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best dishwasher cleaners

The Best Dishwasher Cleaners in 2021

Author: Joanna Davis

Home & Kitchen Expert

Almost all households have a dishwasher, which takes over the often unpleasant washing and drying of dishes by hand. The dirty dishes come out of the electric appliance clean and dry, provided that you maintain the dishwasher at regular intervals with a dishwasher cleaner.

Using the dishwasher cleaner brings you the advantage of positively influencing the life and functionality of your dishwasher. How the dishwasher cleaners work and what properties they bring with them, we explain in our great guide.

When comparing different dishwasher cleaners, our main focus is on the type of application, the cleaning effect and the advantages that each product brings.

In the guide, we explain the most important buying criteria, what types of machine cleaners the trade offers and what you should keep in mind when using the cleaners. In our FAQ section, we answer frequently asked questions about dishwasher cleaners.

Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner: Fight Grease & Limescale, Fresh, 8.45oz

 Our Pick
Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner: Fight Grease & Limescale, Fresh, 8.45oz
29,381 Reviews
Finish Dual Action Dishwasher Cleaner: Fight Grease & Limescale, Fresh, 8.45oz
  • Delivers a cleaner dishwasher
  • Fights odor and leaves behind a clean, fresh scent
  • Recommended once a month or as soon as you notice build-up…
  • Finish quality product
  • Breaks down and removes lime scale and grease build-up…

Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime, 3 ct

 Our Pick
Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime, 3 ct
15,876 Reviews
Finish In-Wash Dishwasher Cleaner: Clean Hidden Grease and Grime, 3 ct
  • Removes hard water stains and lime scale build up.
  • Powers away grease and freshens your machine.
  • Cleans the hidden and vital parts of your dishwasher .

Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner & Disinfectant, Removes Limescale, Rust, Grease and Buildup, All-Natural, Fresh Lemon

 Our Pick
Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner & Disinfectant, Removes Limescale, Rust, Grease and Buildup, All-Natural, Fresh Lemon
3,438 Reviews
Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner & Disinfectant, Removes Limescale, Rust, Grease and Buildup, All-Natural, Fresh Lemon
  • CLEANS AND DISINFECTS: Glisten is #1 Dishwasher Cleaner and…
  • POWERFUL CLEANER: Removes Rust and Buildup Caused by Hard…
  • PROTECT YOUR HOME: Glisten Dishwasher Cleaner Protects from…
  • PREVENT BUILD-UP: Dishwasher Magic Breaks Down Food Buildup…
  • LAST FOR 30 DAYS: For optimal results use Glisten Dishwasher…

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Pods Fresh Scent

Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Pods Fresh Scent
1,479 Reviews
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Cleaner Pods Fresh Scent
  • Box of 8 Individually wrapped Cascade Platinum dishwasher…
  • Use once a month to help keep your machine sparkling
  • Simply toss it in your empty dishwasher and run a cycle-just…
  • For the ultimate clean, wash with Cascade Platinum…
  • ‘Number 1 recommended brand in North America Recommended by…

Finish Dishwasher Machine Cleaner, Dual Action to Fight Grease & Limescale, Citrus Fresh, 8.45 Fl Oz

Cascade Complete Dishwasher Pods, Actionpacs Dishwasher Detergent, Lemon Scent, 78 Count

 Our Pick
Cascade Complete Dishwasher Pods, Actionpacs Dishwasher Detergent, Lemon Scent, 78 Count
10,518 Reviews
Cascade Complete Dishwasher Pods, Actionpacs Dishwasher Detergent, Lemon Scent, 78 Count
  • Tougher than baked-on food messes
  • No pre-wash needed. Cleans 24-hour stuck-on food so well you…
  • For best results, use with Cascade Rinse Aid and Dishwasher…
  • No premeasuring needed: Cascade ActionPacs are convenient…
  • Dissolves quickly to unleash cleaning power early in the…

Frequently Asked Questions: Dishwasher Cleaners

What is a Dishwasher Cleaners?

With the dishwasher cleaner you clean your dishwasher. The cleaners are designed to remove grease and lime deposits and odors. They clean the interior of the machine as well as filters, pipes and spray arms. By cleaning regularly with the machine cleaner, you maintain the machine’s performance and extend its life.

Dishwasher cleaners are available in different consistencies: As a powder, as a liquid, as a gel or as tabs. We will explain how to use each cleaner in one of the next sections.

Since the beginning of 2017, phosphates in dishwasher cleaners are only allowed in limited quantities. To remove discoloration and residues of starch and proteins, manufacturers often add surfactants and enzymes to the cleaners instead.

Some manufacturers make sure the ingredients in their machine cleaners are free of phosphates and surfactants. Producers such as HAKA rely on natural lactic acid for their ingredients.

How to use a Dishwasher Cleaner?

