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We Tested 5 Methods to Clean a Dishwasher, and the Winner Outshined Them All

We Tested 5 Methods to Clean a Dishwasher, and the Winner Outshined Them All

While many may not give it much thought, your dishwasher, much like other appliances, needs regular cleaning to ensure optimal performance and hygienic dishwashing. In this quest for the most effective dishwasher cleaning method, we tested various techniques to find the ultimate solution. The top contenders in our study were citric acid and Affresh dishwasher-cleaning tablets, both earning perfect scores in all four crucial areas.

Testing Methodology: To evaluate the effectiveness of dishwasher-cleaning methods, five testers tried different techniques on their dishwashers, each with unique cleaning needs. The methods tested included white vinegar, baking soda, dishwasher cleaning tablets, and baking soda “bombs” with hydrogen peroxide. Each tester answered specific questions to provide a comprehensive assessment of each method.

Results and Ratings:

Baking Soda “Bombs”:

  • Ease of use: 4/5Performance: 2/5Total time: 1/5Overall: 2.5/5

This method, while easy and odor-free, fell short in removing stains and greasy residue. It was time-consuming and felt somewhat wasteful, making it a suboptimal choice for comprehensive dishwasher cleaning.

Baking Soda:

  • Ease of use: 5/5Performance: 3/5Total time: 3.5/5Overall: 3/5

Sprinkling baking soda in the dishwasher proved moderately effective, particularly after multiple cycles. However, it required scrubbing and a substantial amount of baking soda, making it less eco-friendly than expected.

White Vinegar:

  • Ease of use: 2.5/5Performance: 4/5Total time: 4/5Overall: 4/5

This method, involving vinegar and disassembling dishwasher parts, was deemed labor-intensive. However, it delivered excellent performance, leaving the dishwasher odor-free and eliminating food bits. Vinegar’s strong initial scent was the only drawback.

Citric Acid:

  • Ease of use: 5/5Performance: 5/5Total time: 5/5Overall: 5/5

Citric acid emerged as a flawless performer, effortlessly removing hard water stains and revitalizing the dishwasher. Its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and organic nature make it a top choice, especially for those dealing with hard water issues.

Dishwasher Cleaning Tablets (Affresh):

  • Ease of use: 5/5
  • Performance: 5/5
  • Total time: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Affresh dishwasher-cleaning tablets offered a hassle-free, efficient cleaning process, leaving a noticeable cleaning product scent. This method stood out for its simplicity and effectiveness.


Both citric acid and Affresh dishwasher-cleaning tablets proved to be impeccable choices, excelling in ease of use, performance, and overall efficiency. While Affresh tablets include citric acid and additional cleaning agents, citric acid alone emerged as the more cost-effective and natural option. Regardless of your choice, incorporating a monthly dishwasher cleaning routine using one of these methods is crucial for maintaining a spotless and odor-free appliance. Note that results may vary based on your dishwasher’s make, model, and functionality. Happy cleaning!

images source: the kitchn / Sarah Crowley