Clean Your Dishwasher With Lemonade Kool-Aid

You can spend a lot on fancy cleaners to get the scum out of your dishwasher, or you can just pop in two 10-cent bags of lemonade Kool-Aid in the soap dispenser.

Make sure the dishes are out, this is just for cleaning the dishwasher itself. Put the machine on any cycle and let it do its thing.

Sounds crazy? Apparently the citric acid in it gets rid of the lime scales and other grungy deposits.

You can use other kinds of powdered lemonade as well, just make sure that it’s not the ones with sugar added. Also, don’t use another kind of colored Kool-Aid because they will stain the dishwasher.

Got any other thrifty and unusual household cleaning ideas? Sound off in the comments.

Lemonade Kool-Aid as Dishwasher Cleaner [Real Simple]
How to Clean A Dishwasher With Kool Aid [eHow]


Edit Your Comment

  1. c!tizen says:

    I make my own Lemona…. n/m.

  2. FuzzyWillow says:

    No! I refuse. Don’t tell me what to do with my dishwasher!

  3. alSeen says:

    I can attest to this working. I have to do it every month or so because the water in our town turns things rust colored.

    Any building that has sprinklers in the lawn and all the sidewalks where there are sprinklers near by are all brownish red colored.

  4. Azzizzi says:

    Actually, when I was a cook, this was how we cleaned the grills. We used the fruit punch flavor, but that was because that was what we had available.

  5. Kat@Work says:

    Thanks!! I wanted to clean mine but didn’t want to buy the expensive cleaner. Awesome tip!

  6. yasth says:

    Why not just use citric acid which you can buy in huge amounts for practically nothing? Just pick up some from any kitchen supply store.

    • alSeen says:

      Because packets of koolaid are already pretty cheap. Since one packet is enough, you don’t have to do any measuring. And you don’t have a bunch of something sitting around that you won’t use very often.

    • minneapolisite says:

      I use powdered citric acid. I buy the desired quantity from the Whole Foods bulk section so I can buy exactly the amount I want. Measuring is simple. I’m not sure why someone would consider it a show-stopping complication.

      • alSeen says:

        I buy in bulk when the actual dollar amount of the savings makes it worth while. To me, the savings of koolaid vs bulk citric acid would not be enough.

        I can buy 12 packets of generic koolaid for $1.20. That’s enough for one year if cleaning once a month. I have no idea how much bulk citric acid is, but even if it was free, the convenience of buying a packet or two for 10 cents each is worth it. Saving $1.20 over one year is pointless to me.

        • mmmsoap says:

          Hurrah! I also find a point where the savings does not justify the time/energy/storage spent, but too often I get confused looks when I point this out. For example, I won’t make a left-turn in traffic to save $0.03 on gasoline from the gas station across the street. Yes, it’s cheaper, but my 14- gallon tank would save me about 40 cents, which is silly for the inconvenience caused. Not even for 10-cents per gallon…

          • alSeen says:

            I won’t buy the 10% ethanol mix either, even though it’s normally 5 to 10 cents cheaper per gallon.

            I easily get 10% less gas mileage using ethanol. You wind up paying more per mile traveled with ethanol than you do with straight gas.

          • jessjj347 says:

            Depends on how much you think your time is worth. The value is sort of an intangible thing.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          it would make sense if you used it for other things i guess. the same citric acid trick works in the washing machine, coffee makers and clogged up showerheads and faucets. but i don’t own a coffee maker and i use vingegar to wash my dishwasher and my washing machine because i buy it in bulk for washing windows and killing weeds.

        • alSeen says:

          That said, I do recognize when buying in bulk or making your own cleaning supplies is worth while.

          At home, my wife and I use vinegar to clean with. My wife also makes her own laundry detergent. It works just as well as commercial products and costs a fraction of what they do.

          • marsneedsrabbits says:

            I make our detergent, too.
            A year’s worth of laundry detergent costs me about $4.00. We do a ton of laundry, too, since we have kids.
            It’s very easy & takes about an hour. My favorite bonus is that I can add my own touches. I add Frankincense and Myrrh essential oils, which leaves a lovely clean scent.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        That would require setting foot into Whore Foods.

    • perruptor says:

      Tang works, too.


  7. janeslogin says:

    If it works because of citric acid then shouldn’t lemon juice work even better?

    Or is it calcium phosphate in Kool Aid that is really doing the cleaning?

