasher Cleaner Tablets solve the “how to clean a dishwasher” problem. Toss a tablet into the appliance and run a normal cycle. That’s it!

Our testing team reports that interior walls and racks come out sparkling clean after using these cleaning tabs. All that limescale and mineral deposits that build up over time were gone after a single use. The only thing left behind was a mild fresh scent—no overpowering aromas here.

The packaging says that you can use this cleaner in a regular dishwashing cycle with dishes. Our testers recommend running the dishwasher empty, just to avoid compromising any delicate items (though you may want to hand wash those!). Overall, this product left our dishwashers looking like new with minimal effort.

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Psst! These are the best countertop dishwashers for portable cleaning.

The Bottom Line

In most of our product tests, our Test Kitchen finds a few stand-out options. This time, though, only one brand made the cut. Our cleaning squad found that other dishwasher cleaners didn’t seem to do much. We recommend investing only in products that you know will work. For the inside of a dishwasher, that’s Affresh.

To clean the exterior, our pros recommend a stainless steel cleaner or even plain white vinegar. The latter is a cleaning secret weapon!

Check Out Our Test Kitchen’s Favorite Cleaning Products

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.