Many of you rely on household appliances like washing machines and dishwashers to clean and sanitize your clothes and dishes. However, over time, these machines can develop unpleasant odors.

To address this issue, washing machine cleaners have become a popular solution. They are designed to maintain the cleanliness and efficiency of washing machines. But can you use washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher?

In this article, I will delve into whether it’s safe and effective to use washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher, offering insights into the potential benefits and drawbacks of such a crossover.

Can You Use Washing Machine Cleaner in a Dishwasher?

No, you should not use washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher. Washing machine cleaner and dishwasher cleaner are two different products designed for specific purposes and appliances.

Washing machine cleaner is formulated to remove dirt, mold, and residue that can build up in the drum and other parts of a washing machine. It often contains chemicals and ingredients that are not suitable for use in a dishwasher.

Dishwasher cleaner, on the other hand, is designed to remove mineral deposits, grease, and food residue that can accumulate in a dishwasher. It is specially formulated to clean and disinfect the interior of a dishwasher.

Using the wrong cleaner in your dishwasher can potentially damage the appliance or leave behind harmful residues on your dishes.

To properly clean your dishwasher, you should use a dishwasher cleaner that is specifically designed for that purpose. Also, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the cleaner’s packaging for the best results.

Can You Use Washing Machine Cleaner in a Dishwasher?

Understanding Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner

Washing machines and dishwashers are indispensable appliances in our homes, but they can accumulate grime, mineral deposits, and unwanted odors over time. So, can you use washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher?

To tackle these issues effectively, it’s essential to understand the specialized cleaners designed for each appliance.


A washing machine cleaner is a cleaning product specifically formulated to maintain and sanitize washing machines. It helps remove dirt, detergent residue, and mold that can accumulate in the drum and other parts.

On the other hand, dishwasher cleaner is tailored to the needs of dishwashers, addressing mineral deposits, grease, and food residues that can impair performance.

Purpose and function 

The primary purpose of the washing machine cleaner is to ensure your clothes are not exposed to mold, unpleasant odors, or detergent buildup, leading to cleaner and fresher laundry.

Meanwhile, dishwasher cleaner enhances dishwasher efficiency by eliminating mineral buildup, ensuring spotless dishes, and reducing the risk of clogs.

Ingredients typically found 

While the exact ingredients can vary among brands, washing machine cleaners generally contain chemicals such as surfactants, enzymes, and disinfectants to break down and eliminate dirt and odors effectively.

Dishwasher cleaners often feature citric acid and other descaling agents to remove limescale and mineral deposits that can impede the dishwasher’s performance.

Also read: Will Bleach Damage My Washing Machine?

Key Differences Between Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaners

When comparing washing machine cleaners and dishwasher cleaners, several key differences become evident, including their chemical composition, cleaning mechanisms, and how they target specific appliance issues.

Chemical composition

  • Washing Machine Cleaners: These cleaners typically contain a combination of surfactants, enzymes, and disinfectants. Surfactants break down dirt and detergent residue, enzymes target organic matter like mold and mildew, and disinfectants help sanitize the interior of the washing machine. Some products may also include fragrances to leave your laundry smelling fresh.
  • Dishwasher Cleaners: Dishwasher cleaners primarily rely on descaling agents like citric acid or lactic acid to dissolve mineral deposits, such as limescale and calcium buildup. These deposits can accumulate in the dishwasher’s pipes, spray arms, and filters, leading to reduced water flow and decreased cleaning efficiency. Dishwasher cleaners may also contain surfactants to remove grease and food residues.

Cleaning mechanisms

  • Washing Machine Cleaners: The cleaning mechanism of washing machine cleaners focuses on breaking down and removing organic residues, such as soap scum, mold, and mildew. The surfactants in these cleaners help dislodge and suspend dirt and grime for easy rinsing during the cleaning cycle.
  • Dishwasher Cleaners: Dishwasher cleaners primarily work to dissolve mineral deposits, which are common in areas with hard water. They target limescale and calcium buildup, preventing them from clogging spray arms, filters, and other components. This helps maintain optimal water pressure and temperature for effective dishwashing.

How they target specific appliance issues

  • Washing Machine Cleaners: Washing machine cleaners are designed to combat issues specific to washing machines, such as mold growth, detergent residue buildup, and unpleasant odors. Their formulation addresses these problems effectively to keep your washing machine clean and your laundry fresh.
  • Dishwasher Cleaners: Dishwasher cleaners, on the other hand, are tailored to address the challenges specific to dishwashers. They primarily target mineral buildup that can impair the dishwasher’s performance and leave spots on dishes. Regular use of dishwasher cleaner helps ensure that your dishwasher runs efficiently and your dishes come out sparkling clean.

Why You Should Not Use Washing Machine Cleaner in a Dishwasher

Using washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher can have several adverse consequences that are important to understand:

  1. Ineffectiveness: Washing machine cleaner is specifically formulated to address issues like mold, bacteria, and residue buildup in the moist and detergent-rich environment of a washing machine. When used in a dishwasher, it may not effectively target the problems unique to dishwashers, such as mineral deposits, grease, and food residue. Consequently, it won’t provide the desired cleaning results.
  2. Potential Damage: Dishwashers are equipped with delicate components and materials like rubber gaskets, spray arms, and stainless steel interiors. Washing machine cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can be abrasive to these dishwasher parts, potentially causing corrosion, erosion, or other forms of damage over time.
  3. Dish Safety: Another critical concern is the potential for harmful residues left on dishes. Washing machine cleaners may contain chemicals that are not food-safe. If these residues are transferred onto your dishes during a dishwasher cycle, they could pose health risks when you consume food from those dishes.


So, can you use washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher? Using a washing machine cleaner in a dishwasher is not recommended.

While both appliances serve distinct purposes, their cleaning needs and the formulations of their respective cleaners differ significantly.

Attempting to interchange these products can lead to ineffective cleaning, potential damage to the dishwasher’s components, and concerns about the safety of your dishes.

To ensure your dishwasher’s longevity and optimal performance, it’s essential to use a dishwasher cleaner specifically designed for its requirements.

Always follow manufacturer guidelines for maintenance to keep your appliances functioning efficiently and maintain the safety of your kitchenware.