13 surprising things professionals clean with a dishwasher tablet

These little blocks are not just for dishes; this is how professionals use them for effortless shine

A hand holding a dishwasher tablet in front of an open dishwasher
(Image credit: Alamy)

Dishwasher tablets have been designed to help tackle the toughest of food and grease stains, and it turns out they can be used to clean a variety of things around the house with very little effort. 

Dishwasher tablets are used in a variety cleaning tips, and for good reason. These small, concentrated blocks are perfect for breaking down tough marks, lifting stains, and deodorizing drains without the need for an expansive cleaning product collection.

Here are the 13 surprising things you can clean with a dishwasher tablet, according to professional cleaners.

What to clean with a dishwasher tablet  

Dishwasher tablets are some of the best concentrated cleaners available commercially, however, they should always be used with caution around the home. 

‘While dishwasher tabs are generally safe for skin contact when used as directed, they are designed to clean dishes and other kitchenware and may contain a variety of chemicals that can be harmful to the skin if not used properly,’ explains Karina, operations manager at Spekless Cleaning

'‘This can be particularly problematic for items that are used frequently or for those that come into contact with skin, such as upholstered chairs or couches.’ 

When using dishwasher tablets as a generic household cleaner, always consider wearing cleaning gloves, at Amazon to prevent skin irritation.  

Finish Classic Dishwashing Tablets | $11.74 at Walmart

Finish Classic Dishwashing Tablets | $11.74 at Walmart
Finish Classic contains glass protection ingredients, offering a powerful clean and shine.

1. Oil stains on patios and driveways

tiered paved modern yard by Living Gardens

(Image credit: Emma Almendarez / Design: Living Gardens)

Oil stains can ruin the appearance of driveways and paved patios, but dishwasher tablets are perfect for breaking down the oil molecules and lifting the mark away – especially when the oil is still wet. To clean a deck, driveway, or patio, ‘mix a crushed tablet with hot water and use a brush to scrub the affected area,’ suggests Justin Carpenter, cleaning expert, CEO, and founder of Modern Maids. ‘Let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing away with a hose or pressure washer for sparkling clean surfaces.' 

'You can also sprinkle crushed dishwasher tablets over the oil spill to absorb as much of the oil as possible,’ adds Karina, of Spekless Cleaning.

Modern maids
Justin Carpenter

Justin Carpenter has been a professional cleaner for over four years, having founded Modern Maids in his spare time before making is a successful cleaning business in its own right. 

2. Jewelry

Organize jewelry

(Image credit: Future)

Although expensive jewelry should be cleaned with specialized metal cleaners, dishwasher tablets can be used to polish everyday accessories as an extra step before organizing jewelry. ‘Simply mix a tablet with hot water, submerge your jewelry, and let it soak for a few minutes,’ says eMaids president and founder, Miriam Kahn. ‘Rinse and dry for a sparkling finish.’ 

Miriam Kahn

Miriam founded eMaids in 2005 with the hopes of using technology to make cleaning more accessible for everyday clients. 

3. Patio furniture

Patio area with paving, garden furniture and french doors outside a converted Victorian coachhouse

(Image credit: Future/Jody Stewart)

Patio furniture is particularly hard to keep clean and pristine due to it being exposed to the elements, but dishwasher tablets can be used to help shine up metal and remove grit. 

‘Throughout the long winter months, patio furniture made of plastic and metal still gathers dust, pollen, and other natural grit, even if it is covered. By thoroughly cleaning it with a dishwashing tablet, you can make your outdoor furniture sparkle and look brand-new for the spring and early summer,’ suggests Cynthia Hamilton at Oglf, a beauty product testing company.

‘There are two ways to accomplish this. You can either use a moist tablet to wash the furniture directly for tackling tough stains, or you may dilute the tablet in warm water and then dunk a sponge in it to gently rinse the furniture.

A dishwasher tablet is not ideal for all outdoor furniture, however. ‘Cleaning wicker and wooden outdoor furniture using a nutritious, oil-based soap is recommended,’ Cynthia adds. 

4. Showerheads

Monochrome bathroom with wall lanterns

(Image credit: AMC Design/Photography by Heidi Marfitt and Chris Snook)

Showerheads are particularly prone to limescale build-up – even in areas with soft water. To make cleaning a bathroom easier, you can use a dishwasher tablet to help clean a showerhead and soak off limescale without scrubbing. 

Dissolve a dishwasher tablet in bowl of hot water and soak your shower head in it for a half hour, then rinse and dry it off with a cleaning cloth.

5. Fabric stains

living room with dark blue walls, cream sofa and floor lamp

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

Whether you are looking to remove coffee stains, or remove red wine stains, a dishwasher tablet can help to clean upholstery and clothing without you spending a fortune on dedicated cleaning products. 

‘Test this out on an inconspicuous area of fabric first, but you can soak stained clothes in a solution of warm water and a dishwasher tablet. Then wash the garment normally,' says Millie Hurst, section editor at Homes & Gardens. You can also dab the solution onto stains on furniture and upholstery.

6. Tile grout

Pink and white Zellige tiles by Otto Tiles

(Image credit: Otto Tiles)

Cleaning tile grout is one of the more awkward spots to restore to new with almost every method requiring harsh scrubbing and chemical cleaners. You can use a dishwasher tablet to help break down stubborn soap deposits, however, and restore some of the original color. 

Create a cleaning paste at home by combining a small amount of warm water with a dishwasher tablet and use it to clean the with a brush. Leave it for 20 minutes and rinse.

