Will Dishwasher Kill Mold on Dishes: Debunking Myths

Will Dishwasher Kill Mold on Dishes?

No, dishwashers do not kill mold on dishes.

The hot water and dishwasher detergent used in the wash cycle are not effective in removing mold.

Moreover, some dishwashers can actually harbor mold growth due to the damp and dark environment they provide.

Mold can survive in dishwashers because the internal temperature typically ranges between 130°F and 140°F, which is not sufficient to kill mold.

Additionally, dishwashing liquids may contain ingredients that promote mold growth.

While bleach can remove visible mold stains, it may not eliminate all layers of spores.

White vinegar, a mixture of baking soda and water, or a combination of vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can all be used to successfully clean moldy dishes and prevent mold growth.

Leaving the dishwasher door open after a cycle can also help prevent mold growth.

Key Points:

  • Dishwashers are not effective in killing mold on dishes
  • Some dishwashers can actually harbor mold growth due to their environment
  • The temperature in dishwashers is not sufficient to kill mold
  • Dishwashing liquids may contain ingredients that promote mold growth
  • Bleach may remove visible mold stains but may not eliminate all spores
  • White vinegar, baking soda mixture, or a combination with lemon juice can clean moldy dishes and prevent mold growth

Did You Know?

1. Contrary to popular belief, dishwashers alone are not enough to completely eliminate mold on dishes. While dishwashers can effectively remove general food debris, they may not provide enough heat or a prolonged exposure to kill mold spores.

2. Mold tends to grow in warm and moist environments, and dishwashers generally don’t maintain a hot enough temperature throughout the entire cleaning cycle to effectively kill mold. For mold to be completely eradicated, it requires a combination of heat, detergent, and manual scrubbing.

3. Vinegar is commonly used as a natural cleaning alternative that can help kill mold on dishes. Adding a cup of white vinegar to the dishwasher during the wash cycle can give an extra boost in removing mold spores.

4. To ensure the complete removal of mold on dishes, it’s recommended to pre-rinse them before placing them in the dishwasher. This removes any visible mold and decreases the chances of the spores spreading or resettling on other items during the wash.

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5. Properly drying dishes after they go through the dishwasher is crucial in preventing mold growth. Leaving wet dishes sitting in the dishwasher can create a conducive environment for mold to develop, so it’s advised to promptly unload and air-dry the dishes after the cycle has ended.

1. Dishwashers Do Not Kill Mold On Dishes

When it comes to mold on dishes, using a dishwasher is often believed to be an effective solution for eliminating it. However, this is a common misconception. Dishwashers are designed to sanitize and clean dishes, but they are not effective in removing mold.

The combination of hot water and dishwasher detergent used in the wash cycle can help remove dirt and bacteria from dishes, but it does not have the same effect on mold. Mold is a persistent and resilient organism that requires specialized treatment to be completely eradicated.

In conclusion, while a dishwasher may help to sanitize and clean dishes, it is not a reliable solution for eliminating mold. Proper mold removal techniques such as thorough cleaning with mold-specific products, preventive measures to reduce moisture, and professional assistance if necessary, form the most effective approach to dealing with mold on dishes.


  • Dishwashers are not designed to remove mold from dishes
  • Hot water and dishwasher detergent do not effectively eliminate mold
  • Mold requires specialized treatment to be eradicated

2. Mold Can Survive In The Dishwasher Due To The Internal Temperature And Environment

One reason why dishwashers cannot effectively kill mold is due to the internal temperature they operate on. Dishwashers typically run their primary cycle between 130°F and 140°F, which is not sufficient to eliminate mold. Mold, on the other hand, thrives in temperatures between 75°F and 86°F with proper humidity levels.

The optimal temperature range for mold growth is significantly lower than what dishwashers can achieve. This means that even if the hot water in a dishwasher might kill some mold, it is unlikely to eliminate all spores and prevent regrowth.

