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How to Clean Your Dishwasher

Keep it clean and odor-free.

When was the last time you washed your dishwasher? It may have never occurred to you to wash the machine that washes your dishes. I mean, isn't it always cleaning itself? The truth is simply running the dishwasher (even with an empty chamber) won't give it the deep clean it needs to remove built up food, grease, and undissolved detergent. Not only does this result in unsightly build-up and a smelly dishwasher, but the gunk can also give your dishes a film…gross! If you think yours could use a little TLC, refer to this guide on how to clean your dishwasher using items you already have at home.

Dishwasher bottom rack loaded with clean dishes

Photo by Getty Images

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

While it's not necessary to deep clean your dishwasher daily or even weekly, there are some steps you can take regularly to prevent buildup as much as possible. After each use, get into the habit of cleaning any remaining bits of food leftover from the dishwashing cycle. Pull out the bottom rack and check for leftover food in the well or silverware basket. Use a paper towel to remove it. This will prevent odor and unsightly build-up.

Weekly care for your dishwasher is just as important as the occasional deep clean. Once a week, wipe away any residue on the interior door, the door handle, and dishwasher controls using a damp sponge or dish towel. Remove the filter weekly by pulling out your lower dish rack to expose the filter on the base of the bottom spray arm. Rinse it under hot water and use a toothbrush to scrub the mesh screen and plastic, removing any residue. Once it looks good as new, lock it back into place. Repeat this step weekly to avoid spots and film on your dishes. For stainless steel dishwashers, polish the exterior door as needed to remove fingerprints and stains using a stainless steel cleaner (I use Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes).

Although these steps will help fight excess build-up, a deep clean is still necessary once a month to remove residue from hard to reach places. Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to deep clean your dishwasher using items you already have in your kitchen.

How to Deep Clean Your Dishwasher Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

The good news about deep cleaning your dishwasher is this: the appliance does all the heavy lifting for you. No need to spend time bent over the dishwasher scrubbing away—using the right cleaning solutions can give you a clean dishwasher with the push of a button. And you can use items you already have in your pantry! Vinegar works to break down grease and grime, while baking soda will remove any unpleasant odors and leave your dishwasher smelling bright and clean. Repeating this simple cleaning process monthly can give you major results.

Here's What You'll Need:

  • 2-cup glass measuring cup
  • 2 cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • Toothbrush (optional)

Directions

  1. Make sure your dishwasher is completely empty before deep cleaning.
  2. Place a glass measuring cup filled with two cups of vinegar on the top rack of your dishwasher.
  3. Run a normal cycle with no detergent or dishes.
  4. Once the cycle is up, remove the measuring cup and pull out the bottom rack. Sprinkle baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher.
  5. Run a short hot-water cycle with no detergent or dishes. Use a toothbrush to get rid of any stubborn stains. You're dishwasher should now be grime-free and smelling fresh!

More Way to Clean:

Melanie Fincher

About Melanie Fincher

A Georgia native eating my way through the South. When I’m not eating it I’m probably writing about it.