7. Coffee makers

Breville Barista Express Coffee Maker

(Image credit: Williams Sonoma)

There are myriad ways to clean a coffee maker in a pinch if you are out of descaling solutions, such as using vinegar to descale a Keurig – or, using a dishwasher tablet. Add water to your coffee machine as normal and add a dishwasher tablet before running a cycle and rinsing it with water. You may want to run a few plain water cycles before using the machine to make coffee to ensure any residue is flushed out of the pipes. 

8. Clogged drains

ceramic kitchen sink with gold tap

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you have foul odors coming from your sink drain, or have a slow draining sink, then a dishwasher tablet could be perfect for dissolving grease and fat and freeing up your pipes. 

‘Drop a dishwashing tablet into each drain in your home to neutralize odors and leave behind a pleasant scent. You can follow up with boiling water to help to dissolve any blockages or grease build-up, allowing the water to flow freely again,’ says Justin Carpenter, cleaning expert at Modern Maids.

A dishwasher tablet is not ideal for unclogging a shower drain, however, as they are not designed to help dissolve hair blocks and boiling water can warp plastic pipes.  

9. Your washing machine

washing machine with cabinets and sink

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If dishwasher tablets can help to clean a dishwasher, then it is only logical that they can be used to clean a washing machine too. 

‘Add two dishwashing tablets directly into the drum and set the washing machine on a hot cycle,’ says Justin Carpenter, cleaning expert at Modern Maids. ‘This will help to remove any build up of soap scum or detergent residue from inside the machine helping it to run more smoothly and prevent musty smells.’  

10. Litter boxes

plants and cat on shelves

(Image credit: Dima Berlin/Getty Images)

Indoor pets are our pride and joy, however, their toileting kit is some of the least glamorous to keep clean. If you have a house cat, then a dishwasher tablet can help make cleaning and disinfecting litter boxes a little simpler. 

‘Fill the litter box with warm water and add two to three dishwashing tablets depending on its size. Let the litter box soak for at least an hour and use a scrub brush to clean it. Rinse the litter box thoroughly with warm water and let it air dry before refilling it,’ suggests Karina of Spekless Cleaning.

11. Silverware

Holiday declutter tips crockery on table

(Image credit: Future)

Cleaning silver without streaks and watermarks can be time-consuming, and while popping them in the dishwasher with aluminum foil can help to remove some tarnish, polishing by hand is the best way to get a perfect sparkle. ‘Dissolve a dishwasher tab in hot water and soak the cutlery for at least an hour,’ says Karina, operations manager at Spotless Cleaning. ‘Scrub with a soft-bristled brush and rinse it thoroughly with hot water. Dry the cutlery with a clean towel or let it air dry. 

‘This method is best for cleaning and polishing stainless steel or silver cutlery only,’ Karina adds. ‘It may not be as effective for other types of metal or for cutlery with more severe tarnish or discoloration,’ she warns.

12. Remove burnt food from ovens

modern kitchen with wooden cabinetry and tiled floor

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Given that dishwasher tablets are made for cleaning food from dishes, it makes sense that you can use them to clean an oven too. 'You can use a dishwasher tablet to make your own multi-purpose oven-cleaner,' says Justin Carpenter of Modern Maids. 'Simply combine a crushed dishwashing tablet with a cup of warm water and mix into a paste. Apply to the inside of your oven and allow it to sit for half an hour before scrubbing away. However, avoid using the paste on your glass oven door as abrasives can wear away the protective heat coating causing it to shatter,' he warns.

13. Outdoor furniture

Vintage garden furniture

(Image credit: Bungalow DK)

If you have splashed out at some of the best places to buy outdoor furniture, then keeping it in top condition will likely be the top of your spring cleaning checklist. Using a dishwasher tablet can help to refresh outdoor furniture after long winter months. Especially given that they gather dust and dirt even when covered, reveals Cynthia Hamilton, cleaning expert and MD at Our Good Living Formula. 'There are two ways to accomplish this,' she explains. 'You can either use a moist tablet to wash the furniture directly or you may dilute the tablet in warm water and then dunk a sponge in it to obtain the amazing stuff. Always be sure you wear gloves. 

'Cleaning wooden and wicker furniture using a nutritious, oil-based soap is recommended, however,' Cynthia adds.


Can I use dishwasher tablets to mop floors?

A dishwasher tablet dissolved in warm water can be used to mop floors – especially those made of tile. They work to remove grease and leave a sparkling floor, while also deodorizing. When using a dishwasher tablet, consider using a plain water rinse afterward to help remove any sticky residue left behind by such a concentrated cleaning solution. 

Do dishwasher tablets remove mold?

Dishwasher tablets are not designed to remove or kill mold, but they can help to remove the dark stains left behind after killing mold on walls or appliances. Once you have used a mold killer, use a dishwasher tablet dissolved in water to scrub the remaining stains away with a soft brush or cloth. Be aware that this may also remove paint on walls, so proceed with caution.  

Can you use dishwasher tablets on carpet?

While you can use dishwasher tablets to remove stains from a carpet, they are not recommended. The soap can easily sink into the carpet fibers, leaving a sticky residue or light marks behind – especially if not washed out of the carpet completely. Instead, stick to a dedicated carpet shampoo for the best results.

Always check a small area on anything you clean with a dishwasher tablet to ensure that what you are cleaning won't be damaged by its chemicals. And remember, always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Chiana Dickson

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.