Laundry & Cleaning

Can you clean your washing machine with dishwasher tablets?

We ask our expert if it's too good to be true.

Washing Machine Credit: Good Life Studio/Getty Images

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Your washing machine cleans your clothes, but what cleans your washing machine?

According to some homeowners, dishwasher tablets.

It's a hack that's been going viral as people swear that the tablets have left their once smelly washing machines sparkly clean. But is it as effective as they claim? More importantly, is it safe? Our senior lab testing technician, Jonathan Chan, breaks down why you shouldn't use dishwasher tablets to clean your washing machine below—and a better way to freshen it up.

Why you should never put dishwasher tablets or detergent in your washing machine

Dishwasher Tablets
Credit: Kuzmik_A/Getty Images

For dishwasher use only.

First, dishwasher tablets and dishwashing detergent have different chemical properties than laundry detergent. Like the inclusion of foaming agents, which, when put in a washing machine, can cause the dreaded foam overflow. Not only that, but dishwasher tablets may not do as thorough of a job cleaning your washing machine as you think, Jonathan says.

"I dissolved 2 tablespoons of detergent into 2 cups of cold water (see below photo). The one on the right is dish detergent and the one on the left is Tide," he explains. "The Tide is much more dissolved and the dish detergent is clumping up. Basically, dish powder is designed to work at higher temperatures than what you find in your washing machine." That means that it's likely you're going to get a lot of residue left behind if you use dishwasher tablets in your washing machine.

Credit: Reviewed/Jonathan Chan

Laundry detergent (left) vs. dishwashing detergent (right).

Appliance company Bosch also warns against this practice on its website, stating, "To keep maximum efficiency and quality, please do not use dishwasher tablets or detergent to clean your washing machine or to clean laundry."

How to clean your washing machine

Inside of Washing Machine
Credit: BYoung/Getty Images

So fresh, so clean.

While cleaning your washing machine isn't as easy as dropping in a tablet (don't we wish!), it is something you can do with just a few ingredients from your pantry. Pour a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water into your detergent container and pour 2 cups of white vinegar into the drum. Then run a normal cycle on high heat.

Once the cycle is complete, scrub any dirty spots with a sponge dipped in one part water and one part vinegar and voila! A clean washing machine. Pro tip: If you have a front-loading washing machine, to prevent odors or mildew from coming back quickly, always leave the door open after using so the drum can dry completely.

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