In order to achieve optimal cleaning results, you should follow the manufacturer’s specifications when using the dishwasher cleaner. These are the specifications and the procedure for machine cleaning:

You may only use the dishwasher cleaner in the empty dishwasher. There may be rinse aid and salt in the chambers of the dishwasher, but you must not put dishwasher detergent. Dishes also do not belong in the dishwasher during machine cleaning.

  • Dishwasher cleaners in liquid form are usually designed by the manufacturer so that you peel off the sticker on the top cap. Do not open the cap of the bottle.
  • Place the bottle upside down in the cutlery or dishwasher basket.
  • Select a program that operates at a temperature of at least 65 degrees Celsius.
  • After the dishwasher has run through, remove the empty bottle and use your machine as usual.

When placing the liquid dishwasher detergent, make sure that the bottle does not interfere with the dishwasher’s spray arms, which must be able to rotate freely during cleaning.

You either put the dishwasher cleaner in powder form into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher or scatter the powder on the bottom of the machine. Then select either the machine cleaning program or a rinse program with a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius. Make sure that you select a program without a prewash. If this is not possible, select a cleaning program with prewash and let it run for about 15 to 20 minutes without detergent. After this time, add the dishwasher powder to the machine and let the program run to the end.

Apply the dishwasher cleaner only in an empty machine, as this is the only way to clean the machine thoroughly. Machine cleaners often contain chemicals that can build up on the dishes. If you have forgotten a cup or plate during cleaning, either rinse it thoroughly with hot water or leave the dish in the machine until the next rinse cycle.

Can I use the dishwasher cleaner for the washing machine?

The trade offers machine cleaners that you can use to clean the dishwasher and washing machine. You can usually get the universal machine cleaners as a powder or in liquid form as a larger container, for example in a 1 liter bottle. If the machine cleaner is suitable for cleaning the washing machine and dishwasher, the manufacturer will indicate this in the product data sheet.

Under no circumstances should you use a pure dishwasher cleaner in the washing machine. Likewise, you must not use a washing machine cleaner for cleaning the dishwasher.

Are dishwasher cleaners toxic?

Most dishwasher cleaners contain corrosive substances that can cause skin and eye irritation. Also, you must not swallow the substances under any circumstances. When handling the machine cleaner , as with almost all cleaning agents, you should be very careful. Avoid contact of the cleaner with the skin, eyes, mouth and nose. Keep the products out of reach of children and pets.

Types of Dishwasher Cleaners

Dishwasher cleaners are available in various dosage forms.

Dishwasher cleaners in powder form are usually distributed in the dishwasher and used either in the machine cleaning program or in another washing program with at least 60 degrees without prewashing. Some products in powder form you can use both for the dishwasher and for the washing machine for cleaning and descaling.

The dishwasher cleaner in liquid form is very easy to use. After peeling off the adhesive label on the lid of the container, place the bottle in the cutlery basket of your dishwasher. If there is no cutlery basket, place the cleaner bottle in the rack. Some dishwasher cleaners come with a small hanging hook on the bottles so you can hang the bottle from the rack. As a rule, these cleaners rarely come without chemicals, though more and more manufacturers are emphasizing a good eco-balance, such as HAKA with its lactic acid-based dishwasher cleaner.

Dishwasher cleaner tabs offer you easy handling. You put the cleaner tab in the dishwasher and select a suitable program. Often these products combine descaler and dishwasher cleaner, which often results in a higher price.

Some manufacturers provide you with a specially designed cleaning program for machine cleaning, which you select for cleaning and maintenance after adding the dishwasher detergent.

Ingredients in Dishwasher Cleaners

To achieve a good cleaning result, many manufacturers use environmentally harmful substances such as surfactants, bleaching agents, enzymes or phosphates. After cleaning, these substances end up in the wastewater, which pollutes the environment. However, more and more manufacturers are offering environmentally friendly products.

The ingredients of conventional dishwasher cleaners usually consist of more than 30 percent phosphates, about 15 percent bleach and a maximum of 5 percent surfactants. To dissolve starchy and protein-containing soiling, many manufacturers add enzymes to the machine cleaner.

Surfactants in dishwasher detergent

Surfactants are washing-active substances that combine and dissolve water and grease. Thus, surfactants are among the most important active ingredients in detergents. A distinction is made between different surfactants:

  • Anionic surfactants
  • Cationic surfactants
  • Non-ionic surfactants
  • Amphoteric surfactants

Synthetic surfactants are mainly used in conventional detergents and cleaning agents, while anionic surfactants are used in cleaning agents. The synthetic surfactants are petroleum-based, a scarce resource.

According to the EU regulation, surfactants must be biodegradable, but this only concerns surface degradability and not ultimate degradability. This means that petroleum-based surfactants and their degradation products can still enter the environment. The substances are toxic to aquatic organisms and are also a concern for our health, as they can dry out the skin and mucous membranes, making them more susceptible to allergies and rashes.

