Does Cleaning Your Dishwasher with Kool-Aid Really Work?

How to clean your dishwasher with kool aid - does it really work?

We're wrapping up the "Does It Work?" Challenge with a suburban legend. For years I've heard that you can use powdered lemonade mix to clean the rust stains out of your dishwasher. So, in honor of cleaning and organization month, we're putting the powder to the test to answer the burning question, does it work?

This dishwasher came with the house. And so did the rust stains. To be honest, they didn't really bother me all that much. I mean, who's checking out the inside of your dishwasher? But if all it takes is a 20 cent packet of Kool-Aid, then what do I have to lose? Stains, I hope.

dishwasher rust stains

So, I ran the empty dishwasher with a packet of Lemonade Kool-Aid. It's the only flavor that you can use, because it's the citric acid that allegedly cleans the stains. Well, guess what?

using kool aid to clean dishwasher - does it work?

I'd show an after picture, but it looked exactly like the before.

Now I was determined to get rid of the stains that hadn't troubled me one bit until I started this process. I turned to my secret weapon

Bar Keepers friend - the most effective way to clean your dishwasher

No lie, it came right off. You can see my sudsy residue on the edge because I was moving lightning fast. If you're looking for a better way to clean your dishwasher, Bar Keeper's Friend is definitely the way to go.

clean dishwasher interior

So, I was kind of bummed that the much-hyped lemonade mix trick didn't work for me, but maybe my stains were too set in. Have you had luck with it?

If you missed any other parts of the "Does It Work?" Challenge, you can see them all here:

And if you have any ideas for future editions of the Challenge, I'd love to hear 'em in the comments.

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Anonymous on Mar 02, 2019:

It is the oxailic acid in Tang that will remove the rust stains. Just fill soap dispensers with the powder and run as normal.

Pat on Mar 14, 2015:

Lemon kool-aide or Crystal Light does a great job of cleaning my dishwasher.  I don't know about rust stains.  It cleans the weird gunk that shows up after a while.

Anonymous on Jan 21, 2015:

YES! It did work! We have iron and manganese in our well water and it stained my new dishwasher pretty quickly. One packet, one wash and it was totally back to new looking! I am going to do a before and after picture next time!

Anonymous on Jul 08, 2014:

I fill the soap cups of my  dishwasher with Tang once a month and let it run empty for a full cycle ( minus drying). That keeps it clean and freshens it. We are only two in my family and I don't do partial loads, so the machine can get rather dirty and smelly between cleanings. 

Katie on Jun 14, 2014:

Bar Keepers Friend is awesome! I never even thought to use it on the dishwasher stains!

CramBeret on Mar 21, 2012:

Aw when i saw this piece i was so ready to stop for kool-aide on the way home. My dishwasher looks like a rust factory inside.

Julie on Mar 16, 2012:

I've found the koolaid works great for getting rid of a bad smell in a dishwasher but when I canned tomatoes and the dishwasher turned pink the koolaid didn't touch it. It did make my house smell lemony fresh though.

Keter on Mar 16, 2012:

In the low concentration of citric acid you'll get from putting a packet of Kool Aid in a whole dishwasher's worth of water, it won't work on rust.  But it will work on mineral deposits.  You can buy pure citric acid crystals with the canning supplies in most grocery stores - add one teaspoon to each washload and your dishwasher will not gunk up - and after a few washes, that "etching" on your glassware that you thought was permanent may disappear.

I prefer to use clear (not lime-green, yellow, or especially purple!) mineral scale remover to pull rust stains out of plastic.  Spot test first to make sure the plastic won't react in a bad way, then soak a paper towel or make a paste with flour/cornstarch and let it sit for a few hours and usually the rust will disappear completely.

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