Can You Put Bleach In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can You Put Bleach In The Dishwasher?

Bleach is a common household cleaner known for its disinfecting properties. But can it be used in the dishwasher? 

Fortunately,  you can put bleach in the dishwasher, but it’s important to use it cautiously. Keep in mind that while bleach can assist in whitening and disinfecting dishes, improper use can potentially lead to harmful outcomes.

In this article, I will explore the use of bleach in the dishwasher, examining its effectiveness, potential risks, and proper usage guidelines, including the impact of bleach on dishware, the dishwasher’s internal components, and alternative cleaning methods for a sanitized and hygienic dishwasher. Additionally, I also discussed ways to avoid accidents in using bleach, and the steps to take if bleach was accidentally used. Let’s get started!

Understanding Bleach in the Dishwasher

The use of bleach in the dishwasher has many advantages, predominantly its ability to disinfect and thoroughly cleanse all surfaces it contacts. It has a strong effect on various types of microbes, bacteria, and fungi, thus providing a high level of cleanliness and hygiene. 

However, it is important to bear in mind that bleach usage is not safe for every type of dishwasher. It works efficiently in plastic tub dishwashers but can damage stainless steel models. This is due to bleach’s robust oxidizing properties that can corrode stainless steel over time. 

How to Safely Use Bleach in Dishwashing

Using bleach for dishwashing requires a specific approach to ensure safety and effectiveness. Here is a guide:

  1. Before anything else, confirm if your dishwasher is bleach-safe. If it is made of stainless steel, it’s better to skip bleach.
  2. Empty your dishwasher completely. There should be no dishes, utensils, or cookware within.
  3. Pour a cup of bleach into the dishwasher’s bottom. This quantity is sufficient for a standard clean.
  4. Run a complete wash cycle. After this, your dishwasher should be cleaner and more sanitary.

However, during this process, be careful not to inhale the bleach or let it come into direct contact with your skin. Always use gloves and ensure good ventilation in your kitchen for safety.

The Risks of Using Bleach

While bleach can be an effective cleaning agent for dishwashers, it’s not without risks. Mainly, it can be harmful to stainless steel dishwashers, causing them to corrode over time. The oxidizing properties of bleach are too tough on stainless steel and can lead to accelerated wear and tear.

Additionally, bleach is highly potent and its fumes can be harmful if inhaled, leading to discomfort or respiratory issues. Also, direct skin contact can cause irritation or burns. For these reasons, caution must be taken when using bleach, including ensuring good ventilation and using protective gloves.

Lastly, mixing bleach with some other cleaning agents can lead to the creation of toxic gases. It’s important to never mix bleach with dish detergent or other cleaning products containing acids or ammonia.

Alternatives to Bleach for Dishwasher Cleaning

If you want to avoid bleach while still achieving a sparkly clean dishwasher, there are several other options to explore. Below are a few alternatives to bleach for cleaning your dishwasher:


An excellent disinfectant and cleaner, vinegar can be used in much the same way as bleach. Pour 1-2 cups into the bottom of the dishwasher, then run a full cycle. It helps eliminate grease and grime as well as limescale deposits.

Baking Soda

This is a great natural scrubbing agent. You can sprinkle 1-2 cups of baking soda at the bottom of the dishwasher and run a short hot-water cycle. It aids in getting rid of stuck-on food and neutralizing odors.

Commercial Dishwasher Cleaners

There are specifically designed products in the market that are both safe and effective alternatives to bleach. Ensure to follow the instructions as listed on the product’s label.

Accident Prevention: Avoiding Mistaken Bleach Use

Accidental misuse of bleach can lead to harmful consequences, especially in dishwashing. Here are some useful tips to prevent such incidents:

Store Properly: Keep bleach in a labeled container stored in a secure place, separate from other cleaning supplies to avoid mix-ups.

Use Protective Gear: Always wear gloves and, if necessary, eye protection when handling bleach. This minimizes the risk of skin or eye contact.

Good Ventilation: Make sure the area is well-ventilated when using bleach to dissipate harmful fumes.

No Mixing: Never mix bleach with other cleaning agents, particularly those containing acids or ammonia, to avoid the creation of toxic fumes.

Troubleshooting: Steps to Take if Bleach is Accidentally Used

Mistakes can happen and if you accidentally used bleach in your dishwasher, particularly a stainless steel one, there are steps you can take to mitigate the effects. Follow this simple guide:

  1. Stop the cycle. If you notice the mistake before the cycle has been completed, stop it immediately. This can potentially decrease the exposure time and lessen any corrosive effects.
  2. Clean with water. Once you’ve stopped the cycle, use plenty of water to rinse out the dishwasher to dilute and wash away the bleach.
  3. Follow with a vinegar rinse. Run a vinegar rinse cycle. Vinegar is gentle and can help neutralize traces of bleach.
  4. Monitor. Keep a close eye on your dishwasher for a while following the incident. Look for signs of corrosion or damage. If any appears, you may need to contact a professional.


To sum up, while you can use bleach in your dishwasher for its strong disinfecting capabilities, this should be done cautiously as it can cause corrosion, especially in stainless steel dishwashers. 

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