I stepped into my parents’ kitchen, and my eye went right to their dishwasher. Specifically, the reams of blue painter’s tape criss-crossing their dishwasher’s opening, with a Tupperware lid wedged in between.

This tightrope of tape and lids signaled that the dishes were still dirty, my mom explained to me. Once the dishes were clean, she’d clear away the contraption; the process would then repeat itself.

It was a functioning system, albeit obviously unideal (and lest I seem holier than thou, I myself often preach “There’s a method to the madness!” about the messes in my own space). But I was especially struck by this confusing, complicated dishwashing situation because, as a shopping writer, I knew an almost ridiculously simple solution already existed.

The antidote lay in a dirty/clean dishwasher sign. It attaches to your dishwasher via magnet or adhesive; you slide its label to indicate when the dishes inside are dirty, and then slide it again when they’re clean. Fín.

It’s easy and, at $7, exceedingly cheap — too cheap, in my opinion, to continue to justify the sad “are they, aren’t they” back and forth with your maybe-dirty, maybe-clean dishes (you’ll only know for sure when you’re about to eat off them).

I chose this Gorilla Grip version for my parents — I was impressed by its price value and its uniquely high rating (4.9 out of 5 stars). It was also aesthetically subtle, so I knew it’d blend easily into my parents’ kitchen. It comes in silver and black; I chose the silver thinking my parents would attach it to their washer, though they ended up leaning the sign against a cabinet instead.

Now, the sign is serving its purpose. No more homemade creations: Just a convenient, straightforward indicator of the status of the dishes. My work is done.

The Gorilla Grip dirty/clean dishwasher sign attaches to your washer via built-in magnets or included adhesive.

I stand by the sign I chose for my parents, but other worthwhile options also exist, with varied colors, font styles and labeling methods. We’ve rounded up some of the best contenders for you to check out, below.

Amazon

A bright acrylic dishwasher sign that’s probably the most popular option online

With 26,000 5-star ratings and a 4.8 rating, this colorful option is a proven favorite — and useful, sturdy and cheap.

It comes with magnets attached to its back (plus additional adhesive for non-magnetic dishwashers). It’s available in seven colors and styles.

Promising review: “This magnet is a great idea to stop the confusion. Lol one less thing to worry about. Sweetie are the dishes clean or dirty?? Hahah it kind of got on my last nerve. Now that little aggravation is gone. The magnet is strong and so it stays in place and it is also attractive. It actually looks like it came with the dishwasher. I placed mine right above the handle.” — Cindy

Amazon

An extra-helpful option with four status choices

With indicators for every possible dishwasher mode — dirty, running, empty and clean — this magnet keeps your system extra organized and clear.

You switch its label by moving its tiny handle. It comes with double-sided adhesive and is available in three colors.

Promising review: “First of all, I own several different dishwasher magnets, and this is my absolute favorite! The others require me to remove the magnet, flip it around, etc. This one sticks in one place and you move a little handle to get the different indicators to show. At first, I thought, why do I need ‘running’? Now that’s my favorite one! It’s great for when someone goes to put something in the dishwasher while it’s operating, so they don’t get surprised when they open the door (no one pays attention to the lights on my dishwasher, I swear).

And I love the choice for ’empty’ as well. (My other magnets just have clean and dirty. For some reason, these extra indicators make my day!)

It is made of good, solid material, the indicator lever moves smoothly, the lettering is bold, big, bright, and clear, and it doesn’t look bad at all as an addition to my kitchen.

Highly recommend this!” — jayemmeff

Amazon

A magnet with a “farmhouse rustic” design

If you want a sign with some aesthetic value, this one’ll serve you well. Its sweet design will subtly brighten your kitchen while doing its job. Plus, it has a bit of a cult following, with 23,000 5-star ratings.

It comes with adhesive and in four colors and styles (including a cheery blue).

Promising review: “Exactly what I was searching for! No more guessing if the dishes are clean or dirty. The magnet is very strong and stays in place. The window slides back and forth easily. I love the different pattern options. Not an eye sore at all. Great product!” — AC Mamma

Amazon

A sleek, mod stainless steel sign

This pick is a little pricier than the rest, but for good reason: It’s made with anti-rust stainless steel and looks downright chic — an achievement for a dishwasher sign.

It’s magnetic and comes with adhesive tape.

Promising review: “My husband often asked if the dishes were clean or dirty – because I wash food from them before putting them into the dishwasher – though I seldom rinse them completely. While this assures that our dishes come out sparkling clean and minimizes odor between washes, I’d often forget if they’d gone through a dishwasher cleaning cycle – which includes a hot sanitizing drying. So, we needed a magnet. It took me a while to decide which to choose. I wanted the least expensive one, that I could stand to look at in my kitchen. I’m so happy I paid a little extra. This one looks absolutely amazing on our stainless steel Samsung dishwasher. It looks like it actually came with the unit. It was easy to attach. It has never come off. The ‘dirty/clean’ slide is quick and easy to move back and forth. But the sticker itself has never moved. It’s solidly attached. And it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s formal, yet warm design and typeset blends perfectly into my kitchen decor. And looks like it came built-in on the dishwasher. I’d buy another in a heartbeat if I ever bought another stainless steel dishwasher.” — sunshine

Etsy

A cute “day and night” option from Etsy

If I had a dishwasher, this is probably the sign I’d get — I love its outdoorsy illustration and nostalgic vibe. It’s also even simpler to use than usual; you just flip the magnet over when it’s time to switch.

Promising reviews: “Super cute, it fits nicely on my dishwasher. I’m looking forward to purchasing from this shop again” — Kathleen Stevens

“I have one of my own already. My grandmother saw it and wanted one herself, so this is a gift for her.” — Kassandra Bayer

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