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Is it Possible to Clean Plastic Aquarium Plants in the Dishwasher?

You can use a dishwasher to clean plastic aquarium plants and other decorations. It is actually one of the easiest and fastest methods to clean your decorations. 

However, there are some things you should take care of before cleaning the decorations in the dishwasher. 

You must not put any soap in the dishwasher. You should also make sure that the dishwasher has no soap residue left before putting your plastic aquarium plants. 

clean plastic aquarium plants

Soap can be toxic to your fish and live plants. Therefore, it is essential to remove any soap residue before cleaning plastic aquarium plants in the dishwasher.

Keep in mind that some plastic aquarium plants may get damaged if you clean with a dishwasher as dishwashers use hot water to clean stuff. 

If you are unsure that your decorations can withstand hot water, it’s better to clean them with another method. 

If you can take the consequence anyway, you can try cleaning them with a dishwasher.

Why do you want to clean plastic aquarium plants?

You need to clean plastic aquarium plants mainly to prevent algae growth on them. 

Cleaning will also kill any bacteria, parasites, or any other harmful organism for your fish. So, that way, you can make sure that your artificial plants carry no danger to your fish. 

Additionally, everyone likes cleaner and fresh-looking aquariums. By performing a clean every month or so, you can always keep an aesthetically pleasing aquarium in your home. 

Cleaning will also increase the lifetime of your plastic aquarium plants by preventing eroding of your decorations.

Steps to follow  

plastic plants

Cleaning plastic aquarium plants in the dishwasher is easier than you think. Just follow these few steps, and you will be done within minutes. After that, it’s the dishwasher that would control the cleaning time.

Take out the Decorations (Plastic Aquarium Plants)

The first step is taking out your plastic aquarium plants from your fish tank. Carefully take the plants while not disturbing your fish.

Clean the Dishwasher with Running water

You should remove any soap residue before putting your decorations in the dishwater. You can do so by cleaning the dishwasher with running water.

Put Your Decorations in the dishwasher and run it

The next step is to put your plastic aquarium plants into the dishwasher. After carefully putting them inside, close the lid and run the dishwasher. 

Some people add bleach to get the decorations extra clean, but we don’t recommend it because bleach residue may be stored in your dishwasher if you put any bleach. Y

our dishes may have bleach residue if you wash your dishes after cleaning your decorations in the dishwasher.

The time to clean the decorations may depend on the dishwasher type. Some dishwashers take around one hour while some others take about 3 hours to finish cleaning. However, there’s not much you can do to lessen this time frame.

Take out the decorations and rinse with running water

Once the cleaning is done, you can take out the decorations and rinse them in running water to make sure that the decorations contain no soap residue. 

You can put the decorations back directly without rinsing them but, I’d do this extra step just to be sure.

What to do after cleaning plastic aquarium plants in the dishwasher?

Although cleaning plastic aquarium plants in the dishwasher is easy, it carries some dangers. 

Though you clean the dishwasher before putting your decorations, your dishwasher may still contain any soap residue. Even a small percentage of soap concentration may harm your fish. 

So, to ensure that your plants don’t contain any soap residue, you should rinse them well in running water several times. 

This may not seem an important thing to do as the dishwasher wash them with hot water. But, you don’t want to risk your fish’s life. Do you?

Is dishwater safe for fish

fish with plastic aquarium plnts

The dishwasher is safe for fish only if it doesn’t contain any soap residue. Soap can be deadly to fish. That is why we rinse and clean the dishwasher beforehand. 

If you don’t use any soap to clean your dishes with a dishwasher, then cleaning your aquarium decorations with the dishwasher is completely safe.

Best way to remove algae from plastic plants

The best way to remove algae from plastic plants is by cleaning with a bleach solution. You can use a ten percent bleach solution for this. 

Soak the plants in this bleach solution for 10 minutes. By that time, algae will die because of bleach. 

Now you can take off the plastic plant and gently scrub the algae residue with a clean algae pad. After scrubbing the plant, rinse well in clear water and allow them to dry before putting back to the tank completely.

The downside of this method is that bleach can affect the plant colors, especially in bright-colored plants. 

If you don’t mind the discoloration of plants, this is the easiest way of removing any algae build-up in your aquarium decorations.

However, if the algae build-up is low, you can remove them just by washing the plant with running water. If washing alone doesn’t remove algae from the plants, you can scrub the plants with an aquarium safe algae pad. 

Most of the time, scrubbing will work. The bleaching method should be your last option as chlorine in bleach is toxic to your fish. However, you can remove chlorine easily with a Dechlorinator.

Cleaning plastic aquarium plants with vinegar

You can remove calcium deposits in your plastic aquarium plants with vinegar. Scrubbing alone will not remove calcium deposits on your plants, and you need to soak them with an acidic solution. 

Vinegar is a fish-safe acidic solution you can use to clean plastic aquarium plants.

Combine one cup of white vinegar with one gallon of distilled water. Remove the plant from the fish tank and soak the plant in this vinegar solution for about five minutes. 

Vinegar dissolves calcium deposits so, you can remove these calcium deposits by thoroughly rinsing the aquarium plant with running water.

How to clean plastic plants before putting them in the aquarium

Whether you use the vinegar method, bleach, or dishwasher to clean your plastic plants, you must clean the plant in running tap water before putting them in the aquarium

This is because bleach and soap residue is toxic to your fish. Further, in the vinegar method, rinsing is required to remove the calcium deposits in plants. 

So, always remember to clean your plastic plants with running water thoroughly.

Related Questions

How do you disinfect aquarium decorations?

You can disinfect aquarium decorations by using bleach. Soak the aquarium decorations using the bleach solution we have mentioned above and then thoroughly rinse them with clean water. 

To be on the safe side, soak the decorations in a Dechlorinator solution after cleaning with clean water. 

You can clean any non-porous items in your aquarium with bleach, including the tank (either glass or plexiglass), non-porous equipment like filter hoses, plastic plants and decorations, and gravel and rocks. 

You should not use bleach on porous items such as wood as they can soak up and retain the bleach. Keep in mind that bleach can discolor (fade) bright-colored items.

How do you get rid of brown algae on artificial plants?

You can use either the bleach method or the dishwasher method mentioned above to get rid of brown algae on artificial plants. 

Additionally, you can introduce algae eater species like bristle nose pleco, Amano shrimp, and Nerite snails to your aquarium so that they will take care of the algae problem.


Cleaning aquarium decorations like plastic plants in the dishwasher are one of the easiest methods you can follow in cleaning your decorations. 

The dishwasher uses hot water to clean stuff, so your plastic decorations may get damaged because of hot water. 

However, some aquarists stand against this method because of soap residue that dishwasher holds. This is because any kind of soap can be deadly for fish and other aquarium species. 

Still, if you clean the dishwasher with water and remove any soap residues in the dishwasher, you can safely clean your plastic aquarium plants in a dishwasher. 

To be on the safe side, you can rinse the decorations with water after cleaning them with a dishwasher.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.