An alternative to petroleum-based surfactants are surfactants made from renewable raw materials. However, these are often produced from palm oil, for which huge areas of rainforest are cleared. To avoid this, the manufacturers of ecological detergents and cleaning agents make sure that the palm oil used comes from sustainable cultivation.

Phosphates in dishwasher detergent

Phosphates are a natural form of phosphorus, which is present everywhere in our environment. However, the inorganic chemical phosphate is not identical with the element phosphorus; strictly speaking, it is a salt of phosphoric acid. When phosphorus combines with other elements, phosphates are formed.

With phosphates in the machine cleaners, magnesium and calcium are bonded in order to support the cleaning of the machine with these particles, or more precisely, to improve it. Especially dried food residues are dissolved and removed by this ingredient. In addition, the water is softened by the phosphates to prevent limescale deposits in the machine.

Phosphates are neither harmful nor toxic, but are banned in the EU, the USA and many other countries, as they disturb the balance in water bodies and can therefore harm aquatic life.

Since January 2017, the phosphorus content in dishwasher cleaners must be greatly reduced. The phosphorus limit is 0.3 grams per standard wash cycle that may be released from the dishwasher cleaner.

Dobiodegradable dishwasher cleaners clean just as well as a cleaner with surfactants and phosphates?

Meanwhile, manufacturers offer products for cleaning the dishwasher, which are ecological and biodegradable. After cleaning the dishwasher, the remains of the cleaner end up in the sewage system. While the cleaners with surfactants and phosphates pollute our environment, the biodegradable ones do not harm our environment.

The ecological dishwasher cleaners clean with vegetable surfactants, protein compounds and salts. In addition, the biodegradable cleaners do not use chlorine or synthetic fragrances and preservatives.

Consumers often question whether the biodegradable dishwasher cleaner is as powerful and effective as the “conventional” based cleaner. According to manufacturers, the biodegradable dishwasher cleaners, which are less harmful to the environment, are just as effective as the other machine cleaners. These cleaners also eliminate dried-on and heavy soiling. Often, the secret to organic dishwasher cleaners lies in the silicates that make fats water-soluble. This causes food residues to swell and come off during cleaning.

Phosphates, in particular, are harmful to water, and it is precisely these that are contained in the majority of dishwasher cleaners. Phosphates cause algae to flourish in the water. These problematic ingredients enter the waters via the wastewater from your dishwasher.

What should you look for when buying the dishwasher cleaner?

There are differences in dishwasher cleaners that are not only related to the consistency of the product. For example, some products you need to clean once a month, while other products you need to use only every 3 to 4 months. What criteria you should pay attention to when buying the detergent for the dishwasher, we explain below.

  • Powder, tab or liquid? This criterion must be clarified in the first step. As far as the cleaning result is concerned, the cleaners – regardless of their consistency – are pretty much the same. However, they differ in handling and dosage.
  • When buying the machine cleaner, pay attention to the ingredients, especially if you are thinking about the environment. After being used in the dishwasher or washing machine, the detergents end up in the wastewater and can therefore be a burden on our environment. If environmental concern is important to you, opt for a product where the manufacturer eliminates bleach, surfactants and phosphates.
  • When buying, take a look at the frequency of use. While you should clean once a month for some products, the range for others is between 3 and 4 months.
  • When making your purchase decision, it is recommended to take a look at the cost per application. It is not only the amount of content that matters, but the efficiency of the product and its frequency of use. Depending on the manufacturer and product, the cost per application can vary greatly.
  • You should also include the effective range of the dishwasher cleaners in your purchase decision. While some products remove grease and lime deposits and odors inside the machine, spray arms and filters, other cleaners also clean the pipes and pump.

If you want to use the cleaner not only to clean and descale the dishwasher, but also to treat the washing machine, be sure to purchase a machine cleaner for both. These universal cleaners are often offered in powder form, but there are also liquid universal machine cleaners.

Dishwasher Cleaner Alternatives

Instead of resorting to ready-made products for cleaning the dishwasher, you can make the cleaner yourself. Here you have the opportunity to make a dishwasher cleaner without chemicals and environmentally friendly with simple home remedies.

For one rinse cycle, you will need 20 milliliters of vinegar and 50 grams of baking soda powder. Put the vinegar in the detergent compartment and spread the baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher. Choose a cleaning program with a minimum temperature of 65 degrees Celsius.

Another alternative is a combination of lemons, vinegar and salt. Boil the lemons in hot water until they are soft. Cut the lemons into small pieces, remove the seeds and then puree the lemon. Add the salt and vinegar. Put this decoction either in your washing machine or in the dishwasher and start a wash cycle.

Last product update on 2021-10-23 | Source: Amazon Affiliate