Lemon In Dishwasher: Why, How & What To Take Care Of?

Just like it can ”clean” your organism, lemon can be used to clean your household efficiently.

People have been putting lemon in the dishwasher lately and here’s why, what it does, how it works, and a few warnings before you attempt to do it on your own.

Why Is Lemon Used For Cleaning?

Citric Acid

Lemon contains citric acid which is used to make most of today’s store-bought cleaners. Just like vinegar, lemons have a pH of around 2.4 which makes them mildly acidic. It helps dissolve soap scum, remove hardware, polish, and remove grease. Keep in mind that they only clean dishes, they don’t disinfect them.

Lemon Replacements

Any member of the citrus fruit family can be used as a replacement for lemons. Keep in mind that they have different pH levels so some might be more effective in cleaning while others may be less effective.

Note: Any substance with a pH of 7 or lower is considered acidic. The lower the number the more acidic a substance is. Acid levels decrease as the fruit ages.

Lemon: 2.30 pH
Lime: 2.40 pH
Grapefruit: 3.38 pH
Tangerine: 3.90 pH

You can notice that lemon is the most acidic, even when compared to lime so it’s the best cleaner out of all of them

Citrus Fruits
Oranges: 4.35 pH
Kumquat: 3.95 pH
Mandarin: 11.50 pH

You’re better off just eating these fruit since their pH levels are so high, that they won’t have much of a cleaning effect.

What Can A Lemon Be Used For In Dishwasher?

There’s a wide range of uses for lemon in cleaning in general. From being able to bring shine to your sink to cleaning hard grease stains there are so many uses for it. Here’s what it can help with being used with dishwashers. In fact, anything you can use distilled white vinegar for you can use lemons for, too.

Spotlessly Clean Dishes

Glasses will get back their shine and have no white marks on them while stainless steel dishes and cutlery will come out having fewer limescale spots on them.

Spots On Glass

Cleaning The Dishwasher Walls

Dishwasher walls are usually plastic or stainless steel made. By implementing a lemon into your regular dishwasher cycle, you’re automatically cleaning the walls of your dishwasher.


A faint lemon scent is what you’re going to be left with. If you have a smelly dishwasher and it’s time to freshen it up, lemon is as good as any product to do so efficiently.

3 Ways To Clean Dishwasher

Lemon Wedges

  1. You can use used lemon wedges or intact wedges
  2. Place 1-2 wedges skewered on the plate wire or in a cutlery basket
  3. Run the dishwasher on a regular cycle with the rest of your dishes

What It Does: Helps remove spots from dishes, cloudy film on glasses, freshens the dishwasher, and cleans dishwasher walls

Lemon Wedge

Lemon Kool-Aid

  1. Place 1 packet of lemonade Kool-Aid in the detergent spot
  2. Make sure the dishwasher is empty and run a heavy cycle
  3. Repeat when needed, usually once every 1-3 months

What It Does: Cleans dishwasher interior

Lemon Juice

  1. Place one cup of lemon juice in a dishwasher safe bowl
  2. Put on the top rack of your dishwasher with the rest of the dirty dishes
  3. Run as you normally would

What It Does: Acts as a natural rinse aid replacement, cleans dishwasher, freshens it, removes cloudy film on glasses

Note: Do not place into rinse aid compartment as it will damage the rubber gaskets

Lemon Juice

Lemon Essential Oils – This oil is not purposed primarily for cleaning but it gives a good smell to your machine so it’s worth mentioning. These do not contain any citric acid meaning they’re pH neutral. If you’d like to leave your dishwasher smelling lemony fresh, you can put a few drops into your natural cleaner to do so.

Potential Dangers Of Using Lemon In Dishwashers


Citric acid can tarnish silverware and aluminum. It can make the wonderful details on your bowls, pots, and pans fade away. Luckily, the things listed aren’t supposed to go in the dishwasher either way.

Rubber Damage

Rubber seals and gaskets could get damaged with frequent use and if you place the lemons in the wrong place. Always place it directly in the dishwasher or in the detergent compartment.

To Wrap It Up

You certainly can use lemon and lemon-based products to clean your dishwasher and/or dishes. It’s a cheap and healthier replacement for your regular store-bought detergents, rinse aid, and dishwasher cleaners. You only have to be careful to not place the replacements in the wrong area and to not do it too often.

As an English major student at the time, Petra was stuck at home with online classes when the lockdown started. Soon enough, Petra discovered a passion for cooking and making pastries to pass the time. She started small with some experimenting and trying out new techniques inspired by French, Italian, and Asian cuisine. Since then, she has become a full-blown “little chef”, making dinner parties for her friends and expanding her knowledge with cooking classes.