    • Kibit says:

      I was wondering this same thing.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      I don’t think the concentration of the lemon juice is strong enough to clean the dishwasher.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      This is only a guess, but I bet that the calcium phosphate is in there to provide cloudiness to the finished product. Otherwise I bet it would be transparent, which might not be as appetizing (Mtn Dew does the same thing with brominated vegetable oil). You can have a science experiment to see if this is correct – Heat a glass of kool aid lemonade until nearly boiling. Heat will cause the calcium phos to precipitate out of the solution, and you will have a clear-looking glass of hot kool aid. Lemme know.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Just don’t try to wash your potatoes in the dishwasher while you’re running lemonade through your dishwasher.

    • Im Just Saying says:

      Why not? Lemonade Potatoes sounds like a new snackification. Quick, get Peabody J Pepsi on the line, stat!

  9. Jfielder says:

    Lemishine works great. It’s pretty cheap for a big bottle of it that will last a long time. Plus I use the Lemishine to clean corrosion and heavy tarnish off of metalic shell casings before reloading. Works great for that.

  10. BrianneG says:

    Lemishine does the same thing and it’s probably just as cost effective because you can lots of washes with one container.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Lemishine FTW! I have such hard water where I live that I have to use it in every load or everything is hazed over. I still have to soak all my glasses and flatware in hot water and vinegar every few month to get them sparkely clean.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        Lemishine (or any other citric acid) is also good sprinkled on a damp sponge. Use this to rub away water spots from fixtures and windows and other spotty items.

      • Willow16 says:

        Same here. I can’t run the dishwasher without it or things won’t get clean. None of the stores in my area sell Lemishine so I have to drive 10 miles to a Walmart that does.

  11. GMFish says:

    Mt. Dew has citric acid… would thank work? Does anyone know were I can get Mt. Dew in powered form? Thanks!

  12. cyberpenguin says:

    Vinegar…. cheap…. effective…. acetic acid.

    • maxx22 says:

      Agreed. About a cup. This will get rid of all the soap scum.

      Run on RINSE-HOLD so that that glass-dry chemical is NOT added. Do it at least twice. Then run machine on RINSE-HOLD without the vinegar a few times.

      Works great.

      • c!tizen says:

        This also works great on water spots. I soaked some newspapers in white vinegar and water and then put them on my windshield for about 30 minutes, spraying a solution of the same mixture on the paper every 5 minutes, removed the paper and then gave it another good once over with the solution and a cloth and it got it surprisingly clean.

    • gman863 says:

      If you have clear glassware that is getting cloudy, run it in the dishwasher at the same time as the vinegar – it helps remove the hard water deposits from it as well. Just remember to put the glassware through a regular wash cycle before using it.

  13. chucklebuck says:

    I use vinegar for a lot of cleaning. It’s hella cheap and it burninates the bad stuff. I also use baking soda to scrub sinks & things, then rinse it off with vinegar – the science project volcano fizz does a pretty good job of loosening up stuck on things. It also does a pretty good job of unclogging slow drains.

    • denros says:

      Citric acid isn’t as harsh on the moving parts and pump in your dishwasher. You can also buy it in bulk at any home-brewing supply place – I use it on my espresso machine, and i can buy a small, concentrated bottle that will last me a year or so for 1.50

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      I use baking soda too. Mildly abrasive, but less so than Bon Ami, and does the job for cheap.

    • massageon says:

      Burninates. You are Awesome!!! I love people who use this word in every day contexts. You made my day!

  14. framitz says:

    I’ve always used a cup of vinegar, never considered anything else.
    But lemon would not smell as strong, so might give it a try.

  15. Straspey says:

    This is also a GREAT way to clean the inside of your microwave oven.

    A solution of warm water, mild soap (or baking soda) and a fresh squeezed lemon.

    Wipe the inside if the microwave, rinse with fresh water, and leave the oven open to air-dry naturally.

    Works great. FRESH REAL lemons are a wonderful cleansing and disinfecting agent.

  16. Pibbs says:

    I always heard Tang was the best thing for it, but Lemonade Kool-Aid could definitely work.

  17. Brunette Bookworm says:

    If anyone buys just plain citric acid, you can also use it to make your own bath fizzies instead of paying a fortune for a few cents worth of ingredients. There are a few recipes around the internet.

  18. Algae says:

    The Appliance Doctor ( always said to use Tang. My mom used to buy it solely for cleaning the dishwasher and her dishwasher is over 20 years old. (We haven’t been able to find Tang in our local store for years, though, so now she uses vinegar.)

  19. Panntabulous says:

    You can also use a couple of vitamin C tablets for cleaning the dishwasher.

    Hey, while we’re sharing cleaning tips, anyone have a method they swear by for cleaning grout on tile floors?

    • Jack'sPumpkinQueen says:

      Are you looking for something that isn’t a chemical? Have you tried common cleaners like bleach?

