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Can You Use Drano in Dishwasher?

A collage of Drano and dishwasher.

The short answer to this question is no, you can’t use the drain clearing substance known as Drano in a dishwasher. It can be very easy for your dishwasher pipes and hoses to become clogged and messy, or for your dishwasher filter to get messy.

It is a very common problem with dishwashers, and one that is easily resolved. Still, it can be very tempting to clean the dishwasher with Drano, but doing so could create more problems than you had to start out with.

There are ways to clean the dishwasher and unclog your hoses without having to worry about ruining the dishwasher or its components with Drano.

Related: Types of Dishwashers History of the Dishwasher

The Way That Drano Works in a Dishwasher Is the Reason You Can’t Use It To Unclog Pipes

Drain cleaning is a very common household chore that can be required for any number of reasons. The most common kinds of cleaners used to clean drains are acidic, enzymatic, and caustic.

The acidic variety is the kind that uses a chemical to break down what is clogging up a pipe. An acidic cleaner usually has chemicals such as hydrochloric or sulfuric acid in it in order to unclog the pipes.

An enzymatic drain cleaner is slightly more environmentally friendly as it uses bacteria to break down the matter that is clogging the pipes. A caustic drain cleaner does the same thing, but the chemicals work a different way.

A man's hand holding a bottle of Drano at store.

The chemicals in a caustic drain cleaner are usually sodium hydroxide and lye. A caustic drain cleaner is not a chemical that will melt substances the way that acidic cleaners will.

With Drano, the chemical compound is sodium hydroxide, sodium hypochlorite which is bleach, and sodium metasilicate. These chemicals have a very different makeup, and are on the opposite side of the pH scale from acid.

Still, they are very dangerous. A caustic chemical is still designed to break down substances. When these chemicals are poured into a pipe and mixed with water, a heat reaction is the result.

The reaction is able to take grease clogs, hair clogs, or other standard clogs in the kitchen or bath, and break them down so that they don’t stick to the pipes any longer. Unfortunately, while the chemical does work very effectively on metal pipes, it will not work on the rubber components inside a dishwasher.

And, most dishwasher components are almost entirely rubber. Not only will your Drano ruin your rubber dishwasher components, but it will also ruin your filter as well. This is why you can not use Drano to unclog the pipes in a dishwasher.

There Are Only Some Kinds of Clogs That Drano Clears and This Can Help You With Your Dishwasher Chore

When you are cleaning drains, you will see very specific kinds of clogs listed on the Drano bottle. That is because those are the only kinds of drains that Drano cleans. Drano is made of a very specific chemical substance that uses the caustic formula to lift clogs away from the pipes.

While it is tempting to try it on a wide range of clogs, it doesn’t work on every kind of clog. That is just another reason why you can’t use Drano in your dishwasher.

The kinds of clogs that you get in the dishwasher are much different than the kinds of clogs that you get in your natural kitchen sink pipes. Drano can work on hair clogs, grease clogs in the kitchen, and it can also help to remove the buildup of soap in the sink.

A man's hand pouring Drano on sink.

Drano does not work on clogs that keep coming back. If you have a clog that keeps cropping up, it is time to call a plumber. If you have a regular clog that you have tried to use Drano with and the sink will not drain, then you need to contact a professional.

You may need a snake to clean out the pipes. Sometimes you can do that on your own. Any other substance that is not hair, food, or soap, may not be unclogged by Drano. So if you are having a persistent clog problem, it could be that the clog is caused by one of these substances.

With dishwashers, the cause of the clogged pipes is not usually any of these elements because those elements, besides grease, rarely make their way into a dishwasher.

What you will find clogging dishwashers is typically rubber from the dishwasher soap pods, and food debris such as bones from meat. You just aren’t going to see a lot of hair in the dishwasher.

Understanding How Dishwashers Work Will Help You To See Why Using Drano in the Dishwasher Is a Really Bad Idea

Clogged pipes can easily be fixed by using a chemical that melts the clog and pulls the debris down the pipes using gravity. However, dishwasher pipes do not work this way. When a dishwasher drains, it uses a pump that takes the water out of the dishwasher.

In most cases, when a dishwasher is clogged, the clog is in this pump, and sometimes in the filter of the machine. As such, using Drano to fix the dishwasher is not a good idea because it just will not work.

Inside look of dishwasher with pouring water.

The chemicals in Drano are meant to lift grease and other items from the pipes in order to clear a blockage. But this isn’t how blockages work in a dishwasher. Not only is Drano bad for the components, but trying to use it in a dishwasher is a futile exercise.

There is a very strong possibility that using Drano in your dishwasher could ruin it completely. If not, you would ruin the components of the dishwasher and have to get those replaced. The components of the dishwasher would get ruined because they are made from plastic.

The filter, the pump, the seals, are all made with rubber. Drano will ruin those components in just one run of the dishwasher. The pump in the dishwasher is most likely going to be the first component to break down, and the result will be that the dishwasher is unable to pump water from the machine.

You will also see the rubber seals begin to go. You will know that these parts have been ruined by the way the dishwasher runs, and you’re likely going to see some leaking from the machine. The spray nozzles for the rinse cycle are also rubber and will also suffer from putting Drano in the machine.

All of these parts can be replaced, and the dishwasher can be fixed. But you will need a professional to do so. Between parts and labor you are often much better off to purchase a new dishwasher.

A clean dishes in side the dishwasher..

It just does not make sense to clean a dishwasher with Drano. Not only will you ruin the machine, but you just aren’t likely to remove any clogs or blockages anyway. If you think you have a clogged dishwasher, you may want to try using Drano in the kitchen sink before you attempt to fix the dishwasher.

Sometimes removing clogs from the kitchen sink will help to repair the problem, as it is often easy to confuse a block in the dishwasher with a clog in the sink. So, try cleaning the kitchen sink with Drano before you begin to consider how to clean the blocks in the dishwasher.

If that does not work, you will have to find a different method of cleaning the dishwasher. In most cases, the block is a different kind of substance than the clog you would find in a sink pipe.

The clogs in dishwasher usually occur in the filter and the pump, and not often in the hoses. Using Drano to unblock them will just not work.

There are many ways to clean your dishwasher and remove clogs and blockages without using Drano in the machine.

If Your Dishwasher Is Having a Problem Draining Water, Use These Steps To Clean the Clogs or Blockages

A hand in pink gloves checking the dishwasher filter.

Having a dishwasher that will not drain is very frustrating, and there are ways to resolve the issue without having to use Drano. One of the most common clues that your dishwasher isn’t draining is the issue of standing water in the bottom of the dishwasher.

If this happens, you can very often fix this yourself. The first thing you should do if you see this is to run the dishwasher again. This is often caused by interrupting the cycle and then letting it continue. Instead, restart the dishwasher and the water may well drain on its own.

If the water continues to stand at the bottom of the dishwasher, you can take the dishwasher apart from the inside and drain it yourself using towels and a bucket. A wet vac works very well here too.

Check the filter to make sure it does not have any clogs and your dishwasher should run okay after that. Running the garbage disposal also helps, if you have one, as the dishwasher is often connected to the garbage disposal pipes.

If that does not work, there are many homemade solutions to clean dishwashers that will help. The combination of vinegar and baking soda can help clean out the dishwasher and is a much safer solution to use in your machine than Drano is.