You Should Put a Lemon in Your Dishwasher ASAP (The Results Are Amazing!)

published Jul 2, 2024
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Plastic container lid.
Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I count on the dishwasher to keep my whole kitchen humming. We run it nightly as part of our kitchen shutdown routine and empty it every morning so there’s no bottleneck from dirty breakfast dishes sitting and accumulating in the sink. Doing so makes a drastic difference in how smoothly our kitchen runs. 

But this doesn’t mean that I’m not always looking for ways to make the process run even smoother. I’ve enjoyed finding smart tricks to try, such as the aluminum foil hack that makes silverware come out shinier than ever and using a bowl of white vinegar in the dishwasher to decrease hard water deposits.

So it should come as no surprise that when I spotted a lemon dishwasher hack trending on TikTok (from @lynsey_queenofclean and @mama_mila), I just had to try it out for myself. It’s a simple trick: put a lemon in your next dishwasher load to help keep limescale at bay and kill germs. 

I’m a big fan of cleaning with citric acid, including lemons, and I often have part of a lemon leftover when I cook (which too often ends up hardening in the fridge before I use it), so it wasn’t hard for me to give it a go.

Devotees of this method claim that putting a lemon in the dishwasher is supposed to help eliminate hard water deposits. The citric acid in lemon juice also has disinfectant and antibacterial properties — it’s said to make dishes extra sparkly, too. To test it out, I put half a lemon on the top rack of the dishwasher. I wanted an obvious way to test out whether the lemon helped erase hard water marks, so I purposely washed a food storage container that routinely gets marked with hard water spots. I ran the dishwasher as usual and opened it the next morning. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

After using a lemon in my dishwasher, right away, I enjoyed the faint lemon scent that emanated from the finished load. For me, these are the sort of small cleaning pick-me-ups that make a sometimes tedious task just a little bit more joyful. Plus, I love the idea that adding a lemon to the dishwasher helps keep odors at bay. Next, I pulled out my food storage container and lid to see if the hard water spots were gone. I was so surprised — they had melted right away! 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I may not put a lemon in the dishwasher every time I run it, but I plan to do so every time I wash plastic food storage containers. The lemon hack gives that little extra bit of oomph to get the dishes, especially plastic, a bit more squeaky clean. 

What’s your favorite dishwashing hack? Tell me about it below!