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      after you clean your grout and it dries, you can use chalk to whiten it [if it’s white] and then run some soft wax over it. floor wax is one way but back when i had tile i just ran the end of an emergency candle [they are cheap and the wax is fairly soft] over it. keeps it clean longer and helps it resist spills.
      mostly i have used it in showers to prevent mildew

    • gman863 says:

      One of the local TV stations did a story on grout cleaning. I believe the best was also the cheapest: Equal parts Borax and baking soda moistened with lemon juice.

  20. Not Given says:

    Vinegar might work better, just pour a pint in the bottom of the dishwasher and run it through an empty cycle, then run it through again empty, without the vinegar, before washing dishes. If it is really grungy do it twice.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      You must keep in mind that many dishwashers start with a brief rinse + drain cycle before the regular wash cycle begins. This means the vinegar will only be in the d/w for a short time before being sucked down the drain. Wait to add liquid vinegar until the main wash cycle has begun.

  21. The Marionette says:

    been doing this with concentrated lemon juice for some time.

  22. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Tang works, too. Miracle cleaners. Dunno how it works, but it does.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      Sorry… didn’t see that above. Coke works well for cleaning oil spots off driveways — and for dissolving those pesky rusty nails you have laying around 8-)

  23. RobSmalls says:

    When I was in the Navy on submarines, we would use the KoolAid-type soft drink mix they gave us to shine the stainless steel toilets and urinals for inspections. It worked very well.

  24. haggis for the soul says:

    I think I saw the How Clean Is Your House? ladies use this to clean someone’s toilet once.

  25. sjb says:

    Was assigned to submarine duty while in the Navy and used something similar to break up some really nasty stuff that builds-up in the bilges. We had the militarized version of Kool-aid that is nicknamed as “bug juice”, a powered drink concatenate that was mostly citric acid with flavor. Threw about a cup or two of it in the bilge, let it slash around for about a hour while bobbing about while on the surface, de-munged bilge.

  26. mbz32190 says:

    Dishwashers are supposed to be “cleaned”?
    I’ve been using the same builders-grade GE dishwasher for the past 15 years and haven’t done much other than put in dish detergent and run it through. (I only run it once about every 4 days though, so the plates get rinsed beforehand in the sink, minimizing food particles).

  27. AnthonyC says:

    “the citric acid in it gets rid of the lime scales”

    A bit of irony, there. Either that or an etymological relationship I didn’t know about.

  28. AnthonyC says:

    I always considered dishwashers to be self-cleaning. No?

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Two issues lead to scaly build up (not grime): 1. You have very hard water, which tends to leave a crust on everything it touches. This builds up inside the d/w, and the happiness of your dishes and the longevity of your d/w depend on removing the mineral deposits (usually calcium) periodically. If you have this, you’ll know as there will be a peculiar white film on everything.
      2. I encountered another annoying problem with a gf’s d/w: This machine was a low-water use machine. The heating element was placed at such a height that the water would dry on the element throughout the cycle, leaving a mineral crust that would periodically fall off into the wash water, then get sprayed onto the dishes and inside of the machine. That stupid machine needed de-crusting weekly.

      You may or may not know this, but many european d/ws had 3 containers: one for detergent, one for rinse agent, and one for water softener, sometimes called ‘salt.’

  29. sjb says:


  30. incident_man says:

    OH YEAH!!!!

  31. ZekeDMS says:

    Two ten cent bags?

    Consumerist is behind the times there, I can’t find kool-aid under 15 a pack, and it tends to run up to 20 cents.

    I don’t know what’s going on with that company, but this is extortion!

  32. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I don’t have a dishwasher… :(

  33. Bonoca says:

    On another cleaning note, there is an easy way, inexpensive way to clean silver. First, line a shallow casserole dish with aluminum foil, lay your silverware on top in a single layer, sprinkle several tablespoons of baking soda on top (I just use the baking soda kept in my fridge for deodorizing), and then pour boiling water on top. Let sit for a few minutes and you will see the tarnish disappear. Note it will smell pretty bad like rotten eggs, but it works. Then take the clean silver out of the solution and simply wash with soap and water, then dry.

    Baking soda is a wonder cleaner. I recently found rust spots on my stainless steel fridge. Went on the internet to find a remedy and I found one that works. I dipped a wet finger in baking soda, rubbed the rust spot and the rust came off without scratching the fridge!

  34. mike says:

    Use vinegar instead of Jet Dry. Probably the best advice I got. If you have a sensitive nose, you might smell the vinegar right out of the dishwasher. But a few hours in the cabinet and it’s not noticable.