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How To Clean Your Dishwasher (In 4 Steps)

Problem: your dishwasher isn't cleaning your dishes like it used to. Your plates and crockery have spots and film on them. There's an unpleasant smell, and you find bits of food, grease, and grime stuck on supposed-to-be-clean dishes.

Over time, mineral buildup, food debris, and soap scum can accumulate inside your dishwasher and lead to odors and poor performance.

There's an easy fix for it - clean your dishwasher! I also didn't know you had to do this until I read an article in Good Housekeeping.

Dishwasher filled with clean dishes

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How To Clean Your Dishwasher ( In 4 Steps)


1. Remove Bits of Food

It's recommended to clean your dishwasher every 3-4 months to keep it running smoothly and smelling fresh.

  • Completely pull out the bottom rack and check for any leftover food that may have fallen inside your dishwasher.

  • Use your fingers or a paper towel to remove it.

Sometimes you might find a teaspoon or a fork that's gone rogue, grab those too, and clear out anything that doesn't belong. This will ensure that your dishwasher is ready for a deep clean and will help prevent any clogs or blockages in the future.

Tip: Before putting any crockery in your dishwasher, scrape as much leftover food as you can into the bin and rinse your dishes.

Hand wipe outside of dishwasher

2. Clean the Outside

Have you ever really checked what your dishwasher (and fridge) doors look like? Yikes! Once you see the dirt and grime, you can't unsee it.

Mix dish soap in warm water and wipe:

  • The outside of the door

  • Door edges

  • Handle

  • Dishwasher controls

Use a damp microfiber cloth to remove any fingerprints or dirt that may have accumulated.

Check the rubber seals around the edge of the door, use a soft toothbrush to get in between the folds, and give it a good scrub.

If you're trying to avoid chemical cleaners, you can use vinegar to clean the outside of your appliance.

Clean, empty, open dishwasher

3. Clean the Inside

Take everything out of the dishwasher:

  • Racks

  • Utensil holders

  • Spray arms

  • Filter

If you're unsure how to remove the filter, check the owner's manual or manufacturer's website for details. Then, follow the instructions in this article to clean your dishwasher filter.

  • Remove any visible food particles.

  • Use a mixture of warm water and white vinegar to wipe each item individually.

  • Take a soft brush/ toothbrush to scrub hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

There is often undissolved detergent in and around the detergent dispenser. Take a toothbrush dipped in vinegar and gently scrub it away.

To clean the spray arms, remove them from the dishwasher and rinse them under running water to remove any buildup. Use a toothpick or small brush to remove any clogs or debris from the spray holes.


4. Deep Clean your Dishwasher with Vinegar

Put all the parts back inside the dishwasher. Before you do, make sure that you've checked for any noticeable chunks and goo that you can remove with your fingers, brush, or a cloth.

  • Place a bowl filled with white vinegar on the top rack inside the dishwasher.

  • Run a complete cycle with the hottest water setting.

  • After this cycle, sprinkle a cup of baking soda in the bottom of your empty dishwasher and run a short hot cycle.

  • Leave the dishwasher door open for a few hours to air out and dry completely.

Done! Your dishwasher should be squeaky clean! If you don't have time for the vinegar and baking soda rinse, use a dishwasher cleaner to get the job done.

Warning: Don't think you'll save time by mixing the vinegar and baking soda in the same cycle. This will cause a foamy chemical reaction and leave you a mess to clean up.


The Bottom Line

A clean dishwasher is an effective dishwasher. With all the residue, dirt, grime, and food particles cleared, your appliance can clean at full strength again! As a result, you'll have a better-smelling and better-looking appliance and dishes. You'll also save money on costly repairs since you're on top of your dishwasher maintenance.


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