Are dishwasher cleaners really necessary?

Picture of a plastic container of Finish dishwasher cleanerDishwasher cleaners like ‘Finish Dishwasher Cleaner’ (shown left) certainly do no harm but are they strictly necessary? Many people recommend a rinse through with a cup of vinegar at the bottom of the machine, but the acid in the vinegar will corrode the rubber seals over time. Others have recommended bicarbonate of soda which neutralises bad smells. Perhaps it would be easier and safer to use a detergent purpose built for the job? The detergent for cleaning the dishwasher comes in a variety of fragrances too, for example lemon and orange.

However, if the dishwasher is stripped down and cleaned and maintained correctly there really should be no need for a specialist dishwasher cleaner. Manufacturers recommended that you periodically switch the dishwasher on (leaving it empty) and run through a cycle to clear away the grease and food particles that build up so the specialist detergent would bring added benefit in this case. Finish Dishwasher Cleaner claims to remove grease as well as lime scale, but there is no substitute for a bit of elbow grease. The dishwasher cleaner will not remove dried on food particles  which have to be pried off by hand. The best thing you could do to is  go to it with a bicarbonate of soda solution and a toothbrush, pick out bits of hard food with a tooth pick or sharp object ensuring the water holes on the arms are clear.

It is possible also to dismantle the water spout at the bottom by unscrewing it and giving it a good scrub with the bicarbonate of soda and toothbrush then carefully putting it back together. You would want to turn on the machine and check the cycle is working properly, so for a finishing touch use the dishwasher cleaner. As long as you remember the dishwasher needs regular maintenance as well as a wash through occasionally there is no harm whatsoever in using the dishwasher cleaner and this may actually help to keep the dishwasher pristine – the only real downside is the dent in your wallet.

To summarise, if you can be bothered to clean your dishwasher properly from time to time, you shouldn’t really need an additional product like this. If however, like many people, you think that’s just another hassle you could really do without, periodically using a product like Finish will certainly help to keep your machine working well but it most likely won’t get rid of dried-on bits of food residue etc which can collect round the seals and in other hard-to-reach areas. So, even if you do use Finish or a similar product, you’ll still need to take an occasional look under the bonnet and remove any grimy bits detergent alone can’t shift.

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