  • Dishwashers operate at temperatures between 130°F and 140°F
  • Mold grows optimally between 75°F and 86°F with proper humidity levels
  • The temperature range for mold growth is significantly lower than what dishwashers can achieve

3. Dishwashers Provide A Damp, Dark Environment Ideal For Mold Growth

In addition to the temperature limitations, dishwashers also provide a suitable environment for mold growth. The dark, damp conditions inside dishwashers create an ideal breeding ground for mold. Moisture can accumulate in the hidden crevices and rubber seals of the dishwasher, promoting the growth of mold colonies.

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When dishes are left in the dishwasher for an extended period before unloading, mold can take hold and spread. It is crucial to regularly clean and maintain your dishwasher to minimize the risk of mold growth.

4. Cleaning Solutions That Promote Mold Growth Can Be Found In Many Dishwashing Liquids

Surprisingly, some dishwashing liquids contain ingredients that can actually promote mold growth rather than prevent it. Certain cleaning agents may contain organic compounds that provide nutrients for mold to thrive. Using these products in your dishwasher might inadvertently contribute to mold growth on your dishes.

To ensure that you are not unintentionally aiding mold growth, it is advisable to carefully read the labels of dishwashing liquids and choose products that do not contain ingredients that promote mold.

5. Tips For Preventing And Removing Mold From Dishes In The Dishwasher

While dishwashers may not be effective at killing mold on dishes, there are alternative methods and preventative measures that can be taken to keep your dishes mold-free. Here are some options:

  • White vinegar: White vinegar is known for its natural cleaning properties and ability to kill mold. You can add a cup of white vinegar to your dishwasher during a cycle to effectively clean and deodorize your dishes.

  • Baking soda: Create a paste using baking soda and water. Apply this mixture to moldy dishes, scrub gently, and rinse thoroughly. Baking soda not only removes mold but also helps eliminate any lingering odors.

  • Lemon juice: Combine lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar for a powerful mold-killing solution that also leaves a refreshing citrus scent on your dishes.

  • Leave the dishwasher door open: After running a cycle, leaving the dishwasher door open allows for proper ventilation and drying. This helps to prevent the accumulation of moisture and reduces the risk of mold growth.

By following these tips, you can remove and prevent mold from appearing on your dishes, ensuring that they stay clean and safe to use. Remember to use alternative methods like vinegar and baking soda, and keep the dishwasher door open for proper ventilation and maintenance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to use dishes after mold?

It is strongly advised against using dishes that have mold in the openings, cracks, or grooves. Mold spores can be extremely difficult to remove from these areas, which can pose significant health risks. It is recommended to discard such dishes to ensure safety and prevent any potential harm. It is always better to prioritize health and well-being over reusing dishes that may be contaminated with mold.

How do you remove mold from dishes?

To effectively remove mold from dishes, there are several approaches you can take. One method is to thoroughly wash the dishes with hot soapy water, ensuring all visible mold is removed. Alternatively, you can create a bleach solution by mixing 1 cup of household laundry bleach with 1 gallon of water and using it to soak the dishes for a short period. After soaking, be sure to rinse the dishes thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining bleach residue. By following these recommended methods provided by the CDC, you can effectively eliminate mold from your dishes and ensure their safe usage.

Does boiling water kill mold on dishes?

Yes, boiling water is an effective method to kill mold on dishes. When subjected to high temperatures, mold and its spores are destroyed, making the dishes safe to use again. Boiling water not only kills the visible mold but also ensures that any potential spores are eliminated, reducing the chances of recontamination. However, it is important to note that while boiling water is effective against mold, it may not be effective for all types of materials or heavily infested items.

Does the sanitize cycle kill mold?

Yes, the sanitize cycle is highly effective in killing mold. By using the hottest water settings and following it up with a cold rinse, it not only disinfects clothes but also flushes away mold. The high temperature of up to 140 degrees ensures that any mold present on the clothes is effectively killed, providing a thorough sanitization process. This feature is especially helpful in eliminating mold, bacteria, allergens, and other contaminants from clothes, offering a reassuring solution to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.